Matthew J. Walton
This article looks thematically at several important aspects of Buddhist politics in Myanmar, from the precolonial period to the present. It considers a number of arguments regarding the use of Buddhism in both supporting and opposing political authority, especially as they are rooted in a dualistic conception of human nature. It presents several examples of Burmese Buddhist political thought that creatively combine traditional Buddhist ideas with other political ideologies and practices, revealing a once-vibrant tradition that will hopefully be revitalized with the country’s current political transition. The role of monks in politics is controversial in Myanmar, and the article looks at some of the unique aspects of monastic activism, using examples from the 2007 “Saffron Revolution” and the current anti-Muslim Buddhist nationalist movements. Finally, it offers several different strands of democratic thought, including a provocative Burmese Buddhist notion of “moral democracy.”
Karen L. King
This chapter considers the religious justifications for and against torture. It also describes the torturous narratives at Christianity's foundations, the notion of redemptive martyrdom, and the various ways in which Christian ideology has challenged as well as supported the torturous suffering of fellows and foes. Torture functions in the absence of the facts or against the facts. Despite legal censure, torture and claims of torture are omnipresent. The violence of torture depends on sex/gender differentiation for much of its public communication. Opposition to torture on religious grounds will not be efficient without addressing the fact that enculturated ways of thinking and structures of feeling cultivated in Christian stories, images, and theological discourses are entailed in a wide variety of attitudes and behaviors, both for and against torture.
Laura R. Olson
This article observes the central currents in the literature on politics and clergy. The first section centers on charting a short historical map of scholarship on clergy and politics. It then considers the question of whether clergy are paradigmatic of other politically relevant social elites. It considers how one may categorize the politically relevant activities that the clergy engages in, and discusses the ways the existing literature helps in understanding whether and why clergy become politically active.
Gerard P. Loughlin
This chapter considers how gay identities—and so gay affections—were formed in the course of the twentieth century, building on the late nineteenth-century invention of the ‘homosexual’. It also considers earlier construals of same-sex affections and the people who had them, the soft men and hard women of the first century and the sodomites of the eleventh. It thus sketches a history of continuities and discontinuities, of overlapping identities and emotional possibilities. The chapter resists the assumption that gay identity and experience can be reduced to anything less than the multitude of gay people, and that as Christians they have to give an account of themselves in a way that heterosexual Christians do not. The chapter warns against thinking gay identity undone in Christ.
B. S. Jackson, B. Lifshitz, Alyssa M. Gray, and Daniel B. Sinclair
The academic study of ‘halacha’, like its traditional study in the yeshiva, is far broader than the study of ‘Jewish law’. The halacha, in both its scope and concerns, goes well beyond the scope and concerns of that section of it which has counterparts in secular, Western legal systems. For the purposes of this article, ‘Jewish law’ is that latter subsection of the halacha, a subsection moreover which has attracted the particular attentions of scholars trained in secular jurisprudence. This article surveys trends in the field, in relation to both halacha and Jewish Law, in terms of the fourfold division — historical, dogmatic, comparative, and philosophical.
In confronting questions of the origin of existence, asserting belief in an ultimate spiritual source of phenomena, and striving for a relationship between it and human beings, Hindu theology identifies sexuality as a valid and necessary explanation. Both on the theogonic plane and the worldly, Hindu thought associates sexuality with gender, but treats the latter as a fluid identity rather than natural and essential, viewing it as a product more of the will than of physiology, an ever-present but negotiable perception, since it can be willed into altered states. This is illustrated both by the myths of Hinduism and by its devotional cultures. Observing the evolution of Hindu theology, its major traditions, and its worship practices chronologically, this chapter demonstrates why and how sexuality and gender may serve as keys to understand Hindu spirituality.
