The Religious Consultation on
Population, Reproductive Health & Ethics
Religious Consultation Report
News & Views from
The Religious Consultation on Population, Reproductive Health
Page One: World Community Observes
Population Milestone, "Day of Six Billion"
Article 2: Religious Consultation News
Article 3: Youth and the Spiritual Dimension
to Addressing Population Growth
Article 4: The Guiding Principles of Jewish
Article 5: Book on Women and Population Offers
Article 6: Movers and Shakers: Tracking the
Activities of Our Participating Scholars
Observes Population Milestone, "Day of Six Billion"
October 12, 1999 marked the date the six billionth
human was born on earth. This population milestone represents twice
the number of people who inhabited the planet in 1960. United Nations
projections indicate that world population could rise to 9 billion
or more by 2050.
The United Nations called for the international observance
of the "Day of Six Billion," encouraging individuals to contemplate
the implications of population growth and urging governments and
other institutions to contribute to ongoing efforts to alleviate
the sex discrimination, educational and economic inequities and
lack of health services that have helped fuel the historic increase.
The number of people on earth is not the whole story.
The real story is improving the quality of life of every one of
the 6 billion and ensuring a healthy future for our children and
Some interesting thoughts to ponder:
- History's largest generation of young people -- 1.07 billion
-- between the ages of 15 and 24 currently walks the earth.
The reproductive choices these young people make will determine
the planet's future. Better access to education, jobs, and family
planning services will encourage healthy, life-sustaining choices.
- More than half the world's population is female. But many
women and girls lack the right to decide their own futures and
are denied the rights to education, employment and health care.
Statistics show that the more education a girl receives, the
more likely she is to postpone pregnancy and to have fewer but
- The number of cities with more than one million people rose
from 111 in 1960 to 280 in 1995, two thirds of them in developing
countries; by 2010, the number of such cities in the developing
world will rise to 368.
In 1994, 179 nations of the world came together for
the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo,
Egypt. They agreed on a Programme of Action that includes these
- Improving and expanding the full range of family planning
and reproductive health care programs worldwide, ensuring that
reproductive health services are available to all who need them;
- Reducing infant, child and maternal mortality rates dramatically
through the wider provision of basic health care services, especially
in developing countries;
- Increasing educational and economic opportunities for girls
and women to assist in their self-determination; of the 960
million illiterate adults in the world, two-thirds are women,
and in poor countries, every additional year of a woman's schooling
is associated with a 5-10% decline in infant mortality;
- Ending practices such as female genital mutilation and other
forms of violence and coercion against women;
A five-year review of the ICPD's Programme of Action
was debated at the United Nations this past summer. Ultimately,
the General Assembly reiterated its support for the Programme of
Action, established new deadlines to meet its ambitious goals and
appealed for the funds necessary, especially from the U.S., to implement
The Religious Consultation on Population, Reproductive
Health and Ethics was founded at the time of the Cairo conference
in the belief that the voices of progressive, feminist leaders of
religious faiths can play a critical role in the ongoing debates
over population, women's empowerment and sustainable development.
Religious Consultation scholars have participated
in United Nations' and other national and international conferences.
They have initiated innovative projects like New Theology on
Population, Consumption and Theology, What Men Owe to Women,
Women's Religious Wisdom on Sexuality, and The Right
to Family Planning, Contraception and Abortion in Ten World Religions
and are disseminating the results of their studies. This newsletter
tells you more about our work. To contact us:
Top (Table of Contents)
Religious Consultation News
"Visions of a New
Earth" Published by SUNY Press
Visions of a New
Earth: Religious Perspectives on Population, Consumption and Ecology
is being published by the State University of New York Press in
November. The volume is a collection of essays by Religious Consultation
scholars who participated in the Consultation's first project,"
New Theology on Population, Consumption and Ecology." It is edited
by Harold Coward and Daniel C. Maguire.
The "New Theology" project, funded in part by the
Ford Foundation and the John D. and Catherine The. MacArthur Foundation,
brought together nine scholars of the world's religions to address
the linked issues of population, consumption and ecology from their
respective religious traditions. The book argues that religious
beliefs and moral values must play a critical role in moving humanity
toward greater bio-reverence, a greater respect for and care of
Among the essays in Visions of a New
Earth are: "The Religion of the Market" by David R.
