Globalization and the Free Exercise of Religion Worldwide

March 12, 2012

Looking at "globalization" in both its objective and subjective dimensions, in this book chapter José Casanova asserts that "particularly the so-called world religions are today and always have been dynamically interrelated in manifold ways with processes of globalization." His major analysis is grounded in the idea that, with religions becoming increasingly dissociated from geographical territories as "imagined communities," the human right to free exercise of religion may soon come into conflict with itself. In short, while all modern liberal-democratic governments—and international governance in the form of the UN charter—recognize the right to freedom of conscience, belief, and conversion as fundamental and inviolable human rights, there are also norms intended to allow indigenous societies to maintain their traditional cultures and religious beliefs in the face of encroaching modernity. As Casanova recognizes, these two rights may soon generate substantial friction: what happens when one person's right to believe and proselytize as he so chooses come into conflict with another's right to protect himself and his community from outside religious influence? This book chapter was included in Challenges to Religious Liberty in the Twenty-First Century (2012, ed. Gerard V. Bradley).


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