The issue of whether the state should be secular or religious has become, since the end of the Cold War, one of the greatest sources of conflict in international politics. Many scholarly works have appeared dealing with so-called fundamentalist movements in different parts of the world and different religions, but most concentrate on the Middle East and overlook other regions such as Africa south of the Sahara. This book, by contrast, concentrates largely on groups and areas which have hitherto received little attention in comparative works on "fundamentalism". However, it does include such well-known and especially significant cases as conservative Christianity in the United States and the Islamic Salvation Front, which was cheated of a legitimate election victory in Algeria.
This volume also differs from many others on contemporary 'fundamentalism' in having a clear theme: how, according to anti-secularist groups in various religions, the state should interact with the religious entities within its area - and how and to what extent anti-secularist movements, organisations and individuals oppose secularism and wish to reinforce the role of religion in political life.
The main focus in this book is on developments in the 1980s and early 1990s, and the perspective is global. It covers conservative Christianity not only in the USA but also in Guatemala, Russia, the Philippines and Black Africa; Islamism in Algeria, Sudan, Senegal, Tanzania, Malaysia and Indonesia, Afghanistan and the USA (the Nation of Islam); Buddhism in Sri Lanka and Burma (Myanmar); Hinduism and Sikhism in India; and traditional beliefs (the Odawa Indians of Michigan, USA). The policies of various governments on religion, and problems of terminology, are examined in an opening chapter.