Religion in International Politics and Development
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Religion in International Politics and Development

The World Bank and Faith Institutions

John A. Rees

This unique and fascinating book illustrates that in moving the research agenda forward – despite whatever methodological pitfalls that may await in the attempt – the dynamics of religion must now be considered to be of central and abiding importance in the study of world politics.
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Chapter 4: Religion and the World Bank

John A. Rees


Religion is a central part of the international system . . . even if it wished to do so, the Bank could not entirely sidestep the faith engagement. World Bank (2006, p. 3) Development requires a moral vision, not just ethics . . . no moral vision can shape society without a transcendent reference point. Vinay Samuel (2001, p. 240) Having employed religion as an organizing force at the discourse level of development, I now turn to the institutional level and specifically to the World Bank Group (WBG). By the phrase ‘institutional level analysis’ I mean the contexts and influences within and upon the WBG to engage with religious actors and interests. The present chapter lays the foundation for the investigations of Chapters 5 and 6 that takes a closer examination of WBG religion and development partnerships. The chapter begins by briefly introducing the significance of the WBG for the present study and describing its institutional attributes. Using the secular and sacral criteria of religious agency, I then describe the evolutions of the WBG from its creation after World War II to 2005 (the year ending the period of case studies examined in this book). Following this, a more specific modelling of the dynamics of religion is undertaken that identifies secular, integrated and sacral dynamics that helped bring religion into the policy domain of the WBG. The chapter ends with a brief discussion of the dynamics of inclusion and exclusion that arise from the WBG’s opening to religion, and that necessitate further investigation at the policy...

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