Religion, Secularism, Politics – Conversations with History

– Welcome to a Conversation with History, I’m Harry Kreisler of the Institute of International Studies. Our guest today is the distinguished anthropologist Talal Asad, who is the 2008 Foerster Lecturer on the Berkeley campus. Professor Asad, welcome to Berkeley. – Thank you very much. – Where were you born and raised?

– Well, I was born in Saudi Arabia, actually, because my mother comes from there and my parents moved when I was a couple of years old to India, and then eventually to Pakistan. So, I was raised both in India and in Pakistan. Well, in very different ways. My mother was a very traditional woman. My father actually was an Austrian Jew who had converted to Islam in his twenties and was a correspondent, a foreign correspondent for the Frankfurt Allgemeine Zeitung and for the Neue Zurcher Zeitung as well.

In the 30s, he had to give up the first one, the Frankfurt one, because he was not allowed to continue. And he was very interested in the Middle East. And that was where he eventually settled for six years in Saudi Arabia, married my mother, and moved on to India,

Partly for reasons, journalistic reasons, but also because he had friends who urged him to come. So, the question about what, how they shaped my views, well, certainly my father was much more aware of, as it were, a European heritage, as well as the heritage of the Middle East,

To which he was very attracted. And although he had relatives, mother’s relatives, in Palestine at the time, in the 20s, he was born in 1900. – And he converted when? – [Talal] And he converted in his mid-twenties. – I see. – And he died in 1992 in Spain and he’s buried there.

But, he was always really a strong anti-Zionist. He felt that this was a great mistake, even before he became, before he was converted. – So, what I’m hearing you say is you must have gotten a real sense of the diversity of the world and the complexity of the world from them.

– Absolutely, and I was a child, but my father was interned during the war, as an Austrian citizen, even though he was a Jew, by the British, it was, of course, British India at the time. And I was a child, but most of the people there during those years

Were, in fact, from Central Europe, who’d been brought together. So, I have memories of them, as well. And then, shortly after the war, we went to the Punjab, which became Pakistan. And, you know, I was very much aware of many of the things that were going on politically there, as well.

My father was quite active intellectually in Pakistan, as well. – And were you raised in the Islamic? – I was indeed, yes, very much so. My mother being a very pious woman who is not at all an intellectual, but who, in some ways, looking back on it,

I can see that her approach to her religion, in some ways, unconsciously made me aware of different approaches and that is of an unreflective, what people have called an embodied approach to religion, rather than a highly intellectualized one. My mother was not an intellectual, of course.

– So, the religion is really part of the way people live. Is that right? – That’s right, exactly. That was certainly so. And it was certainly for, for my father, it was even more an intellectual matter too. He thought of this as a kind of an intellectual promise,

So to speak, of Islam as a way of living within a community and within a political community and so on. – I believe I read somewhere that, as a Muslim, you were actually, were you educated among Christians – in a school. – That’s right. – And that must have been a kind of

Another layer of a sensitivity to diversity. – Very much so. It was a boarding school and the teachers were British missionaries there. And I can remember being a very obstreperous boy who was determined to, as it were, hold on to his own religious identity among others who were mostly Christians. But, you know,

It wasn’t a very conflictual situation in school, I don’t want to suggest that. But certainly, difference was, you’re right, was very much a part of my early experience. – And how did your education beyond, you know, these first schools, but more your advanced education in England, impact your future scholarship?

– Well, I came to England at the age of 18 and I was, in fact, going to become an architect. That was my father’s choice. He decided for various reasons, because he was also perhaps an architect manque. He thought a, it was a wonderful profession

And b, he thought I needed a certain amount of discipline as well as an opportunity to be creative and what could be better than being an architect? So, he chose for me the profession. I went to London and did architecture, not very successfully, because my heart wasn’t in it,

For two years in the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London. But, I really wanted to be an anthropologist. And then I went off to that, took my own decision and went and did architecture at Edinburgh, sorry, anthropology at Edinburgh. I left architecture. And after that I went to Oxford

Where I did both my first postgraduate degree and my Dphil, the PhD, in Oxford. – And did you focus on religious studies and what was your dissertation on? – No, not at all. You know, I had to some degree, although I was brought up in a sort of a fairly conventional religious way,

Perhaps not quite so conventional, obviously, because given my parents’ background. But, I had to some extent revolted and felt myself to be, to have lost my faith already at the age of about 14 and so on. And I wanted very much to come to Europe,

Which I regarded as a source of all the wonderful things that seemed somehow not to be present in Pakistan at the time. And I remember that my father tried to, in his own way, to disabuse me of some of my ideas, which were rather naive.

But nevertheless, he allowed me to go to Europe, which was interesting. And indeed he, you know, he even encouraged me when I was a boy to try and learn the piano and things like that. And European music is something which I’m extremely fond of and still am deeply fond of.

But, going to Europe was, for me, both something which was exciting to arrive at and, at the same time, as I’ve said to friends, a kind of a slow disabusement, because I sort of had clearly had ideals, and so on, which were very misplaced in terms of what actually existed.

But, my intention to do anthropology was part of a, if you like, a purely secular choice and I eventually did fieldwork in a pastoral nomadic society in the deserts of northern Sudan in the 60s. And it didn’t deal with religion at all. It had to do with their economy

And their political system, primarily, their local political system. – Were there any particular political awakenings that you had in the 60s? I mean, coming from this background where you must have sensed, however young you were, the turmoil in the Pakistan region and then coming to your mature years of education in the 60s.

What stands out? – Well, I think one of the moments, a very important moment in my life was the ’67 war. And I’ve written about this elsewhere or spoken about it, anyway. It was very traumatic for me in the sense that I couldn’t quite understand the reaction of so many people in Britain

To what had happened and a kind of exaltation on the part of the British, which I thought was inexplicable to me. As I’ve said elsewhere, I think I could understand that the Israelis might have felt, you know, very pleased with the fact of the victory,

But why were the British so enormously satisfied with it and emotionally pleased? So, and that had to do with, of course, their earlier experiences. Particularly the ’56 war and their sense of humiliation at that time, when they were obliged, you remember, to withdraw. And some of that came back

And that was very important for me and it also made me think much more seriously about the entire colonial experience, which British society still somehow retained in part. – I wanna ask you about being an anthropologist, but what you just said is maybe a lead-in to this, because as an anthropologist,

One thing that stands out in the work of yours that I read is your sensitivity to power and the relationships of power between the former colonial powers and their former dependencies. And it strikes me that what you just said, was that an entree point into this insight? That is, with your background,

Sort of being surprised by the exaltation and then, sort of thinking about that? – Yeah, I think that’s a very good question. Because I was certainly aware of power in a very general sense and aware of the history of colonialism. But, the way in which it seemed to work

Within the psyche, if you like, of people both individually and collectively, was something that I felt was much more important than I had realized. And, you know, as I said, when I came to Britain, I was also enormously enamored of what one might call an enlightenment kind of culture,

Which I thought I would find. And I was enormously anticipatory with regard to ideas of equality and justice and rationality and so on. You know, held rather naively, of course, as a boy in my late teens. But, nevertheless, very powerfully. And in some ways I think

What my engagement with or my concern for power has been is a kind of complexification of those understandings. So, at first, I thought my goodness, how can this be that this is the culture which believes in all these things and compassion and so forth. And yet, it seems not to do that.

But then, of course, as I’ve said, I had to reinvent the wheel by recognizing that, you know, all sorts of cultures, all cultures, in a sense, are capable of bias of different kinds, every culture. So, the idea that there was one culture out there which would be without it

Was, in my view, very naive. – A theme that runs through your work is the power of concepts and often, how they are derived from power relations. And how those concepts then obscure the realities both of the conceiver and the object of the conception, so to speak.

Is that a fair, maybe simple, statement about some of the things that have interested you? – Yes, I suppose it’s one way of putting it. But, I think of power, now certainly, not simply as repressive and exploitative. I think of it also as something

Which is an opportunity to create, to rebuild, and so on. And the relationship between these two emotions of power, as it were, repressive and creative, it is what fascinates me and is certainly very involved. The ideas, the concepts which interest me, therefore, are both concepts that obscure the possibility

Of some kind of resistance as well as the possibility of some kind of creativity, as well. So, I do agree that that’s not an unreasonable way of describing things, of looking at the way in which these concepts are put together, in which we’ve received, in our culture,

And which in some ways are not adequately and critically and from a distance examined. – I’m curious, what, in the kind of work you do, what do you, what conclusions do you have about the skills that are required to do the kind of anthropology that you do well?

One thing that strikes me is sensitivity to culture, the different cultures. What else? – Well, certainly with languages. – Yeah. – You have to have languages which are necessary for what, I mean, as a medium, both in the field where you’re working but also, at the same, of other perspectives,

Even within the West, as it were, you know, to recognize that there are different national traditions, as well. I think the ability to listen is very important. I don’t know that that’s the kind of skill that can be very sort of systematically or formally learned. But it’s certainly has become easier for me,

Both through teaching, particularly through teaching, and through field work. And I think that that’s absolutely crucial for the anthropologist. To be able to listen, as it were, without too many presuppositions and being open to arriving at conclusions that might be quite startling, eventually, when you arrive at them.

But, not think that you have an answer. I’m giving you a really, perhaps not quite the answer you want. – No. – About skills, but. – Yeah, well, but that, this is, I should maybe I should have phrased the question better. But, that’s the answer I wanted. – [Talal] I see.

– Whether I gave you the right question. Now, how does the student and the scholar transcend the biases that come out of their own culture? That would seem to be a big problem. – It is a big problem and certainly, you know, I don’t think any of us can completely overcome our biases

And the formation that has made us what we are. But, insofar as one can try by encountering very different kinds of cultural phenomena, very different kinds of human beings in different societies, and demand of oneself that one listen, as I said a moment ago, and that one try and question

Not only what one finds out there, to question also oneself. I mean, I’m a great believer in criticism and a criticism which I think should not be confined only to, as it were, the cultural phenomena that we encounter, but also our own criticism, self-criticism. I don’t know, one can only try

And of course, we won’t completely succeed, I’m convinced. But, we can try and question ourselves. – If one looks at your works, it’s very clear that they’re steeped in comparative studies, comparative theory, interdisciplinary work, and combining that all with a sensitivity to the complexity of a particular setting and so on.

Talk a little about that. I know you’ve worked on reform in Egypt and religion and what emerges is a much more complex picture of what the interface between modernity and what the West would call modernity versus tradition. – Right, well you know, one of the things I’ve been very struck by

And I’ll come back to, more directly, to your question in a minute, but is, as I put it, that within the West there is much more argument, much more difference about what modernity means. And what it entails, how one gets to it, or what its problems, its primary problems are.

Too often, partly because it’s a presentation of Westerners who have, as it were, directed their words to the non-Western world and also, as a consequence, people in the non-Western world. There seems to be what I call a single face to modernity. I mean, this is no longer entirely the case.

I know that there are all sorts of developments going on, especially in East Asia and South Asia, and so on. But, there is a lingering sense here of, you know, we know what modernity is, modernity and we know how to get there and it’s quite different from our tradition.

I think in the West, one doesn’t think that. One recognizes how important traditions are, all intellectual traditions are traditions, first of all, we work through and we rethink them, but they’re still traditions and we think of them in or we try to think of them in a modern, i.e. contemporary way.

So, I would say that the question of, you know, the very different kinds of approaches to modernity, for me requires an exploration of kinds of knowledge from very different disciplines, both Western disciplines, if one might call them that. I’m not very happy with that, but still, you know roughly what I mean.

And the more traditional disciplines in the Middle East, theology, law, say Islamic law, Islamic theology and so on are I think very important to get into. As well as the different opportunities in the disciplines that we have in our liberal institutions. – I’m looking here at the definition in your book

And I’ll show the book, the Formations of the Secular. And just as an autobiographical note, you say, “Modernity is a project “or rather, a series of interlinked projects “that certain people in power seek to achieve. “The project aims at,” and then you list the and what just sort of struck me was

Many of these things must have been in your mind’s eye when you came to England, thinking that you had found a secular Mecca. – [Talal] And a modern, yes. – Yes, yeah, so. – Absolutely, yes. – And in another place, and I can’t unfortunately find the quote right now,

You mentioned that we forget that the notion of modernity that the West has come up with really emerges out of a particular time in our history when we made a transformation and we forget that and then want to apply the concept that emerged from that to other peoples who come from

Different practices and different histories. – Exactly, I think that that’s very true and that is, of course, part of the reason why we find so many problems, both social and political, in that part of the world. Indeed, we sometimes, you might say, some of these problems arise here too in the West,

Whether it’s the United States or Europe. For some people, the idea of modernity is quite straightforward and certain things must be rejected if one is to be truly modern. And then, for other people, not so. You know, one has seen arguments about the British political system. No doubt you’re familiar with these arguments,

Which say, well of course, the British system is not completely modern yet because, you know, the Church of England still has a certain important place in the British government and you can’t call that modern. Because in a modern state, and here we think of either the United States or France,

Both very different kinds of secular arrangements, in which, in some ways, the religion is at least politically intended to be kept out. So, but I’m not sure that it’s a good description, say, of the British system to say it’s not modern. This presupposes a single model.

The question is, is it the kind of society that is, that produces obstacles in the path of various developments which we think of as valuable or not? Rather than, is it modern or not? I mean, that’s why I’m a little leery of the idea of modernity as well.

– And you go on to point out in this book that the theory makes the assumption that it’s a binary choice, that it’s one or the other. And you’re trying to help us understand that there’s much greater complexity and in a way, I think you’re suggesting that you can’t actually understand

What’s going on in a place like Egypt and how it reformed itself in religious matters and how this interface between what came from the outside, interface with kind of living practices and a living religion. – Yeah, this is absolutely true as far as, you know, my work on Egypt is concerned.

This is what I’ve tried to do and I think of this as an anthropology which is, I think, appropriate for our time. By which I don’t mean it’s the only thing that one can do as an anthropologist, but I think it’s very important to be able to

Somehow tackle the question of various interconnections, as well as distinctions. But in ways that are not binary, as you’ve just rightly quoted. Because I think that the language that we use, that everybody uses, makes for very different possibilities of interpretation and of living and therefore, binaries are a rigid way

Of approaching these problems. I think it’s a mistake to even think of, you know, the secular and the religious in strictly binary terms. I think that there are all sorts of interpenetrations, especially if you look at it historically, as well as cross-culturally. That you see that there are various connections,

Various transmutations of concepts, of modes of behavior, of organizations, and so on. – Mmmhmm, you write, “In an interdependent world, “traditional cultures do not spontaneously grow or develop “into modern cultures. “People are pushed, seduced, coerced, and persuaded “into trying to change themselves “into something else, something new “that allows them to be redeemed.”

I’m curious because, of course, this is an insight into what’s going on in the developing world, but one could almost apply this to the United States itself and the way our secular modern elites have been shocked by the revival of religion in this country and the way it seeks to intrude into politics.

– Right, yeah, I’m still learning about the United States and the problem, or the problems, that people see of secularity and religion, but certainly, I think there is a greater awareness among various people of a complexity which we have overlooked. So that one can try to work out ways of accommodating

A certain kind of multiplicity and of interconnection, without allowing this to be repressive of individuals or of traditions and so on. And this is very difficult in any culture, certainly. In the Middle East, as well. You have forces which are repressive and you have forces which are opening up.

And it’s not always easy and I say this not as a criticism, but as a fact, not easy for people to know, certainly in the Middle East, where they should be going. And what, as it were, a more adequate and reasonable and just development of a tradition in moments of change might be.

So, and I think that this is true here too. You know, people are on the one hand worried by certain developments in the demand for the intrusion of religion into politics. But in other ways, they do recognize that there are some aspects of what we call religion

Which somehow could have a place, as it were, in the public square. But how to do- – And the important thing here, which we should say for our audience, is that secularity, being secular, defines a world in which religion is separated from the public space

And the two, although side by side, do not meet. And what we are encountering in the world and here at home is the concept doesn’t work completely. – Right, right and I think on this one finds ways in which one can address that difficulty. You know, the outcome will often be rather unpleasant.

And I do think that it’s necessary not just to keep insisting on a straightforward separation of two things, which are themselves very ambiguous, religion on the one side and secularity on the other, but to recognize that there have to be, one must analyze out what the implications of each are,

To what extent elements of each can be changed, accommodated, made to answer for its own claims. And I think that this can apply to both secularity and religion. – And a place where this problem emerges very strongly is in Europe today as it deals with its Muslim communities.

– Absolutely, yes, it’s a matter of both of great interest to me, as to what’s happening in Europe, and at the same time of considerable dismay that Europe has become so rigid in many respects and so fearful, really, of a population that is, on the whole, initially not at all,

Should not be seen as threatening. While elements might be, but I don’t think that the majority should be seen in this way. And there are ways of accommodating and some are more, and some states and some national traditions are very rigid. The French one, of course, is famously, extremely rigid

About accommodating certain kinds of religious differences. – For example, the veiling, the hijab, yes. – Yeah, absolutely. But you know, many people often forget that the French who are supposed to be so fiercely laic are also able to accommodate religious schools, Catholic schools, which have a place within the government educational system.

And it’s possible for people to do whatever they like, including cover their head and so on, in religious schools. But, not in government schools. I mean, there’s a degree of, you know, a contradiction and incoherence in our approaches to secularism, in Europe as well as, perhaps, in the United States.

– You write that when Europe or the West errs in its overemphasis or overstatement of its own modernity that you write, “The belief that human beings “can be separated from their histories and traditions “makes it possible to urge a Europeanization “of the Islamic world.” And you’re really suggesting that is gonna create problems?

Are you suggesting that? Or what are the implications beyond an insensitivity to the reality of people that one presumably would want to integrate? – Well, in the first place, yeah, I think that there are problems that will arise and have already arisen. The problems are partly also the result

Of certain claims, historical claims that liberal Europe has about degrees of autonomy, degrees of, as it were, self-determination, which are not simply political, but also social, cultural, and psychological, and so on. How is it that these ideas which were regarded as basic to Europe’s inheritance have now suddenly become difficult to apply

And you have to have one model? I think that integration, in other words, is something that requires a certain amount of give and take. The nations of Europe, as in the United States, have never been stable, stationary. They have evolved over time. We know this.

But, this very banal fact tends to be forgotten, time and again. That, you know, if we are changing then we can’t rigidly say there is just our way of life, which must stand forever and unchanged. But, also something in which one can give and take and at a reasonable level.

And that should apply, I think, to immigrants as well. – As a social scientist one has to analyze the factors that provide the social or political base for this blindness to both the inadequacy of the concept and the reality of one’s own history and evolution

And the reality, history, and evolution of the other, in this case. – Right, well, you know, there are clearly elements, if you like, on both sides so it’s not just a question of a straightforward blindness on one side. But, I think in some ways there’s a greater responsibility

On the part of the party which is much stronger and the party which is more secure in dealing with groups that are less secure that are expected to transform themselves. What are the origins of these? I think they are largely historic. In the case of Europe, the entire colonial experience

Has been very strong I think. That there’s no question in my mind, both for Britain and for France, certainly. In Germany, it’s a little more complicated, because the immigrants there are not from, I mean, the Germans have never had that kind of empire as the French and the British did.

But, that’s one part of it. And I think, if you like, that the modern nations in Europe are not sufficiently liberal, not sufficiently modern one might even say, provocatively, although I’ve criticized that idea as a simple idea, in not taking their own values seriously enough. But, there are all sorts of incentives.

For political, economic reasons, it’s easier to find scapegoats and so on. I often think that, in the case of Europe, I’ve said again, provocatively, that it’s almost as though the Europeans now, no longer able to publicly denounce Jews and persecute them, however sub rosa sort of anti-Semitic some of them might be,

But, it’s no longer possible for a person in Europe to be taken seriously as a respectable public figure and be anti-Semitic. This is no longer true. This is not true, of course, in relation to immigrants. So, there’s a kind of shift, almost. It’s almost, one might suggest,

Because they can’t any longer, as it were, choose one outsider or define one group as an outsider which they did and then, right up through the 30s, which was the most terrible period, and now they have to find somebody else. I mean, I’m making a provocative formula out of it.

– And you’re not saying that having lost the one, you have to do the other, it just tends in that direction, right? – In that direction. Because, of course, many people don’t do that. I mean, there are lots of very responsible people and lots of people who are warning against

Precisely the attitude which I’ve been describing with some dismay. Lots of Europeans who have made the very points that I’m making already about it being in conflict with liberal ideas, with democratic ideas, and so on. – Let’s talk now about 9/11 and look at the way

We’ve looked at this problem of suicide bombing. And let me show you, the audience, your book on suicide bombing, which is a series of lectures you gave at the University of California, Irvine, I believe. After 9/11 we were in a situation of having to reconceptualize our adversary,

So a lot of these themes that we’ve been talking about come into play in the way the West sees the other. What do you see as, what insights do you bring to that definitional issue that, you know, follows up on what we’ve just been talking about?

