The Religious Consultation on Population,
Reproductive Health & Ethics
Religious Consultation Report
News & Views from
The Religious Consultation on Population, Reproductive Health and
Page One: Historic Meeting on "The
Right to Family Planning, Contraception and Abortion in Ten World
Religions" Set for July in Philadelphia
Article 2: Religious Consultation News
Article 3: Religion, the United Nations and
the "Cairo+5" Process
Article 4: De-feudalizing Islam: Change and
Reform in the Muslim World
Article 5: Movers and Shakers: Tracking the
Activities of Our Participating Scholars
on "The Right to Family Planning, Contraception and Abortion in Ten
World Religions" Set for July in Philadelphia
The Religious Consultation on Population, Reproductive
Health and Ethics will host a historic meeting this summer in Philadelphia
when a group of distinguished international scholars gather for the
first of two conferences on "The Right to Family Planning, Contraception
and Abortion in Ten World Religions." This unique project is being
funded through a grant from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.
The unhelpful aspects of world religions in matters
of fertility and gender roles are well known and often believed to
be the one and only orthodoxy. However, there are neglected resources
within the religious traditions themselves which can justify, on religious
grounds, the moral right to family planning, including contraception
and abortion. It is these resources the Consultation project hopes
to uncover and disseminate so that more progressive religious views
of family planning, contraception and abortion can assert themselves
in the ongoing international debates.
The scholars gathered for this project include: Mary
C. Churchill, an expert on Native American studies at the University
of Colorado at Boulder; Christine E. Gudorf, a Catholic scholar in
the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Florida International
University; Riffat Hassan, a Muslim scholar at the University of Louisville;
Ge Ling Shang of the Harvard-Yenching Institute; Ping-chen Hsiung,
Division of Cultural and Intellectual History at the Institute of
Modern History, Academia Sinica in Taipei, Taiwan; Sandhya Jain, an
Indian journalist; Beverly Harrison of Union Theological Seminary;
Jacob K. Olupona of the Department of African and African American
Studies, University of California-Davis; Daniel C. Maguire, President
of the Religious Consultation and Professor of Theology at Marquette
University; Arvind Sharma, Birks Professor of Comparative Religion
at McGill University in Montreal; Parichart Suwanbubbha, a Lecturer
in the Department of Humanities at Mahidol University, Nakornpathom,
Thailand; and Laurie Zoloth, Chair, Social Ethics and Jewish Studies,
Program in Jewish Studies, San Francisco State University.
Four scientists/social scientists will join the project
to keep the religious scholars fully abreast of the demographic and
medical/scientific aspects of the subject. They are: Dr. Jose Barzelatto,
Vice President, Center for Health and Social Policy in San Francisco;
Anrudh Jain, a demographer who specializes in contraception and fertility
issues at the Population Council in New York; Dr. Oyin Sodipe, a physician
and Deputy Director of the Ogun State Ministry of Health in Nigeria,
who has expertise in family planning practices in Africa; and Funmi
Togonu-Bickesteth, Associate Professor of Social Psychology at Obafemi
Awolowo University in Ile Ife, Nigeria.
The scholarly papers which result from this consultation
will be published first in an academic volume and then in a popular
volume, which will be aimed at policymakers, population workers in
the field, and at the general public. Translations of chapters of
the popular volume into several non-English languages will follow.
The findings will be disseminated as widely as possible through the
print and broadcast media and over the Internet. The project's scholars
will continue as a permanent task force to present briefings, engage
the media, and contribute to policy debates here in the US, at the
United Nations, and abroad.
This project on "The Right to Family Planning, Contraception
and Abortion" fits well with the Religious Consultation's overall
goal of promoting the voices of progressive religious scholars on
the issues of population, ecology, reproductive health and the empowerment
of women. The following pages include updates on the Consultation's
other ongoing projects. If you have questions or comments, please
reach us via the numbers and addresses listed below.
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Religious Consultation News
Religious Consultation Wins
Consultative Status at the United Nations
The Religious Consultation on Population, Reproductive Health and
Ethics has been granted special consultative status by the Economic
and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations. This coveted classification
enables the Consultation to send representatives to ECOSOC sessions
and to play a greater role in the discussions of ECOSOC and its affiliated
The powers of ECOSOC include: "to serve as the central
forum for discussion of international economic and social issues of
a global or inter-disciplinary nature and the formulation of policy
recommendations on those issues addressed to Member States and to
the U. N. system; to make or initiate studies and reports and make
recommendations on international economic, social, cultural, educational,
health and related matters; to promote respect for and observance
of human rights and fundamental freedoms."
