Here’s a book I think you’d enjoy. I discovered it through a fellow blogger, Yankee Sailor. It’s a testament to the strength America derives from our concept of religious freedom. That’s a freedom we take for granted, but few other nations in the world share that attitude:
Foreign Policy notes two British scholars find soft power in an unexpected place:
Sometimes it takes non-American voices to identify America’s strengths. Such is the case with the new book by the British writers (and Economist editors) John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge with the audacious title God is Back: How the Global Revival of Faith is Changing the World. About half of the book is a survey of the seemingly endless — and endlessly creative — varieties of religion in the United States, while the other half of the book profiles a range of important religious movements around the world. Though in most cases it is not that religious faith has “re-appeared” after a long secular decline, but rather that elite observers are finally noticing what has been true all along: the vast majority of people outside the West, and many people in the West, are religious.
Religious freedom is central to Micklethwait and Wooldridge’s argument as well. As breezy and sometimes sprawling as the book is, the authors attempt to tie it together around a provocative thesis: the American religious system of disestablishment, choice, and competition, is becoming the ascendant religious model around the world. This is also a potent illustration, they believe, of American soft power. Whether consciously or not, religious leaders and movements across different faiths and spanning many nations are finding growth and success through models pioneered in America: independence, innovation, communication through new media, and energetic appeals for new adherents.
Of course, it’s no surprise that the U.S. government would not expand and highlight its efforts in the area of religious freedom, lest some of our more fanatical adversaries wave it as proof of a Western crusade against Islam.