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Christian moralism is an irony rarely noted or explained. While historians have long recognised the importance of Christianity to feminism in the second half of the nineteenth century, anti-religious or freethinking ideas have never received more than a brief mention. Historians of feminism have either passed over or misrepresented the freethinking views of certain leading feminist figures, while studies of the Freethought movement have

in Infidel feminism
Marriage, birth control and sexual morality

a radical re-imagining of sexual norms and conduct. The Freethought renunciation of Christianity necessarily entailed a rejection of the moral authority of the Church, particularly its role in legitimising sexual relations. Secularists were therefore required to find a new basis for morality, and questions of sex were at the centre of this project to establish new ethical criteria. In some cases Secularists’ rejection of

in Infidel feminism

community. If human rights are based on specific religious principles or teachings, how can they be accepted by all human beings? The Catholic response to this problem is typical of the Catholic ‘both-and’ approach. Before Vatican II official Catholic Social Teaching, as illustrated even in Pacem in terris in 1963, was based almost exclusively on natural law which is common to all human beings. Human beings reflecting on the human nature created by God can determine how human beings should act. Vatican II, however, called for Catholic moral theology to be more theological

in Religion and rights
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Conclusion In 1928 at the centenary meeting of the Protestant Orphan Society in Dublin, Revd Canon Thompson remarked that it would be the job of the ‘future historian’, ‘to estimate the social influence of the work done by the Protestant Orphan Society’.1 What legacy did the charity, founded in 1828 and developed on a country-wide basis, leave behind? The answer lies primarily, as Revd Thompson suggests, and as the author has emphasised throughout this study, in its social influence. From its foundation the DPOS was a highly significant vehicle for moral reform

in The Protestant Orphan Society and its social significance in Ireland, 1828–1940
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, neither was part of national life, neither had any impact on the everyday life of the masses. The ‘consoling idea’ of immortality had its positive aspects, but was that all that was on offer? No-one seemed to be seriously working towards filling the God-shaped hole in most people’s lives, and this new moral system, unlike a real religion, seemed to be totally lacking in the essential ingredients necessary for its successful continuation. Unlike the old church there was no rulebook, no uplifting or edifying stories to be heard, no martyrs and saints to look up to, even

in Robespierre and the Festival of the Supreme Being
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The Oxford Amnesty Lectures 2008
Editor: Wes Williams

This book addresses the relationship between human rights and religion. The original blurb for the Oxford Amnesty Lectures of 2008 invited speakers and audiences to ponder arguments for the God-given source of human rights. The book explains how biblical inspiration (both Old and New Testament) fuelled the anti-slavery protests and later the civil rights movement in the United States. It develops the particular relevance, for arguments over human rights within Islam, of the writings of the medieval philosopher Muhammad al-Ghazali who justified an openness towards constructive engagement with other traditions. The book shows where the philosophical worldviews that inform the religion of Islam and the rights discourse may be distant from each other. It illustrates the challenge of taking the real world of human practice seriously while avoiding simplistic arguments for pluralism or relativism. The book focuses on Simon Schama's evocation of the religious fervour which helped feed the long struggles for liberation among American slave communities. It discusses the understanding of human rights in the Roman Catholic tradition. The book also shows that the Christian experience of Pentecost and what it means to learn to speak as well as understand another's language, is a continuing resource God has given the church to sustain the ability to suffer as well as respond to those who suffer for the long haul. The book argues that moral progress consists in the universalisation of Western liberal democracy with its specific understanding of human rights.

The search for a republican morality

In Year 2 of the Revolution (1794) Robespierre, seeking to establish a new deist national morality created the Festival of the Supreme Being celebrated on 20 Prairial Year 2 (8 June 1794). This book begins by tracing the progress in the development of Robespierre’s thinking on the importance of the problem which the lack of any acceptable national moral system through the early years of the Revolution had created, his vision of a new attitude towards religion and morality, and why he chose a Revolutionary Festival to launch his idea. It focusses on the importance of the Festival by showing that it was not only a major event in Paris, with a huge man-made mountain on the Champ de Mars; it was also celebrated in great depth in almost every city, town and village throughout France. It seeks to redefine the importance of the Festival in the history of the Revolution, not, as historians have traditionally dismissed it, merely as the performance of a sterile and compulsory political duty, but on the contrary, as a massively popular national event. The author uses source material from national and local archives describing the celebrations as well as the reaction to the event and its importance by contemporary commentators. This is the first book since the 1980s and the only work in English to focus on this Festival and to redefine its importance in the development of the Revolution.

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Towards ethical ethnography

hyphen or an exclusory slash? Might I resist commitment with the more generic name ‘Middle East’? Or would that abstract from, and so disavow, the crucial particularities of this conflict? These questions accumulate as I write, for the word ‘conflict’ is also contested as a potentially equalising term which blurs moral distinctions between perpetrators and victims. As I approach this subject, there is no neutral language, no clear gap between fact and value. In the moment of writing or speaking about ‘Palestine–​Israel’, I  must make a political commitment between

in Tragic encounters and ordinary ethics

1 Towards a new republican morality Any attempt to follow the development of Robespierre’s thinking, leading finally to the speech of 18 Floréal (7 May 1794)  and proclamation of the festival in honour of the Supreme Being on 20 Prairial Year II (8 June 1794) has to try to answer two main questions. The first is whether progress in his thinking on the importance of the problem which the lack of any acceptable national moral system through the early years of the Revolution had created can be traced. The second is why he chose a Revolutionary Festival to launch

in Robespierre and the Festival of the Supreme Being
The claim of reason

student societies, flavoured by charged moral symbols and dichotomising language of justice and injustice, right and wrong. 74 Tragic encounters and ordinary ethics In Chapter 1, I described how government, media and some elite civil society organisations framed Palestine–​Israel campus politics through norms of civility and autonomy. This chapter examines the enactment of this liberal-​democratic model within a particular campus, exploring how and why this form of binary politics recurred and what the consequences were for students’ ongoing relationships. I  will

in Tragic encounters and ordinary ethics