1510623_1375984419369773_2230796617787010338_nCan we hope for a better society? That is the animating question behind an ambitious project, the International Panel on Social Progress (IPSP). Inspired by Amartya Sen, the project is modeled after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and is guided by a scientific council and a steering committee. It exists to “harness the competence of hundreds of experts about social issues” and to “deliver a report addressed to all social actors, movements, organizations, politicians, and decision-makers, in order to provide them with the best expertise on questions that bear on social change.” Also modeled on the IPCC, drafts of the chapter reports are available for public comment. These are the collected responses to Chapter 16- Religions and Social Progress: Critical Assessments and Creative Partnerships, gathered from readers of The Immanent Frame.

To read the original call for comments, written by coordinating lead authors Nancy Ammerman and Grace Davie, click here. To read the entirety of Chapter 16, please visit this website.

Many thanks to Nancy Ammerman, Grace Davie, and David Smilde for collecting these responses. -Eds.

The respondents are:

Jeff Guhin, Assistant Professor of Sociology, UCLA

Prema Kurien, Professor of Sociology, Syracuse University

Rachel Rinaldo, Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Colorado- Boulder

Alexander Wilde, Center for Latin American and Latino Studies at American University

Rhys H. Williams, Professor of Sociology, Loyola University- Chicago


Jeff Guhin, Assistant Professor of Sociology, UCLA

First, I should say I really enjoyed reading this chapter. I learned a lot and, as a progressive myself, I felt quite inspired and excited about the really important work we all have to do in the era of Donald Trump. I do wish my secular progressive colleagues would recognize how important religious people could be as allies. The chapter is important, and I hope it gets a wide reading. Do you sense a “but” is coming?

Here’s the but: What does it mean to progress? I’m sure there are clearer definitions in the rest of this book, but there seemed to be an implicit assumption throughout the text—despite careful acknowledgements otherwise—that social progress means a gradual acceptance of particular Western liberal norms, namely the protection of the environment, a support for human rights (whatever that much contested term means), and an insistence upon the dignity of a kind of democratic self-fashioning. By democratic self-fashioning I refer not only to a sense within the text that democracy as a governmental form is that towards which we all should move, but also a sense that the democratic ethos—namely that humans are basically equal and ought to live lives of their own choosing—seems to be the driving force behind many of these suggestions. A more democratic world, then, will be progress.

We run into problems here. First, of course people progress. We cannot stay the same even if we wanted to: To use Martin Heidegger and Jean-Paul Sartre’s distinctions, we could not be beings-in-ourselves despite our best efforts. We are relational, and because we are relational, we progress. But what direction does that progress move? Could it be a very slow movement, or even a circular one? Is it meaningful to talk about the direction of that movement? Of course we progress forward in time, but need that mean we progress forward in other ways? And how do we even understand the term forward, which is necessarily a relational concept: To move forward requires a backwards, a boundary over which one can cross and that can indicate and even measure a given movement. Again, that’s easy enough with time, and by all appearances, physically necessary. And given our relational nature, some form of change is necessary for any social life as well. Yet that change might be the ongoing effort to resist entropy, to stay the same despite efforts against it. A swimmer against the current is progressing, just not the way the current wants.

Given the political valence of the chapter, the swimmer against the current metaphor seems odd, especially because I appear to be using it to describe those who fight against social progress. After all, surely if anyone is the current in this situation it is the religious conservatives, with sexual minorities or other progressives pushing against them towards progress. The authors of this chapter are quite capable of showing how complicated such a metaphor can be, and how it could work for some religions in some areas and not for other religions and other areas. So my point is not a counterargument about the very big (and probably unanswerable) question about the relationship of religion to social progress, but rather a suggestion that this chapter reads much less like a sociological article and much more like a very big policy briefing to a group of secular liberals who would like to know more about this big thing called religion. How can we pursue our secular liberal goals, the readers seem to want to know. What do we have to know to stop climate change, pursue rights for LGBT people, advocate for democracy, and develop feminism around the world?

That’s not a problem, of course. The authors are all scholars I deeply admire and their synthesis of a wide breadth of references is excellent. Yet the argument is fairly banal (Religion: it’s good but it’s also not!) and far too sweeping until you realize the point isn’t the argument. Rather, it is the translation: the insistence that secular progressives see religion not just as an enemy but a possible ally for their ends, even as the authors also provide various sophisticated examples of how such progress can work quite differently in different contexts, explaining why definitions and understandings of progress are not the same everywhere.

