Special Issue "Peace, Politics, and Religion"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Jeffrey Haynes
Website
Guest Editor
London Metropolitan University, UK

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Recent years have seen a burgeoning literature on the relationship between peace, politics and religion. Generally, this reflects how religion has made a remarkable return to prominence to sociological, political science and international relations literature. Confounding the expectations of secularisation theorists and secularists, religion is a core source of identity for billions of people around the world. Religion’s increased prominence can be seen in the context of both conflict and as a tool of conflict resolution, peace-making and peacebuilding. Recent years have seen various kinds of religious hatred and differences as central to many political conflicts especially, but not only, in the Global South. Evidence suggests that religious leaders and faith-based organisations (FBOs) can play constructive roles in helping to end violence and, in some cases, build peace via early warnings of conflict, good offices once conflict has erupted, as well as advocacy, mediation and reconciliation. In short, contemporary discussions about the relationship between peace, politics and religion highlight that religion can encourage both conflict and peace, through the activities of people individually and collectively imbued with religious ideas and ideals.

There is no single, elegant theoretical model enabling us to deal adequately with all relevant cases of religion’s relationship with politics, conflict and peace. Religion should not be seen in isolation as the issues that attract religious intervention are normally linked to what might be called “good governance” issues, that is, ways to improve people’s lives politically, economically and socially.

Many people find religion a key source of comfort, serenity, stability and spiritual uplifting. Some may also experience new or renewed feelings of identity that not only help to provide believers’ lives with meaning and purpose but also can in some cases contribute to interreligious competition and conflict and make pursuit of peace problematic. Post-Cold War globalisation has led to greatly increased global interactions between people and communities. As a result, encounters between different religious traditions are increasingly common—although sadly not always harmonious. Increasingly, it appears that conflicts between people, ethnic groups, classes and nations are framed in religious terms. Religious conflicts can assume “larger-than-life” proportions, appearing as existential struggles between “good” against “evil”. This development is played out in some countries, for example, the USA and Israel, via “culture wars” involving strongly religious and stridently secular people. Reasons for such conflicts are both varied and complex, but it seems clear that religious and secular worldviews can encourage notably different allegiances and standards in relation to various areas, including the family, law, education and politics.

What is clear is that conflicts can have religious dimensions, whereby real or perceived differences drive hatred and violence. Religion is ambivalent in this respect, characterised both as “angels of peace” and as “warmongers” (Appleby 2000). Religion’s ambivalence in this respect is linked to the fact that around the world, the relationship of religions to violence and conflict is unclear and can be expressed in different ways, at different times, and in different contexts. The inconsistency of the relationship of religion to conflict is made clear when we think about religious involvement in political violence in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and other parts of the world (Haynes 2019a). Yet, when tensions erupt into violence and conflict, there are also nonreligious issues to take into account, including ethnicity, gender, culture, class and power and wealth. Such tensions can be played out both within countries, for example, in Northern Ireland, Egypt, Nigeria, Fiji, Cyprus and Sri Lanka, and between them, for example, India and Pakistan, and Israel and Palestine (Haynes 2019b).

Let me be clear: I am not suggesting that religion’s involvement in politics necessarily leads to conflict or even challenges to peace. Religion’s ambivalence in this regard is reflected in the fact that religion can play a significant role in attempts to resolve inter- and intragroup clashes and help to build peace. This underlines how the traditions underpinning and informing many religious expressions contain references not only to conflict and division but also to how the faithful should behave so as to try to achieve harmony and peace not only within themselves in the first place but also in relation to those who are not included within the individual’s religious community. These issues have provided the stimulus to numerous books and journal articles over the last two decades or so, which, while often differing greatly in subject matter and conclusions, often assess how religious leaders can play a role in ending conflicts and building peace. Seeking to summarise a huge set of findings regarding religious peacebuilding and what is often referred to as “faith-based diplomacy”, we note the following:

  • Religious leaders are uniquely positioned to foster nonviolent conflict transformation through the building of constructive, collaborative relationships within and across ethnic and religious groups for the common good of the entire population of a country or region;
  • In many conflict settings around the world, the social location and cultural power of religious leaders make them potentially critical players in many efforts to build a sustainable peace;
  • The multigenerational local or regional communities they oversee are repositories of local knowledge and wisdom, custodians of culture, and privileged sites of moral, psychological and spiritual formation (Appleby 2006). 

