The International Journal for Religious Freedom (IJRF) publishes its latest issue online on March 1st. The theme is “Religion and Civil Society” and following are extracts from the editorial which give some insights into its content.
Prof. Stephen K. Baskerville, managing editor of the IJRF, writes: “We approach civil society and the relations of church and state from several directions in this issue of the International Journal for Religious Freedom. One is philosophical, with essays by Professors Ferrari and Rik Torfs, both of whom raise fundamental questions about religion and freedom.
Professor Torfs discusses the crisis of religious freedom, and the progressive debasement of the idea in an era when the larger concept of human rights has been compromised by foregoing universal truth for ideology, and when less rigorous approaches to religious freedom mean the potential loss of other freedoms as well.
Ferrari goes directly to the theme of this issue with an essay on the role of religion in the development of civil society. He asks similarly fundamental questions about the tension between religious truth and religious freedom, the dilemma this poses for the state, and the implications for a robust civil society.
Other authors focus on specific issues from local and regional perspectives. Bony Guiblehon uses the recent change of government in the Ivory Coast to understand the larger relationship between religion and politics. In doing so, he challenges the standard media view of former president Laurent Gbagbo’s connection with Evangelical groups.
We also examine some social issues and the challenges they pose to religious freedom, particularly in the West. Nicholas Kerton-Johnson looks at the marginalization of Christians in the liberal democracies as exemplified by recent limitations on the public exercise of religious faith in the United Kingdom.
Mike Donnelly provides a seminal look at the implications for religious freedom and parental rights of restrictions on homeschooling. He describes the long and successful campaign to exercise this freedom in the United States and contrasts this experience with sometimes harsh restrictions and prohibitions in Germany, Sweden, and other democracies.
Drawing upon Kerton-Johnson, Donnelly, and others, Stephen Baskerville singles out the newly vocal sexual agenda as a source of hostility to religious belief and its free exercise, emphasizing that this challenge comes both directly and through the expanding scope of government social and family policy.
In the opinion piece IIRF Senior Research Writer Fernando Perez conveys some words of caution about an overoptimistic view of the changes of government in North Africa and the Middle East known as the “Arab Spring.” The ascendancy of Islamists to power raises questions about their commitment to freedom for Christians and other minorities who fear the prospect of heightened persecution under new governments of uncertain stability."
The journal is available for subscription as a print version and made freely available online on 1 March at www.iirf.eu.
The International Journal for Religious Freedom (IJRF) is published twice a year and aims to provide a platform for scholarly discourse on religious freedom in general and the persecution of Christians in particular. It is an interdisciplinary, international, peer reviewed journal, serving the dissemination of new research on religious freedom and contains research articles, documentation, book reviews, academic news and other relevant items.