"This unique and groundbreaking analysis of the political strategies of the Gülen movement and the LDS community in the public sphere sheds light on the way religious movements are shaped and transformed by changing political circumstances, and in turn are agentic actors seeking influence and inclusion in the greater socio-political tapestry."—Sophia Pandya, California State University, Long Beach
"In an era in which scholars and policymakers alike are grappling with whether we live in a secular or post-secular age, studies like this which assess the dynamic role of religion and religious movements in the democratic public sphere are both timely and important."—Patrick Mason, Claremont Graduate University
"This well-written and richly researched study provides an indispensable account of the public policies of two controversial religious movements—the Mormon Church in America and the Gülen movement in Turkey. It concludes that their differing political stands are in part due to their differing political and religious contexts. It is an important and timely study relevant to anyone concerned about the global rise of religious politics."—Mark Juergensmeyer, University of California-Santa Barbara, author of Global Rebellion: Religious Nationalism Confronts the Secular State
In Faith and Politics in the Public Sphere, Ugur explores the politics of religious engagement in the public sphere by comparing two modernist conservative movements: the Mormon Church in the United States and the Gülen movement in Turkey. The book traces the public activities and activism of these two influential and controversial actors at the state, political society, and civil society domains, discerning their divergent strategies and positioning on public matters, including moral issues, religious freedoms, democracy, patriotism, education, social justice, and immigration. Despite being strikingly similar in their strong fellowship ties, emphasis on conservative social values, and their doctrines concerning political neutrality, these two religious entities have employed different political strategies to promote their goals of survival, growth, and the collective interests of their communities. In contrast to the Mormon Church’s more assertive approach and emphasis on its autonomy and distinctiveness, the Gülen movement has been rather cautious with its engagement in the public sphere, with preference for coalition building and ambiguity. To explain such different strategies, Ugur examines how the liberal and republican models of the public sphere have shaped the norms and practices of public activism for religious groups in Turkey and the United States. Ugur’s deft and nuanced exploration of these movements’ adaptation and engagement is essential to help us better understand the dynamic role of religious involvement in the public sphere.
Etga Ugur is assistant professor of political science at the University of Washington, Tacoma.
2 black and white illustrations, 1 maps