Religion and Culture Wars

Encounters between different religious traditions are common, but not always harmonious, sometimes leading to what Kurtz (1995: 168) calls “culture wars”. The reason for culture wars, Kurtz contends, is because religious worldviews, compared to those held by secular people, can encourage particular allegiances and standards in relation to various fundamental areas, including society, gender, state, territory and politics. Such conflicts can “take on ‘larger-than-life’ proportions as the struggle of good against evil” (Kurtz 1995: 170). According to the eminent Roman Catholic theologian, Hans Kung:

[T]he most fanatical, the cruelest political struggles are those that have been colored, inspired, and legitimized by religion. To say this is not to reduce all political conflicts to religious ones, but to take seriously the fact that religions share in the responsibility for bringing peace to our torn and warring world (Kung cited in Smock 2004).

In short, many contemporary conflicts have religious and/or cultural roots, fuelling both hatred and violence.

To counter this, religious leaders and faith communities are increasingly called upon to act as “angels of peace” rather than “war mongers”. According to Appleby (2000), the ambivalence of the sacred is intimately linked to the fact that the relationship of the world religions to violence is itself ambivalent. Holenstein (2005: 10) reminds us that:

All great God-narratives are familiar with traditions that legitimise force in certain circumstances, claim victims in the battle for their own beliefs and demonise people of other religions. However, at the same time there are sources that proclaim the incompatibility of violence with religion, demand sacrifices for peace and insist on respect for people of other religions. If we are to assume that, for the foreseeable future, the religions of the world will continue to be a factor in political conflicts, then it is high time that we strengthened the “civilising” side of the sacred and made it more difficult for it cynically to be taken over by political interests. What is said here about the relationship of world religions to violence can be considered generally valid for religions overall.

While most religious believers would regard their chosen religious expressions as both benevolent and inspiring, faith actors are sometimes linked to violence and conflict both between and within religious groups (or at least entities with a religious component to their guiding ideology). This is because sustained and implacable religious conviction may contain four discrete sources of danger:

  • Religion is focused on the absolute and unconditional and as a result can adopt totalitarian characteristics. The Abrahamic monotheistic religions—Christianity, Islam and Judaism—may have special difficulty trying to distinguish between, on the one hand, claims of the absolutely divine and, on the other, the traditions and history of human existence;
  • When claiming both absolute and exclusive validity, religious conviction can lead to intolerance, overzealous proselytisation and religious fragmentation. Religious exclusiveness is also typically hostile to both pluralism and liberal democracy;
  • Religion can increase aggressiveness and the willingness to use violence. Added symbolic value can be an aspect of religious conviction, deriving from profane motivation and aims that become “holy” objectives;
  • Leaders within faith-based organisations may seek to legitimise abuses of power and violation of human rights in the name of religious zeal. Because such leaders are nearly always men, there can also in addition be specific gender issues and women’s human rights concerns.

In addition, religious power interests may try to make use of the following susceptibilities:

  • Domination strategies of identity politics seeking to harness real or perceived “ethnic-cultural” and “cultural-religious” differences;
  • “Misused” religious motivation to inform terrorist activities;
  • Leaders of religious fundamentalist movements who “lay claim to a single and absolutist religious interpretation at the cost of all others, and they link their interpretation to political power objectives” (Holenstein 2005: 11).

The last point relates to what Kurtz (1995: 238) calls “exclusive accounts of the nature of reality”, that is, when religious followers only accept beliefs that they regard as true beliefs. Examples include the “religions of the book”—Judaism, Christianity and Islam—because each faith claims authority that emanates principally from sacred texts, actually, similar texts. Exclusivist truth claims can be a serious challenge to religious toleration and diversity and make conflict more likely. On the other hand, many religious traditions have beliefs that theoretically can help to develop a more peaceful world. For example, from within Christianity comes the idea of nonviolence, a key attribute of Jesus, the religion’s founder, who insisted that all people are children of God, and that the test of one’s relationship with God is whether one loves one’s enemies and brings good news to the poor. As St. Paul said, “There is no Jew or Greek, servant or free, male or female: because you are all one in Jesus Christ” (Galatians, 3: 28).