Loy; "Self as Individual and Collective: Ethical Implications" by
Harold Coward; "New Theology on Population, Consumption and Ecology
from the Catholic Perspective" by Alberto Munera; "The Lost Fragrance:
Protestantism and the Nature of What Matters" by Catherine Keller;
and "The Promises of Exiles: A Jewish Theology of Responsibility"
by Laurie Zoloth-Dorfman.
Also included are: "'One Tree is Equal to Ten Sons':
Hindu Responses to the Problems of Ecology, Population and Consumption"
by Vasudha Narayanan; "An Islamic Response to the Manifold Ecological
Crisis: Issues of Justice" by Nawal H. Ammar; "Toward a Buddhist
Environmental Ethic" by Rita M. Gross; "Chinese Religions on Population,
Consumption and Ecology" by Chun-fang Yü; "African Religions
and the Global Issue of Population, Consumption and Ecology" by
Jacob K. Olupona; and "Sustainability and the Global Economy" by
economist David C. Korten.
The book's introduction is by Daniel C. Maguire,
President of the Religious Consultation. The final chapter, "An
Interreligious Common Front" is by Paul F. Knitter.
Visions of a New Earth
is 248 pages. The paperback edition is $17.95 + postage. To order
a copy, call SUNY Press at 800-666-2211 or visit their web site
"Right to Family
Planning" Group Holds First Consultation
"Thanks to the generosity of the Packard Foundation,
we have an opportunity to change international discourse on the
subject of family planning, especially regarding the tortured issue
of abortion." These words of greeting by Religious Consultation
President Daniel Maguire opened the first meeting of the Consultation's
project on "The Right to Family Planning, Contraception and Abortion
in Ten World Religions" in Philadelphia this past July.
"The conservative view on family planning in world
religions is well known and dominates international discussions,"
said Maguire. "Less well known is the adaptability of the world's
religions to respond to the new demographic and ecological crisis.
This is the first time that distinguished scholars of the world's
religions sat with experts in reproductive science and demography
to show that the world's religions are not icebergs in the shipping
lanes of progress but can be helpful guides and motivators for family
For Mary C. Churchill, women's studies and Native
American studies professor at the University of Colorado-Boulder,
"The meeting reminded me of why I went into the academy
in the first place: to contribute to projects that can improve
the lives of oppressed people, especially American Indians. The
academy's emphasis on 'publish or perish' can often divert us
from using our status and resources to promote social justice.
My work with the Consultation has rekindled in me that commitment
and shown me a way to combine the academy with activism."
"I consider the meeting in Philadelphia very important,"
Parichart Suwanbubbha of Mahidol University in Thailand said, "because
it deals with contemporary human issues like the rights of women
and the rights to family planning and abortion. I hope to point
out the Buddhist teachings and fruitful interpretations to comfort
women, family members, doctors and others involved in abortions
and show how they may still claim themselves authoritatively as
moral and practical Buddhists."
Other scholars working on "The Right to Family Planning"
project include: Laurie Zoloth of San Francisco State University;
Dr. Jose Barzelatto of the Center for Health and Social Policy;
Dr. Oyinade Sodipe of the Ogun State Ministry of Health in Nigeria;
Geling Shang of the Harvard Yenching Institute; Christine Gudorf
of Florida International University; Jacob K. Olupona of the University
of California-Davis; Beverly Harrison, formerly of Union Theological
Seminary; Arvind Sharma of McGill University in Montreal; Ping-chen
Hsiung of the Academia Sinica in Taipei, Taiwan; Riffat Hassan of
the University of Louisville; Sandhya Jain, a journalist in India;
Anrudh jain of the Population Council; and Funmi Togonu-Bickesteth
of Obafemi Owolowo University in Nigeria.
The scholarly papers which result from this project
will be published in an academic volume and then in a popular volume
aimed at population workers, policy-makers and a more general public.
The project's scholars will continue as a Task Force to present
briefings and offer their expertise in future policy discussions
on family planning issues in the U.S. and abroad.
"We have heard from persons at the United Nations
and from international NGOs in the population field expressing their
interest in our pioneering work," Maguire said. "We meet again in
Princeton next May to critique the first drafts of our papers. We
will then work on broadly disseminating our results. We will call
on many of you who receive this newsletter to help in that dissemination."
Speaks Out at United Nations
This past summer, Religious Consultation President
Daniel C. Maguire participated in the Special Session of the United
Nations General Assembly which was conducting its five-year review
of the Programme of Action adopted at the International Conference
on Population and Development in Cairo (1994). The Religious Consultation
has special consultative status as a non-governmental organization
with the U.N.'s Economic and Social Council.
