Until at least the 1980s, the dominant academic paradigm—secularization theory—predicted that religion would disappear or at least decline significantly. Yet it is increasingly clear that this has not occurred. Jonathan Fox developed and tested the secular-religious competition perspective, which posits that currently secular and religious actors compete to influence state religion policy. He also compared and contrasted this theory with other prominent theories on religion and politics. The Berkley Center's Jocelyne Cesari moderated the discussion.
Jonathan Fox is professor at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel. He specializes in the influence of religion on politics, using both quantitative and qualitative methodology to analyze the impact of religion on domestic conflict, international relations. Fox was part of the Templeton Foundation-funded Religion and State project from 2008 to 2011, which collected and analyzed data on government involvement in religion. Since 2001, he has been a research fellow at Bar-Ilan's Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, becoming a senior research fellow in 2004. He has also worked on the Minorities at Risk and State Failure projects. Fox is the author or editor of several books and over fifty research articles and book chapters, including Political Secularism, Religion, and the State: A Time Series Analysis of Worldwide Data (forthcoming) and Religion in International Relations Theory: Interactions and Possibilities (2013, with Nukhet Sandal). He received his B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis and Ph.D. from the University of Maryland.
Jocelyne Cesari is a senior fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs and visiting associate professor in the Department of Government. A renowned scholar of Islam and Middle Eastern politics, she also directs the “Islam in the West" program at Harvard University and the Berkley Center’s Islam in World Politics program.