Religion, Law, and Freedom: A Global Perspective

Religion, Law, and Freedom: A Global Perspective

Religion, Law, and Freedom: A Global Perspective

Religion, Law, and Freedom: A Global Perspective


Religion, Law and Freedom: A Global Perspective introduces readers to diverse perspectives on the interplay of religion, law, and communications freedom in different cultures around the world. Through discussion and analysis of the religious mores and cultural values that a nation adheres to, a greater understanding of that nation, its laws, and its freedoms can be cultivated. Rather than suggesting that harmony can be achieved without conflict, the essays in this volume seek to present the reader with a variety of perspectives from which to view and understand the relationships among religion, law and freedom in various cultures. This multifaceted analysis, therefore, helps readers draw their own conclusions as to the best way to resolve cultural conflict brought about by the growing global community.


Cees J. Hamelink

Religion continues to be a factor of great significance in the world today. The majority of the world's people identify themselves as belonging to one of the main religions. Moreover, even if people do not acknowledge formal links with religious institutions, many are likely to state that they are religious. Around the world, one observes a considerable and even growing interest in movements and programs that address the core issues of human spirituality. This is not always recognized in the world's mainstream mass media, which show a tendency to either totally neglect religious issues (apart from papal visits to countries such as Cuba, or clerical scandals) or to represent religious peoples in stereotypical ways, such as equating religion with fundamentalism. Much of the coverage of the Rushdie case in Western news media brought to the surface a stunning lack of knowledge about the Islamic world.

It is important for an understanding of the complexities of the contemporary world that this book focuses on the intriguing linkage between religion, law, and freedom. This book comes at a time when people around the world are struggling with the conflict between independently defined religious and moral identities and the demand for globally shared values.

The fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (December 10, 1998) reminded the world that the international community has adopted a universal catalogue of moral standards that apply across borders and cultures. This universalism is not ignorant about the real existence of greatly varying cultural practices and preferences across the globe. It is actually implicit in the international human rights norms that these differences must be respected. However, this respect should not undermine those values that people universally share.

Among these values is the moral standard of human freedom as an inherent . . .

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