Bartoli (2005: 5-6) notes that “all religious traditions contain references in the form of didactical stories, teaching or even direct recommendation as to how the faithful should act in order to achieve harmony and peace within him/herself in the first place”. Religious individuals and faith-based organisations from a variety of religious traditions are actively involved in attempts to end conflicts and to foster post-conflict reconciliation between warring parties in the developing world. “Religious peacemakers” are religious individuals or representatives of faith-based organisations who attempt to help resolve intergroup conflicts and build peace (Appleby 2000, 2006; Gopin 2000, 2005; ter Haar 2005). According to Appleby (2006), religious peacemakers are most likely to be successful, when they: (1) have an international or transnational reach, (2) consistently emphasise peace and avoidance of the use of force in resolving conflict, and (3) have good relations between different religions in a conflict situation, as this will be the key to a positive input from them. It is often noted that the three Abrahamic religions share a broadly similar set of theological and spiritual of values and views and this potentially underpins their ability to provide positive contributions to conflict resolution and peacebuilding. Practical effects in this regard have increased in recent years, with growing numbers and types of religious peacemakers working to try to build peaceful coexistence in multi-faith societies, while advocating reconciliation and fairness in a world that often seems characterised by social and political strife and economic disparity (Bartoli 2005).

In conclusion, there is much agreement that: 

  • Many religious leaders and faith-based organisations are active in conflict resolution and attempts at peacebuilding;
  • Religious leaders and FBOs have a special role to play in zones of religious conflict, but associated peacebuilding programs do not need to be confined only to addressing “religious” conflicts;
  • Although in some cases, religious peacebuilding projects resemble very closely peacebuilding by secular nongovernmental organisations, the religious orientations of the former significantly mould their peacebuilding agendas and programs;
  • Faith organisations’ peacebuilding agendas are diverse, ranging from high-level mediation to training and peacebuilding-through-development at the grassroots;
  • Peace can be often promoted most efficiently by introducing peacebuilding components into more traditional relief and development activities (Smock 2001:1, 2006)

Finally, faith-based peacebuilding initiatives contribute “positively to peacebuilding” in four main ways. They can provide (1) “emotional and spiritual support to war-affected communities”, (2) effective mobilisation for “their communities and others for peace”, (3) mediation “between conflicting parties”, (4) a conduit in pursuit of “reconciliation, dialogue, and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration” (Bouta, Kadayifci-Orellana and Abu-Nimer 2005: ix). We note the promise that religious peacemakers offer, while adding two problems: (1) “there is often a failure of religious leaders to understand and/or enact their potential peace-building roles within the local community”, and (2) many religious leaders lack the ability to “exploit their strategic capacity as transnational actors” (Appleby, 2006: 2). Such concerns are especially apparent in the Middle East and North Africa, a region beset by apparently growing political and societal tensions, following the Arab Uprisings of 2011. This serves to underscore both the potential importance of interreligious dialogue while also highlighting the roles of local and international actors to aggravate existing tensions—for example, in relation to Israel and the Palestinians or Iran and Saudi Arabia— and makes finding common ground even harder to achieve and, by extension, pursuit of peace in the region is (even) more problematic.

The Special Issue, ‘Peace, Politics and Religion’, seeks theoretical, comparative and case-study papers that examine these and other issues.

References

Appleby, R. Scott (2000). The Ambivalence of the Sacred: Religion, Violence, and Reconciliation, Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.

Appleby, R. Scott (2006). Building sustainable peace: The roles of local and transnational religious actors. Paper presented at the Conference on New Religious Pluralism in World Politics, 17 March, Georgetown University.

Bartoli, A. (2005). Conflict prevention: The role of religion is the role of its actors. New Routes, 10(3): 3–7.

Bouta, T., Kadayifci-Orellana, S. and Abu-Nimer, M. (2005). Faith-Based Peace-Building: Mapping and Analysis of Christian, Muslim and Multi-Faith Actors. The Hague, Netherlands: Institute of International Relations.

Conflict and Resolution Forum (2001). Faith-based peacemaking: The role of religious actors in preventing and resolving conflict worldwide. 10 April, Washington DC.

Gopin, M. (2000). Between Eden and Armageddon: The Future of World Religions, Violence and Peacemaking. New York and London: Oxford University Press.

