Scholarship in the field of religious activism has revealed much about what religious NGOs have achieved, but not why they have done it. The internal meaning-making structures and processes driving NGO behaviour have remained largely unexamined. In this book, Julia Berger breaks new ground by identifying constructs from within a religious tradition that forge new ways of pursuing social and political transformation. She identifies the operation of a distinct rationality that opens new horizons for understanding the role of religion in the modern world. Her analysis reveals that action is guided not simply by beliefs and values but by a combination of elements so intrinsic as to constitute an 'organizational DNA'.

To demonstrate the operation and salience of such a rationality, Berger draws on the example of the Baha'i community. Emerging in 19th century Iran, its theological engagement with questions of politics and global order, as well as its long-standing engagement in the global political arena constitutes one of the most distinct and compelling, yet least-researched examples of religious activism. Analyzing events spanning a 70-year period from 1945-2015, this book provides a unique historical perspective on the evolution of civil society engagement in the political sphere.