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Claiming Society for God

Religious Movements and Social Welfare

Nancy J. Davis and Robert V. Robinson

Publication Year: 2012

Claiming Society for God focuses on common strategies employed by religiously orthodox, fundamentalist movements around the world. Rather than employing terrorism, as much of post-9/11 thinking suggests, these movements use a patient, under-the-radar strategy of infiltrating and subtly transforming civil society. Nancy J. Davis and Robert V. Robinson tell the story of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Shas in Israel, Comunione e Liberazione in Italy, and the Salvation Army in the United States. They show how these movements build massive grassroots networks of religiously based social service agencies, hospitals, schools, and businesses to bring their own brand of faith to popular and political fronts.

Published by: Indiana University Press

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pp. ix-xiii

Our interest in religiously orthodox (often called “fundamentalist”) movements began nearly twenty-five years ago. In 1982, we moved to the small town of Green-castle, Indiana, where religious orthodoxy has a long reach. Poverty and substandard housing were also not uncommon, and for that reason, in 1989 we became involved in a local chapter of...

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pp. xv-xvi

As we developed our theoretical arguments, we were influenced by conversations with many colleagues and friends. On our sabbatical in Italy in 1997, Enzo Pace of the Università degli Studi di Padova helped us in thinking about Comunione e Liberazione and encouraged us to pursue the study of religious orthodoxy in Islam. Michael Humphrey and his...

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pp. 1-9

Across the world today, religiously orthodox, “fundamentalist” movements of Christians, Jews, and Muslims have converged on a common strategy to install their faith traditions in societies and states that they see as alarmingly secularized. While many scholars, political observers, and world leaders, especially since September 11, 2001, see this...

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pp. 10-31

Contemporary “fundamentalist” movements—or as we prefer to call them, religiously orthodox movements—have been the subject of much scholarship, media coverage, and political punditry. Missing in nearly all accounts of the nature, strategies, and impact of such movements is an understanding of their underlying communitarian logic, including...

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2. THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD: Building a State within a State in Egypt

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pp. 32-61

The most prominent Islamist movement in the Muslim world today and the “mother organization of all Islamist movements” is the Society of Muslim Brothers. Founded in Egypt in 1928, the Muslim Brotherhood today has branches in some seventy countries. As Middle East area specialist Barry Rubin observes, “while other Islamist groups...

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3. THE SEPHARDI TORAH GUARDIANS: Penetrating the Israeli State to Circumvent It

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pp. 62-87

Breaking into politics would logically seem to come after a movement has used institution-building to win popular support for its political program, as we saw in the case of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. The Sephardi Torah Guardians, or Shas, in Israel shows otherwise. A Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) movement working to make Jewish religious law the...

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4. COMUNIONE E LIBERAZIONE: Laying the Building Blocks of a Parallel Christian Society in Italy

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pp. 88-112

The tacit indictment that the networks of the Muslim Brotherhood and Shas make of government welfare efforts in their countries is in good part responsible for their success in recruiting followers and garnering political support. Comunione e Liberazione (CL) is a Catholic integrist (orthodox) movement that developed its religious, cultural, and...

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5. THE SALVATION ARMY USA: Doing Good to Hasten the Second Coming

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pp. 113-142

The Salvation Army USA takes its name literally and, like the Muslim Brotherhood, Shas, and Comunione e Liberazione, sees itself as battling secularism and modernity. It differs from the other three movements in having become known to most Americans more for its economic mission than for its theological or cultural agendas. The Salvation Army...

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pp. 143-150

By telling the stories of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the Sephardi Torah Guardians or Shas in Israel, Comunione e Liberazione in Italy, and the Salvation Army in the United States, we have shown that the focus today in much scholarship and the media on the most violent of “fundamentalist” religious movements misses the fact that...


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pp. 151-183


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pp. 185-201


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pp. 203-214

E-ISBN-13: 9780253007148
E-ISBN-10: 0253007143
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253002341

Page Count: 234
Illustrations: 3 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2012