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Research papers in the category Religion and Society.
It is just over twelve months since the ‘Arab Spring’ took off in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA), on 17 December 2010, in a spontaneous eruption of deep indignation but also of high expectation. In this personal paper, regional specialist Dr Harry Hagopian assesses the breadth and depth of the changes that have taken place. Today, many vested interests are still clutching to power under different guises. We are now dealing with uncertain outcomes that hold both promise and despair, he reports. We have entered new territory where the old imposed truths are no longer the only tradable commodity, where the European colonial borders for some of those artificial or adventive entities are crumbling under popular pressure and where the rules of the game have changed drastically. There is darkness in many of the events we have seen unfolding over the past 12 months, but also hope, he suggests.
This submission to the Scottish Government – regarding its proposals to legalise same-sex marriage and religious ceremonies in the registering of civil partnerships – seeks to balance two concerns: namely, freedom of conscience and practice for those who, whether on religious or non-religious grounds, endorse same-sex marriages and civil partnerships (and who may wish to participate in realising them), and non-compulsion towards those who oppose or do not recognise them (and do not wish to participate). In common with many other Christian organisations, adherents and theologians, Ekklesia has elsewhere advanced the view that there are good traditional, biblical and theological reasons for the churches to repent of their hostility to same-sex relationships and of their homophobia, as was the case in the past with scripturally-defended slavery. But this consultation is not finally about approving or disapproving same-sex unions. It is about whether and how the civic authorities should make legal provision for them in a context where the majority of the public appear to endorse them (according to the latest Scottish Social Attitudes Survey), but where there is still significant moral disagreement. The approach in this submission is to say a clear ‘yes’ to lawful same-sex marriage and mixed- or same-sex civil partnerships, without compulsion toward those who disagree with either or both. The context for this submission is Ekklesia’s 2006 paper, ‘What Future For Marriage?’ which set out a theological and practical case for distinguishing between legal and religious arrangements for recognising partnerships in a post-Christendom setting.
On 15 October 2011, the Occupy LSX movement – having been prevented from occupying a space directly in the City of London among the offices of financial institutions – established a protest outside St Paul’s Cathedral under the banner ‘We are the 99 per cent’. The protestors have sought to articulate a frustration that resonates widely among both those who choose to protest and those who do not, regarding the inequalities in UK society and globally, and the responsibility of financial institutions to serve society. These concerns go far further than individual or even corporate responsibility and greed, raising questions about the whole structure of the global economy, together with the practical ethical and theological responsibilities of churches and Christian communities. In this briefing paper, David McNair, who is Principle Economic Justice Adviser for the UK-based global development agency Christian Aid (www.christianaid.org.uk/), outlines his responses to the questions and opportunities posed by Occupy LSX, around the epithetic challenge ‘My word is my bond’.
The Occupy London group is asking for a real debate in politics and economics, rather than the closed-down debate in Westminster politics and also the City of London. They are right so to do, because no real responses are coming from either, other than the ya-boo of the Commons and the “banking is complicated” of the City. This short paper raises an issue which both groups must address, says the author, if they are to have any integrity. The countries where major financial crises in sovereign debt have occurred in the West are also the ones which are most unequal in terms of the distribution of income and wealth. Author Alan Starkey is an economist and sociologist with a strong theological pedigree.
This short research paper maps out the contours of a revolution in Britain’s benefits and welfare system. But the evidence Karen McAndrew examines and evaluates indicates that, far from enabling and supporting sick and disabled people, the changes and cuts the UK government is making – disguised by a superficial rhetoric of compassion and empowerment, and eased by ungrounded prejudices stoked in sections of the media – are causing real harm and destroying the fabric of national care and genuine opportunity. Putting human impact centre stage, this paper sets out disturbing evidence that disabled people are being betrayed, the public misled, and the welfare system endangered. Here is yet more indication that the 'Big Society' is punishing the most vulnerable and eschewing social justice, by making cuts and implementing an inadequate patchwork of policies whereby under-resourced voluntarism cannot substitute for official, statutory neglect.
Fear or Freedom?: Why a Warring Church Must Change by Simon Barrow (Ed)
The Subversive Manifesto: Lifting the Lid on God's Political Agenda by Jonathan Bartley
Faith and Politics After Christendom: The Church as a Movement for Anarchy by Jonathan Bartley
Consuming Passion: Why the Killing of Jesus Really Matters by Simon Barrow and Jonathan Bartley (Eds)
Threatened with Resurrection: The Difficult Peace of Christ by Simon Barrow