The Religious Consultation joined with a coalition
of international women's groups led by the International Women's
Health Coalition and HERA - Health, Empowerment, Rights and Accountability,
which lobbied to ensure that the progressive language and policies
adopted at the ICPD in Cairo were maintained and strengthened. The
overall goal was to prevent a return to the narrow focus on population
"control" in favor of addressing the underlying issues of women's
educational needs, universal health and family planning services,
and economic empowerment.
Because The Vatican, along with conservative Catholic
and Islamic states, were the primary opponents of these progressive
views, Dr. Maguire, a Catholic theologian who teaches at Marquette
University, was asked to address the Committee of the Whole of the
General Assembly. Parts of the speech, delivered on July 1, 1999,
are excerpted here.
"Mr. Chairman and distinguished participants, I welcome
this opportunity to give voice to religious views too seldom heard
in these assemblies. I rise to speak as a Catholic theologian
trained in The Vatican's Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.
My comments center on The Vatican's idiosyncratic positions on
informed Catholics know, the Catholic Church has always housed
a pro-choice, as well as a no-choice, position on abortion. On
the pro-choice side, I cite St. Antoninus, the Archbishop of Florence,
who in the fifteenth century defended a woman's right to abortion
if needed to save her life -- a huge category in the medical conditions
of his day. After that, Archbishop Antoninus was canonized as
a saint and thus an example for all the Catholic faithful. The
pro-choice position continued and grew. In the seventeenth century,
Jesuit Father Sanchez could not find a single Catholic theologian
who did not defend women's right to make that life-saving abortion
decision. I submit that The Vatican should precede its interventions
at the U.N. with a prayer to St. Antoninus, the pro-choice saint
of the Catholic Church that The Vatican claims to represent.
"Other religions have strong support for family planning,
contraception and abortion. On July 28, 1999, the Religious Consultation
on Population, Reproductive Health and Ethics will convene a program,
funded by the Packard Foundation, entitled "The Right to Family
Planning, Contraception and Abortion in Ten World Religions."
The very title of the project signals that other religions which
also claim to know something of the sanctity of life have solid,
pro-choice positions alongside no-choice positions. These are
the facts of religious life, and it is disengenuous to disguise
"The Vatican should admit this ambiguity and stop their
dogmatism, a dogmatism that offends many Catholics and most of
the world's religions. If The Vatican would do that and also surrender
their privileged posiition at the United Nations, a position that
privileges them above all other religions, perhaps I could relent
and call them the 'Holy See.'"
Scholars to Present Findings
of "What Men Owe to Women" at AAR Annual Meeting and at Parliament
of World Religions
Scholars involved in the Religious Consultation's
project on "What Men Owe to Women: Positive Resources from the World's
Religions" will present their findings at two important meetings
John Raines of Temple University will preside over
a panel session on the "What Men Owe to Women" project November
21 at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion in
Boston. Participants on the panel include Marvin Ellison of Bangor
Theological Seminary, Farid Esack, a Commissioner for Gender Equality
in the South African government, Christine Gudorf of Florida International
University, Christopher Jocks of Dartmouth College, and Anantanand
Rambachan of St. Olaf College.
John Raines will also lead a panel of scholars in
the same presentation during the Parliament of the World Religions
in Cape Town, South Africa in December. He will be joined by Ellison
and Esack as well as Tavivat Puntarigvivat of Mahidol University
in Thailand and Benjamin Hubbard of the University of California
The "What Men Owe to Women" project, sponsored by
the MacArthur Foundation, brought together 12 distinguished male
scholars who explored the positive resources supporting mutuality
and human rights in male-female relationships in Islam, Christianity,
Judaism, Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, and Native American and Native
African traditions. Their work was critiqued by feminist scholars
of religion and is currently awaiting publication. Plans call for
an academic volume followed by a popular book aimed at policy-makers,
journalists and a wider public. The group will continue as a Task
Force of the Religious Consultation, speaking out about women's
rights and men's responsibilities through the print and broadcast
media and in public policy forums.
Other team members included: Mutombo Nkulu-N'Sengha,
Liu Xiaogan, Asghar Ali Engineer and the late Rabbi Ze'ev Falk,
to whom the work will be dedicated.