Yet that challenge of the definition (or even desirability) is fairly rare in the text, which generally takes for granted the progressive goals of its intended secular audience, as I understand it. There is some analysis of this in the section on human rights, yet it moves quickly to insist that “deployed prudently, religious resources significantly extend not only the reach of those who care about human rights, but their credibility” (paragraph 330). This is an empirical question and for what it’s worth, my hunch is it’s mostly true. Though it leaves the really interesting theoretical and empirical problems aside for a vision that is, I think, a bit too optimistic.

The authors cite Saba Mahmood’s work approvingly, but, paradoxically, as a way of showing women’s agency along these progressive lines, which is not how I interpret Mahmood’s work at all. As I see her project, it is precisely to challenge progressive visions of how Muslim women ought to act, which is what makes the female agency she describes so theoretically innovative. The authors also cite Mahmood as a warning to be careful about using feminism as an excuse for intervention, but that’s not really my concern here. The authors are quite sophisticated about the heterogeneity within religions and the fact that terms like progress and conversion have different meanings in different groups.

Despite that awareness, there is still a sense in which we ought to move towards a place that looks a lot like the more liberal parts of Western Europe. The parts that like minority religions, mind you, and that also acknowledge climate change and have a decent welfare state. There’s a sense that, all things being equal, it would be better if women could have jobs outside the home, if homosexuals could marry, if all adults in a country could vote, and if people worked to stop climate change. For what it’s worth, I share all of these commitments myself, but my research—both in the United States and in the Middle East—is with folks that don’t necessarily think these things. Of course, many of them agree with all, or some, or none. Like the authors repeatedly say, it’s complicated.

But if this chapter is really a conversation about how progressives can work with religions toward social progress, it’s just another indication we need other conversations about how progressives—both secular and religious—can live with people who would rather we not progress at all. And the starting point—for both sides—might be thinking harder about our assumptions regarding which direction forward actually is.


Prema Kurien, Professor of Sociology, Syracuse University

This chapter is a wonderfully comprehensive overview of how religion plays a role in a wide variety of arenas and consequently should be taken into consideration by researchers and policymakers interested in social progress in the twenty-first century.

One aspect not directly discussed in the chapter, though it comes up a few times (paragraphs 140 and 154), is the role of state policies in creating sociopolitical locations for religious groups. In my own work, I have begun to see the importance of religion not just as belief, culture, and social affiliation, but as group location. My research focuses on migration and immigration and how migration, settlement, and community formation are shaped by religion. More recently, I have become interested in how religion plays a role in the political mobilization of immigrant groups. Below, I give three quick examples of how state policies have shaped the immigration and mobilization patterns of South Asian ethnoreligious communities.

In some of my research on out-migration from India to the Middle East and the West, I saw that British colonial policies towards Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims influenced their patterns of emigration during the colonial period, but also in the postcolonial period, by determining their social location in colonial and postcolonial India. This social location in turn affected the educational and occupational profiles of each of the groups, their family structures, and their social networks—factors which were fundamental in structuring the migration flows.

My research on political mobilization of Indian American groups showed me how religious minority and majority status in the United States and in India (of Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, and Christians) shaped the mobilization patterns of religious majority and minority groups around domestic and foreign policy issues in very similar ways, despite big differences in the religious beliefs, community organizations, practices, and economic profiles of these four religious groups.

Finally, differences in the political opportunity structures of Canada and the United States have had major impacts on the patterns of mobilization of South Asians and the identities under which they mobilize in the public sphere in the two countries. I focused my research on individuals of Hindu background (from India, Sri Lanka, and the Caribbean), and of Sikh background. In particular, the more decentralized nature of Canada when compared to the United States seems to promote mobilization through more informal local networks, compared to national advocacy organizations in the United States. Again, the more secular public sphere in Canada when compared to the United States means that individuals are much more likely to mobilize under an ethnic, rather than a religious, identity in Canada, while mobilization under a religious identity is common in the United States.

In assessing the role of religions in social progress, the role of the state in molding the sociopolitical location of religious groups is an important question to be raised.