Mary Jo Iozzio
This chapter examines how sex figures in the HIV/AIDS pandemic and how the pandemic may be understood in the light of God’s extravagance and hope for the future. Sex is one of those gifts that human beings have received at the hands of a God of extravagance: a God of infinite possibility, copious generosity, and unparalleled solidarity. The very creation is a manifestation of a fecund imagination and God’s own joy writ large enough to witness sexual diversity—from asexual to heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer—among all living beings. In the human community the gift of sex and one’s identity as a sexual being include the purposes and promises of the extravagance that is sexual creativity in and through diversity. This chapter explores what insights theology can bring to the purposes of sex as creativity/generativity and intimacy-building communion/pleasure, and what intuitions theology can bring to the promises of sex as transcendent experience.
David H. Jones
This article assesses the aftereffects of the Holocaust on human rights law. Addressing the so-called ‘promise of Nuremberg’, which began in 1945 with the Charter of the International Military Tribunal, it argues that the Charter, partly as a response to the evil of the Holocaust, broke dramatically with traditional international law by mandating ‘individual responsibility’ for crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity committed by the leaders of the Axis Powers. The Nuremberg Principles were codified into international law by the United Nations General Assembly in 1946; the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide followed in 1948. However, the promise of Nuremberg remains largely unfulfilled. None of these post-World War II documents included mechanisms for executive or judicial enforcement, the UN Security Council was stymied by the power of the veto held by its permanent members, and the UN became a community of bystander states that has allowed numerous genocides and mass killings to occur. Among the possibilities for making the world safer for human rights are reform of the Security Council, creation of an international Rapid Response Force, the spread of democracy, and a reduction of poverty in the underdeveloped world.
Intersex and transgender are discrete issues and should not be conflated. However, both phenomena, and the experiences of both groups of people, demonstrate the limitations of existing theologies of sexuality which assume stable and binary models of human maleness and femaleness. Sexual theologies for intersex and transgender people must take into account a range of issues, including the reality of variant sex and gender; the question of same-sex relationships; the theological significance of non-penetrative sexual activity; the challenges of unusual genital anatomy; ethical issues surrounding sought and unsought genital surgery; discourses of pathological versus variant embodiment; and questions of vulnerability and safety in sexual encounter. Drawing on liberationist theological goods, this chapter points to the necessity for non-pathologizing theological accounts of variant sex and gender.
This chapter analyses the Qur’an’s position on theology, sexuality, and gender, with the intent of challenging readings of Islam as a patriarchy. It illustrates that missing from Islam’s scripture is the imaginary of God as father/male and endorsements of father-rule (the traditional form of patriarchy), as well as any concept of sexual differentiation that privileges males (more modern forms of patriarchy). Indeed, many Qur’anic teachings can be read on behalf of the principle of sexual equality since they establish the ontological equality of women and men and emphasize the need for mutual care and guardianship between them. Both by re-reading some of the ‘anti-women’ verses and by applying a hermeneutical method to interpret the Qur’an—which is implicit in the text itself—the chapter also demonstrates that different interpretive strategies can change our understanding of textual meaning.
This chapter examines Jewish political ethics as it has emerged in the American setting. Unlike virtually all the places where Jews have lived throughout history, American Jews are full-fledged citizens, and some have taken leadership roles in both local and national politics, to say nothing of the professions, academia, and business. Four different approaches that Jews have taken to respond to this new reality are described: (1) Jews should participate in American politics in service of Jewish self-interest; (2) political participation replaces religion; (3) the United States is a step in the march toward messianic redemption; and (4) Jews should involve themselves in American politics, as Jews, for the betterment of all. The chapter describes each of these positions, quotes some representative spokespersons for each, and shows how each has influenced Jewish political ethics in America, and then illustrates how varying Jewish prayers for the nation articulate each of these approaches.
This chapter addresses the following questions: Who is a Jew to qualify for immediate citizenship under Israel's Law of Return? Who may be married or buried as a Jew? How can Israel be both a Jewish state and a democratic state open to non-Jews as well as Jews? What authority, if any, should classical Jewish law have in the Jewish state in contrast to laws legislated by the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament) and precedents used by judges (based largely on British Common Law together with decisions of Israeli courts from 1948 on)? How should Israel respond to the Palestinians claiming to be refugees driven from their lands in 1948, and what should it do with the large Arab population living in the West Bank that Israel conquered in the 1967 war? Can it remain a Jewish state and also a democracy if it retains the West Bank and then, in the not-too-distant future, the majority of the population is no longer Jewish?
