Medium 9780253002341

Claiming Society for God: Religious Movements and Social Welfare

Views: 616
Ratings: (0)

Claiming Society for God focuses on common strategies employed by religiously orthodox, fundamentalist movements around the world. Rather than employing terrorism, as much of post-9/11 thinking suggests, these movements use a patient, under-the-radar strategy of infiltrating and subtly transforming civil society. Nancy J. Davis and Robert V. Robinson tell the story of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Shas in Israel, Comunione e Liberazione in Italy, and the Salvation Army in the United States. They show how these movements build massive grassroots networks of religiously based social service agencies, hospitals, schools, and businesses to bring their own brand of faith to popular and political fronts.

List price: $20.99

Your Price: $16.79

You Save: 20%

Remix
Remove

5 Chapters

Format Buy Remix

1. Contesting the State by Bypassing It

ePub

1

CONTESTING THE STATE BY BYPASSING IT

CONTEMPORARY “FUNDAMENTALIST” MOVEMENTS1—or as we prefer to call them, religiously orthodox movements—have been the subject of much scholarship, media coverage, and political punditry. Missing in nearly all accounts of the nature, strategies, and impact of such movements is an understanding of their underlying communitarian logic, including a compassionate side that leads to much of their institution-building, their outreach to those in need, their success in recruitment, and their popular support. Even when this caring side of religiously orthodox movements is recognized, it is often misunderstood as mere charity.2 Unrecognized is the fact that, for many of the most prominent orthodox movements, this institutional outreach—such as building clinics and hospitals, establishing factories that provide jobs and pay higher-than-prevailing wages, initiating literacy campaigns, offering hospices for the dying, providing aid to the needy, and building affordable housing—is spread throughout the country and linked with schools, worship centers, and businesses into a dense network with the aim of permeating civil society with the movement’s own brand of faith. Yet to overlook or misunderstand this strategy is to seriously underestimate the reach of religiously orthodox movements and their success in infusing societies and states with religion.

 

2. The Muslim Brotherhood: Building a State within a State in Egypt

ePub

2

THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD

Building a State within a State in Egypt

The Brotherhood is the people. We are struggling. We help the poor. We help the jobless. Where do we get our money? Out of our own pockets. We reach in our pockets to help one another.

—ESSAM EL ERYAN, DEPUTY VICE PRESIDENT OF
THE
MUSLIM BROTHERHOODS FREEDOM AND JUSTICE PARTY

THE MOST PROMINENT ISLAMIST MOVEMENT in the Muslim world today and the “mother organization of all Islamist movements”1 is the Society of Muslim Brothers.2 Founded in Egypt in 1928, the Muslim Brotherhood today has branches in some seventy countries. As Middle East area specialist Barry Rubin observes, “while other Islamist groups have made more dramatic appearances, launched huge terrorist attacks, and fought civil wars, the Muslim Brotherhoods have shown more staying power and better organizational skills.”3

 

3. The Sephardi Torah Guardians: Penetrating the Israeli State to Circumvent It

ePub

3

THE SEPHARDI TORAH GUARDIANS

Penetrating the Israeli State to Circumvent It

Shas is the only party we see in the street…. Shas does not disappear after elections…. There is more “soul” to their work.

—YEMINI-BORN SHAS SUPPORTER

BREAKING INTO POLITICS WOULD LOGICALLY seem to come after a movement has used institution-building to win popular support for its political program, as we saw in the case of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. The Sephardi Torah Guardians, or Shas, in Israel shows otherwise. A Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) movement working to make Jewish religious law the sole law of the land in Israel,1 Shas is unique among the movements we chronicle in having entered party politics in the year of its founding, 1983.2 From its first parliamentary (Knesset) election, Shas became a kingmaker in Israeli coalition governments. The movement then used its lynchpin position to win government funding for a massive network of Haredi welfare and educational institutions that is almost entirely under its own control. Shas penetrated the Israeli state to bypass it.3

 

4. Comunione E Liberazione: Laying the Building Blocks of a Parallel Christian Society in Italy

ePub

4

COMUNIONE E LIBERAZIONE

Laying the Building Blocks of a Parallel Christian Society in Italy

You cannot have a faith without a cultural expression and judgment on the world. Faith has to do with life—politics, sport, everything we live—it encompasses all of life.

—VOLUNTEER AT COMUNIONE E LIBERAZIONES
2008
MEETING OF FRIENDSHIP AMONG PEOPLES, RIMINI, ITALY

THE TACIT INDICTMENT THAT THE NETWORKS of the Muslim Brotherhood and Shas make of government welfare efforts in their countries is in good part responsible for their success in recruiting followers and garnering political support. Comunione e Liberazione (CL) is a Catholic integrist (orthodox) movement that developed its religious, cultural, and economic institutions in Italy, which, unlike Egypt and Israel, has a highly developed welfare state. Thus, a weak welfare state is not a necessary precondition for adopting the strategy of bypassing the state with a network of alternative institutions. Quite the contrary, CL built its institutions to obviate the need for such a strong state, an agenda that has been much shaped by its struggles against secular communist and socialist parties.

 

5. The Salvation Army USA: Doing Good to Hasten the Second Coming

ePub

5

THE SALVATION ARMY USA

Doing Good to Hasten the Second Coming

Action, action! Religion in action, this is what the world needs—religion alive, religion living among the people, religion going about doing good as well as singing hymns.

—EVANGELINE BOOTH, NATIONAL COMMANDER, SALVATION ARMY USA (1908)

THE SALVATION ARMY USA TAKES ITS name literally and, like the Muslim Brotherhood, Shas, and Comunione e Liberazione, sees itself as battling secularism and modernity. It differs from the other three movements in having become known to most Americans more for its economic mission than for its theological or cultural agendas. The Salvation Army USA is also distinctive in that it has never formed a political party or pressure group. While its purpose has been broadly political, the Army has limited its direct political engagement to moving the state in what it sees as a Christian direction through behind-the-scenes lobbying on Capitol Hill. And the Army differs from the Muslim Brotherhood and Shas in that its social service network has generally not been seen by the public as putting the state’s modest efforts to help the poor to shame, in part because many Americans have minimal expectations of the social welfare functions of government. In its early years in the United States, the Salvation Army bypassed the state by establishing institutions that offered faith-infused services to the poor, unemployed, homeless, and sick that were not provided by the state. In more recent decades, the Army has sidestepped the state in that its institutions complement or fill holes in the service delivery of the weak U.S. welfare state. Throughout its history, the movement has regarded its efforts in building a vast network of religion-based institutions as having the critically important theological purpose of paving the way for the Second Coming of Christ.

 

Details

Print Book
E-Books
Chapters

Format name
ePub
Encrypted
No
Sku
B000000051583
Isbn
9780253007148
File size
545 KB
Printing
Allowed
Copying
Allowed
Read aloud
Allowed
Format name
ePub
Encrypted
No
Printing
Allowed
Copying
Allowed
Read aloud
Allowed
Sku
In metadata
Isbn
In metadata
File size
In metadata