Rachel Rinaldo, Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Colorado- Boulder

The chapter on “Religions and social progress” points to an urgent need: for religious and secular progressives to come together to discuss social progress and movement toward societies in which all can flourish. The chapter is an impressive statement that draws on the best recent research in religion to critically examine religion’s role in major aspects of well-being, including family and gender, diversity, environment, and human rights. What is crucial here is the authors’ understanding of religion that recognizes that for many people religion is a cultural good. The emphasis is on everyday lived religion, that is, the diversity of practices and interpretations within religions. This helps us see religious communities and institutions as critical spaces of engagement with ideas of progress and social justice, and it underscores the need to question the secular/religious divide that is so often taken for granted in both scholarship and activism. Indeed, the analysis in this chapter of religion and the secular is particularly useful in how it questions this binary and for the eminently sensible reminder that secular and religious ideas about a more just society are very often aligned.

It is precisely such an approach that is too often missing in contemporary discussions of religion, particularly when it comes to Islam. Deniz Kandiyoti long ago cautioned against exegetical approaches to religion that gloss conditions in contemporary Muslim societies as a direct outcome of religious texts and practice. However, such ahistorical and anti-social scientific analyses of religion remain all too common. Hopefully, this chapter will provide a necessary corrective.

As a scholar of gender and Islam in contemporary Indonesia, I am particularly heartened by the section on family, gender, and sexuality. The authors rightly challenge the tendency to view secularism as automatically positive for the rights and empowerment of women and LGBTQ people, and the correlate tendency to frame religion as backwards in these regards. They also make the fundamental point that struggles between different family and gender ideals are often just as much about contrasting visions within religions as they are between religion and secular ideals. As my coauthors and I write in a recent article, critiques of religious institutions were historically an important aspect of feminism in the West, and this seems to have contributed to a continuing inattention to religion among gender scholars. But when it comes to gender, family, and sexuality, this lingering binary of secular versus religious ignores significant distinctions between lived and officially sanctioned versions of religion, overlooks the complexity of religious ideas and practice and their intersections with other cultural discourses, erases the contributions of religious feminists, and neglects the lengthy history of secular states and movements seeking to instill patriarchal family ideologies. For example, while conservative Muslim political actors in Indonesia today certainly have an agenda to re-patriarchalize the family, it was the secular Suharto regime in the 1970s and 1980s that quite successfully promulgated a patriarchal nuclear family model in which women were envisioned primarily as mothers and wives, and men as breadwinners and leaders. Such rhetoric continues to be common in Indonesia but with a new overlay of religious justification. Muslim women activists have arguably been most active in attempting to challenge such discourses about womanhood.

And yet, the pervasiveness of this discourse does not necessarily mean that families have actually become any more patriarchal. In my recent research on gender and marriage in Java, for example, I find that women are increasingly pursuing opportunities for higher education, continuing to work outside the household at rates similar to those in the 1990s, and seem to be holding their husbands to higher standards (evidenced by a rising divorce rate). The widespread rhetoric about wives obeying their husbands, voiced emphatically by many women, reflects a desire to live up to the ideal of a good Muslim woman, but in new ways that differ from previous generations. The ideal of the obedient Muslim wife increasingly makes room for wives who work outside the house. Such complexity would be hard to understand without the important recent scholarship on gender and religion cited in this chapter. As this chapter makes clear, such scholarship shows that religion can be an arena for women’s agency, that everyday lived religion often differs from official narratives, and has also helped us in understanding that religion is only one of several intersecting social forces shaping men’s and women’s lives (Avishai, Jafar, and Rinaldo, 13).

This chapter also underscores just how difficult it can be to categorize the politics of many religious actors. Labels like progressive, liberal, conservative, or fundamentalist can mask the complexities contained within each category. It is hard to think of alternatives, but it is worth recognizing that perhaps because these terms originate in the West, they don’t always map on perfectly to conditions outside the West, even though they are also widely used in places like Indonesia. For example, Indonesia’s mainstream Muslim organizations tend to espouse fairly conservative views of gender (with some important exceptions), yet they have also been crucial for supporting religious tolerance and democratization. These organizations have helped to produce some of Indonesia’s most important women’s rights and human rights activists, yet they have also supported reactionary legislative efforts such as the controversial pornography law passed in 2008. Contradictions and complexities such as these can be significant stumbling blocks for progressive activists seeking allies in religious organizations.

