Politics of Religion at Home and Abroad

Politics of Religion at Home and Abroad

Politics of Religion at Home and Abroad is a three-year research project (2016-2019) funded by the Henry R. Luce Initiative on Religion in International Affairs. The project examines the particular complex of religion, law, and politics at the dynamic pivot between the domestic and the international in a time when the political role of religion is under renewed scrutiny and the nature and the role of the nation-state is under radical revision. The project examines the politics of religion from an “inside/outside” vantage point in order to better understand the phenomenology of this hybrid religious space and the symbiotic relation between US domestic and foreign policy, past and present, with regard to religion and religious governance.

The project includes a research program as well as pedagogical and public outreach elements. Networking and career development opportunities for younger scholars and advanced graduate students will be prioritized, and graduate students and a postdoctoral fellow will be closely engaged in project activities.


Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, Northwestern, is a specialist in the study of religion, politics, and governance in US foreign policy and international relations. Her first book, The Politics of Secularism in International Relations, won the 2011 American Political Science Association Hubert Morken Award for the best publication in religion and politics (2008-2010). Her most recent book is Beyond Religious Freedom: The New Global Politics of Religion.

Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, Professor of Religious Studies at Indiana University-Bloomington, is a specialist in the study of religion, law, and religious freedom as a matter of US domestic law and policy. The most recent of her four single-authored books, A Ministry of Presence: Chaplaincy, Spiritual Care and the Law, won the 2015 American Academy of Religion Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion in the category of Analytical-Descriptive Studies.

The principal investigators have worked together previously as part of a team to study the contemporary politics of religious freedom supported by Luce. This project picks up on unexplored themes that emerged in the course of Hurd and Sullivan’s collaborative work on the Politics of Religious Freedom project. The inside/outside question has arisen with increasing frequency over the past few years, in the US and elsewhere, signaling important directions for future research.


The Henry R. Luce Initiative on Religion in International Affairs aims to provide intellectual leadership, develop new paradigms for research and teaching, create new resources and networks, and enhance public understanding of and discussion about religion in the international sphere. The initiative supports projects that draw on scholarly expertise to foster and disseminate more nuanced, contextualized and dynamic understandings of religion in global public life, politics, and policy.