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Freedom of Religion in the 21st Century

A human rights perspective on the relation between politics and religion

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Hans-Georg Ziebertz and Ernst Hirsch Ballin

Freedom of religion consists of the right to practice, to manifest and to change one’s religion. The modern democratic state is neutral towards the variety of religions, but protects the right of citizens to practice their different religious beliefs. Recent history shows that a number of religious claims challenge the neutral state. This happens especially when secularity is rejected as the basis of the modern state. How can conflicting interpretations of the relation between religion and state be balanced in our world? This book reflects on conflicts that seem to be implied in the freedom of religion, on its causes and how they can be overcome.

Contributors are: Katajun Armipur, Ernst Hirsch Ballin, Ian Cameron, Susanne Döhnert, Leslie Francis, Carsten Gennerich, Handi Hadiwitanto, Mandy Robbins, Prof. Hans Schilderman, Stefanie Schmahl, Carl Sterkens, Alexander Unser, Johannes A. van der Ven and Hans-Georg Ziebertz.
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Michael R. Trice

Interest in recent years in reconciliation and conflict transformation has witnessed a great deal of attention to building a future through forgiveness and preventative measures in order to impede egregious wrongdoing. This effort for a reconciled future is absent reflection on the nature of cruelty. Cruelty has always been apparent in massive acts of wrongdoing and yet is repeatedly concealed in our assessment of the acts themselves. This book is a theologically honest and deep-structure exploration of cruelty in its personal, communal and institutional encounters in human life. Drawing on Nietzsche's challenge of cruelty to the western tradition, the work offers a comprehensive study of how cruelty undermines care, trust, respect and justice – all those elements of human reciprocity that mark our lives as interdependent beings. The work concludes with a tightly written Epilogue on interpreting the theological meaning and accessibility of reconciliation today.
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A. van de Beek, Eduardus van der Borght and Bernardus Vermeulen

The idea of freedom of religion was developed in Europe in the 16th and 17th century in the context of religious diversity as an alternative for religious wars. The concept requires reconsideration in the current globalized culture: religious plurality has increased as has the awareness of the religious potential for social cohesion and for sectarian division and violence. In this volume, legal experts, sociologists, theologians, and philosophers clarify the historical development of the concept, and analyze the present situation in various countries with religious tensions. They propose possible models and solutions, and discuss the fundamental question of whether the Western model of human rights with its separation of religion and state and freedom of religion can be conceived as universal.
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Annelies van Heijst

Models of Charitable Care analyses the practice of Catholic nuns in Amsterdam in the 19th and 20th century. Attention is paid to the ambiguous ascetic spiritual discourse that underpinned their work: it encouraged charity as solidarity with strangers, but caused intense emotional distance too. Historiography is mainly manufactured by religious and lay academics who shared the congregational perspective and presented fairly positive evaluations. Criticism from within, however, is voiced by care leavers who grew up in homes ran by religious. Some are grateful, others bitter. The sisters were living models who combined an anti-worldly outlook with a practical concern for vulnerable creatures. Relating various theoretical interpretations, a typology of three models is developed with ‘agency’ as the differentiating criterion.