Gopin, M. (2005). World religions, violence, and myths of peace in international relations. In G. ter Haar and J. Busutill (Eds). Bridge or Barrier. Religion, Violence and Visions for Peace. Leiden: Brill, pp. 35–56.

Haar, ter, G. and Busutill J. (Eds.) (2005) Bridge or Barrier: Religion, Violence and Visions for Peace. Leiden: Brill.

Haynes, J.  (2019a) ‘Peace, politics and religion’ in A. Kulnazarova and V. Popovzki (eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of Global Approaches to Peace. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019, pp. 643-662.

Haynes, J. (2019b) From Huntngton to Trump: Thirty Years of the Clash of Civilizations. New York: Lexington Books.

Holenstein, A.-M. (2005). Role and significance of religion and spirituality in development co-operation. A reflection and working paper. (Translated from German by Wendy Tyndale). Bern: Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation.

Kurtz, L. (1995). Gods in the Global Village. Pine Forge: Sage.

Smock, D. (2001). Faith-Based NGOs and international peacebuilding. Special report no. 76, United States Institute of Peace, October. Retrieved from: http://www.usip.org/pubs/specialreports/sr76.html

Smock, D. (2004). Divine intervention: Regional reconciliation through faith. Religion, 25(4). Retrieved from: http://hir.harvard.edu/articles/1190/3/

Prof. Jeffrey Haynes
Guest Editor

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Published Papers (13 papers)

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Open AccessEditorial
Introductory Thoughts about Peace, Politics and Religion
Religions 2020, 11(5), 242; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11050242 - 13 May 2020
Abstract
Recent years have seen a growing literature on the interactions between peace, politics and religion, including their diverse and often complex relationships. Underpinning this literature is an increase, more generally, in scholarly and policy interest in connections between religion and politics. The context [...] Read more.
Recent years have seen a growing literature on the interactions between peace, politics and religion, including their diverse and often complex relationships. Underpinning this literature is an increase, more generally, in scholarly and policy interest in connections between religion and politics. The context is that over the last three decades, religion has made a remarkable return to prominence in various academic literatures, including sociology, political science and international relations. This was a surprise to many social scientists and confounded the expectations of both secularization theorists and secularists. In addition, religion retained a strong, some say growing, significance as a core source of identity for billions of people around the world. Numerous religious leaders and faith-based organizations are important carriers and focal points of religious ideas, playing an important role in many countries, both developed and developing, as well as internationally, including at the United Nations and to a lesser, although still notable extent, in the European Union and other regional organizations. This introductory article examines interactions between religious entities in relation to peace and conflict and sets the scene for the articles comprising this volume. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Peace, Politics, and Religion)