In fact, upon first reading this chapter, it struck me that progress and well-being are defined in vague terms. Certainly, the more conservative Muslims I have talked with in Indonesia think that they are working toward a better society, but overall their vision for the future of the country is quite different than Muslim reformists or progressives. Conservatives tend to stress that a better society involves a more patriarchal family and a greater role for Islam in state policy and legislation. Reformists, in contrast, emphasize a more democratic family and a role for Islam as part of civil society but not state institutions. How, exactly, are we to reconcile these very different visions of progress, well-being, and social justice?

I think the authors of this chapter do recognize this dilemma. For one, I think they would agree that the dividing lines are not necessarily between religious and secular, but between progressive and conservative (for lack of better labels). Second, I suspect they chose to define well-being and flourishing broadly because to do otherwise would foreclose the chance for secular and religious progressives to find common ground. It is very much the same reason that many anarchists and others on the left have sometimes been reluctant to define precisely what their imagined society should look like. Such set visions conflict with the crucial part of creating a more participatory, just, and democratic society: the collective process of deliberation and discussion that is in fact the enactment of those very aims.


Alexander Wilde, Center for Latin American and Latino Studies at American University

Generations of intellectuals, social scientists, and policymakers have treated religion and social progress as inimical. But in our contemporary world it is increasingly evident that their relationship is more complex: That historical circumstances and human agency have a great deal to do with whether religion is a force that helps or hinders such progress. As a visible defining force of our twenty-first century world, religion calls out for serious research guided by new premises.

This impressive initiative is a significant step toward a fresh agenda that reframes the whole subject. Several premises seem to me particularly important. One is that religious ideas and practices can be powerful motivations to social action, legitimated by religious leaders and mobilized by religious communities. Another is that religion as a social force is better understood in terms of “contextualized lived realities,” as distinguished from static beliefs or abstract concepts that stand outside the forces and processes of history.

The draft of Chapter 16 (“Religion and Social Progress: Critical Assessments and Creative Partnerships”) provides a stimulating preliminary synthesis and classification of emerging but scattered literatures on religion and a vast range of social phenomena— from gender, diversity, and conflict through democratic governance, economic issues, the environment, and human rights. It offers a very useful framework for other researchers to complement, challenge, and deepen the authors’ analysis.

A recent two-year multidisciplinary research project on “Religious Responses to Violence in Latin America” (RVLA) shares the core premises of the IPSP initiative and complements its universal scope with more than a dozen pieces of new research by experts on this important world region, published in the volume Religious Responses to Violence: Human Rights in Latin America Past and Present. RVLA produced fresh findings relevant to three or four of the seven themes of this IPSP draft chapter. Here I will comment on just one of them: religion and human rights.

In the 1970s and 80s, Latin America was a pioneer in creating strong national social movements based in civil society that succeeded in important ways in defending human rights under authoritarian regimes and shaping the international human rights regime. Since the 1990s, in electoral democracies throughout the region, those movements have continued to influence national policy and law, and human rights remains an important valence in more open politics, competing with other issues on public agendas.

The influence of religion—specifically, Christianity—was observably important in shaping national human rights movements, at least as much as Christian churches in Europe. The movements in Brazil, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Guatemala, and El Salvador, in particular, were led by the Catholic Church. Although general histories of the human rights movement acknowledge this role, they focus far more on secular actors in the global North and the developments ascribed to them. At the same time, the social science research on religion in Latin America in the post-authoritarian period has been dominated by efforts to understand the astonishing rise of evangelical Christianity in the region and Catholic retrenchment under Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. The RVLA project aimed to bridge the gap between the separate literatures on human rights and Latin American religion and to illuminate the religious dimensions critical to the active defense of human rights.

The importance of individual and institutional experience in the RVLA research proved a particularly enlightening way to understand how human rights came to be a religious cause in Latin America. More specifically, it led to a focus (unanticipated at the project’s inception) on pastoral “accompaniment”: the incorporation of the secular idea of human rights at the direct interface of lived faith in a violent world. (It is not without significance that Pope Francis, the first Pontiff from Latin America, reflects a similar pastoral emphasis—the Church as “a field hospital after battle”—in his efforts to forge a new consensus in world Catholicism.) The project’s heuristic division between religious responses to violence in an authoritarian past and democratic present stimulated a host of fresh insights about historical context and religious influence in larger social processes.

