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- Volume 5, Issue 1, 2012
International Journal for Religious Freedom - Volume 5, Issue 1, 2012
Volume 5, Issue 1, 2012
Author Stephen K. BaskervilleSource: International Journal for Religious Freedom 5, pp 5 –6 (2012)More Less
Religious freedom has been thrust to the top of the political agenda in recent months. The violence in places like Nigeria has been on the front pages for some time, where sadly it continues (as Yakubu Joseph and Rainer Rothfuss describe in this issue in some detail). But in the industrial democracies - and now the United States in particular - religious freedom is becoming newsworthy as seldom before. President Obama's healthcare mandates have highlighted conflicts between religious freedom and personal behavior elsewhere in the developed world. We hope to explore this in a future issue, but it brings to a head trends that have been explored in this issue and other recent issues of IJRF.
That which is noteworthy and that which is astonishing in The Global Charter of Conscience : in my opinionAuthor Thomas K. JohnsonSource: International Journal for Religious Freedom 5, pp 7 –9 (2012)More Less
The manner in which the new Global Charter of Conscience was presented portrayed the power of a renewed paradigm for the ethics of public life. Viewed globally, it was remarkable that representatives of the United Nations, the European Union, and the European Evangelical Alliance not only sat together peacefully at one table, but also spoke with a completely unified voice on matters of religion and conscience (June 21, 2012, at the European Parliament in Brussels). They describe the Charter, with the subtitle "A Global Covenant Concerning Faiths and Freedom of Conscience," as a supplement and support for Article 18 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). The new text is no doubt one of the most profound short explanations of freedom of religion and belief in human history; it also clarifies the way in which freedom of conscience is indivisible from all fundamental human rights. This is truly noteworthy. What is astonishing is that this document was presented by a distinctly Christian organization which is much concerned with missions and church planting, along with representatives of two of the world's most prominent secular organizations, namely the United Nations and the European Union. What is the renewed paradigm behind this event?
The Richard Wurmbrand case - examined on the background of the relations between the Protestant Churches in Germany and the Orthodox Church in Romania during the Cold War (1945-1980) : research in progressAuthor Timotheus Chang-Whae KimSource: International Journal for Religious Freedom 5, pp 11 –13 (2012)More Less
This research in contemporary church history at Tübingen University focuses on the specific "case" of Rev. Richard Wurmbrand, which took place in the turbulent phase of upheaval between the late 1960s and early 1970s in Germany. Being known for his books "Tortured for Christ" (1967) and "In God's underground" (1968), etc., Wurmbrand supported the Christians in suffering and persecution "behind the iron curtain". All this happened after Wurmbrand had been freed in 1964 with the help of the "Norwegian Israel Mission" and Christian Jews from England. He then came to the West in 1965 and raised his voice for the "voiceless". But his efforts to "enlighten" people on this "real existing" socialism were not only met with open interest, but also provoked harsh criticism from a number of Protestants in West Germany accusing Wurmbrand of "anticommunism" and considering him a "troublemaker" for the East-West détente.
Religious registration - blessing or curse for the Church in the Middle East? : research in progressAuthor Jonathan AndrewsSource: International Journal for Religious Freedom 5, pp 15 –16 (2012)More Less
Religious registration is the concept that each citizen is assigned a religion at birth which is recorded on official legal documents, notably birth certificates and identity cards, and also within government computer systems. In many countries, the registration cannot be changed to reflect an individual's decision to follow another faith.
Author Brian J. GrimSource: International Journal for Religious Freedom 5, pp 17 –33 (2012)More Less
This article discusses statistics from recent studies by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life. It begins with general findings and a discussion of the general global context. It then examines three questions directly related to religious freedom. First, do constitutional protections for religious freedom matter? Second, do blasphemy, apostasy and anti-defamation of religion laws matter? And third, is there a relationship between government restrictions on religion and social hostilities involving religion? The article then looks at the implications by describing how high levels of government restrictions on religion and social hostilities involving religion in the Middle East and North Africa relate to these three issues. The article concludes with a review of the theoretical and statistical model of Grim and Finke (2007 and 2011) that finds religious persecution and violence to be the result of higher restrictions by governments and groups in society on the freedom to practice religion.
Author Robert P. GeorgeSource: International Journal for Religious Freedom 5, pp 35 –44 (2012)More Less
"Religious liberty and the human good" is a defense of a robust conception of the obligations of governments to respect and protect religious freedom for the sake of the basic human right of religion itself, considered as an irreducible dimension of integral human well-being and fulfillment. This methodologically Aristotelian and perfectionist approach to the defense of religious liberty provides a principled way of defending a central freedom rationally and identifying its limits.