– Well, I think that, in some ways, this connects up with some of the things we’ve already said. And that is, the need to look critically at many of our received categories and received notions. In other words, not just to criticize the others or the perpetrators of that terrorist attack,

But to go deeper. And again, there were people who already suggested this at one time. At the time, it was a bit difficult to make this point forcefully. – [Harry] After 9/11. – After 9/11. – Yeah. – Nevertheless, there were some people and since then, there have been more

Who have urged that, you know, what we also need is an examination of the relationships between, say, the United States, in this case, it was the United States, and the rest of the world, but particularly, of course, in this case, the Middle East. Instead of just blaming,

Just as it’s, I think, quite wrong for Middle Easterners to blame everything that happens in Middle Eastern countries on the outside, which I think is not true, I’m extremely critical of the political situation in the Middle East, but it should be so too, in the United States, so that one can look critically

At our relationship, as I put it, to violence. In what way, historically as well as within the country, as well as between the United States and other parts of the world, what has been the relationship to violence and how has it been invoked at certain points and denied at other points

And what are the consequences of what we’ve done? I say we, ’cause I’m already now an American citizen, of course. So, I became an American citizen in summer of 2001. Rather, sort of symbolically. Anyway, so that’s what I would say in answer to, I don’t know whether I’ve really adequately, probably not.

– Yes, you had, but let’s explore, but at least in terms of looking at the other, you say, or you suggest, the way you see, define, explain terrorism gives a justification for the actions of the state. That’s my reading of what you’re saying. In other words,

That in going down one road of interpretation, it then makes it easier for the state to practice all kinds of violence and come up with a moral justification for that. – And a violence not only on the outside world, but within. – [Harry] Yeah, right, right.

– Exactly, and you know, so many people have complained a restriction of liberties and all sorts of things. We’re going over very familiar ground which, nevertheless needs, I think, to be stressed again and again. I think that the whole question of war and terrorism has fascinated me.

When I wrote this book and gave the lectures, I showed it to a friend who said yes, he liked it very much. And he could see, he was an American born and bred, he could see that I was rightly saying that in some certain instances, terrorism might be justified.

And I said no, this is not what this book is about. I am not trying to justify terrorism. I’m just trying to shake this sort of binary categorization which gives rise to certain kinds of policies. So, I had to actually spell this out. You may have seen this in my short introduction

That’s saying this is not intended as a justification for it. I’ve, as I’ve mentioned to you, I’ve become particularly interested also in the whole idea of just war and the reasons for it. And I’m working at the moment on that very category

And the way in which it is a kind of moralization of war, which I think should not be moralized at all. I’m not a pacifist, but I don’t for one moment think that just war is a coherent and valid notion. And the way in which this justifies certain kinds of violences,

Which are often of a enormously greater scale than anything that the wretched terrorists can do. There are so many things, not only in the way in which we have used air power in war, for example, but also in this very ambiguous business of when one transgresses the law of war.

And the law of war is, for me, fascinatingly, much more ambiguous than I thought it was. There’s a very fine and insightful writer on this, a law specialist, David Kennedy, who’s written, I’ve quoted him in my book, but since then he’s written another one on the law of war,

Which has, I think, extremely good insights about the law of war being not a series of rules which cannot be transgressed and which are supposed to justify just war, but really a language, what he calls a language for argument. And that’s what the law of war is.

There are others who’ve also developed this. Again, an international law specialist in City University who has written a number of wonderful articles called, I keep trying to remember rightly, was it Jonathan Berman? Oh, Nathaniel Berman, who’s written on this subject as well, very much about the question of the construction in war

Of various categories, including that which has allowed, you know, the proportionality business, the question of necessity, and so on. So, what I tried to do in this book, first of all, is to shake those categories so that we could think for ourselves.

I mean, I don’t provide any answers, as you know very well. But, I want, I hope that some readers will begin to question for themselves and find answers for themselves. And then, in the final part, of course, I was still fascinated by the reasons for horror at suicide bombing.

And there were all sorts of reasons, it seemed to me, one could draw on to try and explain what that sense of horror was. Which could be looked at without being moralistic about it, because as an anthropologist, I was and here I was much more thinking about it anthropologically.

And also reminding ourselves that, you know, in modern society, we are committed to all sorts of conditions that would otherwise be considered terroristic and horrific. And one of those, which I do mention in the book, you may remember, has to do with nuclear weapons.

– Go on, go ahead, please, no you know, finish, go ahead. – Well, I just wanted to say that, you know, in a number of official definitions terrorism is defined as not only an act, but also as a threat, the threat of terrorism. I mean, a particular kind of threat makes it terrorism.

Now, it has seemed to me, as well as to legions of other people, that possessing nuclear weapons, which you say you’re going to use if necessary and you will destroy not only the enemy, but in the process, yourself, you’re prepared to do that, seems to me, logically,

You have the logical structure of terrorism. And yet, we don’t see that and we don’t address it quite in those terms and I think we should. – This part of the conversation is raising an interesting point and that is, as a social scientist, as you try to disentangle

The complexity of our own development in thinking about an issue, violence and war, violence between combatants, and so on, we basically get some new insights about ourselves, we see different things about the adversary. Now, what’s interesting is the point you made about what your friend said, because when you begin to do that,

What you’re saying becomes politicized and people say, oh, you’re defending suicide. Talk a little about that, because it really is an important issue of where the academy can have insights, but in those insights becoming part of the political debate, there is a politicization in which people are accused of saying things

They didn’t say. – Yes, of course, this is very difficult to control, to some extent. Let me approach this indirectly by referring a review that was made of this book in the Times supplement, the Sunday supplement. A book review by Samantha Power, which, in fact, was about three books,

Including one of Petraeus, and this book, and one other, I forget which. And when she turned to that, she said among other things, well, she said a couple of nice things, but she disagreed, of course, fundamentally with it. But, she described it as an angry book

And she said in the end, rage overcomes him. And I’ve been saying to my friends, you know, did she read the book or didn’t she? Well, the point is, you can’t control how people read you. And I think that, you know, this is simply a rediscovery of a fairly obvious thing.

It’s no use by saying no, no, I wasn’t angry and I certainly wasn’t enraged. But, people will read you in odd ways and to some extent, you can control that by at least explaining yourself, but in the end, there are things that you can’t, I think,

Totally control how people will take up what you’re saying. My hope is that the, insofar as the politicization, it can be seen as an indirect one. I mean, I think of, if you like, of democratic politics also as a kind of personal, interpersonal kind of ethical encounter in which one can,

One should be able to treat others with whom one is engaging on equal terms, critically, but also listening carefully instead of jumping to the conclusion that, you know, that they belong to a certain category. What they’ve said, aha, we already know what he or she is saying

And we really will not tolerate that sort of thing. And asking oneself why one has these feelings of rejection, as well, as we proceed. You know, for me, in a sense, democracy is not just about, you know, voting and so on, which is, in some ways, the least problematic aspect of democracy.

There is that other aspect which I think is very important and very neglected, including the readiness to be self-critical. – Professor Asad, on that note I wanna thank you for coming to the campus to be the Foerster lecturer and also for appearing on our program.

– Thank you. – And thank you very much for joining us for this Conversation with History.

#Religion #Secularism #Politics #Conversations #History

Interfaith Education

The purpose of a, of a special focus day is where we actually stop teaching the IB, but it’s an opportunity to focus on the actual mission of of this UWC college. So, why interfaith? Identity and especially religious identity has been used and abused throughout history for political ends.

And to understand why the situation is like this in the current modern society it is really important to learn about religion. It´s really an interesting way to learn more about the people around you and the environment I am muslim and I am connected to foreign country and not a good time for

My religion itself because we have a lot of like, conflict areas now in foreign countries about the Islam and about terrorism by relating them together but like, I thought it may be a good thing that I come and maybe I can change something in people. People´s perspective of Islam

I think our work is to help people reclaim the voice of their religion and represent it in the way that it’s meant to be represented. As a force for love, as a force for harmony, as a force for bridge building in the world.

And looking at this kind of issue, the inclusivity of it If you are a member of that faith what do you believe in so to speak, they unite you with other members but, it excludes others and it’s that exclusion which can be exploited With two seminars to try and increase the

Amount of exposure that students could get to face speakers. My religion or my religious life it’s between me and between god, but, the social life and the rest of our life it´s for all of us together. If you believe or not believe, we are together. To built, the whole and the future.

I think Interfaith is so interesting because you learn more about like, the core part of how people perceive the world and how people think. So it’s not just the superficial culture exchange of oh, this is pretty; but, you learn about the meaning behind the objects and I think it really helps to

Understand other people. People who, maybe doesn’t believe in God, and doesn’t believe in any other religion and they just really listen and they have good questions and they really respect the religion and they respect each other and, they were really happy after it. So, this really surprised me.

#Interfaith #Education

The Disturbing Truth Of The Seven Princes Of Hell

The devil made you do it, but which one? There’s  more to the red guy with the horns, including   the fact that he’s actually seven guys with very  particular specialties to boot. Or cloven hoof. The Seven Princes of Hell are a collection of  fearsome foes spread across various religions  

And cultures, but they find their origins  in the writings of notorious witch hunter   and German bishop Peter Binsfeld.  Binsfeld tortured confessions out   of supposed witches that turned into what  he perceived as the chief villains behind   witchcraft — these seven princes. Each  one lorded over a specific sin and has  

Made appearances across various religious  texts, from the Bible to the book of Tobit. The demon princes have also found their way  into literature. Works such as Paradise Lost   and Dante’s Inferno feature the Princes in various  forms. And demonology experts across the centuries  

Have kept them nice and organized in encyclopedias  like the 1818 Dictionnaire Infernal or Infernal   Dictionary by Jacques Collin de Plancy.  Descriptions differ from source to source,   but a few core ideas remain the same. For  instance, each Prince is his own entity,   and each possesses significant power  that’s been seen throughout history.

For example, Lucifer presided over pride  and Satan presided over wrath. Beelzebub   represented gluttony, Belphegor symbolized  sloth, Leviathan was in charge of envy,   Asmodeus encouraged lust, and  finally, Mammon presided over greed. None of them are friendly by any means,  but here are some untold truths about them.

The name “Lucifer” has many meanings and  interpretations, including light-bearer,   giver of light, morning star, and the  super cool “lightbeard.” The story of   his name comes from his creation by God himself. “Satan at that time was Lucifer, or “the  daystar.” He was the brightest of the angels.”

Lucifer is often conflated with  Satan, and also with Beelzebub,   but they are three separate entities. And in  Lucifer’s case, his name sets him up as one of   the most interesting princes of hell, given the  power he had before his failed rebellion. This  

Failed rebellion gives another interpretation of  what his name means: “he who shuns the light.” The Book of Revelations tells the story of a  battle fought in heaven between Michael and   his angels against the rebel future-demons  and their angels. The leader of the rebels  

Was Lucifer himself. Lucifer was fed  up with the state of the universe. He   saw himself as superior to humankind and  couldn’t understand God’s love for them.   So he convinced a third of the angels to side  with him and rise up against the rule of God.

The war lasted for years. Lucifer turned  himself into a dragon. Fellow demons   Leviathan and Behemoth showed up to help, but  in the end, Lucifer lost the fight and was cast   out. This is where there are several versions  of the story. It’s possible that Lucifer’s  

Rebellion continued after his exile. Perhaps,  knowing how much God loved his humans, it was   Lucifer who corrupted Adam and Eve to stick it  to God out of pride — his deadly sin — and envy. There’s a lot of overlap between historical  accounts of witches and warlocks and the  

Power of demons. Binsfeld himself was a notorious  witch hunter who used confessions obtained through   torture to build out his seven princes of hell.  That being the case, it makes sense that outbreaks   of witchcraft, if you will, are often attributed  to the intervention of a demon or evil entity.

According to Puritan Cotton Mather in Of Beelzebub  and His Plot, Beelzebub was behind the witchcraft   in his backyard. Mather was a prominent figure  in the notorious Salem witch trials. And it’s   interesting that he chose to write about Beelzebub  out of all the other princes of hell. It could  

Be a conflation of the devil and his various  monikers, but throughout history, specific demons   are chosen for specific instances that back up  Binsfeld’s demonic descriptions. For instance, in   the Encyclopedia of Demons in World Religions and  Cultures by Theresa Bane, Beelzebub is linked to  

Divination and possession, traits that Mather and  his contemporaries piled on the accused witches. On top of that, in Arabic, Beelzebub  means “the patron god of witches.” Beelzebub is often conflated with Satan and  Lucifer, along with the more generic “devil,”   but Binsfeld identified unique characteristics in  each. For instance, Beelzebub has a very specific  

Connection to flies. Flies tend to show up  at demonic events — they were out in force   at the Amityville horror house, for example.  Beelzebub is the demon most often hailed as   the “Lord of the Flies.” So much so that he’s  often depicted as a giant fly himself, though  

There are variations on his appearance including  horns, tails, goose feet, and other delights. However, it’s the connection to flies that  separates Beelzebub from his contemporaries.   According to the Infernal Dictionary, he  has complete power over flies on earth  

And uses them to ruin harvests. And he’s  also the leader of the Order of the Flies,   a specific entourage in hell made up of  all Beelzebub’s lieutenants and underlings. And there’s a third reason he’s known as  the Lord of Flies. Beelzebub, himself, was  

Capable of flying. In fact, his title is sometimes  translated as “Lord of Fliers” for that reason. In what has to be one of the strangest tidbits  surrounding a Prince of Hell, the patron prince of   sloth, Belphegor, has a curious preference when it  comes to sacrifices. According to various demonic  

Grimoires, Belphegor accepts human excrement as  an offering. According to the Infernal Dictionary, “One renders homage to him  on a toilet and […] offers   him the ignoble residue of ones’ digestion.” Or, as the Encyclopedia of Demons puts it, “Belphegor accepts offerings of excrement.” Mm. Mm mm mm.”

What this has to do with his status as  the nefarious figurehead of sloth is a   bit befuddling, but it explains his  frequent representation on a toilet   himself. One such illustration appears  in the Infernal Dictionary, but there are   memes galore depicting the goat-horned  deity in deep contemplation on the can.

While Belphegor was assigned to the sin of sloth,  his abilities actually go much deeper. He was   inventive enough to create devices to do his work,  and even tricked humans into doing his work then   claimed credit for himself. So, in a sense,  sloth gave way to ingenuity. He’s slippery,  

Too. Belphegor’s able to take whatever form  is most beneficial for him in the moment. That meant that Belphegor could appear as anything  from a young girl to a giant phallus — whatever   was necessary to get the job done. When we trace  Belphegor back to his origins as Baal-Peor,  

He was both a sun god and a moon goddess  to the Moabites who worshiped him. Again,   whatever got people to do what he  wanted. Call him a crowd pleaser. Leviathan is the figurehead of envy.  While Beelzebub, Lucifer, Satan,   and the like are often conflated, Leviathan  has always been a separate creature who was,  

Quite literally, a monster. More specifically,  a monster of the sea. In the Bible, Leviathan   is the female counterpart to Behemoth, the  male beast on land. If you want specifics,   Leviathan is described in the  Encyclopedia of Demons as: “a monstrous female sea creature  three hundred miles long with  

Eyes glowing as brightly as twin suns.” Although she isn’t named, Leviathan makes an  appearance in Revelations 12:3, when a great   red dragon with seven heads emerges from the  sea. According to Howard Wallace’s article,   “Leviathan and the Beast in Revelation,” this  is the sea monstress fighting the war between  

Good and evil, since Leviathan  was known to have seven heads. Since Leviathan was a sea monster, it makes  sense that the rulers of hell found a use for   her monstrous size — as the gates of hell itself.  Along with swallowing all those guilty of envy,  

Leviathan’s gullet also served as the  general entry point into eternal damnation. This concept arises through Anglo-Saxon  art depicting the fires of hell spewing   forth from a massive mouth.  In the artistic renditions,   and as a concept dating back to the middle  ages, this maw is known as “hellmouth.”

The hellmouth motif can be seen in  various works of Renaissance art,   for instance “The Last Judgment” by Giacomo  Rossignolo, as well as a slew of other examples. Asmodeus is the prince that presides over the  sin of lust. There are many interpretations  

And variations of this dark prince, but  most agree that he looked terrifying. You may think the prince of lust would be sexier,  or, if nothing else, human-like. But Asmodeus is   a three-headed creature. The first head is a  bull, the second is a ram or sheep, and the  

Third is a fire-breathing man. Infernal Dictionary  also adds that he has the foot of a goose and,   because apparently all that isn’t enough already,  he rides a dragon and carries a lance with a flag. Pick and choose which physical traits  from which compendium, you’ve still  

Got a monstrous visage that is understandably  feared throughout his appearances in the Talmud. The Talmud offers one of the best  stories about a prince of hell,   and it occurs in the book of Tobit. As the story  goes, King Solomon asked God for wisdom. Then he  

Made a stupendously unwise decision. Solomon  needed guidance about building the temple,   so he took a rabbi’s advice and bound some  demons to find the instructions given by God. There are multiple versions of this story. In one,  the demon is helpful and friendly. In another,  

The demon is used to build the temple. And in  the third, he deposes Solomon and takes his   place on the throne. In this version, Solomon  unbound the demon as a sort of challenge,   at which point Asmodeus literally punted Solomon  across the world. This left the unwise ex-king  

With the task of retaking his throne, which  — spoiler alert — he does in the end. Still,   for a while there, the temple  was ruled by a prince of hell. It may not seem like a prince of hell thing  to fall in love, but if ever one was going to,  

Surely it would be the prince of  lust, the three-headed Asmodeus. “My dream is of eternity with you.” According to the book of Tobit, Asmodeus  fell in love with a woman named Sarah,   but given that he was a horrid three-headed  demon, he watched from afar, only coming  

Close enough to kill her would-be husband every  time she attempted to marry an actual human man. This happened seven times. Then Sarah met  a man named Tobias and, ever optimistic,   planned to marry for the eighth time. And this  time, with the help of the Archangel Raphael,  

Tobias defeated Asmodeus with a fish heart and  a liver placed over burning coals. Apparently,   Asmodeus couldn’t stand the smell  and fled the scene in horror. While nothing explicitly says that Jesus  had a specific rivalry with Mammon,   it was the Christian Messiah who mentioned  this particular prince by name in Matthew 6:24:

“You cannot serve both God and Mammon.” “You can’t serve God and Mammon  both. Mammon being money.” The simplest interpretation is  that Mammon is the figurehead   of greed. There are countless references  to Mammon in conjunction with capitalism,  

Including links to the British empire and whether  or not it was in service of Mammon. Of course,   this would refer to the figurative Mammon,  being the face of greed and empire,   but the usage of the specific demonic entity  can be seen in the Infernal Dictionary,  

Which states how Mammon taught humanity to  “wrest away” the treasures of the earth. Satan is by far the most common of the seven  princes of Hell to be associated with the   devil in general, but Binsfeld sorted him as the  patron prince of the deadly sin of wrath. He was  

Supposedly the primary opponent of Jesus  in the battle for humanity, but Satan was   so prevalent in the realm of man that his name  became a common noun. In the Hebrew scripture,   there was a difference between the Satan  and a satan. The latter referred to a human  

Adversary or obstacle, while the former  was the actual prince of Hell himself. According to The Devil Made David Do  It… or ‘Did’ He? by Ryan E. Stokes,   early Hebrew writings didn’t necessarily subscribe  to a belief in malevolent beings such as demons,  

Let alone the seven princes. So when  it came time to reprint the Bible,   they used satan as a general term. The word  often took on supernatural connotations,   but the Bible doesn’t commit to  Satan being a specific entity. Elaine Pagels digs even deeper  in The Social History of Satan,  

The “Intimate Enemy”: A Preliminary  Sketch, highlighting how, at the time,   Jews didn’t believe that a satan operated  on his own volition, and that all of these   supernatural beings were of Godly nature  and therefore working according to his will.

#Disturbing #Truth #Princes #Hell

A Day in the Life of a Modern American Exorcist

There is a war that is being waged between good and evil. Faith in God will lead us in one direction, the lack of faith will lead us in another. I have seen many manifestations of evil. Exorcism is the only cure for one who is truly demonically possessed.

The Catholic Church knows that most of these claims are baloney. They cling to this because they’re afraid to give up that last vestige of the supernatural. If there’s no demons, maybe there’s no devil . And if there is no devil, maybe there’s no God. I am Father Vincent Lampert.

I’ve been a Catholic priest for the past 25 years. I was appointed by my archbishop to be the exorcist for Indianapolis. It was not a position that I sought. But in 2005, the archbishop selected me for the role. He told me that he wanted a priest who believed in the reality of evil,

But not one who would be so gullible as to believe that everybody who came to him was actually up against the forces of evil. When I was appointed, I became 1 of only 12 officially appointed exorcists in the United States That number has now grown to around 50.

