At the height of the influence of the secularisation thesis religion was understood to be absent from affairs of state and the law, including international politics and international law. As the critique of secularisation gained momentum this master narrative fell apart, and a new consensus began to take shape. The notion that religion had been ignored and should be ‘brought back in’ to International Relations took centre stage among many academics and practitioners. The assumption is that restoring religion in the right way will help address the problems associated with having ignored religion in IR, paving the way for the marginalisation of violent religion and globalisation of religious freedom. This article undertakes a critical analysis of this restorative narrative and the religious and political world it is creating. It then proposes a different approach to the intersection of religion and world politics after secularism. This approach draws attention to the authority of transnational actors such as the United States, United Nations, and European Union to shape the public administration of religious affairs globally. Channels through which this is accomplished include the promotion of religious freedom, humanitarian intervention, foreign aid, nation building and democratisation, counterterrorism and peace-building efforts, and the pronouncements of supra-national courts.
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