This book has been a long time in gestation. The project to consider broadly the various roles of religion and religious communities in the evolving tradition of human rights was initiated more than ten years ago at a conference sponsored by the Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights in collaboration with Columbia University's Center for the Study of Human Rights and University Committee on Asia and the Middle East. The editors are grateful to the Blaustein Institute, and to its knowledgeable, dedicated, and unfailingly kind director, Sidney Liskofsky. We are indebted also to Richard Maass of the Administrative Council of the Blaustein Institute and to David Sidorsky, also a member of that Council and of Columbia's Department of Philosophy; both have served as reliable supporters in the course of planning for the conference and for the book.
We have benefited greatly from the guidance and help of Ainslie T. Embree of the Department of History and the Society of Senior Scholars at Columbia, who generously read and perceptively commented on each of the essays in this volume as well as its total shape and focus. His help and suggestions have been invaluable. Wm. Theodore de Bary, John Mitchell Mason Professor Emeritus, Special Service Professor, and Director of the Society of Senior Scholars at Columbia University, offered generous support throughout the process. So did our friend Paul Valliere, part of the original planning group at Columbia