Law, religion, and state building

Religion features prominently in contemporary domestic politics and global conflicts, from Egypt and Ethiopia to Ukraine and the United States. People building states—whether colonial, authoritarian, or democratic states—consistently use legal tools such as writing constitutions, enacting agreements, and constructing law faculties, and prison systems. They also often use religious rhetoric to shape their political decisions. Likewise, those challenging state authority often turn to religion, rather than away from it, as a source of activism. As Mark Fathi Massoud writes in his introduction to the forum, “people who care about justice draw a causal link between their theological beliefs and their struggles for the rule of law.” Curated and edited by Mona Oraby (TIF editor and Howard University), this conversation features essays by leading scholars and policy analysts who consider the entanglements of law, religion, and state building across times and places—and the consequences of these entanglements for global politics and social justice.