Dr. Timothy S. Shah is co-founder and the Director of Strategic Initiatives of the Center for Shared Civilizational Values and Distinguished Research Scholar in Politics at the University of Dallas. By training and personal passion, he is a scholar of politics and political philosophy, specializing in religion and global politics, religious freedom, and the history of moral and political theory. Dr. Shah’s pioneering works have been widely praised and published by leading scholarly imprints and foreign policy journals.

“Dr. Shah’s exceptional work in the promotion of religious liberty, both at home and across the globe, has established him as a major figure in national and international discussions of what… Americans have long—and rightly—regarded as ‘the first freedom.’”

~ Robert George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University

From 2017 to 2020, Dr. Shah led an intensive project funded by Templeton Religion Trust examining the religious freedom landscape in South and Southeast Asia. One of the project’s major findings—that Nahdlatul Ulama spiritual leaders “represent the most theologically potent and operationally effective actors promoting religious liberty in the Islamic world today”—inspired Dr. Shah to join these NU leaders in establishing the Center for Shared Civilizational Values (CSCV) in 2021. With his wife, Rebecca Shah, he is based in Bangalore, India, where he also heads the CSCV Ashoka Program.

Among numerous achievements in recent years, Dr. Shah co-founded the Washington-based Religious Freedom Institute in 2016, serving as its Vice President for Strategy and International Research and director of its South and Southeast Asia Action Team until 2020. Between 2011 and 2018, he was based at Georgetown University, where he served as associate director of the Berkley Center’s Religious Freedom Project and associate professor of the practice of religion and global politics in Georgetown’s Department of Government. He was previously a senior fellow at the Pew Research Center and, from 2004 to 2009, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, where he directed (with Walter Russell Mead) the Council’s first program on Religion and Foreign Policy.

Cambridge University Press, 2018

“In recent years, academic and policy debates over religious freedom have had the unexpected but welcome effect of encouraging researchers to revisit several long-neglected questions: just what we mean by ‘religion’, whether religion is universal, and the implications of religion’s presence in societies for our understanding of human nature. Although these questions are being posed anew in many circles, Timothy Samuel Shah and Jack Friedman’s Homo Religiosus? is the first book to bring together a multidisciplinary group of scholars to address the issues in a philosophically sophisticated and comparative manner. The result is a pathbreaking book. The exercise is also bracing: even as its contributors speak in varied voices, their shared effort highlights the most critical epistemological and ethical shifts underway today in the comparative study of religion and human freedom.”

~ Robert Hefner, Professor of Anthropology and International Relations at Boston University and President of the American Institute for Indonesian Studies

Dr. Shah is the author or editor of numerous books, including Even if There is No God: Hugo Grotius and the Secular Foundations of Modern Political Liberalism (Oxford University Press, forthcoming); Under Caesar’s Sword: Christian Responses to Persecution (Cambridge University Press, 2018); Homo Religiosus? Exploring the Roots of Religion and Religious Freedom in Human Experience (Cambridge University Press, 2018); Christianity and Freedom: Historical Perspectives and Christianity and Freedom: Contemporary Perspectives (both with Cambridge University Press, 2016); Rethinking Religion and World Affairs (Oxford University Press, 2012); Religious Freedom: Why Now? Defending an Embattled Human Right (Witherspoon Institute, 2012); and God’s Century: Resurgent Religion and Global Politics (W.W. Norton and Company, 2011). Dr. Shah’s articles on religion, religious freedom and global politics, in history and in the contemporary world, have appeared in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, the Journal of Law and Religion, Journal of Democracy, Review of Politics, Fides et Historia, and elsewhere.

“Under Caesar’s Sword” was a three-year, collaborative global research project undertaken by the University of Notre Dame and the Religious Freedom Project at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University. Dr. Shah jointly led the project, which investigated how Christian communities respond when their religious freedom is severely violated. Project outputs included an extensive report; a study series and online course; a three-day conference at the Pontifical Urban University in Rome; an edited volume published by Cambridge University Press in 2018 and a documentary film, both titled Under Caesar’s Sword.

Film Teaser
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Full Documentary
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Film Trailer
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Cambridge University Press, 2016

“Acknowledging that the record is mixed, scholars document how the seeds of freedom in Christianity antedate and ultimately undermine later Christian justifications and practices of persecution. Drawing from history, political science, and sociology, this volume will become a standard reference work for historians, political scientists, theologians, students, journalists, business leaders, opinion shapers, and policymakers.”

Oxford University Press, 2012

“Drawing on the work of leading scholars as well as policy makers and analysts, Rethinking Religion and World Affairs is the first comprehensive and authoritative guide to the interconnections of religion and global politics.”

In addition to his affiliations with the Center for Shared Civilizational Values and the University of Dallas, Dr. Shah also currently serves as a senior fellow at the Archbridge Institute as well as the principal investigator for the Freedom of Religious Institutions in Society (FORIS) project at the Religious Freedom Institute.

Dr. Shah received his A.B. in Government, magna cum laude, in 1992 and a Ph.D. in political science, in 2002, both from Harvard University. From 1997 to 1998, he was a Visiting Graduate Student in Theology at Christ Church, Oxford University.

Biography and Profile Photo

Download Dr. Timothy Samuel Shah’s biography.