From the beginning, women, along with men, were created to rule. Indeed, the first woman ruler was Eve. In Genesis 1, immediately following the Creation, God commanded both Eve and Adam to “rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Like men, women were created to work, to steward, and to lead. While the Fall—and the human systems, institutions, and mindsets that followed—surely complicated matters, that original design and call have not changed.
In the past few weeks, Cornerstone contributors have assessed the state of religious freedom in various parts of the world, including China, Israel-Palestine, and India. Each country has a unique history and modern political dynamic that forms a nuanced environment toward religious freedom—an environment that is often best understood when experienced firsthand. That's why this week on Cornerstone, research assistants at the Religious Freedom Project share their experiences during their time abroad and offer distinct perspectives that highlight issues concerning religious freedom in various regions of the world.
On the eve of the first lecture by World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim on January 27, bloggers from three continents reflect on the relevance of Catholic social thought for the global future of development.
Recent government actions, such as Austria's new law that allows only one authorized German-language translation of the Qur'an and bans foreign funding of Muslim organizations, along with a circumcision ban in Germany, an ongoing headscarf ban in France, and a minaret ban in Switzerland, are just a few examples of how Muslims' religious freedom is being restricted in western Europe. Please join us on Cornerstone as diverse commentators, including many of the speakers at the Religious Freedom Project's upcoming event on Muslim minorities, explore the obstacles that European Muslim communities face and what these challenges mean for the future of religious freedom.
Please also read our related series on Muslim minorities in the United States.
Women have been leaders from the beginning of consciousness—learning where to find edible and healing plants and leading others to gather them, and passing on that knowledge to future generations. That is at least part of what Eve is up to in Genesis. Like Miriam, women have led celebration, song, and lament throughout time, and tended to bodies before burial as did the Marys of the Gospels. Women have challenged societal injustice with the tools available—words and prophetic actions—the widow to the judge, the Syrophoenician woman Jesus engages, the suffragettes, and women’s rights workers over centuries.
In the United Kingdom, the education system is divided into stages. These stages include early foundations years (3-5), primary school (5-11), secondary school (11-18), and tertiary education (18+). There are two types of secondary school that British children can attend: the fee-bearing, highly controversial public schools or the more common, state-funded private schools. Although only a minute proportion of the British population attend public school, the institution has provided fertile ground for charged political debates on inequality in the United Kingdom.
Hong Kong Island and Kowloon are the largest metropolitan areas within the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. As seen in this map, most of Hong Kong's population is densely packed into the southern portions of the region. These past few weeks, most of my explorations have taken place in these areas. As I travelled, I have noticed how Hong Kong is structured around a culture of consumerism. Most buildings here contain large expanses of malls. Hundreds of shops line the hallways within buildings—each store is packed to the brim with locals and foreigners alike. It becomes easy to see why Hong Kong is considered one of the top shopping destinations in East Asia.
At the advent of Islam, as is common with new faiths, many adversaries tried to stifle Islam’s spread by violently persecuting its followers. Worried about the weaker members of society, the Prophet Muhammad urged his followers to migrate to Abyssinia, where the new Muslims would find a Christian king who ruled his kingdom with kindness and justice. Just as they expected, the Negus, as he was called, welcomed them warmly and promised them a peaceful life in his kingdom.
A host of recent controversies—including the resignation of Brendan Eich as Mozilla CEO, Abercrombie and Fitch’s firing of a Muslim woman for wearing a hijab, and many others—raise basic questions about the nature and extent of employees’ religious rights while on the job. Responses to this topic will answer the following questions: How would you describe religious rights on the job? Should businesses be able to fire employees for their peaceful religious views and practices or is this a violation of First Amendment rights, or those rights established under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act?
Camilla Hall, located in Malvern, Pennsylvania, is a home for retired, sick, and recovering Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM). After attending an IHM-run high school and grade school, I have a close connection to the order, crediting them with much of my educational and spiritual upbringing. Throughout high school, I volunteered at Camilla Hall; a group of us would go over every couple of weeks to deliver meals and visit the sisters, taking care to check in on those without local families or frequent visitors. Although this volunteer work played an important role in my high school life, I have not had the chance to go back since my freshman year of college.