Inclusive Citizenship Amid Religious and Cultural Diversity

Gregory M. Reichberg

The title of this paper is taken from a conference that my home institution, the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), organized in Erbil (June 2016). The idea was to bring together religious and civic leaders from the different “components” of Iraq to discuss what changes could be affected within the country to render its democratic processes more inclusive of religious difference. “Components” is the term used in Iraq to designate the main religious and ethnic groupings – Shia, Sunni, Christian, Turkman, Kurd, Yazidi, etc., that are part and parcel of Iraqi identity. At the conference, a small group of participants from these components sat down to draft a declaration of principles on inclusive citizenship. Later adopted at a plenary session under the label “the Erbil declaration”[1] its first principle enunciated “…that the solution for Iraq is to enhance the status of citizenship, so all have equal rights and duties under the rule of law”.

The very mentioning of this principle as a “solution” suggests that it comes in response to a problem. This problem, as conceived by many, consists in the unequal distribution of citizenship rights across the different component groups. The perception is that some groups – or even a single group – enjoy a more enhanced citizenship status than others. By virtue of their religious affiliation some receive preferential treatment, and others believe they have been marginalized. It is true that there has been a trend over the last couple of years to firm up the religious identity of the state, with, for instance, laws recently being passed that prohibit the sale of wine and other beverages with alcohol content,[2] or laws that require children of a man who converts to Islam, or a woman from a minority faith who marries a Muslim, to be registered as Muslims.[3] I don’t intend here to go more deeply into the Iraqi context. What I would like to point out, however, is that the phenomenon just mentioned – the enactment of laws that favor the majority religion (or denomination) – is in no way restricted to Iraq. Similar trends are discernable in other countries that are composed primarily of Muslims, in Kuwait or Indonesia for instance. However, the trend is by no means limited to countries of Muslim character – admittedly though it is associated in Western consciousness with the idea of making sharia civil law – as a similar process can be discerned in countries as disparate as Israel, Sri Lanka, India, and Myanmar. The latter offers an instructive counterpoint to the Islamification trend, because it has been instituted largely as a reaction to it. Fear of Islam has led to the rise of what has been termed “Buddhist Legal Activism” namely the promotion of laws that protect Buddhist religious practice, especially within mixed marriages.[4] Thus, with the “Buddhist Woman’s Special Marriage Laws” (enacted 2015) “special provisions have been enacted vis-à-vis the ‘non-Buddhist man’ in order to secure the religious liberty of the Buddhist women and her children within the marriage”.[5] The law specifies that this includes a right to have Buddha images in the house, to perform Buddhist rituals, to donate money for Buddhist religious works, and to have a Buddhist funeral. Likewise, the law criminalizes insults to Buddhist religious practice “in words or in writing or through visible representation or gesture”.[6] In the event of violations of this article 24, the Buddhist wife is entitled to divorce her husband, which in this case would result in the non-Buddhist man losing his portion of shared property and guardianship of the children. Alongside these laws that explicitly privilege Buddhism, a conversion law that requires all persons wishing to change their religion to first receive permission from the state has also been implemented. While Buddhism is not here named, it is understood that the point of the law is to “protect” Buddhist wives from a change of religion prompted by their Muslim husbands; but because of its scope all other sorts of conversions are covered as well.

A similar problematic is visible in Sri Lanka, where in 2005 an anti-conversion bill was proposed in order to restrict proselytizing by Christian evangelical groups who engaged in “unethical propagation” of their religion. Although the bill was ultimately not adopted, it prompted wider public debate about the underlying rationale, namely “the state’s obligation to protect Buddhism”.[7] In this connection, reference has been made to a “broader trend of religious activism across the region: religious groups who consider minority religious practices a threat to the majority religion call for increased legal regulation of religion in the name of religious freedom”.[8] The same author further observes how in this way “religious freedom” is “used as a tool in majoritarian politics against ethnic and religious minorities”.[9] The result is a “rights fragmentation in which the right to religious freedom is seen in isolation” from the wider “network of human rights”,[10] for instance non-discrimination on the basis of religious affiliation.

