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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.

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9780719082542_C05.qxd 8/9/11 15:51 Page 104 5 Terror and religion1 Ronald Dworkin Introduction The Oxford Amnesty Lectures have by now a longish and distinguished history. The topic that dominates discussion shifts year by year, as it should, reflecting contemporary urgency. Sometimes the focus falls on implementation: we know when human rights are being violated en masse, and we struggle to find ways to end the horror. Sometimes the focus is more theoretical: when new national constitutions or human rights covenants are proposed and debated, for example, we

in Religion and rights
Spaces for argument and agreement

9780719082542_A02.qxd 8/9/11 15:49 Page 1 Introduction Rights and religion: spaces for argument and agreement Wendy James The pursuit of rights, for oneself or on behalf of other human beings, grows from our common capacity for passion, as much as from that for reason. Even the austere pronouncements made in the name of established authority – by governors, bankers and judges as well as priests – can be informed by shared human feeling and made effective through rhetoric and symbolic acts. It is not surprising that advocacy against authority commonly evokes

in Religion and rights

MUP FINAL PROOF – <STAGE>, 08/13/2013, SPi 1 Secularisation, religion and the state 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) – that while there is strong evidence of continuing trends towards a more secular and less religious society and pattern of social behaviour, at the same time, religious doctrines, rituals and institutions are central to the legitimacy, stability and continuity of key elements of the constitutional and

in Monarchy, religion and the state

MUP FINAL PROOF – <STAGE>, 08/03/2013, SPi 8 Monarchy and religion in Canada, Australia and the Commonwealth The discussion turns to consider the evidence of the patterns of religious affiliation and belief to be found among all the realms of the monarch with a view to determining their compatibility with the inherited religious rituals of accession and coronation or possible successor forms. Consideration is also given as to the question of the continued viability of collective ritual for all the realms and the possibility of there being individualised

in Monarchy, religion and the state
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It is increasingly accepted that religion is a cause of many of the world’s violent conflicts. The vast majority of contemporary conflicts are intrastate conflicts and involve issues of religious, national or ethnic identity. Although religious conflicts in general have been less common in the post-Second World War era than nonreligious conflicts – or ethnonational

in Conflict to peace
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If this chapter had been written a mere quarter-century ago, it would have contained an almost entirely different account both of gentry religion and of the Church which ministered to the late medieval English laity. For in the mid-1970s the reaction against the longstanding ‘Protestant’ account of the Church and lay piety was only just beginning. The late medieval English

in Gentry culture in late-medieval England
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Men and women of the nobility and gentry living in the world were encouraged to practise their religion through attendance at Mass, private prayer on behalf of themselves and the dead, works of charity, pilgrimage, and material support of the Church. Alternatively, they could enter a monastery or nunnery to take up a life of religion. These two forms of life have parallels with each

in Women of the English Nobility and Gentry, 1066-1500
The myths of modernity

This book offers a critical survey of religious change and its causes in eighteenth-century Europe, and constitutes a challenge to the accepted views in traditional Enlightenment studies. Focusing on Enlightenment Italy, France and England, it illustrates how the canonical view of eighteenth-century religious change has in reality been constructed upon scant evidence and assumption, in particular the idea that the thought of the enlightened led to modernity. For, despite a lack of evidence, one of the fundamental assumptions of Enlightenment studies has been the assertion that there was a vibrant Deist movement which formed the “intellectual solvent” of the eighteenth century. The central claim of this book is that the immense ideological appeal of the traditional birth-of-modernity myth has meant that the actual lack of Deists has been glossed over, and a quite misleading historical view has become entrenched.

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Politics and religion were two sides of the same coin. Wesleyan missionaries went to Upper Burma for many and complex reasons but their main purpose was to convert Burmans to Christianity. One scholar described it as a ‘corrupting’ task. 1 Another suggested that giving ‘pagan souls the same cast as our own’ was to personalise imperialism. 2 Few missions achieved the conversion targets set for them by their societies. As a result mission histories are often histories of failure. 3 Conversion rates

in Conflict, politics and proselytism