This chapter introduces a discussion of a fundamental paradox concerning contemporary society and government in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK). It outlines the thesis of secularisation and the apparently strong evidence in its favour in relation to the personal behaviour of individuals and the culture of society. The resilience of the core institutions of UK state religion is despite predictions from a variety of sources of the contemporary eclipse of the religious beliefs, practices and institutions. Anglican doctrines and rituals still remain at the core of the state and monarchy, and religious influences are clearly major forces in UK politics. Sociologists of religion who have been dissatisfied with the explanatory adequacy of theories of secularisation have tried to redeem the role of religion in modern society by invoking the concept of 'vicarious religion'.
Every internationally agreed human rights convention contains a clause protecting freedom of belief and conscience. Religious intolerance is not limited to any region nor is it exclusively practised by followers of any single religion or belief. The tolerance policy can neither afford to find an easy way out by resorting to the norms of injustice, intolerance and discrimination employed by the forces of terrorism. Nor can compromises be made that will eventually dilute the universal standards of human rights. Current debates about the value of religious belief for society often turn on unexamined and parochial notions of what religion is and mistaken assumptions about the causes of religious thinking and behaviour. In Christian theology, God gives Creation freedom to be itself; from that freedom every other freedom flows, in particular the freedom to love and be loved.
This chapter describes three events in the summers of 2005 and 2006 that riveted the Bengali community. They are: the election of George Galloway, the controversy over the filming of Brick Lane and the visit of a prominent Bangladeshi Islamist to England. The significant commonalities in these three events are highlighted: all reflect how religious identity is being brought to the forefront and how much strength the Islamists have gained both discursively and organizationally.
The right to freedom of choice in religion is indeed, as the basic Western documents claim, a fundamental human right. Though free exercise of religion is a basic human right, religion cannot be the source or ground of human rights. Author's argument places religion in a larger context of value. But it does not denigrate religion, which has been a remarkable force for good as well as bad over human history. Though the bad may be more prominent in our minds right now, fixed by terror, history is too complex to allow that as the final word. The right to decide community could not be made objective because morality divides resources among people. The argument for human rights does not travel through a religious understanding of the universe; on the contrary a religious understanding is defensible, if at all, only through the intellectually prior doctrine of human rights.
This chapter offers a thorough examination and critique of the emergent phenomenon of what will be called UK state Anglican multifaithism. If the Church of England is conducting a religious coronation, the issue of the coronation oaths and the form that they would take would be central to the religious and constitutional formalities. An understanding of political context is essential to comprehending the changing religious posture of the UK monarchy and the Church of England in the twenty-first century. The continuance of the requirement for the declaration of Protestant faith can be construed as part of the overall package of the Protestant succession and the establishment of the Church of England. The termination of the establishment of the Church of England could be promoted by a decision that the monarch should not be required to swear the oaths in support of Protestantism and church establishment in Scotland and the UK.
E. Shils and M. Young's interpretation of the 1953 coronation is one of the best-known sociological essays about twentieth-century Britain and the nature of social integration and conflict in a large and complex industrial society. R. Bocock offered an interpretation which assessed both points of view and placed the coronation more broadly in the context of other national rituals such as Remembrance Sunday. Politico-religious ritual, involving purported contact with the transcendental, as exhibited in the coronation of 1953, could thus contribute to the maintenance and sustenance of a type of social order which Shils endorsed. E. Ratcliff saw the coronation as 'distinctively English and national in its principal features' and 'a rite celebrated by the Primate of All England according to the use of the Church of England by law established'.
The doctrine of ‘religion’ in Islam and the idea of ‘rights’ in the West
Hisham A. Hellyer
This chapter shows where the philosophical worldviews that inform the religion of Islam and the rights discourse may be distant from each other, and where they may be closer than we ordinarily realize. Rights discourse does not declare itself specific to certain countries or cultural paradigms, its attraction for its adherents is its claim to universalism. The Islamic worldview might well be shared or at least sympathetically judged by all believers in an Absolute Divine Creator: devout and committed believers in a Divinity that does not share authority are logically in a quandary otherwise. In the West, secularism is a subject of great controversy, in terms of what it requires by way of specific policies and legislative tools. Having emerged as part of the secularisation of Western society, it derives its authority from something other than a supernatural or metaphysical source.
Rationalism and pragmatism have been the two cornerstones of Arab liberalism from its dawn to contemporary times. One of the prominent liberal voices rejecting Zionism was that of Taha Hussein, who was close to the Wafd although he did not hold an official political role until 1950. Rooted in the thinking of the late 1940s and crystallized in the 1970s, a broad liberal agreement blamed the despotic nature of Arab regimes for their failures in the fight against Israel. The 'refusal camp' promoted a stance that argued for democratization on the assumption that, without democratization, Arab societies will be ill-equipped for a struggle against Israel. To Ala' al-Aswani the Israeli-Egyptian peace has been a historical mistake. The resurgence of pragmatic liberalism began in Egypt parallel to a measure of flexibility in the position of the regime after the defeat in the Six Day War.
Zionism and Israel as role models in Islamist writing
Uriya Shavit and Ofir Winter
Islamists have perceived the profoundly religious nature of Zionism as a role model because of the synthesis of religiosity with modernity. Islamist writers praising Israel consider themselves sober observers seeking to study their opponent's sources of strength in order to enable the re-emergence of Muslims. Islamist texts praise Israel as a country that has defeated its enemies due to its faith, sacrifice, strategic planning, scientific and technological excellence. Islamist writing is the ultimate proof of a meticulous and patient strategy and of the futility of a stand-alone effort unsupported by strategy. From the early 1980s, Islamist writings encouraged the Muslim world and Muslim minorities in the West to heed Israeli relations with the Jewish diaspora as an example of cross-border religious-nationalist unity. Articulations of Islamist fascination with Israeli democracy can be found in Islamist writings from the early 1980s.