Journal Article

Religions in Global Civil Society

George M. Thomas

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 62, issue 4, pages 515-533
Published in print January 2001 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online January 2001 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI:
Religions in Global Civil Society

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This paper explores the nature and place of religion in global civil society by analyzing emerging models of religious freedom. After briefly presenting the basis for inferring the emergence of a global civil society, I note the importance of individual and collective conversion in modern civil society envisioned as a moral project. I then identify contemporary world-cultural themes: the individual and ethno-cultural group are essential carriers of humanity, and religion is a relativistic human expression. Resulting cultural contradictions are played out in how religions constitute themselves and in conflicts over models of religious freedom, especially over converting and proselytizing. Conversion is an individual right but also is viewed as a threat to ethno-cultural groups. Proselytizing is stigmatized as cultural supremacy and for violating the principle that there is no need for other-worldly salvation. I conclude by noting contentious areas important for emerging models of religious freedom.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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