Although I have given some examples of changes implemented on the level of civil law, it can happen that state preference for the majority religion can be expressed on the level of policy as well, so that if not constitutionally, at least within the domain of policy we can speak of a de facto state religion. To again cite the case of Myanmar, there currently exists under the Ministry of Religion a Department for the Promotion and Propagation of the Sasana (precepts of the Buddha). This Department affirms the constitutionally protected right of religious freedom, but nonetheless gives priority to Buddhism on a numerical basis, thereby allowing it to support “Buddhist missionary activities in ethnic minority areas dominated by non-Buddhist religions”,[11] or similarly provides disproportionate state support to Buddhist-affiliated universities within the higher education sector.

I have given some examples from Buddhism to illustrate how the trend toward state recognition of the majority population’s religious affiliation is by no means restricted to Muslim majority countries. In Christian countries the trend seems to be in the opposite direction, namely toward a dissociation of the state from the religion of the majority. Norway, for instance, passed a law in 2012 that modified the status of what was formerly called the State (Evangelical-Lutheran) Church, now termed Norway’s people’s Church. And, by virtue of a subsequent law passed in 2016, the Church is no longer a branch of the civil service, but rather has an independent legal identity. In effecting this change, the goal was both to achieve better conformity with the principle of democratic equality (“likebehandlings prinsipp”) for all citizens irrespective of their religious affiliations, and to assure for greater autonomy of the church in its self-governance.

It must be admitted however that there are countervailing tendencies in some Christian settings. I don’t know the situation well enough in say Poland or Hungary to offer a knowledgeable commentary, but the anecdotal evidence that I have heard suggests that in some quarters there are political attempts to firm up the state’s Christian identity as a preemptive measure against increased migration of Muslims from war affected areas. Even in France, long a bastion of laïcité, the conservative political discourse has been underscoring the nation’s Catholic identity as a counterpoint to the perceived threat from homegrown Islamic militancy. In the United States, the related discourse focuses on the protection of “Judeo-Christian values” as in Steven Bannon’s much cited 2014 interview-address to a group assembled here at the Vatican.[12] Bannon’s address was noteworthy particularly insofar as it set this effort of protection in a trans-national context of an emerging global war between those who hold to these values and the opposing Islamic radicals. Although the term itself is not used, the age-old ideal of crusade, of Christendom at war with Islam was lurking not far in the background. On the level of more theoretical discourse, parallel lines of argumentation can be discerned, for instance, in writings crystalizing around the idea of Leitkultur (that immigrants, notably from Muslim contexts, must assimilate themselves into the dominant “national” culture, which in some versions includes recognition of its religious dimensions). Also, in Catholic theology I have noticed a revival of views that emphasize the Church’s “indirect” jurisdiction over the state in countries where Catholics are in a majority. The traditional ideal of soul-body union as characterizing the Church’s relation to the state still applies, we are told. “[I]n a fallen world the natural good served by the state depends on the state’s adherence to and support of the Catholic faith. … If it is to attain its natural end, the state as body must therefore recognize the spiritual authority of the Church as soul, and subject itself to that”.[13]

This takes us into the theme of participatory democracy. On the face of it, the trend toward state-identification of religion cuts against democracy as we increasingly understand it today, namely a condition of political equality that is possessed by citizens irrespective of their particular religious affiliations or lack thereof. One could, of course, argue that democracy is one thing; a state church (or officially recognized religion) is another, and that the two are simultaneously fully compatible. But my interaction with Iraqis from minority groups shows me that this is more easily said than done; in countries where religion matters to people, standing outside of the state-sanctioned religion usually, if not always, leads to a sense of political alienation, of not being fully a member of civil society. The participatory roots of democracy – at least for these minorities – are eroded.

This has been well expressed by a Burmese Christian theologian who, after noting that Myanmar’s 2008 constitution “recognizes the special position of Buddhism as the faith professed by the great majority of the citizens…” (article 363), explains how “[T]his ‘favored religion’ concept claims to embrace all religions in the country [as in the previous article 362, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Animism are mentioned as “religions existing in the Union…” and deserving of protection and assistance] so they flourish together peacefully and harmoniously… [b]ut the net result is that [this] implicitly condones the idea of ‘favored adherents’ set against the other adherents of other un-favored religions so that its concept brings about discrimination between religious peoples…”. In this context, to change religion away from Buddhism “means almost an act of disloyalty to the Buddhist society and to the nation as well”.[14]

