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Series of Tributes to Desmond Tutu

By Christine Venter, Greg Marcar & Lee-Shae Salma Scharnick Udemans

“But ultimately Tutu will be remembered for his great devotion to the oppressed in society, whom he referred to as “the people left in the dust.” Many South Africans, myself included, recall watching the TRC hearings where he would openly weep for the victims of apartheid and their families. Tutu saw his calling as serving a God who has ‘a bias for the downtrodden’.” Christine Venter

“As Tutu exhibited throughout his life, to truly oppose one form of injustice and prejudice is to oppose all forms. Just as Tutu’s holy egoism did not render his outlook individualistic or inward-looking, so too it stands diametrically opposed to any moral blind spots or indifference concerning the suffering of sentient beings.” Greg Marcar

“… Given South Africa’s relatively peaceful status, we cannot be falsely secure in our reliance on religious freedom as a constitutional right, lest these seemingly innocuous violations are left unchecked and flourish into more sinister contraventions. I am sure the Arch will agree that between the storm and the rainbow, there is still much work to be done in the pursuit of justice and freedom and that this is indeed the kind of work that is worth doing!” Lee-Shae Salma Scharnick Udemans

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The First Annual Forum on Law and Religion of the Southern Cone, “Human Dignity and Religious Freedom,” was held in Santiago, Chile, 28–29 October 2021. A particular focus of the conference was the preservation and protection of freedom of religion or belief in light of Chile’s anticipated constitutional reforms. The forum was sponsored by BYU’s International Center for Law and Religion Studies, the Chilean government’s National Office of Religious Affairs, and the Center for Law and Religion at Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. It included participants from Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, and the United States. Below are links to select remarks made at the conference, available in both Spanish and English.

El Primer Foro Anual de Derecho y Religión del Cono Sur, “Dignidad Humana y Libertad Religiosa,” tuvo lugar en Santiago, Chile, el 28 y 29 de octubre de 2021. El foco particular fue la preservación y la protección de la libertad de religión o creencia a la luz de las reformas anticipadas a la constitución de Chile. El foro fue organizado por el Centro de Estudios de Derecho y Religión de la Universidad Brigham Young, la Oficina Nacional de Asuntos Religiosos del Gobierno de Chile, y el Centro de Derecho y Religión de la Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. Incluyó participantes de Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, y los Estados Unidos. Abajo son hiperenlaces a unas presentaciones seleccionadas, en inglés y en español.

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A shorter video version of Catherine Wanner’s interview:

…Émile Durkheim, a very famous theoretician of religion, famously said, the difference between religion and magic is that there’s no church of magic. Magic, superstition, and the like are individually practiced whereas religion is inherently social. And I think people need that. If we return to the “Just Orthodox” (prosto pravoslavni), one of the reasons why we have this category is that people want to belong, to feel connected to other people. Religion is a powerful way of doing so. It connects people, not only to members of their own familial or national group, but to those who are living as well as those who are dead; it connects them to ancestors and a place; and it connects them to certain shared practices, values, and a shared emotional palette. This sense of connection and belonging gives religion and religiosity enduring appeal, despite Soviet campaigns of atheism and other, perhaps less draconian secularizing forces, which have yet to offer a relevant counterpart to these meaningful, emotionally felt, and cognitively recognized ways of connecting people.

Watch here 

Read the full printed version here


Series: (Un)friendly Algorithm: Religious Freedom and Digital Technologies

By Neville Rochow, Yulia Razmetaeva, and Sohail Wahedi

This blog series explores some threats that digital technologies can create to freedom of religion or belief and other civil rights. It starts with Neville Rochow’s elaboration on the potential harmfulness of algorithm-based decision-making if the program does not take account of religious beliefs. Rochow emphasizes that the predictable and (in many ways) helpful expansion of AI’s role in everyday life must be accompanied by companies’ greater corporate accountability and obedience to the law.

Yulia Razmetaeva explains why AI technology may be non-neutral and have a significant influence on freedom of thought pointing at it as a source of fake information  that calls for violence.

Finally, Sohail Wahedi discusses how social media  has affected religious self-expression and what we should do to successfully navigate between the Scylla of censorship and the Charybdis of religious hate speech.

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Human Dignity Initiative

Celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with an invitation to a global conversation about preserving and protecting human dignity for everyone everywhere.

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