Some people will dabble in things of the occult. Believing that perhaps they’re just fun and entertaining But what they may not fully realize, is that they’re dabbling with evil. and they could be opening up an entry point for evil into their lives Take this, all of you, and eat of it

For this is my body, which will be given up for you I’m the pastor here at St. Malachi parish in Brownsburg, Indiana The parish has approximately 2500 families just around 9000 parishioners. There are many people who laugh at the notion of demonic possession. or even the reality itself.

But the Catholic Church does teach that evil is a reality and it is personified in the person of the Devil. Over the years, exorcism has undergone many different transformations. Exorcism goes back even before the time of Christ. But exorcisms became truly efficacious, or real, with the coming of Christ.

The oldest formalized version of the rite of excorcism would date back to 1614. It was revised in 1999. Some of the manifestations I’ve witnessed over the years seem kind of incredible, incredulous. I think that the manifestations that one sees in movies such as The Exorcist – all that truly is possible.

Eyes rolling in the back of the head, foaming at the mouth, growling and snarling like a wild animal, strong stenches, the temperature in the room will drop, bodily contortions. I remember a person who began to levitate during an exorcism. Now these manifestations are meant to distract the exorcist.

I learned quickly that the exorcist should not focus on the manifestations of evil, but focus on the power of God that is at work. There’s an international association of exorcists. Which received official Vatican approval about 2 years ago. I am a member of that organization.

And there’s a gathering in Rome every other year. Demonic possession is extremely rare. 1 out of every 5000 people who contact me is a genuine case of demonic possession. FATHER: Hello Mary. How are you? Obviously this is a ministry that I cannot do alone,

So there is a lady that works with me. I jokingly like to refer to her as my exorcis-tant. She’s really the first line of defense. The majority of people that she talks to just need a listening ear. I can help answer any questions that you have.

MARY: Well I got a revolving list right now of some people that are local because they would be in our diocese. I have that one guy from southern Indiana that keeps calling. I dont think he remembers all the times that we’ve talked because he always acts like

No one has ever talked to me or ever tried to help me. FATHER: And that’s what gives credence to the fact that this is truly something of a mental health issue as opposed to something that’s demonic. MARY: Of course it doesn’t help too because I also was talking to another priest.

He was telling me that he doesn’t believe any of this. FATHER: Some people will accept what the church believes and teaches about the reality of evil. Some people won’t. I am Dr. Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine, and the head of the 55000 member strong Skeptic Society. I have two graduate degrees

One in Experimental Psychology and the other in the History of Science. My speciality really is understanding belief systems how the mind works related to why we believe anything that we believe in. The investigation of exorcisms has been popular since we started the magazine really because it kinda comes and goes

Depending on what’s hot in popular culture. You know the research says 1 in 10. Americans claim that they’ve seen an exorcism. I suspect most of those are people that have seen The Exorcist or watched a documentary on TV or something like that. If you go on YouTube and just type in demon possession

There’s thousands of videos. You could spend an hour and be an expert on what they’re supposed to look like. The church has a list of criteria for what would constitute a possession. Speaking in tongues, glossolalia, is one of them. Spouting off this sort of sequence of syllables It sounds nonsensical

And then somebody interprets it. Now we know because we’ve had linguists analyze recordings of what is being said and they say this is not a language. It’s just babble. It’s lliterally a psycho-drama The music, the chanting, the dancing, the singing. It gets you caught up into it. It’s like a rave.

You feel the emotions. You feel the brain chemistry changing. The hormones pumping through your body. Contorted body postures and the writhing on the ground, the utterances. It’s just imitation. I’ve actually gone up to one of these. I could almost feel like, “Okay, here I go.” I could almost feel it coming on.

I wasn’t even a believer. This is imitation. It’s roleplaying. In addition to these exorcisms being nonsensical, from a scientific perspective. They’re also dangerous. There have been people killed. Suffocated. Tortured. It’s not a harmless exercise in entertainment. It’s potentially very dangerous. Once you start to believe something, the confirmation bias kicks in.

In which you look for confirming evidence that it’s true, and you ignore the disconfirming evidence. Everybody does it. Unfortunately, this leads to great distortions of belief. There’s no such thing as the paranormal or the supernatural. There’s just the normal, the natural, and the things we haven’t explained yet

FATHER: This is where I performed my most intense case of exorcism. It took place 5 years ago here in this convent. The items I use for exorcism. In addition in my bag, I also have the holy water that I would use. We came into the space.

The spouse who was very strong and confident in his belief The woman who was afflicted sat down here. You could smell in the air the sense of perspiration just the anxiety of what was about to take place. No sooner did the drops of water hit the head of the lady,

Then the manifestations began immediately. She exhibited vocal outbursts. Speaking in languages that she didn’t otherwise know, exhibiting strength beyond the normal capacity of a person, and also an aversion to things of a sacred nature. All this was going on while I was praying *PRAYING IN LATIN*

I commanded the demon leviathan to depart immediately. Then the demon that had been speaking in this very strong, authoritative voice began to speak like a little baby. Then looked at me and said “Hail Mary, full of grace.” and there was a shriek and all the manifestations of evil ended.

Because the presence of evil was now completely gone. FATHER: People will believe what they will. It’s not really my task to try to convince people of something. Because if you are a person of faith, you began with the premise that believing is seeing.

People that may come from more of a scientific background may begin with the premise that I have to see in order to believe.

#Day #Life #Modern #American #Exorcist

Who is Satan? – The Devil Explained

The devil the bane of human existence. The personification of evil, appearing in some from in almost every human religion and thought. The problem of evil is a touchstone of any religion. From our direct confrontation with evil results suffering, and thus endless questions about the meaning of life.

That is why all religions have to give a proper answer regarding the origin, nature and end of evil. The general pattern in Eastern religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism is to consider evil as the effect of spiritual ignorance. But in many ancient religions, pantheistic religions and Judaeo-Christian religions evil has a face.

Anthropologists say that the story of religion starts with animism – the concept that all people, animals, plants, water, air, the world and the heaviness are all spiritual beings. Anthropologists state that this was a means for man to interpret and understand the meaning of life and the world around them.

These Ancients also often believed in evil spirts, often people who could not find rest in the afterlife spirit and that disturbing the natural order of things brought pain and was the cause of evil and pain in the world.

This system of belief still exists in some parts of the world, notably Africa, and it led naturally to the pantheism found in ancient societies like Greece and Rome. And it also led naturally to the eastern spiritualist religions as well. In eastern religions the concepts of animism lead naturally to the concept that physical

Matter was bad and the spiritual was good. In these religions pain is caused by attachment to the harsh physical world and to truly gain power and perfection is to escape physical existence. Meanwhile this animistic thought lead to the concept that beings were the cause for all the pain and destruction in the world.

In many ancient religions such as the religions of the Aztecs, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans evil was explained through the imperfections of the gods and by gods of chaos and destruction who manifested evil. In many of these ancient religions good and evil were at war with each other and this

Led to dualistic religions such as Zoroastrianism where good (Ahura Mazda) and Evil (Angra Mainyu) oppose each other. Angra Mainyu – meaning evil spirit attempts to undermine god’s creation by creating death and tempting mankind to sin. Anthropologists often state that these religions owe Zoroastrianism for the concepts of heaven

And hell and Satan, but naturally Christians, Jews and Muslims would not accept this view. This brings us to the Judeo- Christian religions Jews, Chrisitans and Muslims explain evil entering the world through the creation account but all of them view the devil very differently.

Devil comes from the Greek word diabolos, “slanderer,” or “accuser” which is a translation of the Hebrew word Satan. Judism has an unclear view of the devil and view in judism vary from just being a metaphor to being an opposer to God.

Some Jews even think of satan as being an agent of Gods or even someone who acts as a courtroom prosecutor. The word satan appears numerous times in the Hebrew bible, but often it is unclear whether it is an evil spirit or an agent of god.

Forinstance in 2 Samuel 24:1 god tells David to have a census and 1 Chronicles 21:1 says that god did it. In the book of Job Satan speaks to god concerning Job and seems to be acting as ‘devils advocate’ no pun intended.

But it is clear that satan is an evil force in other passages like 1 king 22 and in the book of samual in the from of a evil spirt harassing saul. In Christianity satan is more clearly a fallen angel and an opposer to God.

The new testament interprets passages of the old and identifies the snake in the garden as being the devil. Romans (16:20) and revelation (Rev. 12:9; 20:2). Satan acts as an antagonist to Jesus, attempting to tempt him in the wilderness and unlimitly leading to Jesus death by insiting Judis to betray him.

But in this instance satan is acting according to Gods plan possibly without knowing it. The Devil in the end times will attempt one last rebellion but will usimitly fail. The devil is sometimes called Lucifer, particularly when describing him as an angel before his

Fall, although the reference in Isaiah 14:12 to Lucifer, or the Son of the Morning, is a reference to a Babylonian king. The new testament allows for this though, as it often adds second meanings to passages outside of their original context forinstace Psalm 22 which is originally about king David,

Is interpreted to be about Jesus in the new testament. In Islam the devil is often known as Iblis. Iblis also likely comes from the same root as the word devil, but Muslim scholars often link it to an Arabic word meaning ‘without hope’.

Iblis is mentioned in the Quranic narrative about the creation of humanity. When God created Adam, he ordered the angels to prostrate themselves before him. All did, but Iblis refused and claimed to be superior to Adam out of pride.[Quran 7:12] Therefore, pride but also envy became a sign of “unbelief” in Islam.

Thereafter Iblis was condemned to hell, but God granted him a request to lead humanity astray, knowing the righteous will resist Iblis’ attempts to misguide them. To summrise devils appear in many religions in the from of evil spirits or evil in general Some religions use the devil as a metaphor for evil

Some religions believe evil is caused by the physical world and our attachment to it Judaism has varied ideas about the devil, but usually identify him as an evil spirit or a metaphor Christianity and Islam both believe that Satan is a fallen angel or angelic creature who was guilty of pride.

In Christianity the angel wanted to be as great as God In Islam the angelic Jinn wanted to be greater than man What are your thinking on the topic of satan?

#Satan #Devil #Explained

The Religious and Secular Sources of Democracy and Nationalism

– Good afternoon, everybody. And welcome to a new episode. In our ongoing series on Global Religious and Secular Dynamics. My name is Jose Casanova. And for the first time I can announce publicly that I am emeritus professor of sociology and theology at Georgetown University as of two days ago, August 25th.

But I continue my affiliation as senior fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs, which sponsors this series. A series, which is also sponsored by Reset DOC. Today we are very fortunate indeed to have as our complaisant, professor Craig Calhoun, who is professor of social science at Arizona State University.

But before that he has been professor in many other universities and has had directing post, directing the Institute for Public Knowledge at NYU for many years. Was the president of the Social Science Resource Council for 12 years, then moved to London, to the London School of Economics

Of which he was director and president for several years. Moved to the Berggruen Institute that he directed. And now he’s in Arizona. And throughout his life, So he has been dedicated to research and public knowledge, both as a researcher, but also as a director of many many research and academic institutions.

And obviously he has dedicated his life, his only scholarly life to precisely the study of the topics we are going to touch today. Democracy, nationalism, global, religious and secular dynamics, cosmopolitanism. These will be the topics we will be discussing and we’ll end with some observations on COVID-19 the pandemic, and what it implies

And its effects on all these institutions. So Craig welcome, welcome very much. Thank you, thank you for joining us. Let’s begin with democracy. Democracy or rather democratization, the surging and receding waves. Some years ago, 1997, I believe or 94 I’m not sure, anyhow. You published a book, “Neither Gods nor Emperors”

And “The Students Movement for Democratization in China”. This was based on essays you had published in prominent journals in 1989 in the midst of the Tiananmen Square Movement and its repression. This was a high point of expectations of a third wave of democratization, that had started in Southern Europe,

Portugal, Greece, Spain moved to Latin America, moved to Eastern Europe, moved to East Asia, Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, and then ended in South Africa. There were expectations that the wave will continue and to China and to much of the Muslim war, this didn’t happen. So let’s discuss about China specifically and what happened,

Why these expectations could not be realized there? And what is happening to democracy in China today? Some comments on this. – Well come to China, thanks Jose, let me probably start by saying. Democracy is always a project, it’s never a settled, finished reality. And so the project of building democracy in China

Has been one up against a variety of challenges contested by other visions of the future. But in some degree that’s true everywhere. The project of democracy in the United States, isn’t something that was finished in 1776 or 1789 or 1792. There are series of movements that expand the electorate most famously

The Abolition Movement that brought the Civil War, but then the Suffrage Movement, that brought women the right to vote and so forth. So democracy has been something that has been building over time. So the first thing I want to say is that everywhere democracy is not just a matter of institutional arrangements.

We have elections, we have free press. It’s a matter of movements of participation, of struggles. So democracy is necessarily a project and we can come back to other examples of this, including the US but now China. There were those for whom democracy remains today, a very important project.

Those who were hopeful of democracy in 1989 and the 1990s, and have lost some of their hope and there’s a longer history of this. So I’ll be really brief, but during the few hundred years of modernity and during the time in which China has entered into a new kind of global relations,

Not understanding itself simply as the middle kingdom and the center. It’s been transformed. For one thing, it’s been transformed by becoming increasingly a nation not the center of the world, but one nation among many with strong Solidarity and in common with other nations,

More and more of a bottom up idea that the people matter, the welfare of the people matters. This wasn’t absent in Imperial history, but it wasn’t as strong, it becomes more strong. Then it gets boost from things like literacy. As the Chinese language literally introduces new characters, simplified characters to ease printing

And printing helps to bring literacy. And so there’s a stronger idea of the people. This gets a manifestation in Nationalist Movements, 1911 famously, it gets a manifestation in communism with a very strong idea of being the People’s Republic of China. And then for some,

The rule by the people and rule for the people necessarily means democracy. And so this was true in 1989, in the struggles I wrote about. There were students and there were others who wanted China to live up to a strong idea of being for the people. And claimed that the communist

Partly as it existed then, was not living up to that, it was corrupt. It was pursuing its own power and not the welfare of the people. And it was failing to make China strong and international. Now we fast forward from 1989 to today, we have a renewal of communist language

And discourse with Xi Jinping. Who indeed is now pursuing a rectification campaign against people he sees as problems, very reminiscent of now, but this is a strong reassertion of an authoritarian center. And for several years, the would be Democrats in China have been losing out. The most visible face of this

Is China’s complete annexation of Hong Kong and destruction of the Hong Kong Democracy Movement. But inside China too, people are afraid to speak up too strongly for democracy. A few still do. And with that, there’s a final problem, of course which is that in 1989,

The US looked like a nice model for China. When people would say, Oh, let’s be a democracy. They could look at Europe, they could look at the US and they could say, being a democracy can be linked to other good benefits, other good values. Unfortunately today,

The US does not look like such a happy model for would be Democrats elsewhere. – Yes, but let’s look at specifically in China, one of the things, the subtitle of your book was, “The Students Struggle for Democracy”. It was a student’s struggle. My own experience in studying Transitions to Democracy

Is that you need transversal coalitions of workers, students, human rights lawyers, maybe national groups, religious groups. And this is what has been always absent in the China context. You may have some artists, you may have some lawyers on their own, but the way in which those different movements, I’ve never seen them coalesce.

And these, I think one of the weakness of civil society, I wouldn’t say that it is a authoritarian state penitentiary society completely, not at all. It’s a lack of autonomy. But then autonomy is very strongly regulated by the state. and knows exactly what are the limits.

And the people sort of in this respect, the 2000 year state that has to a certain extent imposed a model up on society remains very strong, despite what you said about nationalism, I thought about it. But nationalism of course also has its problems because nationalism is basically a nationalism

That makes difficult to deal with debate and seeing as seen in (indistinct) and other non Han groups. So there are difficulties on both grounds. The traditional state and the kind of Chinese nationalism. – I think that’s true, but maybe not as completely or as strongly as you’re stating it.

So first, the 1989 movement was not just students. The subtitle of my book is “Students and the Struggle for Democracy”. And it was students that I was with and talking to and studying. And they were certainly in the forefront, but the people who died at the end of that struggle

On June 4th were not students. They were workers and others who had joined with the students, and the students also received support from civil society actors of an earlier generation. People who had been involved in previous movements in China. One of the stories everywhere, including China

Is that large scale changes take many steps. And so China had had a number of movements and steps. Some of them explicitly democratic, but some of them, for example praising individual autonomy and individual spiritual autonomy, which was potentially important to democracy, but it wasn’t only for the reason of democracy.

So I think China has a relatively weak civil society or relatively weak legal framework and so forth. But I don’t think it’s quite all or nothing. And I think that in the 1980s, really from the late 1970s through to the early years of this millennium, China was building more civil society organizations

And giving more autonomy to them and they were becoming stronger. So there’s been a reversal made part of what has been going on with the current rule by C, has been a repression of many of these institutions and these forms of connection that we’re underwriting democracy,

Which of course he sees as a threat to party rule. – Now, recently you’ve been looking precisely at the crisis of democracy throughout the world. You are now working on a manuscript that will be forthcoming together with Charles Taylor The title I understand is going to be “The Generations of Democracy Degeneration.” So please, can you talk about these degeneration? What is going to be the main points of the book? – This isn’t a sense the other side of the coin from my point that democracy is always a project.

There are not only forward steps in this project. There are also backwards steps. And the idea of degeneration of democracy is that democracy can get in trouble, not only from outside attacks, like anti Democrats, but from internal weaknesses and degeneration. These include things like the erosion of the power of citizens.

Not only their power in a political voice, but their ability to manage their own lives, to get things done. And we’ve seen in the US and in many other countries, this kind of erosion of citizen empowerment. we’ve seen a loss of the inclusive nationalism of the ability of the overall discussion

To encompass and embrace everybody. And so in the US we talk about cultural wars, there’s an anti-immigrant movement. There are various frames for this, but they are all in some degree failures of the inclusive discourse of being American. And then there’s hyper partisanship. So, I think these are all manifestations of degeneration.

You can see a different story in Hungary, where democracy perhaps did not have the same long historical path and equally strong foundations, but where there has also been a degeneration and a backward walk for democracy. And, you can see versions of that in India. The world’s largest democracy,

Which has had forward and backward movements. We’re looking mainly at the rich industrial countries in the world. And the ways democracy has gotten into trouble in some of them not equally everywhere. This others often analyze this and say, oh, it’s populism. We talk about populism, but we say,

Well that’s not exactly an explanation, because populism can go both ways and there are left populism and right populism. There is a strong importance to speaking out to the people, but then there’s use and manipulation of that by demagogic leaders the greatest problem. So that raises as many questions as it answers.

And we don’t think that this kind of so-called populism, whether of Orban or Trump, just comes out of nowhere. And Orban and Trump create the problems. We think it reflects weaknesses in the democratic institutions in the framework. And these, I would argue, reflect underlying social conditions.

In the United States there’s been accelerating inequality. There’s been a disruption of local communities, whether by de-industrialization and plant closures, or by the economic transformations of so-called logistical of commerce that is ordering everything from Amazon, instead of buying it from a shop in your community and so forth.

And these and other changes have undermined some of the conditions for democracy. So that’s what the book is about. – Good, let’s move to a related topic. Nationalism, democracy are intimately connected. You wouldn’t have one without the other probably, but as we know nationalism also doesn’t means necessarily democracy.

And democracy could be a multinational democracy. So let’s look at. You’ve been involved in many of the debates around Nationalism and Cosmopolitanism. Those who were saying, it’s the end of the nation and state now a global cosmopolitanism is the future. You were already a skeptic about these kinds of claims,

And you wrote a very important essay, “The Limits and Necessity of Cosmopolitanism.” We could also say the same thing about nationalism, the limits and necessity of nationalism. So I want you to basically elaborate on precisely how can we not live without nationalism? But how we need to somehow go be a nationalism

To create trans-national structures, that basically are able to address all our global challenges and crisis. So not to put faith on a abstract cosmopolitanism, but how can we get strengthened nationalism and democracy by being able to go beyond it to address the global challenges? – At the heart of these questions

How do you have a good nationalism. A nationalism that you’d like, and that works for people. And that is not just manipulated for international conflict or domestic repression of so-called aliens or deviance or others by the majority. And this is a challenge and it’s a project. What I suggested in that essay,

And a variety of other things in a book I’ve never quite finished on nationalism and cosmopolitanism is that you can’t wish away nationalism. I’m not saying nationalism is inevitable and the world has to always be structured in terms of nation States. But that we live in a world of nation States,

Much of what has made globalization viable, has been international agreements. We create the United Nations, We create the World Trade Organization. We have international agreements for things like standards, so that we have an agreement of what is an ounce. We have an agreement on the width of railroad tracks.

