This chapter examines the use of religious language in peace agreements. They authors begin with a statistical analysis showing the significance of religious terminology in peace agreements 1990–2015 (even in today’s supposedly ‘secular’ world). This usage has multiple functions, appealing to different constituencies for different reasons. Forster and Bell highlight six. (1) It reinforces moral obligations to reconcile, creating reputational costs for parties who do not adhere. (2) It affirms unity in a common heritage, as a powerful reminder of shared values, beliefs, identities, and texts. (3) It reinforces shared national ethos. (4) It acknowledges that political forces are subject to overarching divine forces, lifting the burden of responsibility from human will to God’s will. (5) It endorses values associated with ‘the good’, e.g. moral behaviour and human rights. Finally, (6) it brings divine force to bear on implementation, warning of retribution should the agreement be broken.

Christine Bell

Professor of Constitutional Law