To overcome this disfavoring of non-majority religions, it is possible to establish parliamentary (or similar) religious quotas – as in Iraq, Lebanon, Cyprus or Iran – in order to counterbalance this state of affairs, but such arrangements risk hardening sectarian lines of division, which all the more readily can be employed by conflict opportunists in times of crisis. Indeed, far from being a primordial dimension of civic life in places where religious differences (such as between Sunnis and Shias) have existed for many centuries, political sectarianism along religious lines is very much a product of recent (nineteenth century) modernity. This sectarianism paradoxically arose concomitantly with the establishment of secular citizenship in newly founded nation-states. Fanar Haddad has put this point well:

With the nation-state came notions such as citizenship, economic and political rights, and the notion that the “the people” owned and were entitled to a share in the body politic. One of the consequences of these developments is that the nation-state created a new, profane, and far more tangible plane on which sectarian identities were formulated and in which they competed. Rather than disputes over religious truths or local rivalries, as had more often been the case in the past, the nation-state meant that sectarian relations were increasingly animated by contested national truths and ownership of the body politic. … [T]his national framing of sectarian identities is more immediate, and can be more flammable, than the purely religious frame in that it has a more tangible impact on individual interests.[15]

The point I want to stress is that the tension between democracy and state recognition of religion cannot readily be overcome by the establishment of state-protected sectarian identities. Or if the tension can be overcome it is typically at the cost of provoking the disaggregation (“Balkanization”) of the state. Another path for overcoming this tension must be found, one that preserves a viable multi-religious citizenship in a public space that is open, not opposed to religion.

The idea of secular citizenship (in a way a redundancy, as citizenship in its modern connotation arose as a secular designation), all of us are well aware, is very much a product of modernity. It was “only with the advent of the nation-state that people developed a sense of ownership of and entitlement to the polity”.[16] As a fruit of the French Revolution, it was severed from any distinct connection to religion. Before that, the idea of belonging to a particular kingdom, principality, or civitas, was indissociably bound up with the religion of the land. In medieval France, for instance, a Jew or Muslim, while residing there, would never be viewed as a full-fledged member of that Catholic kingdom. It was not that Church and state were not distinguished, their governing bodies were indeed kept separate, but the second was indissolubly imbued with values from the first.

When the idea of secular citizenship was first implemented in many places it was typically viewed as inimical to the rights of God and of religion. Most of us are aware of the controversies that took place in Western Europe during the nineteenth century on this topic, and the cloud of suspicion that hovered over “liberalism” and, by extension, “democracy” within Catholic societies and even official Church teaching, well into the 20th century.[17] And despite claims that the Muslim world has yet to go through its “Enlightenment”, the notion of secular citizenship was also introduced there in the 19th century. And there too it proved to be highly controversial. In 1839 the Ottomans “implicitly accepted… the political equality of Muslim and non-Muslim subjects”. “declared it… more explicitly in 1856, and finally, announced it constitutionally in 1876. The jizya, or poll tax on non-Muslims, was abolished in 1855”.[18] On the part of ordinary folk, this formal emancipation of non-Muslims was often “met with unease and dismay” – including in some instances engagement in sectarian violence against Christians. In Aleppo in 1850, an anti-conscription protest degenerated into a massacre of Christians in the city. Several Churches were burned and hundreds of Christian homes were ransacked. In Damascus a decade later… a mob turned on the Christians of the city”.[19] It was in reaction to these sorts of incidents that European powers insisted on a twofold framework for democracy in the Levant, first of all that “there had to be a sectarian political framework to resolve what were taken to be endemic sectarian hatreds. The second was that Muslim rule had to be disestablished for a modern regime of toleration to be established in the East”.[20] Imposition of this framework “entrenched and reified the… idea that sectarian representation was the only viable key to resolving the problem of religious pluralism”.[21]

