Title

Is Religious Soft Power of Consequence in the World Today?

Document Type

Book Chapter

Document Subtype

Textbook

Publication Date

Winter 1-2016

Publication Source

Religious Diversity Today: Experiencing Religion in the Contemporary World

Volume

Three

Inclusive pages

1-34

Publisher

Praeger

Place of Publication

Santa Barbara, CA

Edition/Version

First

ISBN/ISSN

978-1-4408-3331-1

Peer Reviewed

yes

Abstract

Throughout history, many religiously inspired individuals have led movements that champion the needs of the oppressed. This article explores the relationship between religious leadership and social change as a complex process involving contestations over power that are often marked by suffering. Publicly engaged religious leaders usually encounter social hostilities and often do not live to see the governmental changes for which they have advocated.This article discusses how Roman Catholic leaders such as Archbishop Oscar Romero in El Salvador and Jaime Cardinal Sin in the Philippines offered leadership that strengthened democratic people's movements. In such places as Burma, Thailand, and Sri Lanka, Buddhist monks have become politically engaged in democratic politics. Methodist minister Tommy Douglas and Baptist pastor Martin Luther King Jr. led movements in the Americas. Against this rich background of religious involvement in changing social policies to protect the vulnerable, Steiner examines the "return of religion" to the world stage, as social capital in World Religious Leaders' Summits. This article explores how religious leaders' social capital is influential in these settings to the extent that they hold G8 publicly accountable for the negative impact on the vulnerable of the decisions they contemplate and debate.

Keywords

soft power, social capital, social movement, sociology of religion, social change, public engagement

Disciplines

Civic and Community Engagement | Politics and Social Change | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Policy | Social Welfare | Sociology | Sociology of Culture | Sociology of Religion

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