Author Roger TriggSource: International Journal for Religious Freedom 5, pp 45 –57 (2012)More Less
Secularism in Europe tends to look for a society free from religion rather than free for it. The result is that as examples from recent jurisprudence in Europe, and the United Kingdom in particular, indicate, "equality", and the right not be discriminated against, too often simply trump claims to a right to freedom of religion. In addition, freedom of religion is too often truncated to mean freedom of worship. What is needed is a reasonable accommodation between the demands of competing rights, so that the needs of all can, if possible, be properly met.
Author Tehmina AroraSource: International Journal for Religious Freedom 5, pp 59 –71 (2012)More Less
While the Constitution of India provides for full religious freedom, six states have "Freedom of Religion" Acts which regulate religious conversions. These laws give the district administration wide and sweeping powers to inquire into religious conversions. They also require a person converting to another religion to give details of the conversion to the local district magistrate. Vague and wide definitions of terms such as "force," "fraud" and "inducement" or "allurement," potentially include even legitimate pursuits or actions of propagating one's faith. The laws are premised on claims that minority Christians and Muslims use duress, deception or coercion to convert poor and illiterate Hindus and threaten public order. These Acts have been harshly criticized from national and international agencies.
Source: International Journal for Religious Freedom 5, pp 73 –85 (2012)More Less
Nigeria currently grapples with an unprecedented spate of sectarian violence, which continues to take a debilitating toll on the people. Although the country is no stranger to communal violence related to religion, which in the last twelve years has claimed thousands of lives, the present situation is unique in terms of the nature, geographical scope and terrorist dimension of the violent insurrection led by, but not limited to, the militant Islamist sect Boko Haram. The mass exodus of people from the troubled northern areas to the southern region and the mounting clamour by mostly southerners for a Sovereign National Conference, in which the different ethnic and religious groups would come together to reassess the basis of their living together, are indications that the ongoing sectarian violence is a sign of a national tragedy with far-reaching ramifications. The purpose of this article is to show that the present sectarian crisis in Nigeria is a part of an enduring and evolving wave of religious rights violations that continue to thrive unabated. We argue that both structural and direct violence against Christians in northern Nigeria are linked. The article also highlights the responses of the Nigerian Christian community to persecution. In the final analysis, it is important to acknowledge that there are many among Christians and Muslims who share the vision of living in peace with one another. This can be encouraged if the two religions work to discard stereotypes against each other. By doing so, the clamour for greater religious freedom is likely to become a joint project for adherents of both religions and other citizens who embrace the possibility of peaceful coexistence.
Author Wolfgang HaedeSource: International Journal for Religious Freedom 5, pp 87 –100 (2012)More Less
In Turkey, there is a remarkable degree of prejudice against Christians. Opinion formers of the nationalistic and the Islamist ideologies use and deepen the existing prejudice to define Christian identity in a way that may lead to more violent forms of persecution and to a wrong self-image of the Christians themselves. Therefore, an important element of persecution in today's Turkey is a battle for defining Christian identity. As a response to wrong definitions, Christians have to focus on the real Christian identity. The First Letter of Peter speaks into a similar situation of suffering through prejudice and ostracism. The letter focuses on the assurance of real Christian identity and on a warning of Christians to provoke wrong definitions by inconvenient behavior.
Source: International Journal for Religious Freedom 5, pp 101 –112 (2012)More Less
This article begins by describing the origin and forms of the suffering which the readers of 1 Peter experienced in the first century AD. It then surveys the strategies offered in the letter for coping with prejudice and discrimination. A further section discusses the problem and emotion focused coping strategies described and used in modern social psychology. Finally, it compares the coping strategies of 1 Peter to those of social psychology. The authors point out similarities and differences and suggest where and how both sets of strategies can help suffering Christians.
The proposed EU "equal treatment" directive - how the UK gives other EU member states a glimpse of the futureSource: International Journal for Religious Freedom 5, pp 113 –128 (2012)More Less
This article examines the key provisions of a proposed radical European Union "non-discrimination" directive and compares the draft law with similar laws that have already been passed in the United Kingdom. By outlining the significant limitations on freedom of religion that have resulted from the passing of similar laws in the UK, the article seeks to accurately predict the path that other EU countries will follow if the proposed directive is adopted.
Freedom of speech and "hate speech" - unravelling the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human RightsSource: International Journal for Religious Freedom 5, pp 129 –142 (2012)More Less
Freedom of speech is a fundamental human right, and has been labelled as such since the beginnings of the "human rights" era. However, there is an increasing belief that some speech, loosely known as "hate speech", is unworthy of protection. This article outlines the principles of free speech as enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights and demonstrates how the new restriction on so-called "hate speech", particularly in regard to issues of sexual morality, is having an erosive effect on freedom of speech.