What explains this hostile reaction to the political emancipation of non-Muslims within the Ottoman Empire? One could, of course, maintain that it has something essential to do with Islam, that religion as such is antithetical to the very notion of secular citizenship, and by extension to political equality as it is understood today. But against this line of argument one could easily point to similar occurrences within Christian and even Catholic settings. The events leading up to the Spanish Civil War could offer a parallel. Some political and military elites reacted strongly, and eventually with violence, against the idea that citizenship in Spain could be defined within a non-religious, i.e., non-explicitly Catholic frame, or to put the same point differently, that Spanish civic identity could be defined a-religiously. Here I will note in passing that at the end of the civil war, Pope Pius XII, addressing (“Con inmenso gozo”, April 16, 1939) “our very dear sons of Catholic Spain” acknowledged “…a duty of gratitude toward all those who sacrificed themselves heroically on the field of battle for the defense of God’s inalienable rights and of religion”. One could not more clearly articulate a Catholic identification of the state, an identification I will further note, that the same Pope seems later to have distanced himself from when he changed the formula to “the rights of God and of man”.[22]

The sort of issues I have been discussing is standardly treated under the heading of “religious freedom”, a heading that directs our attention especially toward the rights that are due to minorities in settings where the majority is of a different religious tradition. This is certainly needed, but this approach does tend to obscure the rationale that many in the majority might have when they seek to put a religious stamp, if I may call it that, on the state. The aim may not be so much to claim a prerogative, or even less to oppress (although this may prove to be a side effect), but rather to have religion, their religion, the religion they hold to be the true religion, imbue all areas of life, including life within the state, with the implication that the state itself should in some measure reflect this truth. We can thus understand how disconcerting it must have been within the wider society when secular citizenship was first introduced in nineteenth century Syria, as “this sudden, top-down disestablishment of a system of symbolic and legal Muslim supremacy was effected without any cultural [and I might add religious] preparation on the part of Ottoman Muslim elites whose empire was under enormous… European pressure”.[23] “That some Muslim inhabitants in cities such as Damascus felt that they as Muslims were entitled to a privileged relationship to the state, which had long justified itself as a Muslim state, is not at all surprising” and does not, of itself, manifest a “peculiar ‘Muslim’ problem with equality or modernity”.[24]

The thought that one’s religion should permeate the whole of life, including the public, civic space, arises quite naturally; the contrary idea, that religion should be confined to some private inner space, has traditionally had little resonance among those with a strongly religious mindset, and I would venture to say that today as well this compartmentalization resonates badly with many Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and yes, even Christians. The reaction against secularism on the part of Muslims who had grown up in the Indian subcontinent in the early part of the twentieth century, figures like Syed Abul A’la Maududi, founder of the Jamaat-e-Islami, now the largest Islamic organization in Asia, can be explained on the basis of this impulse. Maududi maintained that “Muslim societies had been “misguided by the chimera of Western material progress” and that the recovery of spiritual values could come about only through “the creation of a distinctly Islamic polity”.[25]

For Christians, the temptation would be to say that because our religion differentiates the things of Caesar from the things of God, we stand immune from the Islamic tendency to meld into a single undifferentiated whole faith and the polity, religion and the state. But here we need to be cautious. Historically, this distinction has been understood to imply a diversity of roles or lines of authority (although it was admitted that the same person could sometimes wear two hats). But this diversity could very well subsist in a context of close symbiosis of the two orders, the spiritual and the temporal, and the absorption of the one to the other. Thus, in the Middle Ages, various forms of political Augustinianism arose, which de facto subsumed temporal power and temporal rights into and under the spiritual power.[26] Later, doctrines of indirect Church jurisdiction over the temporal were developed. I don’t have time to rehearse this here, but the end result was not terribly different than what one might find in some Islamic contexts. For instance, the medieval canonist Hostiensis went to the extreme of denying that unbelievers could have dominion, hence their lands could legitimately be seized by Christians. And even a relatively progressive (by the standards of his day) thinker such as Thomas Aquinas, who endorsed the Aristotelian concept of the polis as a natural good, still worked from the unstated assumption that a polity composed of Christians would have a sacral character. One need only cast an eye to his discussion of unbelief in ST II-II, q. 10 to see what I’m talking about. There he asks whether in such a polity “it is licit to interact with unbelievers” (generally no, but sometimes yes), “whether the rites of unbelievers ought to be tolerated” (yes but with the necessary restrictions), and so forth.

