Summary of God, Caesar and the Freedom of Religion
by Elizabeth Warren
November 17, 2004
This book is a distillation of the current practices of 191 national governments concerning their respect for the Human Right of freedom of religion. Its focus on the relationships between governments and religions reveals the relative political power of both.
Religions are vital to societies. They give people a way to express their responses to the divine impulse. They form the basis for social order and morality. Since 1948 when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was approved by the United Nations, a majority of the nations of the world have approved it. The question presented by this book is, how well do the nations respect the right in practice? While a majority of the governments do respect the freedom of religion, some restrict the right of people to practice their religion through laws and administrative practices. Moreover, there are times when inter-religious rivalries get in the way of free expression of religion and lead to conflicts. Sometimes a benign religion comes to be used by militants who badly distort its message. Some religions become seekers after power, either with respect to each other or with respect to their governments. In at least one case, religion and government are one.
The book is different from others that discuss freedom of religion in that it classifies 191 countries according to their governments respect for freedom of religion in practice, using U.S. State Department reports and other sources. The focus of the book is political, not theological.