Religious defense of human rights is much less visible in Latin America today than in the past, for reasons that have to do both with a more open political context and the religious sphere specifically. And yet, as emerged in the RVLA research, human rights remain an important referent for the churches in contemporary social conflicts, ranging from violence against Central American migrants in Mexico to mixed political and criminal violence in Colombia to emblematic struggles between local communities with natural resources and corporations that wish to exploit them. Church-linked actors, often in ecumenical efforts, have educated people about the rights due them by law—particularly rural populations, women, and indigenous communities.

In a spectrum of active involvement, the churches have also promoted human rights as a broad ideal, encompassing social, economic, and cultural dimensions within the panoply of rights necessary to the fuller life that God intended for humanity. Although civil and political rights (and the rights to physical integrity and life itself), unfortunately remain relevant concerns—the broader, more holistic scope of human rights has endured as a notable principle in the Catholic Church, in its public proclamations, and in its actual practice. In Peru, for example, Javier Arellano found that “a spirituality of accompaniment filters the ideological element of liberation theology” to incorporate “environmental and human rights discourses with a religious framework . . . driven by pastoral practices at the grassroots level.” Such conflicts between local communities and extractive industries are occurring in many places throughout Latin America today, and a wider, religiously linked concept of human rights has promise of finding allies and achieving real impact.

In sum, the draft of Chapter 16 offers an exciting initial scan of the rich possibilities to broaden and deepen our understanding of how religion affects different dimensions of social progress—possibilities that can draw on the multidisciplinary perspectives and skills of country and regional specialists.


Rhys H. Williams, Professor of Sociology, Loyola University- Chicago

Nancy Tatom Ammerman and Grace Davie have accomplished an extraordinary task: along with an international group of sociologists of religion, they have produced a synthetic and remarkably comprehensive report on “religion and social progress.”

The task before them was to account for the state of the world in terms of religion and social progress, and to assess the possibilities for fostering and developing any of the positive relationships they find. To that end, their subtitle, “critical assessments and creative partnerships,” is apt as they orient their lengthy account not just to what is known to scholarship, but what might be done by policy-oriented experts and/or activists interested in “social progress.”

Given the task and the sponsorship of the International Panel on Social Progress, one needs to basically accept the notion of “social progress” as an orienting frame. Wisely, I think, the authors here decided not to engage “progress” as a concept necessarily implying a temporal direction to history—a notion that would fly in the face of the declension narratives used in some religious worldviews. Nor do they consider “progress” in its ideological heritage. Rather, they settle on a basic and reasonably commonsense (I do not use that pejoratively) idea of “human flourishing.” Further, they note that what people themselves consider to be flourishing varies widely and is deeply embedded socially and culturally. They recognize, for example, that while economic misery definitely falls into the category of “not flourishing,” they do not assume that acquiring wealth, or the desire to acquire material wealth, is either a natural or universal tendency among peoples, nor that it necessarily leads to flourishing.  The authors consistently note that what constitutes flourishing is socially and culturally variable, and is deeply influenced by religion and spirituality.

That said, the chapter has a basically “liberal” overall conception of flourishing, in that it prizes a certain equity in distributional systems, a certain amount of self-determination, and societal institutions that recognize and regard a basic understanding of “human rights.” Most readers, including this one, would endorse that as a general idea of flourishing, although the idea of autonomy and rights—especially as they are the entitlements of individuals—are modernist concepts and not ones that are equally at home in all spiritual and religious traditions. To be fair, the chapter’s final section on human rights recognizes many of these dilemmas—for example, how the concept of protecting the human rights of individual persons can conflict with respecting the human rights of a religious group in which certain communal obligations or practices are valued.

But, what is one to do? At some point, if one is going to bother with a project like this, some normative decisions have to be made. As with all judgments, some things are privileged more than others. I can live with the decisions made here about human flourishing; the authors go to great lengths to try to understand religious actions, beliefs, and traditions in their contexts, trying to see both from the inside out and make assessments from the outside in. In virtually every section there is consideration of alternative understandings or practices either across religious traditions, or between “official” religious teachings and local practices, or in different sociocultural settings. The chapter is careful to cast as wide a net as possible across social science scholarship in order to provide illustrative examples and tries to balance qualitative insights with quantitative comparisons.