Research

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Open AccessArticle
International Religious Freedom Promotion and US Foreign Policy
Religions 2020, 11(5), 260; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11050260 - 21 May 2020
Abstract
The freedom to practice one’s religious belief is a fundamental human right and yet, for millions of people around the world, this right is denied. Yearly reports produced by the US State Department, United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, Open Doors International, [...] Read more.
The freedom to practice one’s religious belief is a fundamental human right and yet, for millions of people around the world, this right is denied. Yearly reports produced by the US State Department, United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, Open Doors International, Aid to the Church in Need and Release International reveal a disturbing picture of increased religious persecution across much of the world conducted at individual, community and state level conducted by secular, religious, terrorist and state actors. While religious actors both contribute to persecution of those of other faiths and beliefs and are involved in peace and reconciliation initiatives, the acceptance of the freedom to practice one’s faith, to disseminate that faith and to change one’s faith and belief is fundamental to considerations of the intersection of peace, politics and religion. In this article, I examine the political background of the United States’ promotion of international religious freedom, and current progress on advancing this under the Trump administration. International Religious Freedom (IRF) is contentious, and seen by many as the advancement of US national interests by other means. This article argues that through an examination of the accomplishments and various critiques of the IRF programme it is possible, and desirable, to discover what works, and where further progress needs to be made, in order to enable people around the world to enjoy freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Peace, Politics, and Religion)
Open AccessArticle
Religious Engagement and the Migration Issue: Towards Reconciling Political and Moral Duty
Religions 2020, 11(5), 236; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11050236 - 11 May 2020
Abstract
The increasingly acknowledged post-secular perspective has resulted in the emergence of some new approaches theorizing this phenomenon. One such approach has been the concept of religious engagement, which calls for the redefinition of the perception of religious non-state actors towards including them as [...] Read more.
The increasingly acknowledged post-secular perspective has resulted in the emergence of some new approaches theorizing this phenomenon. One such approach has been the concept of religious engagement, which calls for the redefinition of the perception of religious non-state actors towards including them as important partners in the process of identifying and realizing political goals. According to this view, due to the multidimensional role played by religious communities and non-state religious actors, they need to be recognized as pivotal in creating a new form of knowledge generated through encounter and dialogue of the political decision-makers with these subjects. Among numerous others, the challenge of migration calls for enhanced debate referring to both political and ethical issues. When such a perspective is applied, the question is raised of the duties and limits of nation-states using more or less harsh political measures towards refugees and migrants based on the concept of security, but also short-term political goals. In the face of a state’s lack of will or capacity to deal with the problem of migration, the question of religion serving not only as the service-provider but also as the “trend-setter” with regard to fundamental ethical questions needs to be considered. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Peace, Politics, and Religion)
Open AccessArticle
When Piety Is Not Enough: Religio-Political Organizations in Pursuit of Peace and Reconciliation in Zimbabwe
Religions 2020, 11(5), 235; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11050235 - 09 May 2020
Abstract
In post-independence Zimbabwe, religion has been associated with piety and acquiescence rather than radical confrontation. This has made it look preposterous for religious leaders to adopt seemingly radical and confrontational stances in pursuit of peace and reconciliation. Since the early 2000s, a new [...] Read more.
In post-independence Zimbabwe, religion has been associated with piety and acquiescence rather than radical confrontation. This has made it look preposterous for religious leaders to adopt seemingly radical and confrontational stances in pursuit of peace and reconciliation. Since the early 2000s, a new breed of religious leaders that deploy radical and confrontational strategies to pursue peace has emerged in Zimbabwe. Rather than restricting pathways to peace and reconciliation to nonconfrontational approaches such as empathy, pacifism, prayer, meditation, love, repentance, compassion, apology and forgiveness, these religious leaders have extended them to demonstrations, petitions and critically speaking out. Because these religious leaders do not restrict themselves to the methods and strategies of engagement and dialogue advocated by mainstream church leaders, mainstream church leaders and politicians condemn them as nonconformists that transcend their religious mandate. These religious leaders have redefined and reframed the meaning and method of pursuing peace and reconciliation in Zimbabwe and brought a new consciousness on the role of religious leaders in times of political violence and hostility. Through qualitative interviews with religious leaders from a network called Churches in Manicaland in Zimbabwe, which emerged at the height of political violence in the early 2000s, and locating the discussion within the discourse of peace and reconciliation, this article argues that the pursuit of peace and reconciliation by religious actors is not a predefined and linear, but rather a paradoxical and hermeneutical exercise which might involve seemingly contradictory approaches such as “hard” and “soft” strategies. Resultantly, religio-political nonconformism should not be perceived as a stubborn departure from creeds and conventions, but rather as a phenomenon that espouses potential to positively change socio-economic and political dynamics that advance peace and reconciliation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Peace, Politics, and Religion)
