Is Promoting Religious Freedom Dangerous?

Authored by: Brian J. Grim

The Ashgate Research Companion to Religion and Conflict Resolution

Print publication date:  November  2012
Online publication date:  March  2016

Print ISBN: 9781409410898
eBook ISBN: 9781315613505
Adobe ISBN: 9781317041832


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Hundreds of thousands of people are abused or displaced each year due to their religious affiliation, and tens of millions more have been killed, displaced or live as refugees due to religion-related conflicts in the first years of the twenty-first century alone (Grim and Finke 2007; 2011). Government abuses range from the imprisonment of people who conscientiously object to military service, as happens in South Korea, to alleged torture of members of religious groups considered a threat, as happens to Falun Gong members in China, to imprisonment for blasphemy, as happens in Indonesia, to death sentences for insulting Islam, as happens in Pakistan. Social abuses range from more than a hundred religiously biased hate crimes committed in the United States each month, to attacks on Jews or their places of worship which occur many times in more than half of the countries of Europe each year, to sectarian violence between competing Muslim sects in Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Nigeria, to the displacement of millions from religion-related wars in Sudan, the Holy Lands, and Iraq, to religion-related terrorism which affects nearly one in three countries of the world today (Pew Forum 2009). 1 While most would see these government and social abuses as a serious problem, not all necessarily agree that religious freedom is the solution.

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