Author Stephan P. PretoriusSource: International Journal for Religious Freedom 5, pp 143 –158 (2012)More Less
The South African Constitution, in line with international standards, upholds the condition that participation in any religious practice must be free and voluntary. The belief in other countries that some religious groups (generally referred to as "new religious movements") are in violation of this condition seems to have been accepted in South Africa. This view became evident through the number of media reports over the past few years indicating that some alternative religious groups utilise unethical coercion methods to proselytise and maintain members. A means to address this issue is through a legal approach relying on the condition of religious freedom that no coercion may be used in religion. Other means such as dialogue with and information about these groups are proposed in order to resolve this issue. An ideal platform has been created for this by the South African Charter for Religious Rights and Freedoms.
Source: International Journal for Religious Freedom 5, pp 159 –161 (2012)More Less
The Global Charter of Conscience is a declaration reaffirming and supporting Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It sets out a vision of "freedom of thought, conscience and religion" for people of all faiths and none, and calls for the cultivation of civility and the construction of a civil public square that maximizes freedom for everyone. The Charter has been drafted and published by a group of followers of many faiths and none, politicians of many persuasions, academics and NGOs who are committed to a partnership on behalf of "freedom of thought, conscience and religion" for people of all faiths and none. The Charter was launched publicly at the European Parliament on 21 June 2012, at the Global Media Forum in Bonn on 27 June and at a prestigious lecture in London on 28 June. The text documented below is a brief summary. The full text of the Charter, additional responses to frequently asked questions, endorsements, and news can be found on a dedicated website: www.charterofconscience.org.
The early history of the Evangelical Alliance and of its advocacy for religious freedom : documentationAuthor Thomas SchirrmacherSource: International Journal for Religious Freedom 5, pp 162 –164 (2012)More Less
Die Geschichte der Evangelischen Allianz im Zeitalter des Liberalismus (1846-1879), Gerhard Lindemann - Theologie: Forschung und Wissenschaft 24, Lit: Münster, 2011, 1064 pp., 129.90.
This monumental work on "The History of the Evangelical Alliance in the Age of Liberalism" treats (1) the actual history, (2) the role played by key personalities, and (3) the main focus of the Alliance's work (especially freedom of religion and conscience, weeks of prayer, mission, publications). Lindemann regards the Alliance from its outset as the first organized form of ecumenism, as the sole true ecumenical organization which emerged from the revival in the 19th century (15). He criticizes the fact that historical depictions of modern ecumenism often begin very late and pass over the Alliance as well as a number of its earlier leading representatives as forerunners of the unity of Christians (21). On the whole, Lindemann writes from a friendly yet critical distance. As his work is unlikely to be translated into English due to its sheer volume, I would like to highlight the new insights it presents into the early engagement of the Alliance for religious freedom (in part. 141-151, 205-321, 592-645, 773-811, 858, 868-913). Never before has this been presented in such detail. Of special interest are the insights gained from the files of the 'British Foreign and Commonwealth Office.'
Colombo Statement on the Church in Sri Lanka - Religious Liberty Partnership (June 2012) : documentationSource: International Journal for Religious Freedom 5, pp 165 –166 (2012)More Less
As members of the Religious Liberty Partnership (RLP) meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka, we stand with our Christian brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka who seek equality, justice, reconciliation and lasting peace. We specifically call on all Christian denominations and organizations worldwide to take this appeal for prayer and support of those working for religious freedom in Sri Lanka to their members in recognition that we are One Body united in Christ.
Freedom of religion or belief and recognition issues
UN Human Rights Council, Report A/HRC/19/60 - Summary, 22 December 2011 : Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief : documentationSource: International Journal for Religious Freedom 5, pp 167 –168 (2012)More Less
Source: International Journal for Religious Freedom 5, pp 169 –174 (2012)More Less
The noteworthy items are structured in four groups: dates, annual reports and global surveys, regional and country reports (sorted alphabetically), and specific issues. Though we apply serious criteria in the selection of items noted, it is beyond our capacity to scrutinise the accuracy of every statement made. We therefore disclaim responsibility for the contents of the items noted. The compilation was produced by Arie de Pater of Open Doors Intl. and Prof. Dr. Christof Sauer. The position of editor for the noteworthy section is vacant. See advertisement on page 10 in this issue. Submissions welcome to: Noteworthy@iirf.eu.
Author Danny McCainSource: International Journal for Religious Freedom 5, pp 175 –176 (2012)More Less
'So long as religion is about ultimate truth and commitment to the sacred, to a vision of a utopia described in holy scriptures, men and women will be defenders of the faith and willing soldiers in the battles for God' (p. 205).
This is the concluding statement and a good summary of the thoughtful treatise on religion and violence by Charles Selengut, professor, author, and expert on religious fundamentalism. His basic thesis is that though all religions provide a foundation for and teach positive social values and even oppose injustice and violence, there are also within all religions the seeds for violence and war. Thus, most wars, especially recent wars have some element of religion associated with them.