Immediate reactions to the UK General Election result have focused on inaccurate polls, shy voters, the rise of nationalism in the UK (SNP, UKIP), the UK’s wider relationships with continental Europe (including the EU), and the implications for mainstream political parties. Additionally, electoral reform seems to be in the air once more.
In this post, we try something different. It seems to us that “choice” was one of the key themes of the election. For example, the party leaders argued that we, the electorate, were confronted by an important choice at this election: between market forces vs the state, between the union and the nation, between economic stability and social justice. Here we make a strategic distinction between ‘thick’ and ‘thin’ choices. We argue that too often we are presented with 'thin' choices and that we need to uncover 'thick' choices.
To read the full post, click here [opens in new window].
Public Panel Discussion:
- Should there be room for Religion within a Secular State?
- Is Religion a Curse or a Cure for Society Today?
- What are the current legal and political challenges Religion poses to Democratic Culture?
A panel of internationally renowned experts in Theology, Political Science, Sociology and Asian Studies will discuss these and related issues with the audience. Everyone is welcome.
The Public Discussion will be preluded by a welcome reception reception on behalf of The Department of Religions and Theology at the University of Manchester and the Department for Globalisation Studies at the University of Groningen.
Date: 16th May 2015
Venue: Samuel Alexander Building Room A113
Welcome Reception: 17.00-17.30
Panel Discussion: 17.30-19.00.
The conference and network meeting of the International Research Network on Religion and Democracy will focus on ‘state of emergency provisions’ and their religious and theological background. The key question is: What are the criteria to legitimately deviate from the normal state of affairs and to make an exception normative? A legitimate deviation from law or the existing order entails at least three elements:
a) The existing order is under threat and therefore swift action is needed;
b) Who is authorised to declare a state of emergency and what are the moral prerequisites?
In a situation when such deviation from the norm or existing law is required, ethical issues arise. Who is entitled to legitimately breach the existing norm/law, which civil rights might be suspended in order to successfully encounter the threat; and finally:
c) What defines the threat, which legitimises extraordinary measures?
In Constitutional Law and Political Theory the ‘state of emergency’ is a well-known paradox i.e. the concrete circumstance that demands a legitimate breach of an existing order to secure the existence of a lawful order. Given the classic criteria for a state of emergency, this project aims to uncover the theological basis, such as equity, asylum, grace and pardon etc. of the juridical concept of a state of emergency in all its facets.
This will be also the focus of the public lecture on Saturday May 16th 2015 "Can Religion replace the Constitution"?
For more information see:
2015 - Prof. Dr. Hans-Peter Grosshans
Director of the Seminar for Systematic Theology and the Institute for Ecumenical Theology, Faculty of Protestant Theology of the University of Muenster.
‘On Christian Freedom’
In his latest book Soumission (submission) the French novelist Michel Houellebecq formulates the – as one of his figures says – simple idea, that the peak of human happiness is reached in absolute submission. In religion we find this idea in form of the submission of human beings to God. But this idea contradicts all the theological efforts in modern times to reconcile faith in God with human freedom. In modern times especially Christian religion cannot any longer be based on the idea of a general submission of the believers to God and his will. Instead Christian theology has to concentrate on a positive relation between faith in God and human freedom, in the sense, that even the God-relation of the believers is conceived in terms of human freedom. In Reformation times in the 16th century Philipp Melanchthon has even identified Christianity and freedom when he formulated “Christianity is freedom”. But surely this identity is not without problems and some critics say, that it directly leads into secularisation and is part of Christianity abandoning itself. The lecture will discuss various important aspects of the relation of Christian faith and freedom, starting with the understanding of freedom in the Old and the New Testament. But the main focus will be on the consequences for a concept of God in modern times which satisfies the condition of human freedom, but as well is sound with Holy Scripture. Discussion will be as well about the consequences for our general understanding of religion in the present times, which is sound with human freedom. This then will be drawn out into pressing questions of religious freedom in our present societies. It will be the objective of these reflections to work out a few criteria for distinguishing critically the manifold phenomena of religion.