Fides et Libertas - Numero 2008/2009 – 2009
It is my privilege to address the audience of Fides et Libertas for the first time as senior editor. I am particularly honored by this appointment as I have been an avid reader of this journal for many years. Since 1998, the International Religious Liberty Association has been gathering articles from a wide array of top international scholars on current issues impacting religious freedom. While we apologize to our readers that it has been two years since our last publication, we are pleased to present a double issue, covering 2008 and 2009. There are some exciting changes in store for this journal beginning next year which are discussed below. However, first let me introduce this current issue.
Defamation of Religions
I had the opportunity to represent the IRLA in March of 2009 during the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva. The Council again passed a resolution against the “defamation of religions.” Member countries on the HRC did so despite the growing chorus of opposition to the proposal which seeks to protect religions and religious ideologies at the expense of religious freedom, freedom of expression and freedom of speech.
“Defamation of religions” resolutions have become familiar at the UN since 1999 when Pakistan first presented the idea. Pakistan remains the leading proponent. For a number of years the resolution passed without much opposition. However, that has now changed. More countries represented at this international body charged with safeguarding human rights recognize the inherent contradictions of such a resolution.
The March resolution passed by a vote of 23 yes, 11 no, and 13 abstaining. There were more combined “no” votes and “abstentions” than the “yes” votes. It was not always this way. We would like to think that credit for the change of sentiment is in large part a result of the work of NGOs who highlighted the possible problems such a resolution brings. The International Religious Liberty Association joined up with others in Geneva—including the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and UN Watch.
In this issue we have included a number of articles dealing with the matter. The IRLA has felt it necessary to devote two meetings of the Panel of Experts to the subject—which was the impetus of the articles presented here. We trust you will understand why we felt “defamation of religions” is worth the amount of ink devoted to it.
As Scott Isaacson has pointed out in his article—while Europe is losing its religious moorings, it is Latin America that is gaining religious momentum. The IRLA held its first Festival of Religious Freedom in “Inter-America” this year. Some 13,000 people filled the stadium in Santo Domingo. We provide two articles that were presented in a special forum on religious freedom in Latin America held a couple of days before the festival.
The New US Administration
Since our publication in 2007, many events have taken place which are having a dramatic effect on religious freedom around the globe. The coming to power of the first African-American United States President has been a watershed moment—not only for the U.S. but for the world. I contribute an article that briefly reviews the new administration’s stance on religious freedom. It is remarkably clear that, perhaps now more than ever, the country is sharply divided between the “right” and the “left.” I am not so sure that such labels are helpful any longer given the rhetoric that has been associated with each—the line of demarcation is difficult if not impossible to discern at times. Yet there was a great sense of optimism that Barack Hussein Obama would change things for the better. The early days of the Obama administration created much discussion on the public role of religion, a subject the new President has never been shy to explore. He spoke about it during his campaign and again in office, most notably on the campus of the University of Notre Dame and later in Cairo. Though, as his first year progressed, religion—like many other issues—was sidelined by the healthcare debate.
This year marks the 500th anniversary of the birth of one of the great Protestant Reformers—John Calvin. The results of Calvin’s profound impact on the Christian religion are still seen today. It is fitting that we include an article in this issue recognizing this milestone of the Protestant faith.
This issue will mark the end of the way things were for Fides et Libertas. In 2010 we will launch a new series of Fides et Libertas. It promises to be an exciting adventure. We are moving toward the next step in the journal’s evolution by instituting a peer-review process for every article published. This is a big move for the International Religious Liberty Association and will involve greater resources to ensure we have a quality product that will be taken seriously in the conversation of International Religious Freedom.
We are searching for unsolicited manuscripts that meet IRLA’s mission to promote such matters as: religious liberty as a God-given right; separation of church and state; government’s role in protecting citizens; the inalienable right of freedom of conscience; freedom of religious community; the elimination of religious discrimination; and the Golden Rule.
We will publish a broad range of articles including:
• historical studies;
• articles that deal with theoretical questions of theology and freedom;
• essays on the meaning of such concepts as human rights, and justice;
• works focused on politics and religion; law and religion.
We will continue with one issue per year but our long-term vision is to see a quarterly publication. Your continued support of this journal will be more important than ever as we embark on this new journey.
The journal is meant to be a place of conversation—where participants, who have their own unique life experiences from different countries and religious understandings, gather to engage others on ideas and meanings of religious freedom. We look forward to your participation in this “meeting place” where faith and freedom are discussed in a spirit of peace. Let us gain knowledge together and learn to respect our differences.
Barry W. Bussey
September 11, 2009
2008-2009 – Defamation of Religions
Part One: Defamation of Religions
Natan Lerner, Freedom of Expression and Incitement to Hatred, 16
Natan Lerner, Report on the Human Rights Council Subcommittee, 25
Jaime Contreras and Rosa María Martínez de Codes, Cultural and Legal Issues Concerning Defamation of Religions, 31
Vaughn E. James, Defamation of Religions versus Freedom of Expression: Finding the Balance, 43
Charles C. Haynes, Living with our Deepest Differences: Freedom of Expression in a Religiously Diverse World, 56
L. Bennett Graham, Muting the Search for Truth: An Overview of Defamation of Religions, 64
IRLA Panel of Experts, Statement of Concern about Proposals Regarding Defamation of Religions, 70
Part Two: General Articles
Francisco Paredes, Religious Freedom and the Declaration of Human Rights, 75
Scott E. Isaacson, Religious Liberty: The Latin American Experience, A Practical Perspective, 79
Barry W. Bussey, Religious Freedom in the Obama Administration: Seeking the Common Ground, 89
Thomas Domanyi, John Calvin: A Pioneer of Religious Freedom? 106
Part Three: Book Review
Judd Birdsall, The Ins and Outs of Religious Freedom Advocacy, 117
Part Four: Report of IRLA Activities
John Graz, A Call to Action: Building Grassroots Support through Festivals of Religious Freedom, 123
International Religious Liberty Association
Religious Freedom Association Forming in Mongolia, 127
Reject Defamation of Religions Laws, Panel of Experts Advises, 128
Russian Experts Examine New Restrictions on Freedom of Religion, 129
First Religious Liberty Festival in Jerusalem Draws Hundreds, 131
Continued Activism Urged at Annual Religious Liberty Forum in Washington, 132
Religious Freedom Festival in Peru Receives National Endorsement, 133
Tolerance Urged at Dominican Republic Religious Liberty Congress, 135
Ireland’s ‘Blasphemy Law’ Worries Religious Liberty Proponents, 135
UN ‘Defamation of Religion’ Measure Troubling, Religious Liberty Experts Say, 136
IRLA Secretary-General Promotes Human Rights on National Swiss Radio, 137
Brazilian Charter of Religious Liberty Launched during UDHR 60-Year Commemoration, 138
Romania hosts 10th International Religious Liberty Association Meeting of Experts, 139
45,000 Angolans Gather to Celebrate Religious Freedom, 141
U.S. Congressman Franks Stresses Importance of Religious Freedom in Foreign Policy, 142
Mongolia: First Religious Liberty Meeting Draws Government, International Religious Freedom Leaders, 144
Fides et Libertas. Submitting Manuscripts, 145