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with consultative
status may send observers to public meetings of ECOSOC and its subsidiary
bodies, which include the Commission on Human Rights, the Commission
on Sustainable Development, the Commission on the Status of Women
and the Commission on Population and Development. NGOs with consultative
status may also submit written statements and deliver public testimony
relevant to the Council's work.
The Religious Consultation was founded in 1994 at the
time if the U.N.'s International Conference on Population and Development
in Cairo. It is dedicated to promoting progressive religious views
on the issues of population, reproductive health, women's rights and
the environment. Although Religious Consultation members were accredited
and participated in the Cairo conference and subsequent U.N. meetings
in Beijing, Copenhagen and Istanbul, the newly won consultative status
provides the Consultation with greater access to and wider opportunities
for interaction with U.N. bodies.
"We are honored to be recognized by the Economic and
Social Council in this way," said Consultation President Daniel Maguire.
"We look forward to sharing our views and building coalitions with
other progressive-minded NGOs."
Women's Sexuality Project
Prepares Volume, Presents Findings
The Religious Consultation's "Good Sex" team held its
second meeting in Amsterdam in July 1998, where the women scholars
discussed drafts of their essays for the forthcoming volume, Good
Sex: Feminist Religious Wisdom. Conversation was intense
on topics including compulsory motherhood, the denial of women's pleasure,
economic issues and colonialism, the human right to good sex, Buddhist
teachings on leaving behind the body and more. The city of Amsterdam
with its open attitudes toward sexuality proved the perfect venue.
The group agreed on the need to bring the insights
of "good sex" into the religious education of children in tradition-specific
as well as more generalized ways. It is time to empower girls in intergenerational
conversations with the results of such research and invite them to
ask and answer their own questions of meaning and value when it comes
A number of the team members participated in a panel
discussion on "Good Sex: Women's Religious Wisdom on Sexuality" at
the 1998 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion in Orlando
in November, with Patricia Beattie Jung of Loyola University-Chicago,
presiding. Panelists included: Rebecca T. Alpert, Temple University
in Philadelphia; Radhika Balakrishnan, Marymount Manhattan College
in New York; Wanda Deifelt, Escola Superior de Teologia in Sao Leopoldo,
Brazil; Mary E. Hunt, Women's Alliance for Theology Ethics and Ritual
in Silver Spring, Maryland; Grace Jantzen, University of Manchester
in England; Suwanna Satha-Anand, Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok,
Discussion focused on how participants' minds have
changed in the course of this work, what new ways we now have of seeing
the fundamental issues at hand, and what next steps we envision for
using this work in our own settings. It was, from all reports, a lively
and engaging session with time for audience members to discuss the
same questions and to pose their concerns to the panel.
Patricia Beattie Jung and Mary E. Hunt presented a
joint paper entitled "Feminist Interreligious and Cross-Cultural Conversations
about Good Sex" at the Society of Christian Ethics Annual Meeting
in San Francisco in January, 1999. The focus of the paper was on the
theo-ethical aspects of the work. Conclusions included stress on the
importance of collegial rather than "lone ranger" approaches as well
as emphasis on interreligious ethical reflection in light of pluralistic
With final editing of the manuscript at hand, an important
stage of the "Good Sex" project is coming to completion. The team
wishes to express its appreciation to the Religious Consultation and
to encourage the formation of more such teams to tackle other critical
"What Men Owe to Women" Project
to Share Results, Publish Book
Scholars involved in the Religious Consultation's project
on "What Men Owe to Women: Positive Resources From the World's Religions"
will share some of their findings at two major conferences this year
in the U.S. and abroad. Funding is provided by the John D. and Catherine
T. MacArthur Foundation.
John Raines of Temple University will lead a panel
at the November meeting of the American Academy of Religion in Boston.
