In the developing world, it was believed that the economic transformations of the 1950s and 1960s, when millions of people left their villages to start new lives in cities, would lead to a weakening of religious sentiment. Instead, today it needs to be recognized that progress is not a material issue alone. Moreover, development has too often failed to deliver even the material benefits it promised. Finally, the geopolitical vacuum left by the end of the Cold War, the current resurgence of religion became for many a modern attempt to harness traditional resources for contemporary use.
This phenomenon has assumed global dimensions because of the conflict between the United States and al-Qa‘eda and its affiliates, cast by both parties as a struggle between “the forces of good and evil”: a choice of terms that has the manifest goal of building support. Consequently, following the progressive linkage of politics and religion as well as studying its dynamic is imperative today for understanding contemporary political events—and the Nelson Institute undertakes to do both through an ongoing series of colloquia and publications.