Todd H. Weir and Hugh McLeod, two leading historians of religion, have teamed up to edit a volume in the Proceedings of the British Academy that explores how conflicts between secular worldviews and religions shaped the history of the 20th century. With contributions considering case studies relating to Judaism, Christianity, Islam, atheism and communism, and from several continents, Defending the Faith: Global Histories of Apologetics and Politics in the Twentieth Century (Oxford UP, 2020) offers to re-shape the conceptual tools by which the history of religious politics and politicised religion will be shaped. What happens to the history of the "short 20th century" when the concept of apologetics is put at its centre? We discover that politics and religion are categories that overlap, and that actors in disputes between religions, and in disputes between religions and political entities, are constantly learning from each other.
Crawford Gribben is a professor of history at Queen’s University Belfast.