The panel will include other "What Men Owe" participants, including
Anantanand Rambachan of St. Olaf College, Christopher Jocks of the
Native American Studies program at Dartmouth, Marvin Ellison of Bangor
Theological Seminary, Farid Esack, a Muslim scholar and Commissioner
for Gender Equality in South Africa, and Christine Gudorf of Florida
"What Men Owe" participants will also present their
findings in December at the Parliament of the World's Religions in
Cape Town, South Africa. Professors Raines, Ellison and Esack will
be joined by Tavivat Puntarigvivat of Mahidol University in Thailand
and Benjamin Hubbard of the State University of California at Fullerton.
Meanwhile, the manuscript resulting from the "What
Men Owe" consultations has been submitted to the State University
of New York Press for publication. Later this year or early in 2000,
SUNY Press is publishing Visions of a New Earth: Religious
Perspectives on Population, Consumption and Ecology,
the product of the very first Religious Consultation project called
"New Theology on Population, Consumption and Ecology."
Riffat Hassan Starts Group
to Aid Pakistani Women
Riffat Hassan, chair of the Board of Directors of the
Religious Consultation and a Muslim scholar based at the University
of Louisville in Kentucky, has founded a new organization called the
International Network for the Rights of Female Victims of Violence
in Pakistan (INRFVVP).
for starting the organization came from a groundswell of outrage expressed
after the broadcast of BBC and ABC documentary reports on the "honor
killings" and maimings (through burning) of girls and women by their
male relatives in Pakistan. The report, aired on "Nightline" in February,
featured commentary by Asma Jahangir of the Pakistan Human Rights
Commission and Dr. Hassan, both of whom asserted that "honor killings,"
despite the perpetrators' attempts at justification, have nothing
to do with the teachings of Islam. They are related instead to a male-dominated,
patriarchal mindset that many women's groups and young Muslims throughout
the world are increasingly challenging in favor of a human rights-centered
understanding of Islam.
Following the telecast of "Nightline," Dr. Hassan was
flooded with Email, faxes and phone calls -- all from people motivated
to do something to alleviate the brutality against Pakistani women.
The idea of a network of concerned persons working together for the
rights of female violence victims developed spontaneously out of the
interchange between Dr.Hassan and those who communicated with her,
and the INRFVVP was born. The network of students, scholars, businesspeople
and activists has developed a committee structure and contacts within
Pakistan who report on incidents of violence against women and girls.
INRFVVP's goals are twofold: to conduct international
lobbying and raise consciousness about this violent oppression of
women and to provide direct support to the victims, many of them in
urgent need of medical care. The Network is now receiving weekly reports
of shootings and burnings. It is estimated that there are 17,000 female
burn victims in Pakistan alone.
To contact the Network, call 502/637-4090 or write
to P.O. Box 17202, Louisville, KY 40217.
The Day of Six Billion: October
On October 12, 1999, the earth's population will reach
6 billion. Activist groups will use this historic event to raise public
awareness about the social, economic and environmental effects of
increasing human population. They also plan to lobby governments to
fulfill commitments made at the 1994 International Conference on Population
and Development in Cairo: to fund reproductive health, environmental,
educational and economic development efforts worldwide.
The Cairo Program of Action called for: universal access
to quality and affordable family planning and reproductive health
services; broad measures to ensure gender equity and the empowerment
of women; universal access to primary education. These are programs
that, if funded properly, can improve the lives of billions of people
and stabilize world population by mid-century.
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Religion, the United Nations
and the "Cairo+5" Process
By Daniel C. Maguire
The U.N. International Conference on Population and
Development held in Cairo in 1994 was revolutionary in a number of
ways. The follow-up meeting, "Cairo Plus 5," in February 1999 at The
Hague assessed the broken and kept promises of that revolution.
At The Hague meeting, Mahmoud Fathalla of Egypt summed
up the good news of the Cairo movement. Cairo redefined reproductive
ethics in woman-centered ways. It broke the silence on sex, on female
genital mutilation (FGM, sometimes cynically called female circumcision),
on violence against women, and on unsafe abortion. It dropped the
Malthusian stress on numbers in population discussions and spoke of
human welfare and the empowerment of women. With these in place, the
numbers would more easily and surely take care of themselves.
