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Reverse Mission

Transnational Religious Communities and the Making of US Foreign Policy

Many Catholic priests, nuns, and brothers in the United States take a strong interest in US policies that affect their "brothers and sisters" abroad. In fact, when the policies of their native government pose significant dangers to their people internationally, these US citizens engage actively in a variety of political processes in order to protect and advance the interests of the transnational religious communities to which they belong. In this provocative examination of the place of religion in world politics, Timothy A. Byrnes focuses on three Catholic communities—Jesuit, Maryknoll, and Benedictine—and how they seek to shape US policy in El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Mexico. Based on years of fieldwork and on-the-ground interviews, Reverse Mission details the transnational bonds that drive the political activities of these Catholic orders.

This fascinating book reveals how the men and women of these orders became politically active in complex and sometimes controversial causes and how, ultimately, they exert a unique influence on foreign policy that is derived from their communal loyalties rather than any ethnic or national origin.

About the Author

Timothy A. Byrnes is a professor of political science at Colgate University and the author or editor of several books including Catholic Bishops in American Politics and Transnational Catholicism in Postcommunist Europe.

Review

"Byrnes effectively shows how the differences between the orders both in terms of structure and ministerial charism lead to different mobilizations vis-à-vis US foreign policy.Byrnes has cleared the ground for more probing analysis of this vital religious dimension of the growing border crossings of twenty-first century politics."—Review of Politics

Endorsement

"This gem of a book is an elegantly structured, deeply researched, and beautifully written analysis. Byrnes develops highly original arguments and offers many fresh insights. He reminds us that, at its best, social science writing is intellectually riveting, politically consequential, and normatively engaged."—Peter J. Katzenstein, Walter S. Carpenter Jr. Professor of International Studies, Cornell University

Georgetown University Press
Religion and Politics

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