 What I do want to emphasize is that we should not dismiss as out of hand (by facile application of the label “fundamentalist”) the desire of religious people to see their faith permeate all aspects of life, including communal life in the state. Indeed, to think otherwise would be a mistake. But the question is whether this desire can be channeled, so to speak, in a direction that allows for a pluralistic public space, a space that encourages the widest possible participation of citizens in democratic process. At the time of the Enlightenment, the operative supposition was that this desire could not be so channeled; rather it had to be suppressed. Religious difference, it was assumed, is inherently sectarian; left to its own devices it tends to fanaticism (“extremism” as we say today), and to a possible extent manifestations of religion should be purged from the public space. An exclusionary secularism is the condition sine qua non for peace in this space.

For a long time the Catholic Church resisted this reading of the conditions needed for civic peace, on grounds that morality is inherent in temporal common good. Morality can only thrive where faith illumines natural reason, and grace heals nature. Peace is a fruit of charity and justice, both of which in turn flow from faith. Hence, in polities composed of Catholics, the very structure of the state should reflect the jurisdiction of the Church in all matters that involve faith and morals. A number of Encyclicals were written with this thrust, for instance Immortale Dei (Leo XIII, 1885), Ubi Arcano Dei (1922) and Quas Primas 1925 (both by Pius XI). Again, the revival of Islamic political thought in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century followed a similar trajectory, hence with calls for the establishment of Islamic polities as an antidote to ambient secularism. In both contexts, the Catholic and Islamic, arguments in favor of a religious influence on the life of the state were developed against the backdrop of positivist/reductionist secularism – although with the difference that for the Muslims secularism was construed as a colonial imposition whereas for European Catholics it was a homegrown phenomenon. For neither, however, were the principles enabling the construction of a common good among a multi-religious citizenry explicitly in the foreground. The theological arguments that were developed by the Popes and related actors in this context did not accordingly address head-on the issue of a religiously plural civil society.

However, in the 1930s, a new approach began to emerge, in France especially, where some authors began to think about faith in its relationship to citizenship in ways that would open up for a religious recognition of a pluralistic civic space. The person who is perhaps most associated with this trend is Jacques Maritain, whose book Humanisme intégral (1936) fundamentally altered the way the nexus of issues associated with pluralism were addressed within Catholicism. What we can discern in Maritain’s thought was a kind of paradigm shift away from the older way of viewing the relation of faith and the Church to the political order. I previously thought that Maritain’s approach represented a new beginning, of which he could be given the chief credit. But just recently I stumbled upon a 1932 article by Henri de Lubac entitled “Le pouvoir de l’Eglise en matière temporelle”,[27] and upon reading it I realized that broader changes were afoot during that period than could be encapsulated by Maritain, no matter how influential his political writings might have been. It is significant, nonetheless, that Maritain’s Humanisme intégral appeared in 1936, the same year that the Spanish Civil War broke out. That conflict can reasonably be viewed, I think, as the staging ground, or better yet, the last stand, for a dying model of Church-State relations. At that moment it was as though the tectonic plates shifted, a long delayed confrontation of competing visions of the faith in relation to the civic polity occurred, causing great havoc. Paradigm shifts are never neat and clear affairs; the nexus of fundamental concepts are reordered, causing disarray over an extended period of time. I find it revealing how today the new theological model – for a pluralist civic space – that emerged is again being called into question. The dislocations that have been caused by new forms of Islamic militancy, on the one hand, and the migration crisis, on the other, have created a nostalgia for the predecessor theological models, models that for many years were considered to be wholly outdated. This nostalgia may be found not only in Catholicism, witness the article by Thomas Pink I cited earlier, but in Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism as well.

The main thrust of De Lubac’s 1932 article was to argue against the idea that the Church possesses a jurisdiction over the temporal order, thus a jurisdiction of the ecclesial vis-à-vis the temporal authority. By that time the idea of a direct jurisdiction had long since been abandoned, but the idea of an indirect jurisdiction – to be exercised whenever spiritual values were believed to be endangered – was still the standard teaching. In seeking to undercut this doctrine – one that had been theorized by Robert Bellamine in the late sixteenth century, De Lubac did not follow a laicized version of the old Gallican position that sought to isolate the temporal sphere from external, i.e., papal, influence. De Lubac’s point was that the spiritual influence was necessary to the sound regulation of the temporal sphere, even in matters political, but he argued that this influence should not take the form of a special jurisdiction. Indeed, De Lubac maintained that if the jurisdictional model was abandoned, the penetration of Evangelical values into the temporal, spiritual sphere would potentially be wider in breath, and deeper in influence.

