Religion And World Politics: An Uneasy Combination

Is Globalization Responsible For Rise In Religious Persecutions?
A new paper released by Turkish researchers contends that restrictions on freedom of religion is on the rise and the cause, they assert, is globalization.

“In our theoretical framework, the recently higher universal levels of globalization combine with other sources of threat to  account for the trend away from religious freedom. As threat to the majority religion increases, due to globalization and an increasing number of minority religions, freedom of religion is on the decline,” write Israeli researchers Pazit Ben-Nun Bloom, Gizem Arikan, and Udi Sommer.

Led by Arkian, an assistant professor at the Department of International Relations at Turkey’s Yasar University, the scientists used data for two decades from 147 nations in an attempt to explain the global trend of rising levels of restrictions on religious freedoms.

“The growing integration of economies, cultural interactions, and contact between people of different traditions challenge existing value systems and norms, raising perceived threat levels. A key value system affected by this process is religion; existing religious values and norms are threatened as the salience of other religions and cultures increases due to globalization. This in turn leads policymakers to enact legislation and undertake actions curbing the freedom of minority religious groups,” they argue.
However, they did find that “the dominance of certain religious traditions in a polity may be beneficial or detrimental to respect for religious freedoms,” which they acknowledge reflects the need for continued study of the issue.
Who Is Jesus? The Question Remains The Focus Of Academic Debate – And Controversy
Reza Aslan’s new book, Zealot: the Life and Times of Christ, may have remained under the radar if it were not for an appearance on During the interview, host Lauren Green asked Aslan, a Muslim, why he chose to write about Jesus, and Aslan responded with a recitation of his academic credentials and personal history. The question and the reaction raised tensions and, not so ironically, sales of Aslan’s book, says New York Times columnist Ross Douthat.
Douthat says Aslan offers “a more engaging version of the argument Reimarus made 250 years ago,” but not a new one.
“His Jesus is an essentially political figure, a revolutionary killed because he challenged Roman rule, who was then mysticized by his disciples and divinized by Paul of Tarsus. The fact that Aslan’s take on Jesus is not original doesn’t mean it’s necessarily wrong. But it has the same problem that bedevils most of his competitors in the “real Jesus” industry. In the quest to make Jesus more comprehensible, it makes Christianity’s origins more mysterious,” Douthat adds.
Another contribution to the “real Jesus” industry has been made by Mona Siddiqui, a professor at Edinburgh University’s school of divinity. Also a Muslim, Siddiqui’s new book is a mixture of the academic and the personal, asserts a review in The Economist.
“Unlike Mr Aslan, she does not confine her meditations on her own faith to an introduction. Rather, she ambitiously weaves her personal and scholarly views throughout.



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