We have failed to have just one agreement on electrical sockets. We have five or six. But there are standards for basic industrial and consumer products. These are the most extreme example of what we’re doing right now. The internet is not just a technology. It is a creature of international agreements,

Legal treaties, that do things like assign addresses and manage the way in which information flows around the internet. So, it’s not so easy to say, Oh, let’s just forget nationalism. Let’s imagine we have only individuals and they are perfect conscious individuals, and they relate to each other in the global cosmopolis.

We have to take nation seriously. then I’d suggest when we take it seriously, it’s not just an enemy. It’s a resource. It’s part of how actually existing cosmopolitanism works, actually existing care for the world. If that’s what cosmopolitanism is about, is accomplished largely by an internal politics,

That tries to get nations to change the way that they relate to the rest of the world, to not only be militaristic. And so I have felt we need both a global consciousness that tries to care for everybody, and a recognition of the importance of the political struggles within nation States,

About how we do that. And then of course, there’s the issue of the political struggles about how we live together inside the country, How the Han majority in China relates to the Uighur or the other minorities in China and so forth. And the same thing in the US.

We have a kind of White Christian Nationalism that is flourishing in a minority, but a powerful and disruptive minority in the United States, that claims to be the true American identity, against various others, that’s very problematic. And what I want to say is the answer to that is not to say,

Oh, we are only individuals with rights. The answer is to say, how else can we structure an inclusive identity? How can we make a better national whole? – I mean, one of the fundamental questions. The structures of solidarity? The strength of nationalism comes precisely from the ability to create this weed.

The sense of not only a cognitive, if we say a reading, emerging community through newspapers, but really an emotional community which obviously has gotten through all kinds of emotional memories etc. There are two problems I see today, one is of course, that in our case of democracy,

One of the fundamental issues is the dramatic polarization, that weakens national solidarity. And this makes even more impossible then to even create the good type of national solidarity, that can go beyond this national solidarity and create the structures which are transnational. Because I think that the issue of

Transnational global society is not only an issue of creating international mechanisms through which the nation States are able to collaborate and work together and all kinds of standards. but also create transnational structures of solidarity. We. – Sure. And so in here is where I want to bring religion in.

The same way that from Benedict under Saloninus, we know very clearly that the nation is a secularized church. There were national churches before there were secular nations in Europe. And to a certain extent religion has played this crucial role of being a source for nationalism. But you have also transnational religious communities

That could play an important role. It’s what I call global denominationalism, but doesn’t have to be only transnational religious communities. It can be transnational secular communities from all kinds of pacifist movements, ecological movements, movement for immigration refugees. So we need to create these structures, not only international agreements, but re-transnational social movements,

Transnational social structures to create precise the institutions that will be necessary to go beyond purely a whole system of nation state. – Well, I agree with you Jose, and the issue is truly changing a world system in the sort of strong sense. That includes a political economy,

A set of social structures and social institutions and culture. So we have an existing world system, a capitalist dominated Western dominated world system. and we would like to see it transformed. I think you and I. I think as I argued in those earlier essays, transforming doesn’t mean wishing away.

It means figuring out a historical process of change by which you can get something better. So you could see, and we have some scary examples in this COVID era of collapse of international order, which could bring chaos. So I think that we have to consider

That getting rid of nation States could produce chaos, or it could be part of a transformation to something better. How do we get that? You rightly point to the role of religion in transnational organizations. So there are a one dimension of this is the denominationalism

As you point to it on a global scale. So we have various versions of Christians and various versions of Buddhists organized on global scale. Another is the disproportionate engagement of religious people, People motivated by religious faith and understandings in secular organizations of certain kinds. So humanitarian action is often organized by secular groups.

So it’s not only church world service or something like that. It’s also secular humanitarian actions, Médecins Sans Frontières that are informed by religious heritage, religious thinking, and that mobilize religious people, including people from different religious backgrounds, Médecins Sans Frontières had sort of Catholic roots kind of odd combination of Catholicism and Maoism.

But it also then mobilizes others, Protestants and Jews and so forth. So, I think we need to be attentive to this. And I would quickly say that what it means is that global solidarity is poorly conceptualized by that image of a world full of independent conscious individuals.

Rather it’s better conceptualized as a patchwork quilt, in which there are many different kinds of connections between different kinds of solidary groups. So we aren’t individuals who are stripped of religions, stripped of communities, stripped of nation, stripped of all of our distinctive characteristics. We remain individuals because of those characteristics

Embedded in various kinds of communities. And that’s the path to a better future global solidarity, not having it be limited to nations, but not necessarily banishing nations either. And building multiple overlapping kinds of connections. One quick thing I want to say about nation of democracy is nation… Well, I’ll make it three steps.

Religion played a big role in the coming of nations, but in certain ways, as you point to Benedict Anderson saying. Nations become secularized of inheritors of religious communities. But not only that, nations become secular structures for relating multiple religious communities to each other. So we see very clearly in the United States,

But in various settings. So that the importance of nation is partly enabling people of different religions to live together in reasonable harmony, not just expressing one religion. And when nation is structured to just express one religion, that’s usually the enemy of democracy. When it is structured in a way that enables people

Of different religions to relate to each other, that’s much more compatible with democracy and with other kinds of differences that coexist in nations, people have no religious faith, but various kinds of views. So I think it’s important that we have a demos, right? Democracy depends on a Demos,

But that’s not dictated by ethno-nationalism. That’s one of the resources out of which demos is built religious identities sometimes one of those resources, but the loyalties that connect us to each other in our countries are more than either of these, and they have to be for it to be democratic.

– Well, this leads us then to the topic of going more in depth into the relation between global religious and secular dynamics. When you served as president of SSRC, you made this issue central to the intellectual project and the research project of the SSRC,

Partly because of the work you have been doing for years with Charles Taylor. You co-edited with Jonathan VanAntwerpen, who was one of the people that worked with you, several very important books, the book on “Varieties of secularism” analyzing child state on a secular age. Then a second book on secularism,

I don’t remember the title, but it came out of the many workshops you organize, I participate in these workshops. I also participated in this book, and then you wrote the third very important collection of essays and covered much in religion, and other major philosopher public intellectual, political figure, political theories,

Who has been in dialogue with you and with Charles Taylor for many years, and who was a very strong representative of secular modernity And then it comes out how to revise his own position and to be more open to the possibility of the role of religion, the public is fear.

So tell me about what has been faced? What was the impulse that led you to really put this at the forefront of the work you were doing in the social science research center that later you continue in the London school of economics. What can we learn from these new understanding of how

Religious and secular dynamics are interconnected, except they are not exclusive of each other, but actually they are intertwined. And where should we put precisely the focus, the things that we still need to understand better or to study today? – Okay, I will say my sources on this,

But institutions of course are not simply run by presidents as though they were Kings. And so there are a number of voices coming together. The SSRC is an organization that always brings people like you and Charles Taylor and others into conversation. And the conversation was intended to address themes

That were too often pushed into the background or obscured by conventional disciplinary academic discussions. And so to get people coming from anthropology and political science and economics and sociology talking to each other, but also talking about questions, like the extent to which our very understanding of knowledge or a very understanding of democracy

Reflected secular assumptions and what secular assumptions. A key importance to the works you were citing is the argument that secularism is not just a disappearance of religion. What Charles Taylor calls a subtraction story, and you indeed had made an important work, an argument about de-privatization renewal of public religion,

And the intensification of religious practices in this modern era when religion is supposedly receding. But I wanted to argue in particular. And I think Charles did that, secularization grows out of religion as much as it is imposed on religion. And that there is inside religion, a set of reasons

For trying to figure out structures to relate to this worldly life in vapor sense. And so, there are old ideas like secular priests versus priests and monasteries and all, but in modern democracies and in modern plural democracies with multiple religions, working out ways to relate to each other

Is something that people did often while being religious and for religious reasons, it wasn’t just because they lost their faith. But then that had an effect, changing the nature of faith in a religious practice and thinking. Universities grow out of some of this history, in fact. And so it’s not a surprise that

Disciplines and knowledge institutions do, but one of the peculiarities of the university is the way it compartmentalize thinking about religion and thinking about secularism as taking it out of most of the social science disciplines, placing it in the humanities, but also often in a religion department or a theology school, not everywhere.

And so not seeing as much as we would have liked the kind of connections of religion and secularism and their histories to all sorts of other things like the university itself, as I mentioned. So this was the importance then again at the LSE is a very secular institutions,

Are proud of its socialist, secular heritage and members of the LSE would tell you, it always was it’s completely secular. And they’re surprised when they find out that the Bishop of London laid the cornerstone at the invitation of Sydney and Beatrice, and socialists. That there was a Christian Socialist Movement

That was part of the shaping as well. That tends to get forgotten in the way in which we narrate the history, and the LSE confronted to make long story short and interesting but very telling. The students were much more religious than the professors. The students who come from all over the world,

The LSE is an amazingly international institution with students from every country. The majority of the students are not British. They come from all over. but the students often have very active religious involvements. And they have a hard time connecting those to their studies in the secular disciplines of the university.

But that also means that the people in those disciplines don’t have a very easy time understanding religion, that in the seeing the importance of religion, why it would matter for diplomacy and so forth. So a project at the LSE, building a faith center was partly to provide space for religious students,

But it was partly to build connections. so that both secular and religious people would be thinking better and acting better in relationship to a world that is neither Holy religious, nor Holy secular – On this topic, as you know, recently, Ronald Englehart published an essay in foreign affairs,

Basically “God is in decline”, whatever was the title, the global decline of the religion. As You know, Englehart and Pippa Norris have been basically putting forward a rather simplistic thesis. That religion is simply a response to existential insecurity, which of course is widespread throughout history in Agrarian societies.

This Agrarian societies move to industrial societies, and then to post industrial societies, existential security diminishes, and therefore religion is going to diminish as well. There’s thesis which of course was comparing much of Western European societies, the America, US was the exception. Then since the nineties, there was a modernization drive

In many non Western societies that was connected with religious revivals. So the thesis was in crisis, but now he has come up with, he says empirical evidence that finally the whole world, there is a clear decline in belief in God. Now it seems to me that the strongest argument

Or empirical evidence come from three countries in the list, which are the United States, Chile and Australia. One could argue for a specific reasons why the norms that people without religion have grown in the US in the last 20, 30 years, but it’s not necessarily as a sign of modernization

Is simply for a very specific historical reason. So I want you to maybe take a look at this thesis. What would you have to say to them? – Okay, really quickly, Englehart’s data and Englehart notes his data over a number of works is cross national survey research.

This is an important source of data. They are masters of this that have done a lot, but it’s a limited source of data asking people. What do you believe? What do you think? Is a limited way to find out what’s going on in various places. And so there’s one set of critiques,

I won’t go into around how to get from individual responses to translated questionnaires, to the kind of arguments that they’re making. And I tend to think that these lose touch with historical and ethnographic and other kinds of understanding. So that’s methodologically. More basically in terms of the theory,

I find it very hard to understand why anyone would think modernization brings existential security. I think that modernization transforms the kinds of insecurities that people feel. So they may feel less afraid of walking in the forest. they may be less vulnerable to disastrous of crops, but there are new insecurities,

We worry about climate change. We worry about the impacts of nuclear power. But look at war, far more people have been killed by war in the modern era than in previous eras. The Englehart essay has an irony of it timing. That it comes in the context of COVID.

And the existential insecurity that people feel because of global plagues and infectious diseases. In many ways the story of modernity, as a story of growing existential security, was a story of some parts of the world. The wealthier countries in the West, over a period of time, ignoring the periodic disasters

Like World War I and World War II and so forth. And suggesting there’s this growth. And it has a basis. It’s not all false, right? Life expectancy grows. More people live to old age. They become professors of emeritus. They don’t die at 40. But the sense of insecurity is a cultural phenomenon,

As well as a material phenomenon. So you can point to life expectancy and say, therefore people ought to feel much more secure. But you have only to look around at the anger and the anxiety of so many people in the United States, and in other countries to realize that

They don’t automatically feel more secure. and they worry about things like, What will my old age be like? If I’m very sick, will I have money? Will I have life? Will I have friends? Will I have care? How will I get care? Will I get care only from people

Who speak a different language and are immigrants? Will that make me feel bad? Right? So there are a lot of ways in which this… Now I think that studying these dynamics of security and insecurity is very important. And we would find that social institutions are basic. That having strong public institutions,

But also strong communities, is very important to having a stronger sense of existential security. But the kind of generalization that Englehart makes there. is just unwarranted about this last point on that. It may be entirely true that there is a decline in people saying, I believe in God.

I don’t have evidence to the contrary. The question is what that means. And the question to me is whether this is simply a decline, a subtraction story in Charles Taylor’s sense. or a transformation story in which people still have some of the kinds of faith and understandings and desires for transcendence

And so forth that have been expressed largely in religious terms. But they’re coming to express them in different ways, and maybe new religions are forming. Maybe religion won’t be quite the right word for the new structures of seeking that emerge. But it’s not clear to me that we do very good job.

By just assuming there’s a fixed category religion, and imagining people falling away from it. Rather than asking what are the transformations within religion and beyond religion. – Good before we move to COVID-19 and its implications. and the lessons of the pandemic, global pandemic and global lessons.

Let me remind everybody that, in about 10, 15 minutes, we’ll end the conversation, and there will be a time for question and answer. 15, 20 minutes at least. And so you are welcome to write your questions. In the question and answer. And I will reserve them to give these questions to Craig.

And Craig will have the chance to respond. So let’s look at COVID-19. One of the things that strike me first, it was really the truly first global pandemic in the way, in which so quickly, became a global both in its effects, how rapidly it spread and its consciousness.

It started very similarly as the SARS epidemic. But the SARS epidemic basically was restricted to East Asia. and some Chinese diaspora communities. So in these we’d say was not a global, Although it started precisely the same way as the SARS epidemic. But second was the extent to which

The response has been a nationalistic in the anarchist nationalism. Individually nationalist response, rather than a communitarian nationalist response. Even the European Union, the first response was to end the sanguine open borders to close and goes back to the basically anarchy European Nation state. And so, on the one hand,

The paradox is precisely the global pandemic. shows the need for a global communitarian response to the pandemic. And yet the immediate response has been. Now, probably things are, there have been some corrections, was a very, very nationalistic one. So I want you to, What are the implications there for democracy, cosmopolitanism?

The things we’ve been discussing. What are the lessons from the pandemic? And specifically, I want you to ask about the effects and lessons for universities. We’ve been talking about universities, research institutions, obviously they are, as we know, under tremendous pressures, uncertainties, how can we proceed campus, colleges, universities? How can education continue?

So especially the issue of education, youth education, not so much the issue of research, not so much the issue of public knowledge that can be distributed. because obviously you can use online distribution. But especially the issue of getting youth together. to the process of transmitting knowledge from generation to generation.

So what are the implications for the university in the future? And anything else you want to talk about. – Okay, well it does open the door to everything. Let me begin really concretely though. The Coronavirus like stars, starts in China, but if it’s prototyped in China, it’s mass produced in the US.

So the big difference in the first instance, is the catastrophic bad US response. The first thing you have to look at in COVID is why did it go awry in the United States? And so Trump made initial responses like restricting travel from China, but then in various ways,

The US response has been incoherence, often anti-scientific and problematic sense. I won’t try to offer a detailed explanation, but you have to see the US as figuring very centrally in this story, the COVID story. In a way, it didn’t figure it in the SARS story. It did somewhat in the AIDS story.

Look at another global pandemic, but the US still has the most cases in the world. This six, seven months into it, eight months, it’s had a high death rate. Now there are other countries with high death rates and high infection rates. You’ve got to look at where Spain, of course,

The United Kingdom has a very high death rate. Brazil has a high infection rate. India now has a growing number, although the rates is still low. and we can look around the world. So it’s not that it’s just the US but the fact that one of the richest countries in the world.

With one of the most highly developed healthcare systems. and high tech healthcare systems, would have such a disaster, is an important clue for what’s going on in the pandemic. And it’s partly that it’s confronting weakened institutions and internal divisions that weaken response in these countries.

So you have a politicized response in the US. Whether do you wear a mask or don’t wear a mask, is a statement of political identity, instead of a public health precaution. Whether if children go back to school or not, is the dictated by the political considerations.

And so forth and so on through a whole lot of responses. And that’s in many ways, true in several other countries. Countries with less political polarization. New Zealand or Germany have done better than countries with more political polarization. and countries that have been very neoliberal

In rolling back, their public institutions have done worse than countries with stronger public institutions. There’s a narrative that China would encourage that says this is a kind of referendum on democracy. China’s successful response shows that authoritarianism works. It’s not so clear, China’s initial problems showed that authoritarianism frightened people

From actually sharing the information about COVID in early days. And that helped to get going. And more over in line with our previous discussion in the US, in the United Kingdom and other countries, COVID confronts a degenerate form of democracy. Democracy has already been undermined. And so there are preexisting social conditions,

Just as there are for individuals pre-existing conditions. Like if you have a lung or heart disease, you have a much riskier time with COVID. For countries, high inequality, political polarization, damaged institutions, all shaped this. A couple of quick more points and I’ll turn to university. In this context, we see among other things,

A separation between the wellbeing of people and the wealth of economies. And so COVID is doing damage medically, but the COVID response is doing huge damage economically. And this is a complicated story. How much of that is necessary? The lock downs are a kind of blunt instrument. People would use testing and tracing

If countries had the capacity to do testing and tracing, but the United States didn’t have that capacity. The United Kingdom didn’t have that capacity more or less screwed up what it tried to use. So the blunt instrument of closure creates economic havoc. Who bears the pain of the economic havoc?

Not people like us who work at home. It’s inconvenient, and we can’t go out to cafes as much, but it’s actually a variety of working people. Who either lose their jobs, or who are forced to work in jobs, where they are exposed to COVID, and often paid very poorly.

Care workers, drivers, delivery workers, and so forth. So the COVID reveals some of the problems of societies in this sense. And I’ll be quick about the university, but ask more, if you want about it. There’s a very large story about how learning is affected. and the relative virtues of

Online versus in person learning. A lot of that has to do with the university as a social experience, not the university as an educational story. And there are losses, but I want to point to a few other factors. A lot of people debate online learning. as though there’s a choice between

Having small seminars at Georgetown, and having mass online classes. Well, most people didn’t get to go to Georgetown in the first place. And so the university system is highly heterogeneous. There’s not just the university. There are various different kinds of universities, scales of university. So what is online good for?

It’s good for access, right? It may or may not be as good for certain kinds of personal conversation and exchange and seminars. But if you didn’t have access to those seminars, you didn’t lose in the online transition. So online can be okay. There’s a whole story about proximity,

But there’s a second story that I think is more basic. It’s not about learning. It’s not about research. It’s about finance and about the upheaval in the economic basis of universities as knowledge institutions. Will they be able to employ the professors they have in the past?

Will they be able to support the libraries? Will they be able to provide the context for knowledge? And if they aren’t right? What kind of transformation will take place? It’s like the story of religion, they won’t just go away. There will be change. But what will that change be?

Will it be for profit providers? Will it be a consolidation which there are smaller number of bigger universities, that are effective in deploying the technology? How will we manage this? But we will not go back to universities as, before. There are too many ways in which the COVID experience

Has exposed patterns of change, including budgetary issues that will tempt administrators to keep going down some other paths. – Well, thank you very much, Craig. Let’s open the session for the question and answer from the audience. I have a list of questions already. Let’s see how many we can get at.

There is first a question Robert Neigh, writes, Steven Pinker says that relative to a number of people, violence and death in war is decreasing. Same with gruesome punishments. What is Dr. Calhoun’s response? Are we overcoming death and violence? – Right, so this is a reference to Steven Pinker’s “Better Angels” book.

I’m not fully persuaded by his empirical arguments. But I won’t take the time to go into details of why. I think there is some truth to it though. Even though I’m not fully persuaded, that is what I referred to by saying we have longer life expectancies. That’s one simple index of a reduction

In age adjusted death rates in reflects to violence. Now in response to this, though, I want to say a couple of things. First trends can be reversed. And even with gruesome punishments, we see Donald Trump bringing back the death penalty in the United States. It’s not necessarily true that there is

A one directional change that can never be reversed, which is more or less what Steven Pinker implies. Second, my main point was not about the physical risk of dying, but about existential insecurity. Englehart’s term, which is a term inevitably for how we feel. Do we feel secure? Let me use a simple example.

You may be healthy, but feel insecure. because you hear so much about the diseases around you, including COVID. So you feel at risk, even though you’re healthy, or you may feel insecure because you don’t have insurance, and you will have to rely on emergency rooms and substandard care and all that.