This mode of spiritual action, which operates not by formal institutional structures, but rather through the conscience of Christians who are engaged in matters temporal (this would cover all of us in varying degrees) would have in his eyes a twofold benefit. On the one hand, it would free up the Church to pursue its distinctive spiritual mission, thereby preserving it from actions – exercise of bodily coercion, appeals to necessity and the like, that are characteristic of states. “The Church”, he writes, “is authentically Catholic in the sense that nothing human is alien to it. It is not a question, accordingly, of limiting its reach – does one limit the reach of the soul by saying it is not a body? – but rather to preserve its purity from… any mode of intervention that would despoil it”.[28] On the other hand, and drawing a comparison to the autonomous place for philosophy that Aquinas opened up within the Christian synergy of faith and reason, this non-jurisdictional approach would reinforce and enhance the just autonomy of the temporal sphere. By the same token, however, distinction, and with it autonomy, are not equivalent to separation, and even less should they be equated with opposition. “Because the supernatural”, De Lubac concludes, “is never separated from nature, the spiritual will always be intertwined with the temporal, with the result that the Church will in an eminent sense have authority over the full scope of the temporal order in the precise measure that the spiritual is engaged – yet without exiting from its [proper] role” nor by extension usurping the role proper to temporal authority.[29] De Lubac recognized how awareness of the distinctive autonomy of the temporal/political sphere arose only during the Enlightenment, when it was placed in opposition to the sphere of the Church and religion. The effort to rescue this kernel of truth from the oppositions that were parasitic on it resulted in a progress of Christian conscience and an attendant development of doctrine concerning relations between the spiritual and temporal orders.[30]

Time limits do not allow me to delve more deeply into De Lubac’s analysis. What I find appealing, and this is my reason for mentioning it here, is that it offers a theological foundation for the active participation of Christians in the temporal, political sphere – including a place for spiritual authority – yet, because it eschews the jurisdictional model (which would set us on the path of a Christianly identified state, one that would entail something akin to civil laws informed by sharia), this analysis could apply within a democratic pluralism of the sort we aspire to today. De Lubac did not himself draw out this implication in the article cited. This was a task that Maritain later assumed.

In arguing for democracy under conditions of religious pluralism, Maritain sought to conjoin two approaches that previously had been kept apart and in fact were standardly viewed as incompatible. On the one hand, he recognized how faith and more broadly injunctions drawn from religion should inform our life in the temporal, public sphere. Natural law would never be sufficient to provide the needed guidance, if by this law one signifies a form of practical cognition that can be had without the contribution of positive divine revelation. To his mind, a central role must be accorded to the teaching of faith even in matters political. On the other hand, it is no longer possible, nor is it desirable, to organize a state along expressly religious lines, as such a state would unduly conflate the human goods we are called on to achieve here below with our ordination to eternal life above. Moreover, a state of this sort would invariably require of its members a common religious creed, thereby placing “in a position of inferiority and political disadvantage those who are strangers to the faith that animates it”. To “inject into political society a special or partial common good, the temporal common good of the faithful of one’s religion, even though it were the true religion, [and to] claim for them a privileged position in the State, would be to inject into political society a divisive principle, and, to that extent, to jeopardize the temporal common good”.[31] It was to preclude outcomes of this kind that the philosophers of the Enlightenment had opted for secularism.

Maritain’s solution was twofold. First, there was his idea that Gospel truths should be “refracted” into temporal sphere where they allow us to identify certain fundamental natural goods – value of the human person qua person, freedom of conscience, the rights that follow from that personhood and freedom, etc.[32] – that would be neglected otherwise. His employment of the optical term “refraction”[33] is intended to convey how these truths are taken out of their own “supernatural” sphere of direct applicability, in order that the “natural” implications for our civic and political life can be perceived.