Cairo also pioneered a new kind of partnership between
civil society and national governments with the rise of the Non-Governmental
Organizations (NGOs). These bands of citizens, including large numbers
of women, have been growing in influence and represent the most promising
flowering of democracy in a world of juggernaut corporations and the
often overshadowed nation states that are increasingly liege to overwhelming
corporate power. (Of the largest 100 economies in the world today,
50 are corporations. See David Korten's When Corporations
Rule the World, Kumarian Press, 1995.) Given the ongoing
eclipse of nations by the corporations, NGO power is the primary countervailing
YOUTH FORUM AT THE HAGUE
As president of the Religious Consultation, I was invited
to the "Cairo+5" Conference in February. One of the most positive
developments at The Hague conference was the institution of a Youth
Forum. This is a notable extension of the NGO democratization process,
and a timely one given the large demographic cloud that hung over
the meeting; at this moment in history, the largest fertility class
in the history of the world has arrived on the planet. Thus it was
encouraging to see the world's youth facing the threat that their
fertility and numbers present. One hundred and thirty-five young people
-- starting at age 17 -- from 111 countries participated. They were
given the usual U.N. simultaneous translation services and conducted
their own affairs with vigor and good order. They fully understood
the limits of growth on a finite planet. Interestingly, they were
not as skittish about religion as are the U.N.'s main bodies. They
cited the need for assistance from religious leaders while also suggesting
their need to educate religious leaders to the real needs of youth
today. They were not looking for a one-way dialogue. They also demanded
equal status in the NGO deliberations and stated their intention to
be an enduring and active presence in future U.N. activities.
Still, the mood at The Hague was not festive. The monies
promised at Cairo have not been forthcoming, especially from those
who can afford it best. The poor nations have fulfilled 70% of their
financial and policy commitments. The wealthy nations, except for
a few like the host government of The Netherlands, have produced only
25% of what they promised. Wealth distribution has become more unequal
and more violent with the U.N. reporting that the affluent top 20%
of the world receives 82% of the world's income, with the rest distributed
in miserly and lethal fashion to the remaining 80%. Maternal mortality
continues unabated -- with a young woman in the prime of life dying
every minute of every day due to unnecessary childbearing crises.
An over-consuming world is double glazing and basting itself with
warming gases. For some examples of this, the Lewis glacier on Mount
Kenya, a major water resource, has lost 40% of its mass; the height
at which air temperature reaches 32 degrees has been gaining in altitude
since 1970 at a rate of 15 feet a year, and it has rained at McMurdo
Sound in Antarctica -- something as weird as would be snow in Saudi
WHERE IS RELIGION?
All this is serious if not apocalyptic and it all relates
to more people and bigger appetites. So where is religion at this
defining moment? Religions at their best have offered saving world
views and shed light on moral needs. At the United Nations, this positive
role of religion is a virtual unknown. Religion does indeed get mentioned
in U.N. documents, but either as a problem or as a possible basis
for discrimination. Thanks to Vatican and conservative Muslim stress
on reproductive ethics, religion is seen as the major inhibitor of
open discussion of family planning. The Vatican has used its idiosyncratic
position as the only religion with a seat in the U.N. to function
as an iceberg in the shipping lanes of fertility analysis. It inserted
in the original Cairo Program of Action its reservations on contraception,
sterilization, abortion and, stunningly, "on the use of condoms in
HIV/AIDS prevention programmes."
OBSTRUCTION BY THE VATICAN
The subsequent phase of the "Cairo+5" assessment process
occurred in New York in March. Consultation Board members Radhika
Balakrishnan and Riffat Hassan attended. It was a disappointing session.
In spite of the best efforts of the NGOs present, critical issues
like financial commitments were sidetracked by religiously fomented
disputes about abortion, sex education for teenagers, contraception,
and the rights of women. The Vatican was again using its idiosyncratic
position in the United Nations to distract that body from its main
agenda which is to keep world population to 9.8 billion by 2050, followed
by stabilization and decline. The Vatican and its conservative Muslim
allies balked even at a pledge to insure that abortions are safe for
women legally entitled to them! The nature of this impeding alliance
can be seen in the nations that worked with the Vatican: Argentina,
Nicaragua, Guatemala, Chile, Libya, Sudan, Algeria and Malta.
Efforts are underway to have the Vatican's status at
the U.N. altered to reflect reality. The Vatican, a little plot of
land in Rome with office space, a church, a museum, and a post office
--but with no women or children among its citizens -- is not a state
in any meaningful sense. It came into being as a nineteenth century
accommodation to compensate the Vatican for the loss of the "Papal
states." This accommodation did not constitute the Vatican as a state
among the nations of the world. Still, the Vatican managed to impose
this juridical fiction on the U.N. and in 1964, over many intelligent
objections, Secretary General U Thant granted it "permanent observer
status," a position held, for example also by Switzerland.
