The first shot of the War on Terrorism was fired less than two years into the third millennium—the Twin Towers attack on September 11, 2001, touching off the first religious war of the new century, indeed one of the few religious conflicts since Protestants and Catholics clashed in the Thirty Years’ War that ended in 1648. Since then, there has been an uneasy truce between most of the world’s religions. But throughout, faith in all its forms has hardly lost its most fundamental emotional, social, and cultural attributes. These have led at times to quarrels, even remarkable condominiums—between nations and peoples, across borders and continents.

In this issue, World Policy Journal explores some of the foundations of faith, its fault lines, and the consequences of the use and abuse of religion. Defining our agenda is Olivier Roy, who heads the ReligioWest...

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