Religion has power structures that require and justify its existence, spread its influence, and mask its collaboration with other power structures. Power, like religion, is in collaboration. Along this line, this book affirms that one could see and study the power structures and power relations of a religion in and through the missions of empires. Empires rise and roam with the blessings and protections of religious power structures (e.g., scriptures, theologies, interpretations, traditions) that in return carry, propagate and justify imperial agendas. Thus, to understand the relation between religion and power requires one to also study the relation between religion and empires.
Christianity is the religion that receives the most deliberation in this book, with some attention to power structures and power relations in Hinduism and Buddhism. The cross-cultural and inter-national contributors share the conviction that something within each religion resists and subverts its power structures and collaborations. The authors discern and interrogate the involvements of religion with empires past and present, political and ideological, economic and customary, systemic and local. The upshot is that the book troubles religious teachings and practices that sustain, as well as profit from, empires.
Timely and prophetic, this book provides astute social analyses and critical biblical and theological resources to disrupt the power of Empire. Writing from many parts of the globe, the authors offer ecumenical visions for working for justice and provide concrete case studies of resistance movements. It deserves to be widely read and studied. -- Kwok Pui-lan, Distinguished Visiting Professor of Theology, Candler School of Theology, Emory University Postcolonial, liberative, and transgressive in orientation, the essays in Religion and Power critique the imperial power structures and challenge the theological frameworks that undergird the status quo of empire and sustain its exercise of power and control. Religion and Power is essential reading for anyone interested in cutting-edge scholarship by both established and emerging scholars representing the diverse breadth and critical depths of emergent decolonial scholarship, subaltern movements, indigenous communities, and marginalized voices on decolonizing empire and imperial structures. -- Jonathan Y. Tan, The Archbishop Paul J. Hallinan Professor of Catholic Studies, Case Western Reserve University I cannot reiterate too strongly the importance and significance of this text. For too long now, the issue of power, particularly, as it relates to the substantive role exercised by religion in the promulgation of empire and colonialism has remained the "elephant in the room." Whether in terms of the embedded nature of colonialism within sacred texts or the extent to which the agency of indigenous and subaltern peoples has been compromised by the collusion between religion and the machinations of imperialism, there can be no doubting the often symbiotic relationship between religious traditions and power. This text offers important insights in our understanding of the dynamic between religion and power that cross disciplines, cultural contexts and epochs. As such, Religion and Power is a must read. -- Anthony G. Reddie, Extraordinary Professor and a Research Fellow at the University of South Africa Religion and Power gathers together an exceptionally perceptive and daringly prophetic collection of timely essays by feet-on-the-ground theologians and biblical scholars from across the world. Probing and compelling analysis of the empire of Mammon is complemented with imaginative and credible alternatives for advancing the kingdom of God. I would want this book in the hands of all twenty-first century Empire resisters and kingdom activists in churches and seminaries around the world. -- Sathianathan Clarke, The Bishop Sundo Kim Chair in World Christianity and Professor of Theology, Culture, and Mission, Wesley Theological Seminary The Council for World Mission has gathered many of the world's finest radical activist theologians and asked them to reflect on the omnipresent evil of imperial power. The result is a truly stunning series of similarly focused, but differently themed volumes, of which Religion and Power is the first. This literary treasure awaits every seminary library, every teacher of theology, and every person with a heart for reclaiming the prophetic calling of Jesus--to be agitator and rabble-rouser, healer, and thinker, and to be inexorably committed to calling out and acting against injustice against anyone, anywhere, anytime. -- Jenny Te Paa Daniel, Co-Director, Ohaki Educational Consultancy and Te Mareikura, National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Otago This is the first of a five-volume series on Theology in the Age of Empire. It constitutes an excellent beginning. The volume, Religion and Power, addresses, in multiple ways and from multiple perspectives, the highly fraught intersection between imperial-colonial projects and movements, on the one hand, and religious-theological institutions and discourses, on the other. It does this in a highly informed, highly creative, and highly sophisticated fashion throughout, including an introduction that brings the contributions together in a pointed and suggestive fashion. I await the volumes to come with great anticipation. -- Fernando F. Segovia, Oberlin Graduate Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity, Vanderbilt Divinity School