The Vatican, revealingly, the only state in the U.N.
to call itself "Holy," has not borne its privileged status among all
world religions with modesty. Its machinations led to major delays
at the Cairo Conference in 1994 and it is still busy at obstruction
in what I have been calling for some years "the pelvic issues." (Please
see the address I gave to
the main assembly at the Cairo Conference. Three members of the
Vatican delegation were in attendance.)
CHALLENGING THE VATICAN
A movement is afoot among NGOs (including the Religious
Consultation) to challenge the Vatican's status and have it declared,
more honestly, another NGO, in the manner of Islamic, Buddhist, and
Jewish organizations. Success is not likely, given the conservative
diplomatic courtesies that mark the U.N. which has treated the Vatican
like a state for over 30 years. Were the Vatican one among the many
NGOs in the world, it could argue its views on a fair playing field.
Perhaps one day -- permit me a moment of dreaming -- the Vatican will,
in an edifying and religious act of humility, voluntarily divest itself
of its undue privileges and join the other world religions on equal
footing. And, perhaps not.
To leave dreams for realism, other religions and religious
NGOs will have to be more vocal in pointing out that the Vatican first
of all does not speak for all Catholics. There is considerable liberal
thinking in large areas of Catholicism and many Catholic theologians
and people defend the right to family planning, including abortion
and contraception. There is more to the Catholic Church than the Catholic
hierarchy which historically tends more often than not to lag behind
in the development of Catholic wisdom. We must also call attention
to the contributions of all the world religions on matters of population
and reproductive health and the rights of women. I and other members
of the Consultation will be attending the culminating session of the
"Cairo+5" process at the U.N. this summer -- we have received special
consultative status as an NGO (see p. 3) -- and will work to counter
the Vatican's unfair and unjust influence on the deliberations of
this important international body.
Daniel C. Maguire is a Professor of Moral Theology
at Marquette University in Milwaukee and President of The Religious
Consultation on Population, Reproductive Health and Ethics.
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Change and Reform in the Muslim World
By Asghar Ali Engineer
The world is on the verge of the twenty-first century
and different belief systems are being critically examined by experts
in various fields. Religion and religious beliefs are no exception.
However, this does not mean that the basics of religion itself are
to be changed. For revealed religions like Islam, these fundamentals
are immutable. But it should also be borne in mind that no religion
can escape sociological influences. Even the revealed fundamentals
filter through given social structures. The Muslim theologians themselves
were conscious of this fact. They made provisions for what they called
adat, i.e., the traditions and customs of a given society.
The Shari'ah formulations of the early Islamic period were thus influenced
by the Arab adat.
Besides adat, other factors like qiyas
(analogy) and ijma (consensus) too went into shari'ah
formulations and could not have escaped the sociological filter. After
all, the consensus among the theologians (ulama) depended on their
social outlook. It was, therefore, synthesis of the theological and
the sociological which finally gave shape to the Shari'ah formulations.
It is for this reason that an eminent Islamic thinker like Maulana
Abul Kalam Azad made a distinction between Din (the essence
of religion) and shari'ah (the laws governing socio-religious behavior).
The Maulana maintained, and rightly so, that while Din is
one (his well-known doctrine of Wahdat-e-din), the shari'ah
differs from time to time and society to society.
The classical jurists also had made provision for what
they called ijtihad (i.e. creative thinking). Since the social
needs were bound to vary from time to time and place to place, there
ought to be some provision for creative thinking and re-interpreting
divine provisions. Islam was revealed in Arabia and certain socio-legal
provisions in the Qur'an catered specifically to the needs of the
Arab society of the time. Thus, one who re-thinks issues in Islam
on the eve of the 21st century cannot afford to mechanically imitate
the classical jurists.
Islam's image has been sullied by a few fundamentalists
who are not aware of the progressive nature of the Qur'an's injunctions.
