Luke Bretherton, professor of theological ethics at Duke Divinity School and senior fellow at the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University, has written a book for the series Cambridge Studies in Social Theory, Religion and Politics titled Resurrecting Democracy: Faith, Citizenship and the Politics of a Common Life. 

Published by Cambridge University Press in December 2014, the book addresses the contemporary context of economic and political turmoil when the effectiveness of democracy in bringing accountability to financial markets and ruling elites is being tested. It is also a time when the relationship between different faiths and political life is under intense, often violent negotiation at a local, national, and international level worldwide.

This book develops an in-depth case study of community organizing in the global city of London and examines the worldwide legacy of community organizer and writer Saul Alinsky to provide a lens through which to constructively address these concerns and better understand the relationship between religious diversity, democratic citizenship, and economic and political accountability.

Part I of the book identifies and depicts a consociational, populist, and “faithfully secular” vision of democratic citizenship by reflecting on the different strands of thought and practice that feed into and help constitute community organizing. Particular attention is given to how organizing mediates the relationship between Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, and those without a religious commitment.

Community organizing is assessed as one way of constructing a form of secularity, the creation of which is mediated through a specific kind of democratic politics and produces a realm in which those of different faiths and identities and no faith may forge a common life.

Part II unpacks the implications of this vision for how people respond to the spheres in which citizenship is enacted through civil society, the sovereign nation-state, and the globalized economy. Overall, the book outlines a way of re-imagining democracy, addressing poverty, and developing innovative policy in the contemporary context.

Bretherton joined the Divinity School faculty in 2012 after having previously taught at King’s College London. His research and teaching focuses on theological ethics, political theology, missiology, and practices of social, political, and economic witness.