Top (Table of Contents)
Youth and the Spiritual
Dimension to Addressing Population Growth
By Sandhya Jain
The much-heralded Age of Adolescents has finally
dawned. But it is not likely to usher in a brave new world because,
notwithstanding the rhetoric, the grim reality is that though young
people today constitute the largest-ever segment of the world population,
they are not being truly empowered to lead their lives with dignity
and freedom. "Empowerment," all are agreed, is the key word. If
it is to be meaningful, we will have to shed our prejudices and
redesign our socio-cultural and moral framework. Otherwise, we will
be swamped by a booming and rootless population. Unfortunately,
we have not moved very far in this direction.
As of October 12, we have an unprecedented world
population of six billion. Until the beginning of the nineteenth
century, the world population never exceeded one billion. Wars,
pestilence, natural calamities, famine, a limit- ed life span, all
took their toll on the population, and in turn bequeathed a heavy
socio-religio-cultural disposition towards large families. The role
model of woman as child-bearer is a legacy of this human need to
survive against all odds.
Tragically, tradition still bears down on us even
though the socio-cultural landscape has transformed dramatically.
Today, socie- ties are being torn apart by the purported demands
of faith/tradition on one side, and the shrill exhortations of pragmatism
on the other. The first is rigid, and has little to offer by way
of moral-spiritual sustenance beyond a tyrannical threat of loss
of redemption/salvation. The second is often banal, and tends to
get lost in statistics or self-righteousness. A new approach is
needed which can address the moral and the material landscape of
ordinary men and women.
There is an urgent need to give the population debate
a soul, so that it can appeal to men and women as moral-spiritual
beings for whom family planning, contraception, and even abortion,
are moral choices. Family planning must be liberated from
the guilt that it violates an immutable moral precept, as well as
from the perception that it is a purely secular decision, as this
pits it against organized groups who claim that it violates Gods
will. This false juxtaposition between Religion and Reason has proved
the greatest stumbling block to birth control, even in developed
nations. It is time to call the bluff.
All societies are based on reverence for life. This
frequently translates into a belief that children are "gifts of
God," as, in a sense, they are. But it also erroneously fosters
the view that life in the womb must on no account be terminated,
nor attempts made to inhibit conception, and this creates our present
dilemma. How do we best demonstrate our respect for the dignity
of human life? Do we regulate birth as we control other things in
life, or do we breed ourselves to chronic starvation, ecological
catastrophe, even extinction?
Science has freed women from being held hostage to
unwanted pregnancies, and provided safe exit routes to victims of
violence and lust. We can now regulate birth to suit our needs,
which have changed because of improved health services. We know
that overpopulation degrades human beings and destroys respect for
life. Yet we complicate our lives with dogmas that deny us the chance
to live our lives to the optimum.
The young, of course, are the worst affected. Some
years ago, a 14-year-old rape victim, pregnant with a child she
didnt want, was almost prevented from having an abortion by religious
busybodies in a conservative western nation. She was saved by courageous
political intervention, but at the cost of a sharply divided nation.
The moralists who called a minor schoolgirls abortion a subversion
of Gods will were least concerned how cruelly a baby would impact
her young life. Besides her physical, mental and emotional health,
it would affect her basic education, negate the likelihood of higher
education, and effectively disempower her for life.
Today, most baby boomers face this fate as governments
face conservative opposition to providing youth with access to information
about safe sex and relief from unwanted pregnancies. The recent
United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the 1994 International
Conference on Population and Development discussed womens rights
to sexual and reproductive health, including the issues of abortion,
rape and incest. The final document ruled that abortion should not
be promoted as a means of family planning, though it is often the
last resort of desperate women.
There was similar concern over HIV/AIDS, which
afflicts over 47 million people worldwide, and has already claimed
14 million victims. Half the worlds new infections are among youth.
Yet no real answers emerged, because of the fear of recognizing
the sexual and reproductive health rights of adolescents, especially
The issue of emergency contraceptives for young women
was dodged at the Youth Forum at The Hague earlier this year also,
despite being raised and approved from the floor. But it is now
too late to debate whether youth should be having sex. With one
billion adolescents in the reproductive age group, with one-tenth
of all births being teenage pregnancies, with HIV/AIDS a grim universal
reality, we cannot indulge in moral attitudes. If young people are
having sex, we cannot deny them access to safe sex.