The Qur'an laid down fundamental values which were applied to that
society by the early jurists. The fundamentalists, rather than going
by the value pronouncements of the Qu'ran go by their applications
in the early Islamic society. Thus Islam gets frozen in the 7th and
8th centuries when the classical jurists flowered. These fundamentalists
do not appreciate the fact that the value pronouncements of the Qur'an
-- rigorous justice, equality of all irrespective of color, race and
ethnicity, equality of sexes, just distribution of economic resources
-- are amongst the most modern, and it is these pronouncements which
are fundamental to Islam, not what the classical jurists attempted
in their own society.
These fundamentalists are responsible for the image
of Islam as a backward-looking religion. The facts point to the contrary.
Because of the actions of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the impression
is created that Islam disempowers women. In fact, the Qur'an nowhere
deprives women of their right to earn their own livelihood (Qur'anic
verse 4:32), let alone confine them to their homes. This verse says
that "For men is the benefit of what they earn, and for women is the
benefit of what they earn." Similarly, the Qur'an pronounces the concept
of sexual equality in verse 2:228: "And women have rights similar
to those against them in a just manner." In verse 33:35, women and
men are equated in every respect. It is a wonder that there exist
in Islamic Shari'ah provisions which appear to be contrary to the
concept of gender justice enshrined in the Qur'an.
It is true that the early Islamic society could not
stomach sexual equality. Therefore, the jurists invented the hadith
which could sanction sex-discriminatory laws to fulfill their
requirements. It is time to re-think these shari'ah provisions and
reinvent the original Qur'anic spirit of gender justice. Many modern
interpreters of the Qur'an have been emphasizing this approach. In
the Arab world, Islamic thinkers like Allama Yusuf Qardawi and others
have stressed the Qur'anic spirit of justice. Also, the practice of
hijab prevalent in some Arab countries in which women cover
themselves from top to toe, including their face, does not exist in
the Qur'an. It is a customary practice rather than a Qur'anic one.
All that the Qur'an requires is a dignified dress which does not explicitly
display a woman's sexual charms in order to attract male attention.
This question is more culture-sensitive than categorical in nature.
Moreover, cultural norms are more important than theological ones.
The earlier theologians and jurists did show cultural sensitivity
in their formulations. But the theologians belonging to latter generations
lost this sensitivity in their zeal to imitate their predecessors.
There is another important factor -- socio-political
in nature -- which is responsible for freezing Islam in the past.
The Qur'an had laid emphasis on reason, thinking and reflection and
uses words like aql, tadabbur and tafakkur which
imply reason, rational management of things and deep reflection. Nowhere
does the Qur'an demand blind imitation. The Qur'an also lays emphasis
on democratic consultation in state affairs, a fact overtaken by the
historical event of monarchy -- which was against the spirit of Islam
-- being established in the Muslim world when Yazid, the first Umayyad
monarch was installed. It led to the development of an authoritarian
culture. This authoritarian culture was also reflected in many juristic
formulations which were taken to be immutable. This writer calls this
the feudalization of Islam, something which killed its spirit of democracy
and justice. In most Islamic countries, this feudal Islam persists
and comes in the way of re-thinking and ijtihad.
The need of the hour is to de-feudalize Islam and restore
its progressive spirit. The world of Islam, which is entering the
post-modern world, is caught within a contradiction. On one hand,
it is modernizing at a fast pace; on the other, it is struggling to
keep its feudal identity, resisting change. The dilemma is that it
admits to change in economic and technological fields while it struggles
to retain its primordial character in the theological realm. The Islamic
world has not been able to successfully resolve this paradox. It requires
a creative and critical approach to theology.
First, the theologians are ill-equipped to do so. Second,
such a theological milieu does not exist in Islamic countries. However,
it is only a matter of time, with change being inevitable and the
process having already begun. Its pace at present is slow, but there
is no way to accelerate it since people cannot often absorb rapid
change in religious matters. It is even more difficult in case of
the Muslim world. Change, however,is surely on the agenda in the Islamic
Asghar Ali Engineer is Chair of the Centre for the Study of Society
and Secularism in Mumbai, India. He was the recipient last year of
the New Leaders' Award for Communal Harmony and Interreligious Understanding
bestowed by the Indian government. His latest book is The
Qur'an, Women and Modern Society to be published by Sterling
Publishers of New Delhi. This commentary was first published in The
Times of India.
