Opportunities and Constraints in Religious Peace Work

John D. Brewer, Gareth I. Higgins and Francis Teeney

in Religion, Civil Society, and Peace in Northern Ireland

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199694020
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191730825 | DOI:
Opportunities and Constraints in Religious Peace Work

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This chapter addresses stage two of the conceptual framework by identifying the key strategic social spaces the churches operated in within the peace process and which offered both opportunities for and constraints on their peacebuilding. It locates religious peacebuilding in terms of the key matrix of church–state–civil society relations, arguing that church–civil society relations have to be placed within the wider church–state relationship. The opportunities and constraints operating on the churches in Northern Ireland are thus themselves interpreted within church–state relations, establishing in particular the ambivalent positions adopted by the Catholic Church in relationship to the British state, as well as that by majority Protestant churches, which help understand their respective religious peacebuilding.

Keywords: civil society; social capital; the state; church–state relations; religious minority

Chapter.  22114 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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