Open AccessArticle
Reassessing Religion and Politics in the Life of Jagjivan Rām
Religions 2020, 11(5), 224; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11050224 - 01 May 2020
Abstract
Jagjivan Ram (1908–1986) was, for more than four decades, the leading figure from India’s Dalit communities in the Indian National Congress party. In this paper, I argue that the relationship between religion and politics in Jagjivan Ram’s career needs to be reassessed. This [...] Read more.
Jagjivan Ram (1908–1986) was, for more than four decades, the leading figure from India’s Dalit communities in the Indian National Congress party. In this paper, I argue that the relationship between religion and politics in Jagjivan Ram’s career needs to be reassessed. This is because the common perception of him as a secular politician has overlooked the role that his religious beliefs played in forming his political views. Instead, I argue that his faith in a Dalit Hindu poet-saint called Ravidās was fundamental to his political career. Acknowledging the role that religion played in Jagjivan Ram’s life also allows us to situate discussions of his life in the context of contemporary debates about religion and politics. Jeffrey Haynes has suggested that these often now focus on whether religion is a cause of conflict or a path to the peaceful resolution of conflict. In this paper, I examine Jagjivan Ram’s political life and his belief in the Ravidāsī religious tradition. Through this, I argue that Jagjivan Ram’s career shows how political and religious beliefs led to him favoring a non-confrontational approach to conflict resolution in order to promote Dalit rights. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Peace, Politics, and Religion)
Open AccessArticle
Religion and Peace—Anatomy of a Love–Hate Relationship
Religions 2020, 11(5), 219; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11050219 - 29 Apr 2020
Abstract
Human history is filled with numerous examples—both past and present—that make religion and violence appear to be best friends. Ever since the events surrounding 9/11, religiously inspired violence has been considered one of the most pressing issues of our times (cf. Juergensmeyer 2017; [...] Read more.
Human history is filled with numerous examples—both past and present—that make religion and violence appear to be best friends. Ever since the events surrounding 9/11, religiously inspired violence has been considered one of the most pressing issues of our times (cf. Juergensmeyer 2017; Kimball 2008). While the conflictive dimensions of religion are still indisputably at the forefront of public and political attention, religion’s significant resources for peace and reconciliation gain increasing attention as well. This contribution will provide an analysis of the love–hate relationship between religion and peace in three consecutive steps. The first part focuses on the role(s) of religion in conflict. Frazer and Owen’s six different ways of thinking about religion provide a model for better understanding religion’s conflictive sides (Frazer and Owen 2018; cf. Frazer and Friedli 2015). In a second step, this article discusses religion’s potent, yet often neglected constructive resources for sustainable peace. While taking into account the vast diversity of religious actors, certain content-based and formal characteristics emerge that help to shed light on the otherwise vague “religious factor” in peacebuilding. Finally, an example taken from post-genocide Rwanda will serve to illustrate the discussions in parts I and II. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Peace, Politics, and Religion)
Open AccessArticle
Catholic Mediation in the Basque Peace Process: Questioning the Transnational Dimension
Religions 2020, 11(5), 216; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11050216 - 27 Apr 2020
Abstract
The Basque conflict was one of the last ethnonationalist violent struggles in Western Europe, until the self-dissolution in 2018 of ETA (Euskadi ta Askatasuna, Basque Country and Freedom). The role played by some sectors of the Roman Catholic Church in the [...] Read more.
The Basque conflict was one of the last ethnonationalist violent struggles in Western Europe, until the self-dissolution in 2018 of ETA (Euskadi ta Askatasuna, Basque Country and Freedom). The role played by some sectors of the Roman Catholic Church in the mediation efforts leading to this positive outcome has long been underestimated, as has the internal pluralism of the Church in this regard. This article specifically examines the transnational dimension of this mediation, including its symbolic aspect. The call to involve the Catholic institution transnationally was not limited to the tangible outcomes of mediation. The mere fact of involving transnational religious and non-religious actors represented a symbolic gain for the parties in the conflict struggling to impose their definitions of peace. Transnational mediation conveyed in itself explicit or implicit comparisons with other ethnonationalist conflicts, a comparison that constituted political resources for or, conversely, unacceptable constraints upon the actors involved. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Peace, Politics, and Religion)
Open AccessArticle
What Can Faith-Based Forms of Violent Conflict Prevention Teach Us About Liberal Peace?
Religions 2020, 11(4), 167; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11040167 - 03 Apr 2020
