Topic: ‘Religious Freedom’

Implications of the Hagia Sophia’s Conversion to a Mosque

“Hagia Sophia’s conversion is the culmination of Erdoğan’s long campaign to transform Turkey into a neo-Ottoman state or even empire…. On March 31, 2018, Erdoğan himself recited the first verse of the Quran there, dedicating his words to the “souls of all who left us this work as inheritance, especially Istanbul’s conqueror.”
Erdoğan’s reference to the conqueror of then Constantinople, Mehmet II, was quite deliberate and illustrates his desire to imitate the Ottoman sultan. As part of its reopening under the COVID-19 pandemic, Turkey had planned to reopen its mosques on June 12, but Erdoğan pushed for the reopening to take place on May 29 instead, the 567th anniversary of Constantinople’s capture by the sultan. Hence, the mosques’ reopening would also be a celebration of the act of conquest.”
Had good reaction to this article. Ambassador Brownback expressed his appreciation, and their was good feedback from Vice President Pence’s office. On Friday July 31, it was circulated on Capitol Hill.

Can For-Profit Corporations Be Religious?

“A key factor in discerning whether an institution, even a for-profit corporation, is religious is whether it does things that are shaped by a religious commitment. Does it do (some) things differently from other corporations? The fact that a for-profit corporation seeks to make a profit so it can continue to exist does not preclude it from integrating other guiding principles, including religiously based ones, into its ethos and operations. Many profit-making bodies commit themselves to support goals such as environmental stewardship, combatting climate change, as well as supporting charities, that might adversely affect their bottom line.”
Many examples “illustrate that even for-profit corporations can have religious duties and embody religious convictions. Accordingly, for-profit entities that are authentically shaped by religious ground-motives deserve religious freedom protections along with their non-profit, NGO, and congregational counterparts. In other words, they are due the rights and protections of institutional religious freedom”

Turkey is moving toward a neo-Ottoman regime with calls to convert Hagia Sophia

Turkey has established military bases in Qatar and Somalia, deployed armed drones in northern Cyprus. It has made repeated military incursions into Syria and Iraq, and has likely made covert weapons shipments to terrorists in Nigeria.
There is also increased repression at home. Turkey leads the world in the number of imprisoned journalists. One aspect of this propaganda effort has been to threaten the status of Hagia Sophia, which was, for a millennium, the greatest church building in the world.

These events might play well at home, but have increased animosity to Turkey abroad and have left the country looking for friends where it can find them.

Do Government Restrictions on Larger Church Gatherings Violate Religious Freedom?

Extensively commented on in Eugene Yapp, “COVID-19 and the Right to Freedom of Religion and Belief,” SHAPE-SEA Program (Strengthening Human Rights and Peace Research and Education in ASEAN/Southeast Asia) March 30, 2020. Read Here Also published in Juicy Ecumenism. Read Here

Why Religious Freedom Must Be a Top Priority

Substituting Values for Laws: Warnings from Canada

Addressing religious freedom issues in the West, especially trends in Canada. “One of the reasons for forbidding government discrimination on matters such as religion is precisely so that private institutions will be able to discriminate, appropriately and justly, according to their own particular beliefs as to what supports their distinctive mission. Governmental neutrality is intended to be a foundation for a lively and diverse societal pluralism, not for society to become a mirror of the government itself.

The Many Charms Of West Sumatra: Grandmas With Eight Husbands, Teens Studying Plato And The Best Food In The World

This is part of my ongoing series on Indonesia’s religious relations.

Religious freedom has never drawn a bigger crowd (from all walks of faith)

I was an invited participant in the State Department-hosted July 16-18, three-day high level “Ministerial” on religious freedom. The Ministerial was launched by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and hosted by Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom Sam Brownback. The official conference drew 1,000 invited people, and invitations had to be closed off months in advance. I describe the whole Ministerial in my article.

“From DC to Mecca: Should ‘Human Dignity’ Be the New ‘Religious Freedom’?”

Quoted in “From DC to Mecca: Should ‘Human Dignity’ Be the New ‘Religious Freedom’?”

A Review of Steve Waldman’s Sacred Liberty: America’s Long, Bloody, and Ongoing Struggle for Religious Freedom), Christian Century

“Steven Waldman has something new to say about religious freedom in the US: His narrative includes heroes and villains on both sides of the political divide.”

In The Media

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Paul Marshall
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Paul Marshall
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Paul Marshall