Religion, Politics, and Law

Religion, Politics, and Law

Religion, Politics, and Law

Religion, Politics, and Law

Excerpt

This book is about the relationship between religion, politics, and law, and their role in modern discussions concerning the role of religion in the public sphere. The authors work at Aarhus University, Denmark, in the field of theology, religious studies, and political science. The idea is to discuss different aspects of religion in relation to the public debate beginning with the most fundamental question: is the so-called ‘return of religion’ real, or is it a self-increasing and self-affirming truth? One could also ask whether religion had ever really disappeared from the global political scene, or whether it had taken forms that made religion look like a hidden resource in the lives of many people.

However, today – at least in a Danish and North European context – religion plays an important role in political debates and in the public discourse. But global changes and political conflicts around the globe also involve serious religious issues and important religious players. The Iranian revolution has helped to unleash the potential for religiously legitimised religious violence; the political conflict in the Middle East has been ‘desecularised’; Hindu nationalism plays an important role in the conflict between India and Pakistan; and in the US the Christian Right is mobilising political pressure on issues like abortion, same-sex marriages or the invasion of Iraq. In December 2005 the public and political debate on religion, politics, and law exploded in Denmark because of the publication in a Danish newspaper of a series of cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed. The violent reaction in many countries around the world against the Danish government and the state of Denmark created the most serious international crisis for Denmark since the Second World War – the so-called ‘cartoon crisis’.

These and many other examples show that one of the most important areas of research today is the area of theology and religion, because this is an area that involves a public dimension about the normative role of religion in politics and law. This book does not – of course – solve the issue. Some authors would like religion to be modest and humble in the field of politics and law in order to respect the idea of a common secular arena for all citizens irrespective of creed and religious affiliation. Others point to the resources in religion that can help to establish open and democratic societies for everybody. This involves respect for religious freedom, and dialogue among religious believers and their religious institutions regarding issues of common concern and disagreement. As revealed by some of the articles in this book, the discussion of religion and normativity in a Danish context also involves an important re-formulation of the Lutheran heritage, because the Evangelical-Lutheran Church plays an important role . . .

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