The Global Face of Public Faith: Politics, Human Rights, and Christian Ethics

The Global Face of Public Faith: Politics, Human Rights, and Christian Ethics

The Global Face of Public Faith: Politics, Human Rights, and Christian Ethics

The Global Face of Public Faith: Politics, Human Rights, and Christian Ethics

Synopsis

The Global Face of Public Faith addresses the hotly debated question of the role religion should play in politics in both the American and international contexts. It engages the fears that public religion threatens American democracy and could lead to a global clash of civilizations and new wars of religion. It analyzes how Christianity can attain common ground with other religious communities, thus becoming a force for peace and human rights. The separation of church from state need not mean the privatization of religion. Religious engagement in public life can strengthen civic life by encouraging active citizen participation that promotes both justice and peace. The question of religion and politics should thus become an argument about how faith becomes public, not whether it does. Religious communities, Christianity in particular, should be vigorous advocates of human rights, democratic governance, and economic development worldwide. In so doing, they will also become peacemakers.

David Hollenbach is a calm voice of reason in a chaotic world, with an eye that sees beyond national horizons to where human needs and human rights converge. He is convinced that religious traditions can find common ground -- through the use of rights and rights language. The Global Face of Public Faith reinforces his commitment to confronting such issues as poverty and economic development, globalism, and interreligious dialogue. He focuses here on faith and the Catholic tradition in politics; the role of the church in American public life; and the wider issues of global challenges and ethics -- in a search for a common set of moral standards and a international ethic through a commitment to universal human rights. While not denying the difficulties of forging such a consensus, he nonetheless sees the possibility for justice, and reasons for hope. And hope is something the world can always use.

Excerpt

The question of the appropriate relation between religion and politics has been much debated in recent years in the United States. This debate has often been lively, at times acrimonious. Religious leaders have entered the public forum of political debate in the United States on issues ranging from abortion to economic justice for the poor, the environment, human rights, and U.S. policy in response to terrorism. This engagement has cut across the conservative-liberal spectrum, both religiously and politically. Some fear that the engagement of religious communities in public debates threatens the stability and freedoms of the American republic. Others see it as a needed restoration of core values on which the health of American democracy depends.

More recently, especially since the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., on September 11, 2001, Americans have become deeply concerned with the role of religion in international affairs. They have become painfully aware of ways that religious motivations intersect with political action today, especially when the religion is fundamentalist Islam. Despite the attacks of September 11 and their aftermath, however, the role of religion in international politics is certainly not limited to the violent activities of certain Islamic fundamentalist groups. Other religious communities, including Christian ones, have historically played notable roles in stimulating or reinforcing political conflicts and they continue to do so. This has raised fears that the global politics of the post-cold war era could become a clash of civilizations marked by new wars of religion. In response to this hypothesis, it is essential to remember that religious communities play important roles as peacemakers and advocates of justice on the international stage. The examples of Pope John Paul II, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama, and numerous other religious leaders give testimony to this more constructive political role of religious faiths, as do the activities of large numbers of the laity in these same communities. Thus, the question of whether religious believers will . . .

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