All of this is to the good. I think almost anyone will learn something here, and the authors’ tone of balanced, sympathetic considerations of both positive and negative dynamics is clear throughout. If one objects to thinking of religion as primarily a “means” to social progress—as useful to an end that lies beyond the religion itself—one won’t like the chapter. Further, the authors consistently note the power and ubiquity of the market, generally in its current neoliberal forms. One inescapable aspect of modernity, it seems to me, is the ascension of the market as both a structural feature of distribution and, more recently, as a cultural value that should be protected and celebrated. The authors are rightly skeptical about that, but I imagine some might not like that critical eye. But I am not sure there is anything the authors could have done to satisfy either of these foundational objections.

On the other hand, I would offer a few places in which I was provoked into thinking that additional work would be most welcome. For example, some definitional wrestling would have helped parts of the analysis. Section 4, which largely focuses on religion in public and political life, is generally concerned with assessing religion’s contribution to “democracy.” Certainly an important topic, but democracy is one of those concepts that more often lauded than defined. The section notes the many different ways in which religion can relate to the state, and how states vary in their orientation to religion, but “democracy” is mostly assumed as a form of liberal representativeness in the polity. Particularly when dealing with communalist religious traditions, whether democratic inclusion is in the process of decision making, or in the consequences of policy outcomes can be significant.

Second, while Section 2 has a necessary focus on “family, gender, and sexuality,” I thought it did not pay enough attention to “reproduction.” I mean that in both its biological and sociological senses. At the heart of many conceptions of family, and integral to many religious traditions, is the idea of “bringing children up in the faith”—that is, reproducing the religious community, as well as reproducing the family and the society. This is often centrally understood as the “essence” of women, and thus is part of reproducing patriarchy as well. Clearly this multi-meaning sense of reproduction is used in contemporary politics, particularly in the United States, to limit or even roll back the progress women have made in various social and political spheres. Of course, extending the liberal idea of “rights” to the unborn is the dominant political discourse, but what is threatened is a certain type of social reproduction, and for many this starts with a religious understanding of biological reproduction.

Third, and this reflects my own interests, the chapter alludes to but never really engages religion and “place.” Certainly the section on the natural environment discusses religion and nature and understandings of nature—important and well done. But how is religion “placed” both geographically and socially. A significant part of religion is about “blood and land,” with two senses of each term. Blood is emblematic of the sacrifice so central to many religious traditions, and the consanguinity that constitutes many ethnoreligious communities. Land is, of course, the literal emplacement of communities, but is also deeply connected to history and identity—again sometimes constitutively. Patterns of migration and immigration, not to mention religious conversion, often disrupt the relationships that bind religious communities, land, and the sacred. But in our globalizing neoliberal world, so does communications technology and market processes. We have heard odes to the potential that the worldwide web holds for “placeless-ness” and how that may foster, democracy, economic development, and human connection. Even without accepting those rosy prognostications, the challenge to religion and religious communities seems clear. Will faith change when “blood and land” can no longer be as central?

Finally, I applaud the number of times and the varied ways in which the authors represent and account for religious variety, and their emphasis on the local lived practice as the key to the creative partnerships and potential they hope for. But, to call for a bit of conceptual “lumping” to go with the empirical “splitting” so well represented, I would have used religious responses to modernity as more of an anchoring distinction. I understand there are multiple modernities, and reject the simple evolutionary story that modernization theory so long assumed as social science “law.” Nonetheless, in many of the hoped-for partnerships and progressive endeavors the authors call for here, it still seems to me that there is a basic difference among what I might call “totalizing” religious outlooks compared to those traditions and communities that have fundamentally accommodated to a certain amount of modernity’s compartmentalization. The challenges of state power and economic markets are difficult for any community to avoid or resist. Many still try, however. Or they try to selectively adopt some dimensions of modernity and hold others at bay (I am not alluding to the worn-out “irony” of fundamentalist groups using the latest technology—that is only ironic to a worn-out conceptualization of modernization). But many of the hopes embodied here, and many of the policy partnerships or activist agendas the authors hope to foster require a capacity for groups to work outside any totalizing outlook, religious or secular. Engaging that barrier, it seems to me, is important.

Ammerman, Davie, and their crew of highly qualified and respected coauthors have produced a significant document. It achieves significant things in terms of both scope and depth, and points to streams of research of which I was unaware. I learned much, and I congratulate the authorial team. It is testimony to their good work that we see how much there is still to do.