One of the things we saw in COVID was that, which hospital you went to was a big predictor of whether you lived or died. And the relatively poor areas of New York with publicly funded hospitals had higher death rates. People who could afford privately funded hospitals,

And other areas were more likely to survive. Now that can create a sense of insecurity. Even if on average, more people are surviving because we have hospitals for everybody. The inequality itself contributes to that. And there are other kinds of insecurities and risks. You may feel insecure because you’re not sure

If you can make your mortgage payment. That’s not a question of whether you will die necessarily, but it is a big existential insecurity. And as it happens, suicide rates are rising in the United States. And they’re rising particularly in certain populations. and partly for reasons like economic insecurity. So it’s absolutely true

That many kinds of material improvements in health and living conditions, sanitation, other things have taken place. But the kind of interpretation that has been based on that fact is misleading. – And a related question, which basically only needs a footnote come from Pat, What can human security theory

And the UN human security framework offer as insights for building and stabilizing a democracy? – Okay human security theory is basically the idea that there are a lot of different kinds of security as I was talking about. Not just whether you die in war. So traditional security, hard security,

Was all about war, we have all these other kinds. I think that this is important that human security is a very useful concept. It went out of vogue a bit. It was very popular in the late 20th century. After 2001, there was a return to talking mainly about hard security, terrorism and war,

Rather than broader human security. But I think broader human security is basic. and this is what we should be talking about. And we should connect it to the sustainable development goals. and the whole idea of a sustainable future. What makes for a sustainable future is not just the absence of war or terrorism,

But the presence of a variety of kinds of care for each other. Improved sanitation, improved environmental relations, greener infrastructures instead of resource intensive infrastructures and so forth. So if we extend human security into the environmental area, we’re really talking about something very basic that we can’t afford to leave out of discussions.

And I would link this also to something like the capabilities approach that Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum have pressed. That is the idea that we need to ask, whether people’s capabilities to do the things they want in their lives are being increased, in any path of development.

And I think this is an important question for this whole security and existential risk discussion too. – There is a question from Lasso Ramirez. on basically humanitarianism again, the limits and necessity humanitarianism globally. So the question is, do you think that NGOs run by secular and non-secular groups

Hinder rather than aid local communities as example, the white man’s burden, how this aid affect a country or a community’s economy, autonomy and viability and thinking of Haiti and the flooding of money and resources. – Great question. So there are problems with aid dependency, aid dependency tends to block

Some desirable paths of development inside countries, and tends to be very prone to problematic captures by governments. This doesn’t mean that all forms of aid are bad, but it means that being radically dependent on aid is problematic. I think humanitarianism represents, good values and efforts to have good actions

And it does good things, but it’s also an admission of failure. It is an admission that we haven’t in fact, reduced all the existential risks that Englehart is talking about. And to a certain extent, humanitarian action, reassures people in rich countries that the problems are often in other countries.

So people in Chicago can think the problems are in Haiti. And people in Los Angeles could think the problems are in Venezuela and so forth. So there’s an other arena of the sense of problem. Part of what we’re seeing now in this century since 2001,

Is the problems are in the rich countries too. The humanitarian issues cannot be seen as just third world issues. They are issues at home. And so we have to recognize increasingly what humanitarian discussion represses, which is that the global world system that you were talking about Jose, helps to produce these problems.

That it actively under develops some countries. That it creates problems. So it’s not just solutions. So humanitarianism is efforts by individuals and groups to put band-aids on problems, but it’s not solution to problems. I think the band-aids are good and they’re needed. The most basic moment of humanitarianism is refugees.

And we need a global regime of good treatment for refugees. We need each of our countries to give better treatment to refugees, but that doesn’t mean that we need all the things that call us refugees. It means we have to deal with it better. And the rich countries in the world have failed

The refugee test in recent years. You referred earlier to the nationalism in Europe and response to COVID or countries putting up walls, but already this was going on in response to immigration from 2015 on and from the financial crisis, the discourse in Europe immediately became a national discourse,

German started talking about those Greeks they’re profligate, those Southern Europeans, and it had a religious element. We Protestants saved those Catholics and Orthodox people. They don’t, this kind of thing, didn’t go away during the era of supposed secularization. – A question from Diane, How do you see the relationship

Between neoliberalism and religious ethnic nationalism, especially in the context of the argument that ethnic nationalist movements like Hindu nationalism in India are an expression of popular resentment, against increasing precocity in conditions of neoliberalism. – Okay, let me divide that into two parts. I think in general,

We have seen a huge spread of neoliberal thinking. in the world since the 1970s or so, that on the one hand, it involves stripping away the social support systems for people, the public institutions, undermining local communities making it harder for family members to care for each other.

So neo liberalism tends to privatize risk and throw people back on their own resources. Then people look for some other kinds of solidarity. Something to help them. Can ethnic nationalism appeal to some people as a way of dealing with the undermined support systems. Yes.

Is it necessarily an effective or good way of doing that? No. But we need to see nationalism as impart and attempt to find some sort of solidarity when other kinds of solidaristic institutions are being undermined or destroyed or attacked. I said two parts because the second part,

I have a slightly different view of India and of Modi, because I don’t think that the DJP is primarily a product of precarity among the relatively poor in India, lots of poor people, some of them support the BJP. I think first off, lots of the very Precarious poor

Are barely included in Indian politics. The BJP is big support comes from the middle classes, not from the most precarious and the mobs that are rallying may come from the poor, but it’s not the case that the middle class and the educated have rejected, so-called populism of Modi.

And so I think we have a kind of typical desire to think it is only the poor and uneducated. The same thing in America with Trump. Many people imagined, how could anyone with any education support Donald Trump? And that’s a question I’ve asked myself, because I think Trump is awful,

But I note a lot of his support comes from people with college degrees who live in suburbs. They have various interests, right? They are not just these sort of unwashed the downtrodden. There is a successful mobilization of many people who suffer with precarity, but there’s also a lot of calculation, right?

So evangelical Christians say, we can get some things we want from Donald Trump, in terms of future judges or whatever. And people who are rich say, we can get tax breaks. And Trump has dramatically reduced the taxes on the wealthy of the United States compared to everybody else.

And there are cynical calculations made by people who are not poor and the same, in various ways and in India. Well, I won’t belabor the point, but I think we should be cautious about imagining that the support for populism comes only from the ignorant. (indistinct) support for Modi is not coming

Because he’s in a precarious situation or ignorant. His brother does seem to be in a precarious situation now, but… – The next question comes from Sonya Sikas. and she writes, you mentioned the possibility of new formations, new patterns of seeking that express some of the same needs views, et cetera, as traditional religion,

But might not be described or describe themselves as a religion. I wonder if you could elaborate on where you see signs of such formations and how they deviate from traditional ideas of religion. – Okay, I will try to be really brief about this conscious of time, but I appoint to the rise of

Various kinds of self-help movements and movements in general, where people sort of sacrilege relationships, to Typology Gaia and so forth to certain kinds of other people in communal movements and all this, there are what would have been called seekers of a variety of kinds. And the heterogeneity is almost definitive of this.

People are looking. There are also Cults and people are joining Cults, and that’s not in my view, generally speaking a path forward, but it’s indicative of the number of people who are trying to find something, as a source of belief, but there are also right, let’s take this back to the core theme,

Ethno-nationalists, who are, sacralizing the nation. Who are seeking the kind of transcendence, that might have come from religious involvement in national involvement, right? And that’s also that kind of politicized national realism with a transcendent element, trying to replace religion is significant. – Let me put together three questions which are related,

And give you the chance to elaborate on the interconnections. There is a question coming from (indistinct) from sir Lanka and has to do with the waves of populism, and how many populace movements seem to ride, and the grievances of majority’s. State the cause about the tension between

The democracy being the rule of the majority, but liberal democracy has been there precisely to protect minorities from majority rules. So this is one of the problems. The other problem, the other question about democracy. (indistinct) writes, many great experience of democracy indeed seem to go backward. The examples are US and India.

People who are already skeptic with democracy are more frank now against the whole idea of democracy. How can one reassert the significance and the importance of democracy, is the only way of attaining political freedom and political arrangements. Are there alternatives or potential alternatives to democracy? And finally there is a more pessimistic question

About homo sapiens, the species having hit the limit of rational thinking and living. The rising types of nationalism, tribalism, populism, and religious fanaticism seems to have clearly dominated. This is in spite of profound insight from science, philosophy, et cetera. So you take it in any direction, these three come.

– Okay, I’m gonna go three, one, two. The last point, it seems to me is better stated as. We have tried to imagine human beings and human progress as a matter of rationality. And reason is certainly one of the human faculties we have,

But it was never the case that we were without affect, without emotion that our solidarity with others was only transactional based on reason, or even that knowledge was purely rational. and lacked standpoint and situation and so forth. So I think we are reaching the limits of a conception

Of human beings as defined by reason, and seeing the need to have a broader more complex view of human beings, that will also be one that makes it clearer to us. Why human beings matter in comparison to say artificial intelligence. Why do we care about human beings? Should we care about human beings?

Questions we need to answer. To the first question I can say very quickly, yes. The grievances of majorities are very central to contemporary populace but also to lots of the issues going on in the world. And they are partly grievances against minorities, and they think have unfairly benefited at their expense.

So, in the United States and some other rich countries, the resentment of immigrants is often expressed as they are living on welfare and we are paying taxes. But the resentment is often highest for successful immigrants. They are getting places at Harvard Medical School and I’m not, or my children are not.

And so we see a resentment focused on minorities. Second though, we see a resentment focused on elites. and the resentments of majorities that may scapegoat immigrants or people of color or other minorities are often deeply resentments of the established elites. who have presided over patterns of change that they don’t like, right?

So the people who have lost jobs due to de-industrialization in the context of globalization, are not necessarily politically economists who are analyzing the role of capital and private corporations, but they do notice things like, hey, this went on while Democrats were in office, it went on while Republicans were in office.

The whole elite political class didn’t care about people like us who were losing our jobs. And there’s a lot of truth to that, this one. Finally there is resentment of change itself. There are a lot of people whose resentments, whether they scapegoat minorities or they attack elites or whatever,

Their resentments are of the world changing, of not feeling familiar. And hence you have demands, Americans should speak English. We shouldn’t accept Spanish as a language or whatever. And pure gender is perhaps an important index. And the extent to which people on the populist right, are upset about changing gender roles,

Treating men and women. But we shouldn’t exclude the possibility that the elites, haven’t been very good elites. And that takes me to the second question. One of the things we should be struggling for is having better elites. We tend, we on the left, we who are Democrats.

So we need equality and I’m in favor of equality. But to the extent that we have elites or inequality, we need good elites. And we’ve had some pretty bad elites. And we have actually encouraged people to be bad elites. We’ve had ideologies like meritocracy,

That says you deserve to be part of the elite, because you did really well on your exams. And you went to a famous university. and those other people who aren’t part of the elite are less deserving. And so we’ve had a whole culture of encouraging elites not to be solidaristic towards non-elites.

And we’ve had elites who embraced this and said, well, look, the value of my house is going up. My kids are getting into the really good schools. Does it matter if it’s become more unequal in higher education? So after bad elites now, there is actually a political theory of good elites,

Republicanism, not the Republican party. But if you look at the founding of the United States. and most other democracies in the world. Most of the world’s enduring democracies are not just democracies, they’re republics, they are democratic republics. And what that means is that they embrace popular voice in government,

But they also embrace the rule of law. They also embrace a normative order of good elite leadership. And they embrace the rights of minorities, and including religious minorities. So, I think we need to remember, that democracy is not the only good, right? The rights of minorities, the rule of law are also good.

And part of the democratic project is trying to balance and integrate. The majority call for voice with the frameworks that ensure freedom, and majoritarianism does not ensure freedom. – Well, since we put these three last questions together, there about 10 new questions, which unfortunately will need to be left unanswered.

One of them is does capitalism have an alternative? And I would ask this person to read the book you’ve co-edited with. Immanuel Wallerstein, Michael Mann and Randall Collins, “Does capitalism have a Future?” and many other questions about pragmatic rationality. It’s an alternative to religion and so on.

Craig, thank you, thank you so much. What a wonderful enlightening, interesting conversation. on all kinds of related topics. And thank you for everybody for participating in this series. The next series will be a conversation. Then next episode will be a conversation with (indistinct) on global religious and secular dynamics.

And we’ll go from there. Thank you so much, Craig. Thank you everybody. And we’ll see you next time. – Thank you, Jose. And thanks to everybody.

#Religious #Secular #Sources #Democracy #Nationalism

What is a Religion? Rethinking Religion and Secularism

– This is what I hope will be potentially a future book, which I’m tentatively calling “The Myth of Secularism”, but I’m basically going to share some of my reflections on what is really a work in progress. And looking at a few questions. What is religion?

We usually think of it as a relatively limited concept. Everyone knows what a religion is when they see one. What is din? That’s usually translated. It’s an Arabic word, usually translated as religion. And I want to look at whether that translation, which has been called into question

By a lot of scholars might have something to it. And finally, what is secularism, and that is an area of considerable sort of contention in the contemporary era, but it’s also in a sense, an ideology that underpins the way in which we organize the world, particularly in the Western world today.

So let me begin actually, by looking at some competing conceptions of the notion of religion. There are in a sense, I mean, there are a number of conceptions of what constitutes religion in academic scholarship today. But I wanted to actually think about, perhaps start by looking at the Oxford dictionary definition of religion.

So this is the Oxford dictionary of English. It’s not the OED that 20 volumes of mammoth piece of scholarship, but it’s basically a work of contemporary English usage you could say. So how is this word used in English today? And they sort of define religion as the belief in

And worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods. This sounds familiar to most people, but if we think about a religion like Buddhism, which we usually refer to as a religion, about 70% of the global population, half a billion people, there’s no concept of God.

Some scholars have described it as an atheistic religion. So already, even with our common sense, understanding of these things, things are starting to break down. And so, in a sense, you have these two conceptions of religion within the academy one is close to the conventional understanding,

Which we’ll have a look at in a moment, but you also have a notion that religion is actually a modern category. It was invented in the modern period after the 17th century, the wards of religion kind of work constitutive of our understanding of religion today.

And some scholars also talk about the fact that secularism as an idea develops with the concept of religion. Scholars talk about the fact that as they would put it, there is no for religion in pre-modern times, what we refer to as religion doesn’t have a pre-modern equivalent. So that’s actually a widespread view

And we’ll have a look at it. I shouldn’t proceed any further without plugging the work of a colleague at Stanford University, Rushain Abbasi, he’s recently written a mammoth article, a 100 page article called Islam and the invention of religion where he’s basically criticizing what he describes

As the kind of modern orthodoxy in the study of religion, which argues that religion is a modern invention. Rather he says, that concept can be found early on in the Islamic tradition. And that’s something I’ll be looking at in a moment. But as I say, the current academic orthodoxy,

And it might be a little overstating of the case. I think that there are a significant number of scholars and I quote one of them in the transcript, but I’ll be sort of quoting him in passing. They hold this kind of traditional concept of religion that I mentioned earlier but this is

The view of Brent Nongbri, a scholar whose recent book is a 2013 book published by Yale University press called “Before Religion:The History of a Modern Concept”. He actually early on in his book defines religion in this way. “Religion is anything that sufficiently resembles modern Protestant Christianity.” Okay, now stay with him on this.

Let’s stick around. So religion is anything that sufficiently resembles modern Protestant Christianity. Such a definition might seem as crass, simplistic, ethnocentric, Christiancentric, and even a bit flippant. It is all of these things, but it is also highly accurate in reflecting the uses of the term in modern languages.

So this is, as I say, this is a very widespread view that basically what happened was modern Protestant Christianity post reformation kind of develops a conception of itself as a religion. That religion is privatized. That religion is in a sense to stay in the private realm, stay out of public life.

At least that’s the dispensation we live with today for the most part in a place like the UK. And then Europe exported that concept around the world and said, “This is what religion is. Get your religions in line with this.” So this is kind of the argument that scholars like

Brent Nongbri are making, that religion has to be privatized. And this is actually something we hear very often in society. We say, “Well, if it’s a religious matter, it’s a private matter. It should be privatized.” And what he’s saying is that conception of religion is actually a distinctly Protestant conception of religion

Developed after the 17th century in the wake of the wars of religion. And that is actually the way religion is used in other modern languages as well. And that’s a point which I will contest in just a moment, at least with respect to Arabic and other what scholars call Islamic cult languages.

Scholars sometimes make a distinction between Islamic and Islamic cult. And Islamic cult is basically a reference to what you could say, the secular components of a Muslim society, which are in some way imbued with the values of Islam, but are not really part and parcel of the religion.

I’m already using the category of religion that we’ll get back to why I think that is justified. Now, I want to ask us to think beyond Europe and I take my cue from sort of a Bengali historian, my own roots of Bengali as well, from the University of Chicago, a very prolific author,

This is an influential book he wrote in the year 2000 called “Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference”. So Dipesh Chakrabarty is a scholar of post-colonial studies. And he basically is arguing in this book that when we do history in an academic setting, we are so deeply embedded within a Eurocentric paradigm

That it’s extremely difficult to escape from it, even though that’s something that we should try and do. So the very concepts that we’re using, et cetera, are deeply embedded within the conceptual universe of Europe. And in a sense, it’s descendants in a place like the United States.

And so in the spirit of Provincializing Europe, I’m trying to ask ourselves, well, what if we discard this conception of religion and start to think about religion in terms taken from another tradition, the Sonic tradition, for example. Not to say that there’s a single unitary conception of religion in any given tradition.

Sorry on the basis of this I’m trying to look at, okay, is there an Islamic conception of religion? And why should that not be as legitimate of basis for our theoretical ruminations on the category of religion, on society, on the way in which society is organized.

Why should that not be as legitimate a source for those sorts of reflections as sort of what some scholars described as the Eurocentric conception of religion, right? And I think, increasingly it’s possible to ask those sorts of questions. I think maybe a generation or two ago

That suggestion would have been sort of dismissed as being, that’s not scholarship. Scholarship means you have to respect the canon, right? And that canon is now being brought into question. I think that’s a healthy development in our studies. So in Islam you have a concept of din.

So the term din is the Arabic word found in the Quran, found in the hadith literature. And I’ve got a hadith up there, section of its terpene on. And that term is usually translated as religion in modern period. Okay. It’s not always been translated as religion,

But in a sense, a language shifts over time. There’s something to be said about that. But what I’ve got on the screen is actually a hadith, a statement that is attributed to the prophet, which Muslims generally will consider to be authentic in this particular case, authentically attributed.

I’ve just made a note of where it’s found in sort of authoritative missing collections. And it’s a hadith where it’s a statement of the prophet or it’s actually a narrative of something that happened to the prophet and his companions where someone came to the prophet completely unfamiliar. It’s known as the Gabriel hadith

And so kind of title gives away who’s coming. So Gabriel appears in the form of a human and asks the prophet, “What is Islam? What is iman?” Which means faith. “What is the lesson?” Which is sometimes translated as spiritual excellence, and then asks a series of other questions.

And at the end of that hadith, the prophet asks one of his companions, “Do you know who asked that question was?” He had gone at that point. And then the companion response, “God and his messenger know best.” It’s very pious response. And the prophet responds, “(speaks foreign language) That was Gabriel.

He came to teach you your din.” And so early on in the tradition you have this term, which kind of identifies the entire project, din. But what’s interesting is and perhaps in contradistinction with some other traditions and some scholars point out people like Wilfred Cantwell Smith made this observation over 50 years ago.

That Islam is almost unique in history as naming itself. The scripture in a sense names itself. It reifies itself to use a bit of an academic term. And so the Quran itself actually has this sort of 109:6 where it says, “(speaks foreign language).” It not only attributes din to itself

Or the Muslim communities practices, but also attributes it to the other. It says that you have your religion, we have ours. Okay. Or I have mine. And this was addressed according to the unbelievers who are persecuting the prophet, okay. Saying, let us be, you have your religion, we have ours.

So the clan in a sense, uses this word. And this is just one instance but throughout the grant, this term is to be found in my estimation, rather transparently refer to beliefs, norms, practices that a given community adheres to, whether it be approved or disapproved by God.

And sometimes it refers to the din or the religion of Muslims as din will have the true religion. So it will sort of make those sorts of claims. But it’s interesting that that concept is in my estimation, very transparently present in earliest time scripture. And this should disrupt in my view,

What Rushain Abbasi calls the orthodoxy that has formed about the notion that religion is actually a modern category. Now, I’m going to change gears now and think about secularism for a moment. Okay. What is secularism? Another of these concepts, as I say, we all think we know what it is,

But when we start to sort of explore what it means, it’s difficult to pin down. And so, philosophy is sometimes called ideas like this, essentially concepts. Concepts where people are arguing about the very essence of it, the concept itself, democracy. And you could say Britishness, like what is Britishness?