Abstract
Faith-based actors are often recognised as contributors to both conflict and peace. However, their work to prevent violent conflict, rather than bring an end to or recover from it, is largely unexplored. This is despite the growth of conflict prevention as a global [...] Read more.
Faith-based actors are often recognised as contributors to both conflict and peace. However, their work to prevent violent conflict, rather than bring an end to or recover from it, is largely unexplored. This is despite the growth of conflict prevention as a global social norm and field of practice. Based on collaborative research with faith groups and organisations in Nigeria, the Solomon Islands and Zanzibar (Tanzania), this paper examines faith-based forms of violent conflict prevention. It argues that faith-based approaches exist on a spectrum, from instinctive and ad hoc initiatives run by individuals and local places of worship to large-scale, systematised interventions led by global faith-based development organisations. Yet, while faith-based approaches to violent conflict prevention vary in form and function, they are consistent and distinctive in their emphasis on building resilient relationships at the local level, modelling forms of prevention embedded within local culture and that recognise the emotional and spiritual dimensions of transformative change. Faith-based approaches offer insights valuable to the wider conflict prevention field, which is increasingly critiqued for its liberal underpinnings and emphasis on technical and technological solutionism. Lessons emerge for others implementing prevention programmes, who could adapt elements of the unhurried, values-led, relationally sensitive approach demonstrated by some faith-based actors, albeit within their own structural limitations. Policymakers should support such adaptations and expand their view of prevention to explicitly include faith-based forms of activity, as to do otherwise risks missing opportunities and reproducing existing failures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Peace, Politics, and Religion)
Open AccessArticle
Israelijew Jewisraeli: Yoram Kaniuk’s Adam Resurrected and the Problem of the Human
Religions 2020, 11(4), 157; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11040157 - 28 Mar 2020
Abstract
This article considers the political and philosophical genealogies of the category “Israeli Jew” in terms of Israeli novelist Yoram Kaniuk’s Adam Resurrected, which I situate within the wider context of contemporary Israel. Israel is defined by some as a colonial and occupying [...] Read more.
This article considers the political and philosophical genealogies of the category “Israeli Jew” in terms of Israeli novelist Yoram Kaniuk’s Adam Resurrected, which I situate within the wider context of contemporary Israel. Israel is defined by some as a colonial and occupying state and by others as a liberal democracy founded on narratives of modern nationalism, but also on the Abrahamic narrative of 2000 years of Jewish exile. The category “Israeli Jew” thus brings together the figure of the diasporic Jew as not fully sovereign with Zionism’s figure of the “New Jew,” based on European modernity’s ideal of a sovereign, autonomous, citizen subject. I show how, by bringing these figures together, rather than replacing one with the other, the category “Israeli Jew” brings together the specificity of the different genealogies that these terms carry. In this regard, I argue, Israel can be understood as an instantiation of the historical legacy of the philosophical binary between the Athenian and the Hebraic, which, as Miriam Leonard, Jacques Derrida, and others have pointed out, informs the long durée of Western political philosophy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Peace, Politics, and Religion)
Open AccessArticle
Religion: A Source of Fundamentalism or A Safeguard Against It?
Religions 2020, 11(3), 104; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11030104 - 26 Feb 2020
Abstract
This article contributes to critical reflection on the political study approach towards the relations between religion and fundamentalism. In the context of post-secularism, in which the cognitive and moral role of religion for politics is quite widely recognised, the aim is to discuss [...] Read more.
This article contributes to critical reflection on the political study approach towards the relations between religion and fundamentalism. In the context of post-secularism, in which the cognitive and moral role of religion for politics is quite widely recognised, the aim is to discuss three hypotheses. The first one argues that, contrary to what the majority of the subject’s literature maintains, fundamentalism is not only a strictly religious phenomenon, but a specific attitude, able to evolve equally well on both religious and secular foundations. The second one implies that secularisation encourages, at least to an equal degree, both profane and religious fundamentalist tendencies. The third thesis asserts that religion, in its nature, constitutes a potential safeguard against fundamentalism. In the course of analysis, the pertinence of the above hypotheses are generally demonstrated. However, it is also indicated that the third point constitutes a mid-range theorem, accurately describing the contemporary specificity of Christianity, and especially Catholicism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Peace, Politics, and Religion)
Open AccessArticle
Challenges of Countering Terrorist Recruitment in the Lake Chad Region: The Case of Boko Haram
Religions 2020, 11(2), 96; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11020096 - 20 Feb 2020
Abstract
This article attempts to shed light on the challenges confronting relevant actors (state and non-state) in countering the threat of terrorism recruitment by focusing on the Boko Haram terrorist organization, whose presence and activities threaten the security of the Lake Chad region. The [...] Read more.
