Human Rights and the World's Major Religions

Human Rights and the World's Major Religions

Human Rights and the World's Major Religions

Human Rights and the World's Major Religions


Based on the celebrated five-volume set published in 2005, this updated one-volume edition offers readers a concise yet complete understanding of the interplay between the major religions and human rights.

In a world where religious beliefs have become inseparable from the events of the day, ranging from the ongoing strife in the Middle East to cases of sexual abuse by clergy and controversy over circumcision laws in Europe, this is an invaluable work. It offers readers a comprehensive examination of the way the world's five major faiths—Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism—view and have viewed human rights from ancient times to the present. An overview of each tradition is provided, followed by chapters that show how human rights have been shaped and understood in the tradition from the earliest textual evidence to the contemporary era.

Considering the differences among religious traditions globally, the book shows how each faith advanced the cause of human rights in unique ways. Contributors track the development of ideas, opinions, and issues, documenting both the advancement and violation of human rights in the name of religion. Demonstrating that human rights discourse cannot be divorced from religious history and experience, the book covers such issues as the right to life, the rights of women, punishment for crimes, war and peace, slavery, and violence.


The global village in which we live is increasingly shattered by violence, terrorism, and disparity in wealth with consequences for access to food, shelter, and medical care.

For people of faith of any tradition who are committed to the sacredness of human life believing, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has said, that there is a moral arc to the universe and who hold forth as an ideal for the global community the promise of the common good, this volume is an important compendium of the faith basis of human rights in five global faith traditions.

Few persons of faith can be unaware that to a large swath of our fellow citizens, faith itself is viewed as the problem, the source of much of the conflict and discrimination in the world. While such criticisms are often shallow, ignoring other social factors at play in situations of conflict and failing to note both the immense impact of faith traditions in the development of the concept of human rights and the countless efforts of people of faith to ameliorate human suffering, to speak to injustice of every kind, and to offer themselves to efforts of peace-making, the criticisms retain currency among those who would argue that a humanistic understanding of human rights suffices.

The five sections offer important resources from the Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist faith traditions for the lively dialogue on human rights within nation-states and the international community. These . . .

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