RLG309 Reading #1.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Eleanor Pontoriero

RLG309 Reading #1- Religion and Human Rights in the Post Cold War Era-Notes INTRODUCTION TO HAYNES ARTICLE Human Rights and Religion Post 9/11 - Sept. 10/2001: United Nations conference, many nations disagreeing over form of discrimination, however all agree that discrimination based on sex, race, etc. Is an infringement of moral universal right. o Ethical principles now commonly categorized as “human rights” Introduction - Article discusses global tension s which exist between human rights and religion - Religion has become ever increasingly more globally significant since the fall of the Soviet empire. - Angle: the rift between universal value and cultural difference. Found evidently in the human rights discourse of the United Nations. Global Prospects - Cultural difference cannot be an excuse for overriding universal human rights. o Fundamentalist interpretations of religion can be a threat to human rights o There is a historical relationship between religious persecution and genocide. - United Nations 1948 Universal Declaration: arose from a quest to definer basic human dignities at a time when two major global conflicts of unprecedented scale were happening (genocide, ethnic cleansing). o Stephen Ryan: decades after the declaration did nothing to improve the genocide problem, but instead saw a pattern of repetition. o 9/11 saw a continuation of this into the 21 century, a “religious” battle (however misguided this term is). o Religion as a cultural phenomenon continues to manifest itself as a source of conflict, regardless of the fact that religion promotes harmonious living and human rights. o Major world religions acceptance of rejection of secular human rights codes will be central to their future realization in political actuality. o Contemporary conflicts of worldviews are best seen in the fuller context of religious belief which survive in the world of contemporary politics. Introduction to Part 1 - Post Cold War: fall of Soviet Communism gave rise to awareness of religious factors in world politics. - Potential religious and cultural threats to the new universals such as human rights. - Two main challenges to “the West”: 1) cultural and political systems deriving from “Asian values” and 2) the resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism. o Haynes: Universal human rights represent only Western values. ACTUAL HAYNES ARTICLE - Examines interaction between religion and politics, assessing domestic and international significance. The Impact of Religion on World Politics - Weigel: the impact of religion on politics is occurring in areas previously thought to have left the public domain. - Since the 1990’s, it has become difficult to find a country where religion is NOT somewhere near the top of the political agenda, even in states long thought to be secular. Religion and Globalization - Globalization and the renaissance of religion in world politics are strongly tied. Although global connections have existed for centuries, the impact has been very minor compared to what we experience now. - Largely believed that the fall of the Soviet empire was due in part to globalization, which ended the country’s self imposed alienation from non-communist regions (due to advances in communication technology). - Links between religious/political actors both in and between countries have multiplied. Religion in Contemporary World Politics - Religion understood in 2 ways: 1) spiritual (model of social and individual behaviour for life, transcendence (relates to supernatural being) and 2) material (defined by religious groups
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