This article attempts to shed light on the challenges confronting relevant actors (state and non-state) in countering the threat of terrorism recruitment by focusing on the Boko Haram terrorist organization, whose presence and activities threaten the security of the Lake Chad region. The article uses a qualitative research technique combining key informant interviews with stakeholders familiar with the conflict, academic and non-academic documents, reports, and policy briefs. The findings of the article suggest that despite the various initiatives by stakeholders aimed at containing the strategies of recruitment, the group continues to expand its base by launching coordinated attacks that further destabilize the region. These challenges stem from a lack of a clear-cut counterterrorism strategy, a dearth in technological and mutual trust between actors and locals in the management and utilization of intelligence, and the inability of state institutions to ‘coerce and convince’ citizens in terms of its capacity to counter the danger of terrorism recruitment and expansion. The article, amongst other things, recommends a community policing model similar to the ‘Nyumba-Kumi security initiative’ adopted by most countries in East Africa for the effective assessment and detection of threat forces; the state and its agencies should show the capacity to coerce and convince in dealing with the (ideological, religious, social, and economic) conditions, drivers, and factors promoting the spread of terrorism as well as other forms of violent extremism in the society; furthermore, there is a need for stakeholders to adopt a comprehensive and holistic counterterrorism/violent extremism strategy to reflect present-day security challenges as well as to guarantee sustainable peace. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Peace, Politics, and Religion)
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Open AccessArticle
‘Go and Prophesy in Your Own Land’: Foreign Prophets and Popularism in South Africa. Evoking the Need of Jonathanic Theology for Peaceful Resolution of Difference
Religions 2020, 11(1), 42; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11010042 - 13 Jan 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Informed by a decoloniality lens and referencing motifs such as coloniality of power, knowledge, and being, this theoretical article analyses and problematises conflict, and reconstructs the experience of foreign and local prophets in South Africa. There is growing tension between foreign pastors and [...] Read more.
Informed by a decoloniality lens and referencing motifs such as coloniality of power, knowledge, and being, this theoretical article analyses and problematises conflict, and reconstructs the experience of foreign and local prophets in South Africa. There is growing tension between foreign pastors and local pastors, with the former seemingly being popular because of performing ‘miracles,’ huge followings, and, in some cases, through mafia tendencies, which ignite the notion that expelling them from South Africa can be a counter-hegemony strategy to deal with popularism and criminality. The articles respond to two questions in this article: What factors influence conflict between migrant and local prophets? and, how can the story of David and Jonathan be used as a starting point for collective engagement in a process to achieve peace and healing? The article ends with arguing that the Jonathanic theology of peace, if pursued by migrant and local prophetic movements in South Africa, can reconstruct the prophetic terrain and assist in facilitating a rehumanising process, in addition to enacting the ontological density that has been lost. The article ends by arguing that Jonathanic theology is doable and desirable as a sustainable solution for religious conflict in South Africa. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Peace, Politics, and Religion)
Open AccessArticle
Why Is There So Little Shia–Sunni Dialogue? Understanding the Deficit of Intra-Muslim Dialogue and Interreligious Peacemaking
Religions 2019, 10(10), 567; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10100567 - 04 Oct 2019
Abstract
Despite a growth in fatalities resulting from organized violence with Shia–Sunni dimensions over the last two decades, in this study, we show, using existing data-bases on interreligious dialogue and peacemaking, that only less than two percent of the interreligious peacemaking organizations in the [...] Read more.
Despite a growth in fatalities resulting from organized violence with Shia–Sunni dimensions over the last two decades, in this study, we show, using existing data-bases on interreligious dialogue and peacemaking, that only less than two percent of the interreligious peacemaking organizations in the world are specialized in dialogue between Shias and Sunnis. Why is there so little institutionalized Shia–Sunni dialogue occurring when the need for such dialogue is evident? This study identifies and discusses this lack of institutional initiatives designed to prevent violence, manage conflicts and facilitate processes of intra-Muslim de-sectarianization. We discuss what we see as the three seemingly most obvious explanations—(1) the dismissal of the relevance of a Shia–Sunni cleavage, (2) the inappropriateness of the interreligious dialogue concept in the Muslim context, and (3) the substitution of institutional interreligious dialogue by other channels. Although we suggest that the third is the most potent explanation to pursue, we do not aim to provide a comprehensive explanation for the Shia–Sunni religious dialogue deficit. Instead, our aspiration is mainly to present and substantiate a puzzle that has not been identified or discussed in previous research. This can set an agenda for a reinvigorated research endeavor into the contemporary challenges for interreligious peacemaking. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Peace, Politics, and Religion)
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