This article examines the hitherto unquestioned consensus in Judaic studies that Judaism embraces a positive attitude towards sexuality. Grounded in the new scholarly trends of cultural and gender analysis as well as feminist critique and their impact on Jewish studies, it singles out four focal issues: sexuality in ancient rabbinic thought, to which the most scholarly attention has been directed; and issues in modern Halakhah that have just begun to inform scholarly research: the ethos of modesty and the construction of the female body; homosexuality and lesbianism; and reproduction and sexuality. The discussion reflects the tension between these two scholarly trends, and between the conceptual-theological stratum of Judaism and its reflection in the practical-legal sphere of Jewish law (Halakhah). This examination of Jewish attitudes towards sexuality, in light of the new scholarship, leads to the conclusion that although Judaism affirms sexuality, this cannot be grasped in a simple, superficial, or monolithic fashion.
Laurie L. Levenson
This chapter explores Jewish criminal justice, first discussing the rationales that make punishment moral and not just an exercise of sovereign power. It then addresses capital punishment, decreed for thirty-six different offenses in the Torah but made virtually inoperative by the Rabbis. Next, the chapter turns to what makes a defendant criminally liable, describing the conceptions of causation, joint offenders, criminal intent, and defences in Jewish law; with that as a foundation, it asks whether there is anything like a victimless crime in Jewish law. Finally, it describes the lessons that Western criminal justice can learn from both the content and the processes of Jewish criminal law.
This chapter offers an older notion of just war, particularly as it developed in relation to the changing place of Christianity in Europe and North America. The just war idea presents a way of thinking in which war itself is a kind of restraint. The norms of positive international law are determined with the hope that an appropriate set of institutions might transcend and thus govern the behavior of sovereign states, imposing the rule of law in cases where sovereign states (and their rulers) violate those norms intended “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.” The universality of norms is a project to be obtained by means of negotiation among sovereign states. The outline of just war presented reveals that the idea is a moving target, in which changes reflect the dynamic nature of social and political institutions.
This essay is situated within the sexual theologies discipline—that is, it will not consider what theology has said about lesbians. It will rather engage with what lesbian experience has offered traditional Christian theology. Perhaps this can be best summed up in the words of Carter Heyward who wrote ‘To say “I love you” means—Let the revolution begin!’ Once lesbians in theology found a voice, what we witness is indeed a revolution as the diverse face of the divine began to emerge from what had been a ‘one size fits all’ theology in matters of sexuality and ethics. Far from simply stating that the norm did not fit all sexualities and genders, many lesbian theologians moved on to say that the norm did not even do justice to those seen as normal and that the heteronormative underpinnings of theology actually crippled it.
Paul J. Wahlbeck
This article provides an overview of the existing political science literature. The literature is used as a background for formulating answers to several questions. It reviews the empirical and theoretical research on matters of judicial selection, interest group activity in litigation, decision making, and the implementation of judicial decisions. This is followed by a section on the literature that has studied the role of a judge's religious affiliations and cases regarding the Constitution's religious clauses.
This chapter, which concentrates on the North American Christian case in investigating the role of violence in the religious controversy about abortion, assesses the religiously legitimated use of violence in the extreme wing of the American pro-life movement. The legitimation of the use of violence to stop abortion finds its most public expression in an organization known as The Army of God. Mike Bray, the architect of the argument that violence can be legitimately utilized to stop abortion, has argued that there is a difference between killing a retired abortion doctor and one who continues to practice. Bray and Randall Terry are critical of contemporary Christianity, which sees God a “jolly old perennial gift giver.” In general, Christians, in the larger “pro-life” movement, believe abortion to be murder.