Features

  • 28 Sep 2011

    The Geneva Interfaith Forum on Climate Change, Environment and Human Rights is an informal group of faith-based NGOs that gathered in September 2011 to reaffirm the responsibility of each faith and spiritual tradition to care for the environment and to play a role in addressing climate change and its impact on the human rights of the world’s population. This is its call for action.

  • 27 Sep 2011

    An apparently religious marker is frequently used to break down populations into ‘Muslims’ and ‘others’, with the ‘others’ often being called, more charitably, ‘the minorities’ of the Middle East, says Dr Michael Marten from the University of Stirling. There are many problems with this kind of designation, he suggests: primarily that it feeds into binary understandings of the world exemplified by the misleading ‘clash of civilisations‘ model.

  • 22 Sep 2011

    Five hundred Israeli academics and intellectuals recently signed a petition supporting the Palestinian statehood bid: so will the 66th Session of the UN General Assembly decide whether ‘Palestine’ becomes fact or stays fiction - and what kind of fact or fiction? Dr Harry Hagopian explores the background to the much-written-about upcoming UN vote.

  • 19 Sep 2011

    Creationism and ‘intelligent design’ are not scientific theories, but they are portrayed as such by some religious fundamentalists who attempt to have their views promoted in publicly-funded schools. There should be enforceable statutory guidance that they may not be presented as scientific theories in any publicly-funded school of whatever type, say a group of eminent scientists and science educators. They include an Anglican priest and they are backed by five organisations: three scientific, one secular humanist and one Christian.

  • 13 Sep 2011

    Whether in Iraq, Israel and Palestine, Egypt, Syria or Lebanon, Christians who were once the bellwethers of healthy Middle Eastern societies are feeling exposed, menaced and insecure. Their churches are being burnt down, relatives or friends are at times being killed, beaten up or abducted, voices are being snuffed out, job opportunities are being denied them and they are almost facing a dhimmitude that had become defunct with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Harry Hagopian asks what response is appropriate, starting from a personal exploration of the issues from a European perspective.

  • 13 Sep 2011

    Classifying communities and their practices and values as ‘religious’ often has the effect of marginalising them from the mainstream of public debates on justice and the proper ends of the good life, says scholar Timothy Fitzgerald. Such classification has the effect of clothing secular reason with the misleading aura of neutral objectivity, he suggests.

  • 11 Sep 2011

    Over the past ten years we have witnessed the birth of the neologism '9/11' and the horrid and inaccurate phrase 'global war on terror'. Some of what happened in those ten intervening years is now history, says Harry Hagopian. But much of it continues to resonate across the globe, calling us to a change of outlook and action. Revolutions and popular revolts across the Middle East and North Africa region vindicate the standpoint that real changes should come from within and do not necessarily get imposed militarily upon a whole people anymore.

  • 11 Sep 2011

    What are the principal lessons of the ten years of war since the 11 September 2001 attacks? Paul Rogers, professor in the department of peace studies at Bradford University, gives some crisp answers. He has played a prominent role in the Oxford Research Group, has written extensively on related global and regional issues, and his first openDemocracy column was published a few days after 9/11.

  • 02 Sep 2011

    Events in Syria, though making headlines across the globe, and impacting the lives of everyone inside the country have left the Church in Lebanon tongue-tied it appears. Aline Sara, news editor of NOW Lebanon reflects on the political, religious, social and cultural issues which have led many Lebanese and Syrian Christians to refrain from criticising the regime for its crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

  • 02 Sep 2011

    The recent disturbances in England show that fundamental issues concerning the legitimation of government, social justice, and societal stability need to be addressed ever more urgently, says Professor Richard Roberts. He argues that scholars of religion should not simply remain reluctant but paid tools of an industrialised system of defective socialisation that initiates students into informed passivity, but rather the source of a truly critical discourse that broadens the imagination and enhances personal agency.