And so secularism is often viewed as the separation of church and state. That’s one very popular definition. Something I’ll come back to towards the end of the lecture. And Charles Taylor, and this really it’s an award-winning book, “A Secular Age”. It’s a huge book, I think it’s 900 pages,

Took a long time to finish reading that. But Charles Taylor has suggested that secularism should better be understood as managing pluralism, a kind of neutrality between different competing religious claims, for example, on the part of the state. So the state should be a neutral umpire between different sort of perspectives.

But as I say, secularism is a contentious topic. How do we define secularism? Talal Asad, the chap whose book is on the left, an influential anthropologist of the secular. So he’s an anthropologist, who instead of looking at sort of traditional societies he said, “Well, what does an anthropology of secular societies look like?”

And he says, “Secularity is a distinct product of European history.” And he’s one of these people who described religion and secularism as Siamese twins for example. Charles Taylor, I’ve already mentioned talks about sort of neutrality. And he also highlights that secularism is about sort of the prevention of the persecution of minorities.

For example, the recognition of pluralism is acceptable, managing pluralism. And then you have, I think this is a relatively conventional view, but one which has been brought into question increasingly as he’s a scholar, I think he’s in Budapest at the moment, but he describes secularism as kind of a natural product of history.

So history kind of tended toward secularism and he’s a very sophisticated scholar, but it strikes me as teleological. It’s kind of history arrived at its conclusion with Europe, for some reason, according to that view. And I would sort of question that kind of a reading, but what about secularism beyond Europe as well?

So, I’m sort of going perhaps a bit backwards, sort of in a sense I’ve already mentioned Dipesh Chakrabarty’s “Provincializing Europe”. And so what I’m suggesting here is that account of secularism as sort of emerging and kind of reflecting natural historical development whereby all societies as they mature, as they advance,

As they progress, they will secularize. This is a very widespread assumption within the sociology of religion as well. And so, in a sense, in accord with that sort of an understanding, I want to sort of go back slightly and mention Bruce Lincoln, as another person who upholds a conception of religion,

Which is relatively conventional in that way. And he describes religion as a consisting of four components. The most important of which I want to highlight is a transcendent discourse, but it also is. And I want to highlight Bruce Lincoln’s definition for two reasons. One is, let’s think about religion,

But let’s think about how this might even apply to the concept of secularism as well. So Bruce Lincoln, a scholar at the University of Chicago as well wrote in this book made an attempt to define religion. And he’s a very sophisticated scholar, one of the finest positive religion of his generation,

But someone who in my view, adheres to the conventional view, that in a sense you can attempt to come up with a universal category of religion that excludes secularism as well. So he defines religion fairly extensively. I have summarized it here as a transcendent discourse, a practice, a community and an institution, right?

So, if we think about Christianity, transcend the discourse, the discourse of the Bible, a practice, there’ll be various rituals attached to it, the community, the Christian communion as were and an institution, the church. But in my estimation, depending on how you define transcendent, that can define any community.

So if we think about the British. Britishness as a discourse, it is also a practice that is regulated through laws, laid out through statute or in the form of the British constitution, whatever that is, a community. I happened to have my passport with me today ’cause I’m flying out tomorrow,

But we actually have sort of like these documents with which we can identify ourselves, and an institution. The institution you could say is the British state. But I think Britain is an institution in a sense. So I mean, one of the things that I should perhaps highlight here is these are all ideas

That there’s nothing natural in the world, which identifies someone as being from some country. These are ideas that we generate and we develop into institutions. The idea of progression college is basically a collectivity of people who have continued certain practices over time, right? And in that way, what I’m suggesting here is that

What is so different about secularism as a practice compared to a religion? The term transcendent is what Bruce Lincoln leans on heavily in my estimation, in order to justify the distinction between religion and secularism. So transcendence, he uses in my estimation, and he doesn’t use the term, God

Probably bearing in mind a traditional Buddhism, right? Or other potentially non-theistic practices, I suspect certain forms of other religions other than Buddhism and I’m not an expert on Hinduism would be considered to be transcendent discourses. Buddhism in a sense believes in spiritual practices that elevate people to around that cannot be accessed

By the normal human beings and so on. So in a sense, transcendence is doing a lot of work here, but to my mind, the values that underlie, any of these religious systems are transcended on some level. And I’m happy to sort of take questions later,

Querying my conception of this, but what is liberty? What is sort of liberalism as an idea? What is individualism as an idea? These are transcendent ideas in a sense, they are concepts and conceptions that we elevate to levels of unimpeachability in order to underpin our legal frameworks,

In order to recognize what is an acceptable social practice in our communities, what is equality? And what I want to suggest is that any normative system has to depend on these norms, which are transcendent ideas on some level, I haven’t gotten the book in the slides, but I’m reminded of William T. Cavanaugh,

Has a wonderful book called “The Myth of Religious Violence” where he basically argues that transcendence is something which is a kind of convenient way. It’s a slight of hand to allow for the creation of religion as a category. So he says that someone who works on Wall Street

And has a commitment to capitalism in a sense engages in a kind of deifying of the market and may spend hours and hours in rituals of devotion to the market, I suppose to give a sort of a locally relevant example, be the City of London, right?

And so I personally think that there’s something to that. And I think that the attempt to distinguish between theistic traditions or even something like Buddhism and an idea like secularism hinges on this conception of transcendence, which I think is highly problematic, I should sort of conclude this slide.

I didn’t mean to take quite so much time on it, but I’m going to plug my colleague, Rushain Abbasi’s work again as being an extraordinary history, his PhD, a 600 page PhD is a remarkable history of the concept of the secular not secularism, but the secular meaning.

He talks about the distinction between a religious realm and a secular realm as being present within the Islamic tradition from early on and theorized by scholars through history. It’s unfortunately unpublished. So if you want to read it, you’ll have to fly to Cambridge, Massachusetts and check-in at the library of Harvard University,

But hopefully it’s a different publication in 2023 with Princeton University Press. So if you’re interested that will be a book to look for. Okay. So I’ve already sort of suggested this, inverting the gaze: secularism as religion. And I’m taking inverting the gaze as a kind of a decolonial phrase, so to speak.

In my estimation, the Islamic view of religion resembles Emile Durkheim sort of famous definition of religion early on in his enormous book, “Les Formes Elementaires de la vie religieuse.” “The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life”. So this is 1912 work. He passed away five years later. It’s kind of his… I’m sorry.

I hope that’s not me. So, this is his great work towards the end of his life. And he defines religion interestingly enough, without reference to God. He says a religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things that is to say things set apart and forbidden.

So that’s his definition of sacred. And in all societies, we set things apart and forbid people from transgressing them in a sense. And practices which unite into one single moral community called the church, all those who adhere to them. So he’s used the term church, I think, that’s a little sort of,

I would query the use of that term, but I think to a certain extent, these sorts of conceptions of various modern ideologies religions is not terribly new. Another example. So this is from 1912, obviously, Emile Durkheim. And in a sense argues towards the end of his book that all societies need religions.

If we were to get rid of religion, we’d have to invent a new one. A decade later, Carlton Hayes, a scholar, a historian at Columbia University. And he writes an essay in a collected volume of essays, nationalism as a religion. It’s out of copyright so you can Google it and read it online.

And a really fascinating, I mean, he expands it later on, I think he published the book form in 1961, so 30-35 years later, but the book is called nationalism or religion, and this is nationalism as a religion. But those sorts of reflections on the way in which various modern ideologies in a sense

Take the place of religions is something which is quite widespread. And so I asked this question, could various modern ideologies be viewed as religions and his, one potential way of looking at this, depending on how one defines religion. And I’ve suggested a few definitions, we could view secularism as a broad church religion

While various secular ideologies, such as liberalism, nationalism may be seen as denominations or sects, right? I suppose denominations is a less loaded term, but perhaps Nazism and fascism should be considered sects. And so, in a sense, these are all post-enlightenment ideologies that predicate themselves on a world focused, what Charles Taylor calls,

“They look through an imminent frame.” They look at the world beyond not as transcendent, as connected somehow to a transcendent world, but only as eminent, only as interacting with the here and now, and well the times as well. And so, this is I think a remarkable transition in the history of humanity,

In a sense this kind of a shift beyond transcendence. But I also think that this is simply another manifestation of human religion. So these religions are ones which the secular wealthy realm, sorry, one’s in which the secular wealthy realm has been converted into an encompassing system that has replaced religious traditions.

And what do I mean by that? I’m just thinking about an idea like liberalism as something that imbues all of our institutions, or at least it should in a sense. So, we see ourselves as a liberal society, the values of liberalism and individuality, equality, all of these sorts of notions,

In a sense what Charles Taylor, the Canadian historian of secularism calls the French revolutionary trinity. Liberty, equality and fraternity. And those values in many respects are things that imbue our institutions. They imbue our laws. They are the basis on which we can actually adjudicate disputes among one another. And in my estimation, we engage in philosophical inquiry, which can be described as theological

With respect to those sorts of traditions. So if what I’m suggesting is a legitimate reading, then we live in a deeply religious age, right? And it sort of subverts our self image as a secular society. So in a sense, I mean, this book is slightly unrelated to the slide,

But I’m highlighting the limitations of the prevailing understanding of secularism in light of Islam, that a number of modern scholars know that Islam even as a practice today, even as a tradition today, not only the pre-modern world, but the Western trend of secularization in a form of marginalizing religion from the political sphere.

Now, most of the time people have rather sort of like unpleasant conceptions of this, partly because of the way in which it has been mediatized. But even beyond the more shocking manifestations that people are used to and form, part of a narrative, which is very problematic and skews our understanding

Of what’s actually happening in the world in my estimation. There are interesting things to be said about the fact that religiosity in the Muslim world often manifests also in the political sphere. And there isn’t really a very widespread conception in parts of the world, which have not been deeply touched by secular paradigms

That that is a bad thing, right? And so, that’s something that we can explore in perhaps the Q&A but it’s just something to recognize that the sort of the common understanding that secularism is the natural way for humanity. And it will gradually sort of secularize the whole world

Still held by a sort of respected sociologist of religion today. I think really needs to be brought into question and not in a historical fashion, but in a fashion that’s reflective and thinks about the sort of plurality of perspectives that exist in the world. These perspectives remain discussable marginal.

So in the broader discourse on whether it’s as an academic level, whether it’s I think greater latitude in this sort of discourse, or certainly in the popular level, they are discussing only marginal due to sort of the dominance of certain in my estimation narrow views of how society should be organized,

What we can think in a sense. So let me give one other example of what we can think of as a nation, as a religion. So I’m taking this again from Carlton Hayes, this is his 1961 book or note, it says 1960 on there.

So his 1960 book, and I’m just riffing off of it. This isn’t necessarily what he’s saying, but I’m just saying, what do we think about modern nation states as kind of these religious entities of sorts? They have sacred histories, all nation states have founding myths.

Why are we sort of Britain rather than England or Scotland? I guess Scotland might happen. But what makes France France? And younger nations have to kind of invent mythologies about themselves. They create museums. They sort of write histories that are to a certain extent, an act of creation,

Not an active sort of discussive discovery. You could say it’s a form of discovery question. It can also be a form of discovery. And so we have founding myths, we have sacred scriptures in my estimation, and I had a sort of Marshall Hall Patel’s book earlier “People of the Book”.

Constitutions, I mean, it’s a bit difficult to say this in the UK, of course. But in some respects statutory law can be seen as having elements of this. These are texts which cannot be ignored. They are true by definition, right? That’s how scripture works, right? The constitution of the United States is a good example because to a certain extent, it’s starting to be a bit archaic,

A couple of 100 years old at this point, or more than that. And it’s creating all sorts of complications with respect to, for example, the second amendment and the right to bear arms and things like that, written in a very different time. Yet, it’s not something that can just be discarded.

It’s a sacred text in practice, and you have a clerical class that adjudicates this sacred texts and various rankings of clerics, the Supreme court justices of the greatest theologians, the sort of the doctors of the church. But you do have a massive theological discourse and describing it somewhat facetiously as theological discourse,

But that’s what legal scholars are there for to mull over these complicated questions as they relate to practice, the philosophers are there to explore the philosophical underpinnings. And sometimes those two realms will overlap as well. You have, as I said, sort of a clerical class, you have unequal ingroups and outgroups

So religions will have members of that confession and people who are outside of that confession, but we have citizens and foreigners, for example. In fact, we’re so committed to our in-groups and out-groups that we create documents to prove that we’re number of one and not a member of another,

And people vie over these things, of course, right? I mean, it’s a tragedy that we’re living through in the course of the refugee crisis. And the state, is in a sense this inviolable sort of entity, the state in a sense becomes quite sacred. And we can talk about that,

But in a sense, the way in which sometimes security is used to run roughshod of a liberty is an illustration of some of these crazy theological debates. And yeah, so I hope that this sort of reading of kind of alternative history of the secular, so to speak,

Based on an Islamic sort of set of presuppositions is an interesting, sort of interesting one that people may consider taking up. That’s my friend, Rushain Abbasi, the scholar at Stanford, and here is a book by Noah Feldman, who’s at Harvard. But in a sense, what we have with secularism

Is the kind of in my estimation, the marginalization of traditional religions and replacement with potentially an alternative religion. Rushain Abbasi argues in his thesis at one point, that Islam’s worldliness. Actually, no, this isn’t a separate article, but Islam’s worldliness may have prevented the formation of secularism within Islamic civilization

And the form that we have within Western civilization. In a sense, this is his argument, that there was a kind of harmony, a natural harmony between the secular and the religious within Islam that allowed for that interplay not to create great tension in the way that he suggests was the case in Europe.

And Noah Feldman also sort of points out in the political realm, which is, in a sense of the reason secularism is the separation of the religion, religious and the political. In the political realm historically sort of… Sorry. Historically the political realm was subordinate to a rule of law system.

Yes, it was based on the sheria, but it was a rule of law system that was seen as just, and operated in ways that conform to society’s values rather than what is very often assumed that, pre-modern religious policies were in some way on the basis of religion despotic,

The divine right of kings doesn’t really exist in the Islamic tradition in my reading. Part of the reason I wrote my latest book about the Arab revolutions of 2011, is that there’s an attempt to revive or in a sense manufacture kind of divine right of kings

Or in the case of the Middle East divine right of dictators. So, that is a problem, but yeah, this is kind of my last slide. And then I’m just going to read a brief, sort of the conclusion to the written version of the paper, which I say is a work in progress.

And so, there’s a lot of stuff here, which I don’t talk about in that paper, but under stuff in that paper, which I didn’t talk about here. But, in a sense the implication of what I’ve said for the last 40 minutes is that it creates a kind of contradiction in secularism self-image, right?

How can secularism be a neutral umpire between religions, if it is self is a religion? I think this question indicates the need for reassessing our conceptions of various concepts. And I hope that, in a sense that I’ve contributed to something useful in that regard, I’m just going to read out

And I hope this is not too much, I don’t drone too much, but I just wanted to read out a brief section, the conclusion of my article. Of course, secularism rejects the notion that it is analogous to the religions of old. It sees itself as a uniquely rational enterprise

That has transcended the superstition of pre-modern religions. Those religions now belonged in the private sphere of the modern secular order. This was essential to maintaining the peace and preventing the world from being written by superstitions wars of other world is south Asian, at least in secularism self-conception.

But in fact, secularism was simply even in genuinely reenacting the established pattern of a new universal religious project. It had simply come to recognize its own salvific qualities and thus it was only reasonable, but it supersede the primitive paradigm of religion in the public sphere. Secularism was the new dispensation

Brought for the salvation of humanity. And it was for humanity’s own good that it’d be accepted in one ideological form or another. Yet unlike a religion like Islam, his scriptures offered the ostensibly unbeatable claim that God had sent Islam as the final revelation through the final prophet to end all profits.

That’s the Muslim belief that the prophet Mohammed was the final prophet. Unlike that secularism could make the claim that it had in fact, superseded the category of religion itself. This was in many ways a master stroke of self legitimation for it cleared away all the traditional competitors for authority in the public sphere.

By masking itself as transcending religion, secularism has arguably found the means of legitimizing itself that is proven remarkably effective. It is called for religion to be largely removed from public life except in a symbolic or vestigial form. In doing so, it has rendered the public sphere, a realm over which it exercises

A monopoly of legitimate violence. Yet, I have tried to suggest, as I’ve tried to suggest over the course of this presentation, there is a deep contradiction at the heart of secularism, as it stands today, namely that it upholds the principle of separation of religion and state or in more recent articulations upholds

The states neutrality or equidistance between all religions. But if secularism is indeed itself a religion, then the claims that the secular state is separate from religion breaks down. And I asked the question, how can the secular state be neutral between religions if it is governed by the rules of one particular religion,

Namely secularism? I don’t have the answer to these questions, versions of which have been posed by certain Christian scholars for some time now. But I do think posting such questions from an Islamic perspective is important in helping us recognize the need for our society to acknowledge that the conversations in these areas

Needs to be broadened to include a wider range of viewpoints that better reflect the people who make up our increasingly diverse societies, the conversations these kinds of reflections might open up can be enriching and mind broadening in many ways. And I hope we’ll foster greater mutual respect

And understanding if what I say contributes to such an outcome, I will consider the job of this brief presentation to be done. Thank you. – If secularism is a religion, what should it mean for the separation of religion and the stats in your view? – Oh my, I hope my conclusion made clear I have no idea. I mean, I think we need to have conversations about this because it does make things a lot more complicated in a sense. And I think that that claim that I have presented, and I’ve not presented it as the truth, but I’m presenting it as a claim that secularism is a religion,

Opens up opportunities for conversations and discussions rather than giving us any answers, to be honest. And I think that that’s the opportunity that we should embrace at this point in time. And, I think it will make for a very interesting sort of, and mutually respectful conversation.

– [Man] Thank you for a fascinating lecture. – Thank you. – [Man] I have a number of questions, but I’ll keep it to one. – Thank you. – [Man] Where in secularism or religion does morality come and I think it’s been subtext there actually. – Right, right.

– But is there a universal morality that can be a bit- – That’s an excellent question. I mean, yes, it’s absolutely. It’s been sort of implied throughout and I’ve used the term, norms throughout. And in a sense, the sort of the enterprise of ethics and moral philosophy and philosophy more generally

Over the last century or two has been trying to address what happens to morality when we lose sort of the traditional sources of that morality. So Christianity or Judaism or any given religious tradition, what I’m suggesting is that actually, and it’s not a suggestion. It’s very well recognized.

Political philosophy is a species of ethics. It’s a species of moral philosophy when people like John Rawls, great sort of liberal philosopher from Harvard wrote a theory of justice. He was basically trying to ask, what is ethical for society? How should societies be organized in a way that’s ethical?

So I think secularism has its own traditions of morality. And liberalism is one such tradition of morality. Religious traditions have that sort of discourses on morality as well. So I think that in my estimation and I figured out a definition for religion from an Islam conception,

But what I take to be the broadly speaking, the understanding of religion is a community that religion is basically a set of norms that govern the community, norms mean that there’s morals involved, right? How should we behave towards one another? What sorts of laws? Laws are intimately tied with our ethics as well,

But what kinds of laws should govern our transactions and interactions with each other? And so, I think religions where that source historically and secularism in its various dispensations, liberalism and forms that we might not like so much, communism and so on. We’ll have the morality’s as well.

And I think we need to recognize, of course, that there’s a diverse array of moralities out there. The question of universalism is a difficult one. I mean, one classical and perhaps dominant Islamic perspective was that virtually relativist one, which was to say that you cannot really know

What is right or wrong without the guidance of God. I think that’s somewhat problematic personally, because then how do you know how to accept what God gives you? Is that right or wrong, right? But there’s interminable debates, anyway. So I hope that answers the question somewhat.

– [Man] Would you say that the periods of political Islam revival, the 1970s to 2010s actually represent a wide rejection of secularism within the Islamic world or due times or perceived Islamic revival merely represent Islamic influence coming from the background to the forefront of society. – It’s a very thoughtful question actually.

So the sort of what’s referred to as political Islam, a term which I think reflects and scholars are increasingly noting this, that even that label reflects a kind of Eurocentric paradigm because you have to give a special label to a religion that has a political component phrase.

But, I think that it reflects not necessarily, I mean, what is secularism? A lot of the groups that are labeled as political Islamists are pro-democracy, they want to uphold a certain regime of human rights, which in many cases we would recognize, in some cases, there would be tensions

With dominant liberal traditions, for example, perhaps on questions of gay rights or things of that nature. I think it’s too simple to say it’s a rejection of secularism. Secularism is an entire tradition. There are lots of things that, secularism in my view as a religious tradition

Has to offer and not all of those things are problematic. In fact, many of those things are quite positive in my estimation. And so those elements don’t need to be rejected by political Islam. And I don’t think are rejected by political Islam. The Muslim Brotherhood, an organization that I’ve spent some time studying,

Which is probably the largest and most influential organization under the label of political Islam is an organization that is very pro-democracy that is extremely popular and anti dictatorship in the middle east. And that’s why they are hated by the secular autocrats and the secular autocrats sell themselves as secular to the west.

