Abraham’s Children?

Last Wednesday I attended an interfaith dialogue event of exceptional quality. A rabbi, a pastor, and an imam each spoke on Abraham and his role in their distinctive faiths. The presentations were well grounded in the respective traditions, winsome, and affirming of religious diversity. And left me profoundly dissatisfied. Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger explained how Abraham [Read More...]

Religious Freedom and the Arab Spring

The June 1 New York Times offers this headline: “Russian Church Is a Strong Voice Opposing Intervention in Syria” The reason is simple. “the Russian Orthodox Church, . . .  fears that Christian minorities, many of them Orthodox, will be swept away by a wave of Islamic fundamentalism unleashed by the Arab Spring.” A view [Read More...]

What Kind of Citizen? What Kind of State?

Running through a days worth of international news on Tuesday I found a number that help us see just how diverse and complex concepts of citizenship, religion, and state have become worldwide. In Nepal efforts to write a constitution have broken down completely. At issue? Is the state divided into geographical divisions, each of which [Read More...]

Immoral Moralism

A few years ago, when there was a hot debate among Methodists about having SMU host the Bush Library, I was the target of a singular public accusation. Because I did not oppose the library my name was added to an email blast of those who were “torturers.” The logic was simple, indeed simplistic. If [Read More...]

Religious Freedom or Oppressive Religion?

On the 11th of May the New York Times ran an article with the following title: “For Ultra-Orthodox in Abuse Cases, Prosecutor Has Different Rules.” It reported that the ultra-Orthodox advocacy group Agudath Israel of America was instructing adherent Jews that they could report allegations of child sexual abuse to district attorneys or the police [Read More...]

The End of Civil Religion in America

Yes, I know. Being civil about religion in America is already long dead. Stridency is the order of the day, with politicians, pastors, imams, rabbis and news commentators trying to outdo each other in inflammatory rhetoric and wounded indignation. America’s public space is like a kindergarten playground at recess. But if we aren’t civil about [Read More...]

The Christian Basis for a Religiously Plural Democracy

In the last blog I asked how those who exercise their political responsibilities out of Christian commitment could share those responsibilities with non-Christians. The answer, if not simple, is itself profoundly Christian. One can start at many different places in the Bible to understand how people of different religions can share in a common human [Read More...]

Dual Citizenship and Divided Loyalties? No!

I the last blog I talked about dual citizenship in a nation and in a transnational religion. Sometimes this is quite concrete. All Jews are by right citizens of Israel. The Chinese government still grants citizenship rights to ethnic Chinese, as does the German government to ethnic Germans for that matter. In other cases dual [Read More...]

Dual Citizenship and Divided Loyalties?

Were you aware that officially the United States does not allow its citizens to be citizens of any other country? When my wife became a US citizen four years ago one of the things she had to do was to renounce her Malaysian citizenship. Why? The US, and many other nations (but not all) resist [Read More...]

Islam in Egypt and Freedom of Conscience

Today’s New York Times (April 29, 2012) reports that Egypt’s most conservative Islamic groups have announced their support for the most liberal candidate in the upcoming presidential election: an ex-Muslim Brotherhood leader; Mr. Aboul Fotouh. He is known for saying that the Quranic injunction that there should be no compulsion in religion means that governments [Read More...]


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