Though a significant minority across the world enjoy the gross material benefits of a prodigiously productive global economy, our planet is at the same time beset by escalating system-level crises. Deep economic inequality is intensifying both between and within national polities. Ecological degradation is calling into question the future of the earth as we know it, with disruptive climate change only the most prominent issue. Global (dis)order is stoking increased militarisation, including the possession of planet-destroying arsenals of nuclear weapons by a growing number of nation states and potentially by non-state actors. Democratic institutions and practices are being hollowed out from within, including from with – in supposedly mature liberal democracies. And there are crosscutting crises of existential meaning. In all of this, religion has an ambiguous place. Entrenched civil conflicts, fuelled by modern cleavages, are, for example, being fought in the name of deep ethnic and religious animosities. Religion, or to be more precise, one religious creed – Islam – is being used to name the reason for the militarisation of public security and border control. And in a world of fractured communities, interpersonal conflicts, ‘culture wars’ and crises of meaning, religion is treated as everything from part of the problem to the source of our salvation.
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