China has a long tradition of Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism, which have undergone a revival due to many of the government’s restrictions on religious practice having been lifted since the 1980s. The Han Dynasty (202 BCE-220 CE) promulgated Confucianism as the state culture, which it has largely remained. Buddhism gained significant influence by the 5th century and mixed considerably with native Daoism. The Communist Party implemented state atheism when it came to power in 1949 and attempted to expunge religion from society during the Cultural Revolution (1966-76). However, religious practice surged as prohibitions eased. Chinese religious policy is freedom of belief and practice with government oversight of organization and political action. The government oversees officially organized religious bodies, though underground organizations also exist, particularly for Christianity. Foreign proselytism is illegal, and Communist Party members are required to be atheist. Internal conflicts tend to have a religious element, as seen in the cases of the Tibetan Autonomous Region and Xinjiang province.
August 12, 2011
The eight candidates at Thursday night’s GOP debate were willing to get into one another’s grills or, failing that, into the grills of the four journalists who subjected them to fair, hard-hitting and well organized questions (this was some of the best moderator work I can recall in a recent presidential debate).
November 15, 2010
November 15, 2010
When pitfalls of the modern godless secular state are decried, Norway is often invoked as an example. So Norwegians took note when the minister of development and the environment, Eric Solheim, published an op ed in a leading newspaper with the headline "Norway takes God seriously." And the next day he spoke at the opening of a conference on religion and development
in Oslo. His message? It's obvious that religion is hugely important in the contemporary world and especially in the poorest...
President Barack Obama's November 10 trip to Indonesia was short and bitter sweet: short because he had to leave before the Merapi volcano spewed more dark ash into the skies (what a metaphor!); bitter sweet because his voyage unfolded amid growing doubts about his "Muslim world outreach." Whether those misgivings subside or multiply will depend less on the atmospherics of diplomacy and far more on the substance of US foreign policy.
June 7, 2010
May 6, 2010
On Feb. 15, 1947, the Exodus 1947
set sail for Palestine with some 4,500 Jewish refugees, most of whom were survivors of the Holocaust. The organizers of this fabled expedition
fully expected the British to forcefully prevent the passengers from disembarking. As things turned out, they got more than they bargained for: three people died, including a U.S. sailor bludgeoned to death resisting the King's Navy.
April 12, 2010
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (IRF) has come down hard on the Obama administration for its failure to promote international religious liberty. "U.S. foreign policy on religious freedom," said Commission chairman Leonard Leo, "is missing the mark
The hot spots this week are Kyrgyzstan and Bangkok, but every day brings new reports of riots and unrest somewhere in the world. America has rarely seemed as unsettled as it is today. Angry "tea parties" inspire similarly angry "coffee parties". I was invited recently to a "green tea party" to protest inaction on climate change. Some Catholic Church leaders seem like deer caught in the headlights as they stare into the public furor inspired by their reaction to the abuse scandals. There's...
March 22, 2010
Two statues of women dominate the central square of Hopkins, a small town in Belize. One celebrates Martina Vicente, a true matriarch figure (a sign says 85% of the town's population claim her as their ancestress). The other is of Marcella Lewis, poet, musician, writer and patroness of the town but also of the Garifuna community, a proud and distinctive ethnic group now concentrated in Central America. "She lived to love and she loved to live," says the inscription; legend has it that her...
November 25, 2009
Thursday we commemorate the sacrifices and hardships of our forbears, and that first Thanksgiving feast that punctuated an otherwise difficult and often harrowing existence. We celebrate with tables that will (in many cases) overflow with food, and then with a weekend of shopping in anticipation of the gift-giving of Christmas. We give thanks for all that we have, in many cases, so much more than the Pilgrims whose rugged and threadbare lives we honor.
September 3, 2009
This blog post originally appeared in the American Principles Project blog on September 3, 2009.
July 10, 2009
Despite Barak Obama's conspicuous references to religious freedom in his Cairo speech and during the U.S.-China strategic talks, the President has not yet announced a nominee for the post of Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom (IRF), a position established by the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act.
I've argued strongly for engagement with Iran as a game-changer. America renewed relations with the Soviet Union at the time of the Great Terror and China at the time of the Cultural Revolution. Operation Jackboot has not, as yet at least, involved mass killings. But the Iran of today is not the Iran of three weeks ago... Its Robespierres are running amok. Obama must do nothing to suggest business as usual. Let Ahmadinejad...writhe in the turbid puddle of his self-proclaimed "justice" and...
June 29, 2009
May 8, 2008
The annual ritual of the G8 Summit is upon us. There are plenty about other Gs (groups) - the G2 (U.S. and China), the G20 and the G77. Cynics speak of a G1, suggesting that the United States rules the roost. But the G8
is still the pinnacle of the world's powerful and rich. So these meetings are a magnet for those who would like to sit at the table and shape the world's agenda.
"What do the American people think of Ayatollah Khomeini?â an Iranian TV reporter asked me on my first visit to Tehran in 1999. For a moment I was stumped. If I answered truthfully, I would have to say that the vast majority of Americans had never heard of Khomeini. But Iranian hardliners might easily exploit this observation. And so I simply suggested that most Americans didnât follow international politicsâ”this was the task of a foreign policy elite whose opinions on Iran were as...
April 26, 2008
For guts combined with grace, Thoraya Obaid has few rivals. A proud Saudi Muslim, she leads what is probably the United Nations' most controversial agency, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) â“ which addresses women's reproductive health. Recently she was the speaker at the Washington National Cathedral's Sunday Forum, arguing that religious leaders must address the sorry state of women in much of the developing world.
A Catholic Modernity?
December 14, 2007
September 24, 2007
Hans Joas writes on the Immanent Frame: Since the publication of his magisterial book Sources of the Self in 1989 at the latest, Charles Taylor’s work has become well known and highly respected in philosophy and the social sciences the world over. Monographs and collections of critical articles on his work have begun to appear in the past few years; his reconstruction of the crucial values and value innovations characteristic of the Western tradition seems set to have a lasting and...
January 28, 2007
Katherine Marshall, a Berkley Center Senior Fellow and Director of the World Faiths Development Dialogue, attended the Monterrey Religious Encounter, September 21-24, 2007.
The Interreligious Encounter hit its full stride Sunday, with speakers and participants well into routines of speeches, panels, and the like. Overall there were three full days of events, with the closing plenary on Monday evening. The International Interreligious Encounter then concludes, and in Monterrey, the Cultural...
December 17, 2006
The Executive Group of the Council of 100 met as part of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos; the C100, briefly, is a WEF initiative (rather atypical among WEF activities) that aims to further dialogue and understanding between "the Islamic World" and "the West". At present the group includes some 86 people, and the intent is that they be drawn from both the Islamic world and western societies, and from five major sectors: business, politics, religion, media, and civil society....
In accordance with the TORs dated Oct. 27, 2006, I participated on behalf of the Bank, as a panelist and speaker at two events in Geneva commemorating the 20th Anniversary of the Declaration on the Right to Development (RTD). Both events were co-sponsored by the Frederich Ebert Foundation and the UN. The first was held as a parallel event to the third session of the UN Human Rights Council and included participants from country delegations and NGOs accredited to the Council (some 70...