They’re not actually any more secular or less religious than the Muslim Brotherhood. That’s just a good marketing tool to get sort of the west on your side. So, I think in the region that there are interests, but there’s not much to do with the secular religion divided in my estimation.

– One thing that really came to mind when thinking about your ultimate conclusion, secularism as a religion, is why is the word secularism used? And it immediately made me think of France, the concept of laicite. And to my mind and I’d like your observations on this, it’s a device, the word secularism,

It’s a device basically used to make a particular belief system seem more important, neutral, and acceptable in a society. And that in a sense what happened to France because you have a particular belief system. – Right. – [Man] It’s not called a religion, it’s put forward under the concept of laicite

And it privileges certain historic practices. And what I’m really interested in is what do you think about the use of the word secularism, and why is it used? – That’s again, very thoughtful question. Thank you very much. And France is a very unusual sort of case of,

I mean, compared to sort of the liberal polities that we might be used to in the Anglophone world, I lived in the United States for more than five years. And religion is quite widespread in society there and it’s invoked in Congress and all of those sorts of things.

And France is a very kind of laicite is a very aggressive kind of anti religion in a sense. And some such a sociologist of religion actually call it a religion. I mean, not in the sense that I’m talking about, for some reason, this is something I feel a bit irritated by the way,

Some sociologist of religion will label as religious secular ideologies, which tend to be extreme. So they’ll see Nazis and fascism and perhaps laicite can be considered political religions or something. And I’m like, “Well, everything’s a religion.” Anyway, so I think at the end of the day, we use labels…

These developed very often organically in the course of debates. The word secularism emerges from a sort of important English thinker, George Hollyoke who wanted to coin a phrase that would not suggest atheism and immorality. I believe he’s the one who sort of coined the phrase

Sort of secularism, but then it kind of takes a life of its own. And as a philosophical system, it sort of develops into a very important and central idea. I think those things happen through historical accident and then we become wedded to a particular version of that.

So I’m not sure that there’s a particular sort of effort to engineer something by using a particular word. I think whatever word has ended up representing what we think is appropriate, an appropriate ideology or appropriate philosophy and appropriate religion, we will then argue the best thing since its spread

And therefore we must uphold it. And if you’re not upholding it, we need to somehow marginalize and show society that this is not acceptable. All societies do that with their core concepts. And so, I’m not sure it’s particularly unusual to secular societies. I hope that answers the question somewhat.

– [Woman] I can remember when I did my first thesis long, long time ago, but there’s a theologian, who wanted to encompass a whole variety of different theistic and nontheistic, including dialectical materials. and he had angles his material, his stints in the sense of the material world

Is all that counts and the highest (indistinct) but he wanted to call it a religion that would ought to include that in this broad conception of what religion might be. – So I mean, as you can see, I’m quite sort of liberal with the liberal religion, no pun intended.

But what’s interesting about dialectical materialism is that even someone like Bruce Lincoln who holds this sort of notion of religion as transcendent in a footnote in that book argues that, well, it might be reasonable to say dialectical materialism, given that certainties in this sort of like in the ideas that they’ve generated

Can be considered a religion. But again, for me, this is one of the things that irritates me slightly, which is that, well, why make a special case of bad things is religion, right? I think there’s a kind of prejudice in my estimation in the way in which certain things are called religion,

Because there’s something wrong with them. They come into the political realm, that’s a Protestant prejudice. So to speak that is post 17th century for what it’s worth. – [Man] I disagree with most of it. – Great. – I don’t really think that secularism can be defined as a religion because it doesn’t have

The normal characteristics or religion. It doesn’t have a catechism or membership category or rituals. It’s not a religion, it’s a principle. No, I don’t have a religion but I’m a secularist. But if I had a religion, I’d also be a secularism because I do believe as a principal in the separation

Or the neutrality of the state and institutions. So I don’t think that religion should have a special role in the functioning of the state. That’s all that secularism is. So the examples you give really secularism grew out of conflicts within religion not between religions, whereas the Islamic societies you describe,

Have always been almost wholly Muslim. Not always, not always, not always, but mostly have. And secularism, even before (indistinct) had a history, there were many empires, which were broadly speaking secular. They left people to their own devices. They did not interfere or force conversions, et cetera, et cetera.

So I’m not saying that it’s secular, but there were in some ways secular and so secularism has a long history which you seem to be suggesting somehow it’s a completely modern idea. It’s not. – It’s a lot of stuff that you’ve mentioned. I’m just trying to keep up with which points.

I wonder if you’d like to sort of like summarize the question in one or two components. – Well, your definition of secularism as a religion is not substantiated because it does not have the characteristics of religion. It doesn’t have places of worship, does not have catechism rituals.

– So how do we define anything? On what basis do we define something as religion, something as secularism? Basically the conclusions will arrive that will depend on those decisions that are made early on in that sort of thought process. So early on, I kind of set out my store

On how I conceived of religion. And religions are basically, broadly speaking about norms that allow for the cohesive existence of a society. If I define religion on that basis, then certainly I can call it secularism my religion, your defining religion on the basis of, certain other presuppositions.

So we can then go and question, the presuppositions themselves, is it reasonable to say that, if something has a catechism, it is a religion. If something has such and such a component, it is a religion. And I think there are scholars who have argued in that way, as I’ve mentioned with Bruce Lincoln,

But I would suggest that it’s perfectly reasonable to develop this kind of a conception of religion. And I think the resistance to that is something that we’re better bringing into question because it shows us a kind of attachment to ideas which are somewhat arbitrary and historically

Sort of like have come about at a certain point in time for reasons that maybe need to be brought into question. So, yeah, I mean, that would be my sort of broad response to that. We could take specific questions because you raised a lot of…

There were a number of aspects to what you mentioned, and I can’t recall all of them and I didn’t have the presence of mind to make notes at the time. And I’m happy to discuss this with you afterwards, but really it hinges on how you define the category of religion,

The way in which you’ve defined religion. Obviously secularism doesn’t count as a religion because you’ve defined it in a way that precludes the possibility of including secularism Islam as religion. But I’ve brought into question in the course of my talk, and this is, you’re not the only person who does it,

Plenty of scholars have done that. I brought into question, that approach to the definition of religion. And I think that there are cogent reasons to bring that approach into question, but this will be hopefully a conversation we can take on after the session. – I would just like t thank Dr. Usaama al-Azami

For a really fascinating, stimulating evening. – Thank you all. Thank you all very much.

#Religion #Rethinking #Religion #Secularism

The G20 Interfaith Forum in Buenos Aires: Religious Perspectives for the 2018 Global Agenda

– I am Katherine Marshall, welcome to the Berkley Center. Berkley Center, despite the location is a part of Georgetown University, 12 years old. It reports directly to the president of the university and is a very multi-disciplinary organization. Also, welcome to the World Faiths Development Dialogue,

Which is a small NGO that is housed here, and that was born in an improbable location, which is the World Bank, and is now approaching its 20th anniversary, so we are very happy to welcome all of you here. I’m going to do a very short introduction, basically saying what this is all about.

And then, we’ll pass it to the panel who will give brief comments and then we’ll have a conversation and we’ll go on. So I’ll introduce the panel when I finish with this. Next week, there is an ambitious meeting taking place in Buenos Aires, which is the G20 Interfaith Forum.

And it’s one of many global efforts to try to bring religious voices into discussions about international policy. The basic idea is to have religious institutions, religious ideas at the table. And one of our classic comments is, if you’re not at the table, you end up on the menu.

So that the basic idea though, is to see which religious voices, which tables, and how should they be represented. So, this particular effort is focused on the G20, which started in 2008, with the initially, primarily, as an economic advisory body but has evolved and expanded over time.

One of the features of the G20 is that the tone and the agenda are set by the host country which shifts every year from one country to another. So last year, it was in Germany, and it was very much a Merkel agenda. This year, it is in Argentina,

So it’s very much an Argentine agenda, led by the Argentine government. There’s no permanent G20 secretariat. And then, next year it’s Japan. And the following year, 2020, it will be in Saudi Arabia. So one of the questions is, are the pros. What is the advantage of focusing on the G20

For the efforts that we as speaking from religious perspectives are looking at. It’s a channel for focus and influence. Another feature is that it’s quite flexible. In other words, you don’t have some of the rigidity of the United Nations systems and conventions, et cetera. The disadvantages are that it’s flexible

And also that there is an enormous competition for ideas that’s taking place, so it’s not a virgin field where you can just go and have an influence on the G20 leaders, you really need to have a strategy. So, the question, which religious voices on which agendas.

One of the efforts I’ve been part of the organizing group for the G20 this year, and for the past several years, is to have a network of networks, which is the foundation for the legitimacy of the voice of the forum. In other words, it’s not just the people there,

It’s the networks that lie behind them. Another feature, and that’s very important is strong links to the host government communities, in this case, of course, Argentina, and of course, one feature of Argentina is that the Pope is an Argentine, and therefore, there are a lot of personal relationships

And history that go into the Vatican as well as other relationships. Rabbi Skorka who knows this very well was here last week at Georgetown. He will not be at the forum, but others will. So the aim is to ensure that the recommendations that come out reflect both sound analysis

And broad consultation, in other words, it’s not just off the top of your head. Another feature is that we know very well that religious communities often disagree. The idea that there is a single religious voice is frankly a nonsense. So one of the objectives is to make sure that the religious voice presented

Includes a respect for difference of views and for dialogue, both among religious communities but also between religious and secular communities. Broadly, for the 2018, the most logical entry point has been wide concerns about social cohesion. And that includes populism and the threats of nationalism, but also extremism, obviously,

All of which are of concern to religious groups. So very briefly, this is the fifth forum. It’s a very ambitious meeting with a rich agenda. It’s all on the website now. These forums have become increasingly focused and ambitious over time. It was originally quite academic with a religious liberty focus

But it’s not much broader. Relates to the agenda set by the host country as well as the Sustainable Development Goals. And it’s gone from invisibility, nobody knew about it, to increasing visibility and the International Shinto Foundation this year has provided substantial support to increase the visibility. So this meeting is being videotaped

And the footage we hope will be useful for the forum itself. So it’s an evolving and an ambitious initiative, which you can find on the website, and I would also add that Georgetown and WFDD’s roles have grown over time. So the questions for us here, which shall be put to the panel,

Are the possible impact on leaders of well-crafted proposals and effective communication, how to build on the network of religious networks, how to link to the other engagement groups, we’ve particularly focused on what’s called the T20, which I will not ask you to guess what that means.

It is the network, the engagement group of think tanks, which is a very dynamic, but you also have the C20, B20, L20, W20, Y20 and S20, and this, now is the I20, the Interfaith. So some specific topics and themes that are emerging are the preferential option for the poor,

What does that mean, children, violence, modern slavery, and also work, education, food security and health. So that’s just a brief sort of preview of what this is all about, and now we are absolutely delighted today to have a wonderful group. Unfortunately, David Moore, the acting deputy administrator

Of USAID can’t come to Buenos Aires. My understanding is that you’ve given a priority to the United Nations General Assembly. (laughing) – He meets the needs. (all laughing) – But he has a long background, particularly in law. He was a professor at Brigham Young University Law School,

Where, by the way, I am going tomorrow morning, very early. He is now, I think, very keenly interested in these issues of what’s religion got to do with it and what do we do with that? So, I would also introduce Kirsten Evans,

Who I think you, what, are a week on the job then? Roughly, (laughing), as the head of the office in USAID that works with faith communities, so we’re delighted to welcome you here, I think for the first time, perhaps. – Thank you very much. – Here. Ambassador Cynthia Hotton is the Argentine representative

At the OAS, and I’m happy to say she will be going to Buenos Aires, as will Kirsten. So we have two people who are very much a part of the forum and finally, my colleague, John Monahan is the senior advisor to the president of Georgetown University, especially in calling the health issues.

But he covers many others, and he also has a very long and distinguished career that include public service, academia, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So we will just invite each of you to speak. You can speak from the table, or you can speak from the podium, as you wish,

With, hopefully, with the microphone. And I know you will have to leave at some point. – Right. – Early on, but we’ll just keep an eye on the time. – From the mic, I’m gonna ask Ashley, my assistant to see if we can scoot back, ’cause I apologize that we arrived late.

So I wanted to thank Katherine for hosting this event. It’s an honor to be with you here. I wish I were going to be with the group in Buenos Aires next week, but I have attended two of the interfaith forums, so I was in Istanbul and Beijing,

And very personally supportive of the work that the forum is engaged in, and the effort to bring religious voices to the G20 and to the important policy discussions that occur there. I missed last year’s because of this job, I’ll miss this year’s because of this job,

But that is not to be taken as a sign that USA is not onboard with the principles that motivate the forum. And I wanna focus my remarks today on explaining how the USA shares the principles that motivate the forum and its efforts. The Interfaith Forum recognizes the importance

Of religious freedom, of religious organizations, of religious harmony to go with priorities including economic development and we share that perspective. At USA, we believe that the purpose of foreign assistance, which is our main focus is to end the need for foreign assistance. Now, we don’t say that because we don’t want to help

Our friends, but because we believe in the inherent dignity of every human being. Where we believe that every country, or community, every individual wants to be empowered to lead its own future, and so we focus on and speak of the journey to self reliance

And believe that when a country’s willing to take the, make the hard choices, invest the efforts that it takes to progress on that journey, we should be there at its side. As part of that approach, this journey to self reliance, we focus on helping partner countries strengthen capacities and policies

That experience tells us are necessary for a country to reach self reliance, to become, to stable in the long term and ultimately to enjoy prosperity. And among the critical foundations along that journey, is freedom of religion, as this administration has emphasized and as we recognize at USAID.

We recognize that freedom of religious is key to peace and stability, it’s a cornerstone to citizen responsive governance, which is what we try to produce in our democracy work. It’s a key, not only to economic development writ large, but particularly to inclusive development and to the rule of law.

And, of course, it’s intertwined with so many other aspects of democratic societies, so many other freedoms like the freedom of association, the freedom of expression, freedom of assembly. So we see religious freedom as a key, both goal of development and cornerstone of development. And we’re painfully aware that when religious freedom

Is absent, development suffers. One very unfortunate and recent example, and it’s an extreme one, admittedly, but it’s a real one, is the situation in northern Iraq, where we saw ISIS wage genocide against Christians, Yazidis, other vulnerable populations there. And where we see that after the area has been liberated,

Formerly by ISIS, much work remains to be done, particularly with these religious and other minority communities. A significant focus for us right now has been investing in, not only infrastructure development, the sort of things you might suspect are important to allowing people to return after a genocide and the sort of destruction

That occurred in the wake of ISIS, but also, we’re looking at issues that are particular to vulnerable communities. How, what entices or what allows a vulnerable community to want to return voluntarily to an area where this sort of genocide occurred? ‘Cause it’s not just, obviously, providing water and schools and infrastructure,

There are deeper issues there, and issues, obviously, that tie into this principle of religious freedom. So again, I want to emphasize that religious freedom is a development goal, it’s also a foundation for our development work. In addition, we recognize tremendous power of religious and religious organizations

To drive development, obviously this fits very well with the goal of the Interfaith Forum to bring religious voices to the table on these global issues, including economic development. So we see firsthand, for example, the power of faith based initiatives to deflate the appeal of violent extremism.

We work with faith leaders because they tend to be pivotal leaders in their community, they can be promoters of peace, tolerance, justice, they can be, lead some of the entities that are the first to remember the poor and marginalized in communities. And even more practically speaking, we work with these entities because,

Whether it’s in our development assistance or our humanitarian assistance, we need to reach corners and communities in the world where governments cannot effectively go, or have chosen not to go. We need to be able to touch and reach people who have been left behind or forgotten,

And in many settings, that means that partnering with communities of faith is not just the best way to reach these vulnerable populations or forgotten populations, it’s the only way to do so. And faith based partners offer a particularly rich avenue for doing that because they are often uniquely trusted

By these communities, they could harness networks, really, networks of networks, right, but certainly in country, that’s the principle, right, that these religious leaders have networks on the ground that can be mobilized to assist with development efforts and to provide insights that otherwise might be missing.

So let me just give you a couple of examples where USAID has been doing this sort of work in the Central African Republic, with our Interfaith Peace Building Partnership, which is a consortium of five actors, led by Catholic Relief Services. It brings together organizations that represent Catholics, Muslims and Protestants

To help overcome sustained political instability and intermittent armed conflict. So we’re working with these entities to strengthen the capacity of global institutions, to generate secure livelihoods and to provide healing and peace education, and in many of these programs, religious leaders take a part. They are local influencers.

They provide motivation to communities to want to find lasting peaceful solutions. Another example, another group we are proud to partner with is Food for the Hungry in Ethiopia, where we, Food for the Hungry has engaged local religious leaders to help promote things like better hygiene, maternal and child health, including access

To nutritious foods, clean water, et cetera. And this work has reached about half a million people with food aid, so just another example. There are so many we could cite of the great work that faith based organizations do, and so recognizing their practical impact is so critical that their voices be included

As we think about the challenges the G20 tries to address. At AID, recognizing these benefits, we are constantly looking to expand our work with faith based organizations, as one recent example, in June we signed a memorandum of understanding with Malteser International, to coordinate country and regional activities

In the Americas, the Middle East and Africa. As many of you know, Malteser represents the Order of Malta in the United States, and is one of the largest Catholic relief organizations. In all these efforts, I wanna highlight, we seek to ensure that faith based organizations have equal opportunity to compete for USAID assistance

And contracts and so we have a regulation that makes clear that religious organizations are eligible on the same basis as any other organization to participate in USAID programs, for which they would otherwise qualify. It’s been kind of a process, generally, to get assistance or a grant, but it is key,

And this regulation ensures that it’s a matter of law, religious organizations are on the same footing in that effort, and we have those regulations, obviously, because we recognize the value of partnering with faith based community groups. Those regulations also ensure our commitment that faith based groups can play this role,

This partnering role, without surrendering their essential identities. So, it recognizes that partnering with USAID, for example, does not change hiring opportunities that a faith based, or priorities that a faith based organization might have. So, with that, just wanna conclude saying, as we look forward to the G20 Interfaith Summit next week,

We at USAID applaud these efforts, are keenly aware of what makes faith based groups such valuable partners, we’re keenly aware of the importance of religious freedom to development of the individuals and society, where we fully support the Forum’s goals of promoting religious freedom and focusing critical attention on the role

That religion and religious organizations play in development, so although I’ll be at UNGA and miss the Forum, I look forward to the lessons learned and the light that the Forum will shine on this critical link between religion and development. Thank you. – Thank you so much. Ambassador Hotton, next. – Thank you.

Well, first of all, I can say that it is a privilege to be here with you this morning. And also, because this is such a prestigious position for me, also, this is very important. And also because Argentina is going to welcome almost all of you next week, so I am very proud

To be part of this incredible country that is receiving many countries of the world to really spend time to find solutions, the best solutions that we can find in our difficult world, so only sometimes. So, well, maybe I would like to, oh. First of all, I’m sorry to correct,

But I’m not the ambassador, I am the second of that position of Argentina. Just a detail, but if I don’t correct, there’s a problem. It would be a problem. Okay, having said that, well, why I am here, because usually there are many actors that are directly involved in issues that have to be with religion, and I represent Argentina to the Organization of American States, but, well, personally I was really involved during my whole life,

In everything that has to with inter-religious dialogue, for example, Skorka, he’s a good friend, and we’ve met, we’ve done many many things together. But well, I am a diplomat, but in the moment, what I’ve seen that religious freedom was also respected in Argentina. There were little details that were not taken into account,

So I decided to participate with politics, and I became a national congresswoman, the first evangelical congresswoman in Argentina. That was really hard because it’s a Catholic country and we didn’t have evangelicals, so it was very hard in my community because usually they would say, don’t enter into politics,

And if it was a woman, worse. But, I’d also for the rest, for the media, is like what, you’re evangelical. So, and also, the problem is that I wanted to be vote in issues that had to be religion, so even if I was in politic, I wanted to do,

But in the, through the, under the umbrella of politic, but freedom. And I’m not going to tell you now the details, but it was maybe for you, interesting to know, but if you have questions I can tell you more about that, is that I presented the bill in Argentina

That was for freedom and equality in religion. And at that moment, the Archbishop of Buenos Aires was Bergoglio,, the actual pope. And you know, the idea, when we talk about religious freedom and equality, it’s not that we want to be, if there is an importance in culture

Or for a church that it’s the major church, it’s not that there is some competition. We don’t want to compete, we want the same rights, and the rights have to be equal for everybody, so it’s not a competition between different churches. It’s like we need the same umbrella to prevent us,

To kinda enjoy our freedom in religion. That include freedom of belief, conscious, and everything, you know. So the first thing I did, is I went to see him. And then we started a very good relationships, I could tell you many details, but that’s not the point of this conversation.

