Archive - July 2016

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Muslim-Catholic Solidarity in DC after Murder of Fr. Hamel
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How to Think About Islam in These Times
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Bridging Mars and Venus for Religious Freedom
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The Culture War Over Religious Freedom Goes Global

Muslim-Catholic Solidarity in DC after Murder of Fr. Hamel

In response to the murder of Fr. Jacques Hamel in France on July 26 by two men claiming allegiance to ISIS, Muslims in France and other countries, including the U.S., reached out to Catholics today to show solidarity by attending Mass.

I was deeply moved that three Muslims – Imam Suhaib Webb, Maggie Siddiqi, and Sameer Siddiqi – came to Mass in Washington, DC today with Dr. Paul Heck and me at our parish, the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle. They came because they, as Muslims, wanted to show their solidarity with Catholics after the murder of Fr. Hamel while he was saying Mass.

Neither Paul Heck nor I had ever met these Muslims before.

A few days ago Fr. Matthew Schneider, LC, tweeted, “We can’t show ISIS we’re afraid. Let’s all go to a Catholic Mass this Sunday to show solidarity since they killed a priest. #IAmJacquesHamel.” When I saw on Twitter that Imam Suhaib Webb had responded, “Fr. I will be there,” I invited Imam Webb to come to Mass with me. And come he did, plus Maggie and Sameer Siddiqui came too after hearing Imam Webb’s July 29 Friday sermon encouraging Washington, DC Muslims to go to Mass this Sunday as a show of solidarity.

They accepted an invitation from a stranger. They all came to say, “We stand with you. We care.”  Strangers reaching out, strangers meeting, strangers supporting each other across differences of faith. In this way we bear witness to ISIS and to the world that love is stronger than hate. Fr. Schneider is right: “We can’t show ISIS we’re afraid.” Stronger together, we won’t.

 

 

Bridging Mars and Venus for Religious Freedom

Robert Kagan once wrote a book called Americans are from Mars, Europeans from Venus.  In the past few years, the United States as well as several European countries, the European Union, and Canada have developed policies promoting religious freedom (though Canada has recently reversed course and closed its Office of Religious Freedom).  Does this development show a turn towards cooperation and emphasis on common priorities?

Perhaps, but Mars-and-Venus-like differences have persisted.  Europeans stress “religious engagement” and “Freedom of Religion or Belief” while the U.S. is more likely to trumpet religious freedom.  Europeans are prone to a multilateral approach while the United States finds it natural to go at it alone.  Western European states host more secular populations than the United States.

Seeing hope for cooperation among the U.S. and its European allies over a critically important principle but also realizing the need for bridging differences, the British Council awarded one of its “Bridging Voices” grants to the University of Sussex and the University of Notre Dame to pursue a pair of policy dialogues on “Freedom of Religion or Belief and Foreign Policy,” both of which were held in 2015 at Wilton Park in England and Georgetown University in the United States.  The results are summarized in a policy brief that presents recommendations for a unified foreign policy of promoting global religious freedom.

 

 

 

 

 

The Culture War Over Religious Freedom Goes Global

The afterglow of 4th of July fireworks is a good moment to reflect on religious freedom.  It used to be that Americans saw this principle as part of their common heritage, a constitutional principle that we teach to children in schools and that all take pride in.  Now we are starting to see religious freedom become one side in a culture war, even placed in scare quotes in the contemporary media.

Americans have also believed that their experiment in religious freedom was worth exporting.  President Roosevelt declared religious freedom as one of the “four freedoms” that made up U.S. aims in World War II.  After the war, the U.S. was instrumental in including religious freedom in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Then, after the Cold War, in 1998, the U.S. Congress passed the International Religious Freedom Act , institutionalizing the promotion of religious freedom in U.S. foreign policy.

A recent group of critics is calling into question this global promotion.  We’ve engaged them in debate previously here at ArcU (see here, here, and here).  In the past year, the two leading voices, Elizabeth Shakman Hurd and Saba Mahmood, have published books with Princeton University Press that look critically at religious freedom. I review these two books in a piece that Lawfare published last week.  I take issue with their critique and seek to defend religious freedom.

 

© Daniel Philpott The views expressed in this forum are those of the individual contributors and do not necessarily represent those of Daniel Philpott, CCHR, or the University of Notre Dame.