history

Religious Freedom, Now, Everywhere? Proceed Slowly, from the Bottom.

By: Anthony Gill.

John Owen makes a strong case for caution when advocating for religious freedom in countries lacking basic human liberties. He correctly points out that sudden changes in the legal structure of a nation may often harm the individuals whom those changes seek to protect, using the case of sixteenth-century France to nicely illustrate his point. 

Permanent Link: https://www.religiousfreedominstitute.org/cornerstone/2016/7/26/religious-freedom-now-everywhere-proceed-slowly-from-the-bottom

Religious Freedom Now, Everywhere? Not So Fast.

By: John M. Owen

Those of us who believe in human rights, including the right to religious liberty, must grapple with the derivative question of what those rights demand of each of us. We who live in wealthy, powerful countries such as the United States might lunge toward the view that it is imperative that our country act always and everywhere so as to vindicate human rights, and hence that it is imperative that we citizens do all we can to press our country to vindicate those rights everywhere at all times. After all, these are human rights we are dealing with: claims that all persons have simply by virtue of being human—not because they live in one nation or culture or religious community rather than another.

Permanent Link: https://www.religiousfreedominstitute.org/cornerstone/2016/7/26/religious-freedom-now-everywhere-not-so-fast

Enlightened Despots, Then and Now: The Truth About an Islamic Enlightenment

By: John M. Owen and J. Judd Owen

By now, the pattern is predictable. Jihadists carry out a suicide bombing, a ritual beheading, an immolation, a murder in a Western city, or some other such barbarism, and newspapers, magazines, and blogs demand or suggest an Islamic enlightenment. By “enlightenment,” they generally mean the turn that the West took centuries ago from faith to reason, from religion to science, from traditional authority to democracy, and from religious violence to tolerance: in short, modernity. 

Permanent Link: https://www.religiousfreedominstitute.org/cornerstone/2016/7/26/enlightened-despots-then-and-now-the-truth-about-an-islamic-enlightenment

What History Says About the Prospects for Islamic Democracy

By: John M. Owen

Scholars, pundits, and journalists often look to Western history for analogies to help us understand ongoing dynamics in the Middle East: Jihadi terrorists are like European anarchists a century ago; the Arab Spring was like the European Revolutions of 1848; the spread of the Islamic State and the deepening Saudi-Iranian rivalry means that the region is entering its own version of the miserable Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648); and so on. As Yuen Foong Khong has written, analogies can be misleading, sometimes tragically so. However, when used judiciously they can be helpful, and my recently published book, Confronting Political Islam: Six Lessons from the West’s Past (Princeton University Press, 2014) is built around several such analogies. One particularly telling comparison concerns the prospects for Islamic democracy in the Middle East. 

Permanent Link: https://www.religiousfreedominstitute.org/cornerstone/2016/7/26/what-history-says-about-the-prospects-for-islamic-democracy

Natural Law: A Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Trialogue - The Judaic Context

By: David Novak

The natural law is something which is considered to be a fundamental precondition for the intelligent acceptance of revealed law. Revealed law says much more than natural law, but it does not say less. Natural law becomes sort of a bottom line beyond which the tradition cannot go. 

This is how natural law has functioned within the Jewish tradition. It functions as a border concept—a very important limit on chauvinism, fanaticism, and fundamentalism in the pejorative sense of that term. 

Permanent Link: https://www.religiousfreedominstitute.org/cornerstone/2016/7/14/natural-law-a-jewish-christian-and-islamic-trialogue