But the first thing I did is went to see him, and I told him, I need the support of the Catholic church, because if you don’t understand that this is for everybody, it was going to be interpreted as it is a competition, or that the new churches

Want to compete with the Catholic Church. And I don’t want that, so if you don’t understand, in fact, the meaning of this bill, I will not present it, because it’s not the evangelicals against. And so after, he said, leave me this, it was a huge bill, not just

A couple of articles, 37 articles. And after a month, he called me and he said, “I cannot disagree.” So the Catholic Church promoted with, also the Jewish, Muslims, all that, this particular bill, and well, at the last moment, because it went positively in many committees,

But at the last moment, after three years of debate, they started with the debate on abortion and gay marriage and so that made not very important to still continue in the debate of religious freedom, so that is why it stopped, but now the present government

Is promoting again, the same bill, with some alterations. So it is now under debate and in the congress. And well, now as a diplomat, I am here at the OAS, and I’ve heard about this contact group, for religious freedom and belief, and of course, I am so involved with this

That I’ve asked my government, really to be part. And in this is, yes, something that I want to tell you, is that we are thinking about an umbrella for our region, so that is why now we are thinking, the OAS, the Organization of American States, that we would need some, maybe inter-American convention

On religious freedom because as you may know, in the other regions of the world, it would be harder to think of this possibility. But America in general, and also in Latin American countries, if you think about it, there is not much conflict in religious freedom, between religions, it’s not like in Asia

Or in other regions of the world. So you think, is that so important, to have this umbrella convention or to be sure that in each country the religious freedom is respected. If you see the, sorry, we look young but we, First up, we see that the 17th annual report

Of the US Commission of International Religious Freedom, there are only two countries from Latin America that are mentioned there, it’s Cuba and Mexico. And still, it is not the countries that are most concerned. There are some, of course, Cuba, you can say, of course, before it was really hard to practice

Freely of religion, but now it’s going better, but there is still some deterioration in the conditions of religious freedom due to, there are short term detentions and some threats to churches, some expropriation, and some destruction of particular properties. But this has to do with the idea of the control of the government

To what is going on with the society. They want to moniterate or limit the church’s influence into the society. Now, in the case of Mexico, it’s not something that is in the national realm, but it’s mostly in some communities, some provinces, so we could say that the problem

That we could have in Mexico are more communal at the communal level, where, for example, the majority religion, the Catholic Church, would be, but it’s more like how they live in that community, their faith, for example, they will do a special event, activity or all that, and they would impose

To the minority religions that they have to pay or participate in special events, and if they don’t they will go and maybe burn the churches or some houses, but it’s really particular cases. It’s not something that is more promoted by the government. So these are, these two cases that are mentioned

In the annual report, but unfortunately, now there are two countries that are having huge problems with religious freedom and also that are, that the churches, or I would say the religious actors are now not respected, and these are Nicaragua and Venezuela. Such it is that US Special Ambassador

For the religious freedom, Ambassador Brownback, went for the first time to the Organization of American States, the permanent council, and it was the first time that in that organization we would talk about religious freedom. So the first time, I was so happy, personally, because, I’m going to, I’ll explain that later,

But and so, what, and he came to talk about these, of course, to talk about the possibility of all the countries to participate at the G20 and sorry, the Interfaith Forum, because you have the ministerial here the United States, in July, it was. But he mentioned that the United States

Is really concerned about what is going on in Nicaragua and in Venezuela, because first of all, the two countries, the two governments, started with the religious leaders to respect them as mediators for the dialogue, and you have mentioned that is very important. But then they realized that they wouldn’t

Directly respond to their will, but really they were representing mostly the needs of the population, so they’ve started to really impose some violence directly to those leaders or to some communities that are more important in this. So really, what we see is that in those two countries,

What is happening is that when you do not respect religious freedom, may believe that you don’t respect many others human rights. So you have so many human rights that are not as respected, one of them is religious freedom. Maybe it’s not the most seen or followed

By the countries, but still it is happening. And if we think about what the religious organizations are doing in those countries, and you know a lot what is happening there, inside the country, for family, I would talk especially in Venezuela. Inside the country, the only humanitarian help

That they would receive is through the religious communities and ONGs, because the government doesn’t know to receive any help from any country. So the only organization, the PAHO, the Pan-American Health Organization, is the only one that can introduce that dialogue, can enter into the country and help in health,

Because the crisis in health is terrible. Yesterday, we received some report at the OAS and 80% of the hospitals are not working. For example, in Argentina, we have received so many doctors from Venezuela, they leave the countries. And stayed their countries, so there are no doctors and the diseases are increasing because

They do not receive the medicine, they don’t want to open the route to receive medication or food, and so what they’ll do is organizations, these religion organization called, faith based organizations, is that they can receive. The debate is if they will do that or not,

Because they can only receive that through the government. So is the government that is also helping them to distribute, so it’s a way of reinforce the support to the government of Maduro or the regime. But still, they know that Caritas, for example, they are doing an incredible job there,

But what they said, and many of them came to Washington, D.C. telling us, we are doing the best we can, but the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela is so huge that it’s not enough. Even if we were work all together, and you want to send food and medicine through us,

You won’t solve that such a humanitarian problem. And, I can tell you more details, but the last thing I would explain is that in the region, you have all the borders of Venezuela, you can imagine that in this, during these five years, they are, there are 2.6 million

Of Venezuelans in our region that had migrated and we are countries that are not prepared to receive so many migrants, and so what we have now, it’s the huge crisis in the borders of Venezuela, with Colombia, with Ecuador, with Brazil is terrible, and those, and there you have all these

Faith based communities that are helping. We receive a lot of help from the United States that cannot enter into Venezuela, but they can work in the borders, mostly with about Colombia, Vice President Pence was there. And but also, in our countries, because the migrants are going everywhere,

And for somebody in Argentina, I have calls from many pastors that are calling me, “We have so many Venezuelans in our churches.” And the churches are receiving them, helping them with houses, work, we try to find work for all these people, so there is a huge network that is working and it’s mostly

With faith based organizations that contain support it. So this is an idea of what is going on in our region, specifically in Latin American countries, and also, I think that it is important for you to know that this is the really, the first time that the Organization of American States

Is thinking about something, that it is important to think about in the human rights agenda that we have to include religious freedom, right, because it is not till now, thank you. – Let me say a couple things. First off, I’ve had the privilege, over the course of my career, both working domestically

And internationally, domestically both for reform programs, refugee resettlement programs in the United States, early childhood programs, access to affordable medical care, to be working with faith based organizations here, like the Catholic church, the evangelical community. And they’re an indispensable part of how our country responds to human needs.

And when I worked internationally at the State Department, and represented the US in a political role for the Fight AIDS, TB and malaria, working with the president’s emergency plan for AIDS relief, all those, both of those programs include faith based communities both in the support for their initiatives, as the USAID is continuing

To be a central part of that agenda, and in country, because I think the practical reality is that many parts of the world, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, faith based communities are backed by a health delivery system, so I’m absolutely committed and think that the vision of faith communities

Is central to health and development both in the United States and abroad, it’s critical. I guess I’d say a couple things just thinking ahead for this G20. The first point is that I think, while obviously the issues of religious freedom are important. I think the faith community is at its most powerful

When it speaks in a common moral voice about who’s been excluded and expands our, what I think of as our moral perimeter, so whether it’s in your community or your nation or the world, it’s not them, it’s not competition and it’s not people who aren’t religious.

In fact, it’s all of, that’s why we share our common human dignity, which the pope talks about as well, and the great religious traditions do. And so I think that’s an opportunity for this interfaith group to be that common voice of a broad moral perimeter, and every community throughout the world.

It can be a voice for the people whose human rights are being violated, whether it’s the right to religious faith or a human right as a person of color or as a woman or as an LGBTQ person, anybody who has been excluded or marginalized in any organization.

So that’s, I think that’s just a great opportunity for an organization like that to be that common force. Two, is it seems to me that the G20, and thanks to our colleagues from Argentina, there’s a terrific opportunity. They’ve, at least in the health space, I don’t pretend to know the full breadth

Of the things that USAID ideas work. But the decision to continue the health minister’s track as part of the G20 that started last year in Berlin, the minister has laid out a very ambitious agenda including anti-microbial resistance, health system strengthening, universal health coverage, combating pandemics, it’s a huge opportunity.

If you think about faith communities are so intimately involved in health care everywhere in the world. Everyone of those issues is critical. In fact, we here at the, Katherine, not myself, but Katherine and our colleagues here at the Berkley Center work with a network of Catholic health delivery systems, I just think there’s a huge opportunity here on that track, and then looking ahead to next year, if the, I think the Argentinian presidency is clearly building on the work from Germany. Next year it’s in Japan, Japan has been a leader in universal health coverage as a global priority

And I just think this could be a terrific opportunity, I’m really looking forward to seeing what comes out on this (mumbles) in October. And then the last, sort of the third thought I had, is maybe this gets back to the inclusion idea, is the theme of this G20 is broadly,

How do we bring more people into this prosperity, how do you, so how do we figure out how to deal with, acknowledge it, and then rapidly change the world, and I think here’s a place where health is central to vote and to work. If we want to succeed in the modern economy,

We need healthy workers. That’s true in all what the president an important agenda, opioids for example here, I think this is a major issue both abroad and also to fulfill the agenda that Washington has put out, and I think also deals with attrition. I think that fits within the attrition agenda,

And fits within this broader full agenda, and again some exciting linkages, and I think we had this argument’s been well positioned. That’s clear, so those are just a few thoughts. I just think broad, moral vision is a huge opportunity for this group. Second is why the crack what we’ve got,

The experience like of the health cribe. And then, participating in this broader debates (mumbles). – So, I will try to brief also and in order to open the floor up to questions. I was asked by the center if I could make a few comments in following of Deputy Administrator Moore’s comments

About the larger, 30,000 foot vision of USAID’s space to talk more specifically about what my office does. Specifically within the agency, and what our folks or expectations are for the G20 Interfaith Summit next week, so to give you a sense of what we do,

I am in the office for the Center for the Interfaith and Opportunity Initiatives. We are an office that was founded in 2002 under the Bush administration imitative for the Executive Order for the integration of a faith based and small community initiative strategy across the federal government at large

And the work that we do. And today, we are part of an overall national strategy on religious leaders, faith based community engagement. Which is encouraging US government officials to develop and deepen their relationships with religious leaders and faith communities as they carry out, in the case of USAID, foreign policy responsibilities.

Under this administration, there’s three foreign policy objectives that are specific to engaging religious actors, and they are, as Deputy Administrator mentioned the advancing of pluralism and human rights, including the protection of religious freedom, the promotion of sustainable development, and more effective humanitarian assistance, and the prevention and resolution of violent conflict

And contributing to local and regional stability and security. And as you can see USAID is deeply involved in all three of those objectives in the engagement of religious actors. So the role of the Center for Faith and Opportunity initiatives is to provide the practical support and assistance to the administrator, USAID, to staff

And to our field missions, in our mission countries around the world in order to implement this strategy of faith based engagement. Faith based communities, as we’ve mentioned, are integral to USAID’s success in the field. Across the globe, religious leaders in faith communities make significant contributions to sustainable development

To the promotion and protection of human rights, to conflict mitigation and resolution. There’s not a field office or a bureau or a area expert at USAID that would not tell you the practical importance of working with small community initiatives and faith based organizations on the ground. Religious leaders and religious communities

In the countries where we implement our programming are often the most trusted members of those communities, and they’re able to reach populations where the United States government or large multi-lateral organizations or multinational organizations are not able to reach. Religious leaders are authorities that can localize followers using faith inspired language, where

Our values overlap and coincide. And in order to achieve development and humanitarian objectives. They can provide justification for action, for peace, for pursuit of social goods in a way that large foreign entities or international actors are not able to speak to a local community with the same closeness or trust.

They’re frequently better position to target the poorest or the most marginalized and the least accessible members of their own societies. And are better positioned to know the most effective ways to do that than we are from the outside. And as I mentioned, they’re uniquely positioned to counter extremism by offering peace,

Reconciliation, universal human rights initiatives, often times under those banners of religious affiliations that speak to the local community. The work that we do at USAID is we are in many ways dependent on the interfaith and faith based community network around the world. One half of the work in health and education in

Sub-Saharan Africa is done by various churches or faith based communities, one half, and not just what USAID is involved in, but for sub-Sahara Africa, as a whole, one half of all the educational and health initiatives in that continent are run by church based or local community based organizations.

So, our office operates on the premise that religion can increase the effectiveness and the impact of development programming, not really doing per se, but working with faith based entities, can increase the development. The effectiveness and impact of development programming. So how do we operate practically within our office?

We do that with I’d say two views. One is a view towards our partners on the ground. So our responsibility is to find ways to provide bridges for these local communities in the area, to be able to connect with USAID to understand our mission and to understand the process

By which they can become partners. As Administrator Moore mentioned, it’s a very competitive process, and a lot of these smaller organizations are from the get go intimidated by the process and are not entirely well equipped to be able to navigate and manage the complexities of competing for grants and funding

From a large international organization and so our office is to help to give them the tools and the toolkit to be able to do that more effectively from where they are. And to eliminate any barriers encountered for them. We seek to level the playing field for these communities, making partnerships with USAID

Possible for these groups, and we also have a glance toward the local community as well. We seek to convey faith based community groups to catalyze new opportunities and to be a voice for innovative partnerships, new programming designs, a wider strategic thinking and strategic vision on how to increasingly engage public private

Charitable partnerships in order to achieve shared development goals. In the words of President George W. Bush, and I quote him because he’s the founder of this initiative, the faith based initiative, Governments cannot be replaced by charities, but can issue welcome and its partners. We must head the growing consensus in America

That successful government social programs work in fruitful partnership with community serving the faith based organizations, and at USAID we take that philosophy just within the United States, but we take that into the field with us. Very quickly, I’ll mention some things that we do not do

In order to debunk common myths about faith based engagement by the United States government but since pardoned by the USAID in the international space. We do not favor one religious community of faith over any other, that’s a common myth. We promote partnership with people of all faiths,

As well as small community based organizations that are not necessarily associated with a particular religious affiliation or culture but are developed or grass roots initiatives out of particular communities. Faith based organizations who receive federal funding must be willing to serve people of all faith and any government programming services that you provide,

So we mandate that that funding be non-discriminatory in the programming that’s offered. Organizations who receive federal funds cannot discriminate against who they serve. Faith based communities do not get preferential treatment is another myth, or consideration over other organizations. I mentioned that we’re here to level the playing field.

That does not mean we’re here to tilt the playing field, right, we’re here to level the playing field. What we wanna do is give these communities the ability to compete against some of the larger, more equipped local development organizations that are out there. We are not here to give them an undue advantage

Over those organizations but to give them the tools to be able to compete in the marketplace for funding. USAID does not discriminate for or against any religious organizations in the competition for USAID grants and funding. You are neither at a benefit or at a loss because you are a faith based organization

When you come to us in the competition for funding. Or receiving funding. Another myth is that we do not fund religious promotion and activities through faith based organizations. So, USAID is very careful to respect the establishment clause in our engagement with the international community, and in fact we safeguard and administer the same

Standards of the establishment clause, that there should be no law respecting an establishment of religion or compendium free exercise of religion. That’s obviously a constitutional principal that is directed towards the governance of the United States, but we take that same principle and we apply it with an equal measure in our engagement

In the international world. That means that we do not fund explicitly religious activities that’s worship, religious instruction, proselytization, and we ask from many of our organizing partners that all government funds must be utilized for a secular purpose. Religious activities that they may offer need to be done separately in both time and location

For USAID funded services. That does not mean these organizations can’t maintain their religious identity because of course they can, but we do safeguard that any American taxpayer dollar that is going to help fund these organizations that that money arrives to programming that is not specifically religious in nature.

That is humanitarian nature or is meeting our development needs. The programs we fund cannot endorse or disapprove of any religion, they may not result in any government indoctrination of religion, they may not define recipients by reference to religion, and they may not create an excessive entitlement of religion, and again those are principles

Again of the constitutional establishment clause within the United States and we aim to apply them at as even a hand as we can in the international community. So finally our expectations for the G20 Interfaith Summit, it’s not the first time that we have participated in the Summit. And so I’ll say very simply,

I’ve three simple expectations that came to mind. First of all, the first is to come with the hope of a position of leadership. We like to demonstrate the American commitment to the ongoing American to the engagement of the interfaith community in shared pursuit of human rights and global development goals.

A posture I think as well of humility. Right, we come to learn. And these type of events create an unprecedented environment in which to cross pollinate and share ideas and understand best practices and understand in a deeper way the experience of our partners around the world.

And then finally, we come with a hope of a position of innovations, to reach the sustainable developing goals of global communities to harness creative energy, enterprise innovation, seeking new paradigms and new models through technology, business partnerships, creative program design. The goal of low assistance is to end the need for it,

And this is perhaps one of the most important charges in human history, and one that deserves the best of the world’s creativity and its innovation. So we hope this will to come with the intention to keep thinking out of the box in global development solutions worldwide. Thank you. – So thank you all.

Let’s thank all of our panel, but also all of you for your attentive commitment and really, we are in a position of humility and of enormous curiosity, and recognizing that this G20 challenge is an enormously complex one, it is approaching really the global stage, and issues affecting both

Individual countries but also the world from a moral perspective. I think John’s comment is extremely apt of the moral perimeter that I think is really what we’re trying to accomplish. And it’s a very ambitious meeting that’s happening next week, delighted to have all your perspectives on it, and look forward to continuing journey.

So thank you all so much.

#G20 #Interfaith #Forum #Buenos #Aires #Religious #Perspectives #Global #Agenda

Why Doesn’t God Stop Evil?

You see what the atheist has to say, he’s got to be able to prove that it is impossible or improbable for God to have a morally sufficient reason for permitting these facts of suffering, and that’s a burden of proof which is so

Heavy that no atheist has ever been able to sustain it. [Moderator] Explain that, because the question I was going to ask you is let’s talk about this subject of faith, which is where I was going, so you jumped right where I was headed. When they say

That, okay, explain that idea that you just entered into. [Craig] Take someone’s little daughter dying of leukemia, or getting run over by an automobile. We don’t see why that happened, and we wonder why wouldn’t a sovereign God intervene to stop it? And what the atheist has to say is that it’s either

Impossible or it’s highly improbable that God could have a morally justifying reason for allowing that to occur, but there’s no way given our finitude, our limits in space and time, for being able to make that kind of a claim with any justification. God’s morally sufficient reason for allowing your daughter’s

Death might not emerge until 300 years from now, maybe in another country. Every event that occurs sends a ripple effect through history so that the consequences of any event are simply incalculable and incomprehensible for finite, local persons. So the atheist is making a claim here which is just completely unsustainable;

There’s no way for him to show that it’s improbable or impossible that God has a morally sufficient reason for allowing this evil to occur, and therefore his argument really has no intellectual credibility. It’s a purely emotional argument. [Moderator] And it’s a compelling one, isn’t it?

[Craig] Emotionally compelling, but not intellectually compelling. [Moderator] Correct, and so when somebody says in that moment, in immense pain, I don’t care what good he can bring out of this, [yes] I reject him. And we hear that a lot, [sure] C.S. Lewis drifted towards saying that in his Grief Observed, and

God, when God hears us say those kind of things, okay, his response is one of understanding. Scripture says he too has been tempted in every way, even as we were. [yes] And so God doesn’t shut us off when we

Say that. [Craig] No no, no I think that’s absolutely right. Look at the Psalms, how the psalmist expresses anger toward God, and God where are you, why are you allowing this, why am I going through this? I think the lesson of

The Psalms is come to God with your hurt and your pain and your anger and don’t try to stifle it and suppress it. Let it out and he’ll listen to you. [Moderator] He’ll listen, and if you’ll let him, if you’ll listen to him, as Christopher Hitchens

Acknowledged he gives the only consistent logically constructed plausible answer that frankly even Hitchens acknowledged; you know what? Christianity alone solves this problem. [Craig] Yeah, I remember Bertrand Russell, the great atheist philosopher, once said that no one can sit at the bedside of a dying

Child and believe in God, but when Jan and I were in Paris we met a young minister who was trained and now worked in counseling dying children. And I thought to myself: counseling dying children, what would Russell have said to those children? What could he say? Too bad?

Tough luck? That’s all the naturalist has got to say. As you say it’s theism, it’s belief in God, that provides a hope and a reason for the suffering that its redeemed, whereas in atheism we’re locked in a world that is filled with gratuitous and unredeemed suffering, and there is no hope of escape.

#Doesnt #God #Stop #Evil