Second, there was his related claim that these temporal “refractions” of Gospel truths are knowable, albeit less perfectly perhaps, within other religious traditions, thereby grounding what he termed a shared “civic (or “secular” faith)”.[34] The idea was that individuals “possessing quite different metaphysical or religious outlooks, can converge, not by virtue of any identity of doctrine, but by virtue of an analogical similitude in practical principles, toward the same practical conclusions, and can share in the same secular faith…”.[35] This, of course presupposes a regular process of inter-faith dialogue on social and political issues among members of the shared polity. Without such dialogue there is no possibility that the diverse interests can be identified and then aligned.

You can see where Maritain’s argument is heading. It aims to show how religious motivation and religious reasoning, including imperatives drawn from sacred texts, can be harnessed to support the project of pluralistic democracy. One might not agree with every step in his account, but I think that the elements he brings to the discussion, and the overall thrust of his argumentation, are as necessary today as they were in the post-war period. They may be even more necessary today, especially in settings where secularism is viewed with suspicion, and commitment to religion is on the rise. Unless it can be shown how pluralist democracy has religious backing, so to speak, and can carry with it the necessary religious credentials, we are doomed to repeat the failures of the past: exclusionary religious states on the one hand, conflict-prone multi-sectarian political arrangements on the other.


[4] For the details see Iselin Frydenlund, “Religious Liberty for Whom? The Buddhist Politics of Religious Freedom during Myanmar’s Transition to Democracy”, Nordic Journal of Religious Rights 35.1 (2017): 55-73.
[5] Ibid., p. 71.
[6] Ibid., p. 71, citing law s 24(g).
[7] Ibid., p. 58.
[8] Ibid.
[9] Ibid., p. 57.
[10] Ibid., p. 73.
[11] Ibid., p. 61.
[13] Thomas Pink, “Jacques Maritain and the Problem of Church and State”, The Thomist 79.1 (2015): 1-42, at p. 35, footnote 39.
[14] Samuel Ngun Ling, “The Situation of Minority Christians in Myanmar: Problems and Challenges”, paper presented at MF – Norwegian School of Theology, Oslo, 20 April 2017.
[15] Fanar Haddad, “Sectarian Relations before ‘Sectarianization’ in pre-2003 Iraq”, in N. Hashemi and D. Postel, eds., Sectarianization: Mapping the New Politics of the Middle East (London: Hurst, 2017), pp. 101-122, at p. 109.
[16] Ibid., 109.
[17] See Paulo G. Carozza and Daniel Philpott, “The Catholic Church, Human Rights, and Democracy: Convergence and Conflict with the Modern State”, Logos 15.3 (2012): 15-43.
[18] Ussama Makdisi, “The Problem of Sectarianism in the Middle East in an Age of Western Hegemony”, in N. Hashemi and D. Postel, eds., pp. 23-34, at p. 27.
[19] Ibid.
[20] Ibid., p. 28.
[21] Ibid., p. 29.
[22] Address on 7 October 1947 to members of the US Congress, apropos the anniversary of the battle of Lepanto.
[23] Makdisi, p. 28.
[24] Ibid.
[25] Shiraz Maher, Salafi-Jihadism: The History of an Idea (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), p. 179. For a nuanced account of how these issues play out today, including assumptions for and against the creation of an Islamic polity, see Gudrun Krämer, “Modern but not secular: Religion, identity and the ordre public in the Arab Middle East”, International Sociology 28.6 (2013): 629-644.
[26] See H.-X. Arquillière, L’augustinisme politique: Essai sur la formation des théories politiques du Moyen Âge (Paris: Vrin, 2006 [1933]).
[27] Revue des Sciences Religieuses 12.3 (1932): 329-354.
[28] Ibid., p. 343.
[29] Ibid., p. 346.
[30] Ibid., p. 347.
[31] “Religion and Peace”, address delivered at the Boston University Institute on Post-War Problems, March 12, 1944; reproduced in Jacques et Raïssa Maritain, Oeuvres completes, vol. VIII, pp. 936-957, at p. 948.
[32] See his Christianisme et democratie (1943), Oeuvres completes, vol. XII, chap entitled “Inspiration évangélique et conscience profane” (pp. 725-734) for a list of these goods.
[33] See Humanisme intégral, in Oeuvres completes, vol. VI, p. 528, p. 528, “Une réfraction des vérités évangéliques dans le temporal”.
[34] Man and the State (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1951), p. 111.
[35] Ibid.




Towards a Participatory Society: New Roads to Social and Cultural Integration

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