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MOVERS AND SHAKERS:
Tracking the Activities of Our Participating Scholars
of the Department of Religion at Rutgers University has been elected
vice-president of the Society for the Study of Chinese Religion (SSCR),
the only professional association for scholars of Chinese religion
in the world (membership consists of scholars in North America, Europe,
and Asia). Her term is three years starting 1999.The SSCR sponsors
panels at the annual meetings of the Association of Asian Studies
and the American Academy of Religion. ...
F. Knitter of the Department of Theology at Xavier
University spent time in Germany earlier this year presenting lectures
and workshops aimed at helping religious teachers in public schools
explore ways in which they can teach Christianity without disparaging
other religions. Knitter, a member of the Board of Trustees of the
International Interreligious Peace Council, has also taken a seat
on the Board of Directors of the Religious Consultation. ...
Jacob K. Olupona, Professor
of African American and African Studies and Chair Religious Studies
Program at the University of California-Davis, will be the Edna Gene
and Jordan Davidson Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Humanities
at Florida International University in Miami, in the Fall of 1999.
In addition to giving the Davidson Lecture, Olupona will be the convener
of an international conference, "From Local to Global: Rethinking
Yoruba Religious Tradition for the Next Millennium," Dec. 8-12, 1999.
For more details on the conference, contact: Dr. Terry Rey, Department
of Religious Studies, University Park, Florida International University,
Miami, FL 33199. ...
Chair of Jewish Studies at San Francisco State University, testified
as one of three expert witnesses on Judaism and human stem cell research
for the National Bioethics Advisory Board in May. She authored two
articles this Spring as well, one in Judaism, "Reading Like
a Girl: Gender and Text in Jewish Bioethics" and one in The Journal
of Medicine and Philosophy, "The Best Laid Plans: History and
Vision in Managed Care Medicine." Her research is focused on Jewish
thought and emerging issues in medicine and genetics. ...
a Muslim scholar and Commissioner for Gender Equality in South Africa,
delivered the keynote address at a conference on "Cultural Diversity
and Islam" at American University in Washington, DC late last year.
He participated in a 3-day all-Africa consultation on "Fatherhood,
Sexuality and Masculinity" in Lusaka, Zambia in January and is currently
organizing a national conference on "Muslim Personal Law, Constitutionalism
and Gender." His book, On Being a Muslim
(Oxford: Oneworld), was recently published. ...
has taken the new position of Eli Black Professor of Jewish Studies
at Dartmouth College. On January 31 of this year she gave birth to
a daughter. Her most recent book is Abraham Geiger and
The Jewish Jesus (University of Chicago Press, 1998).
She also co-edited Betrayal: German Churches and the Holocaust
recently received tenure at Marymount Manhattan College where she
heads the International Studies program. She has been co-chair of
the Religious Consultation's "Good Sex: Women's Religious Wisdom on
Sexuality" project and wrote a chapter on "Capitalism and Sexuality:
Free to Choose?" for the volume produced by the project. She has served
as a gender equity consultant to Health, Empowerment, Rights and Accountability
(HERA), a coalition of progressive groups participating in the 5-year
review process for the International Conference on Population and
Patricia Beattie Jung
of Loyola University-Chicago was awarded a John and Theresa Mulcahy
Research Support Grant for Catholic Issues to fund a working symposium
on "Homosexuality and the Biblical Renewal of Catholic Moral Theology."
Sixteen participants from around the United States representing biblical,
social scientific, theological and pastoral studies will gather in
Chicago next October at Loyola at the Cenacle for an interdisciplinary
conversation on this topic. Essays generated for this gathering are
to be published in a volume of the same title by The Liturgical Press.
Beattie Jung was also a co-chair of the Religious Consultation's "Good
Sex" project. ...
E. Gudorf of Florida International University has
just had her book Ethics and World Religions: Cross-Cultural
Casebook, co-edited with Regina W. Wolfe published by
Orbis Books. "Lie Without Anchors: Sex, Exchange, and Human Rights
in a Postmodern World" was published in The Journal of Religious
Ethics 1998:3, 295-303. Her article "Historical Developments
in the Treatment of Abortion in World Religions" will appear in the
Advanced Leadership Training Manual published by the National Family
Planning Association of China for use in retraining national executive
staff and the directors and deputy directors of the provincial family
planning staffs. Meanwhile, On Valuing Diversity in the
Politics of Difference has been accepted for publication
in an upcoming issue of The Journal of Religious Ethics.
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