This issue is becoming controversial in India as
well. The Union Health Ministry proposes to amend the Medical Termination
of Pregnancy Act (MTP) to empower minor girls (married or unmarried)
to have abortions without their guardians consent. The purpose is
to check illegal abortions (eight out of ten abortions are illegal)
and the high rate of maternal mortality (45 per 10,000) on account
of childbirth to young, particularly teenaged mothers. Predictably,
the amendment has fallen afoul of a group called the Society for
the Protection of the Unborn Child, which is threatening an agitation
of the issue, on grounds that it will destroy the social fabric
and promote 'immorality among youth.
However, one powerful consolation in India is that
religion does not pamper obscurantism. The desire for a male child
goes deep, and the common complaint of women with several daughters,
but helpless against further pregnancies, is that the husband wants
a male child to continue the line and perform the last rites. Yet,
in cities one finds daughters performing last rites in families
where there is no male heir. Earlier, a male relation would be asked
to do the honors.
My point is that whenever these breaches of convention
take place, the officiating male priest at the ceremony
graciously goes along with the spirit of the occasion and the times.
There is no known instance of his citing chapter and verse of the
scriptures to obstruct this development. Thus, even as India gears
up to face a population of one billion at the turn of the century,
it is quietly chiseling away at the foundations of the social order
that made this possible.
conclude with the Japanese philosopher, Daisaku Ikeda: "It is by
no means certain that methods good in one historical age will be
appropriate in another. The true spirit of religion is to adopt
only those measures that protect the dignity of life." It is high
time we stopped defending coercive motherhood as a religious value,
and promote sexual and reproductive health programs for the young,
as an investment in the future.
Sandhya Jain is a journalist based in New Delhi, India. This
article first appeared in The Pioneer in August.
Ms. Jain is one of the participants in the Religious Consultation
project on "The Right to Family Planning, Contraception and Abortion
in Ten World Religions."
Top (Table of Contents)
The Guiding Principles of
Jewish Reproductive Ethics
By Benjamin Hubbard
Some observers of the abortion wars in America have
wondered why even traditional or Orthodox Jews -- though opposed
to abortion in most cases -- have not displayed the same passion
for the "pro-life" agenda as their conservative Christian counterparts.
The answer lies in an understanding of two guiding principles of
Jewish reproductive ethics, which illustrate both the complexity
of the debate and the dangers of letting government decide unsettled
religious and philosophical questions as to when human life begins.
THE PRIMACY OF THE MOTHER'S
The first of these is that the life of the mother
always has primacy over that of the fetus. The Talmud is clear on
this point: "If a woman has [life-threatening] difficulty in childbirth,
the embryo within her must be dismembered limb by limb [if necessary],
because her life takes precedence over its life" (Tractate Oholot
7,6). The same passage however, goes on to note that, once the fetus's
head emerges, the abortion procedure may not be performed "for we
may not set aside one life for another."
There is no question among Jewish ethicists about
the necessity of an abortion when the mother's physical life and
health are threatened. Disagreements arise when the definition of
"health" is expanded to include emotional or psychological factors.
Thus, the Orthodox rabbinate will permit an abortion if the physical
life of the mother is at stake but not if there is the threat of
abnormalities in the fetus. Thus, an Orthodox rabbi might ask, "How
do you know that the child who might be born with a birth defect
[because, for example, the mother had German Measles during pregnancy]
will be worse off than if it had not been born?"
But the same Orthodox rabbi might look at the matter
quite differently if he were convinced that the emotional life of
the mother was at grave risk if she gave birth to a child with a
severe defect. So, even though an Orthodox rabbi would be less likely
than his Conservative or Reform counterpart to condone an abortion
for any reason other than the mother's physical health, there is
some ethical wiggle room. For a fetus is not a human being.
FETICIDE IS NOT HOMICIDE
That, in fact, is the other guiding principle for
Jewish ethicists regarding abortion. Feticide is not homicide in
Jewish law. Beginning with the Bible and reiterated in the Talmud,
Jewish law has made the determination that fetal life is not the
same as personal life. There is no question that life of some sort
begins with the zygote and embryo, but it is not the life of a human
being. In fact, the fetus is considered part of its mother. But
once the fetus enters the world -- even if premature -- it takes
on a new status and is now a person.
The most famous biblical passage relating to abortion
is Exodus 21.22-23: "When men strive together, and hurt a woman
with child, so that there is a miscarriage, and yet no harm [to
the combatants] follows, the one who hurt her shall be fined, according
as the woman's husband shall lay upon himBut if any harm [to the
woman] follows, then you shall give life for life" A clear distinction
is made between the life of the fetus (for whom damages must be
paid) and that of the mother (for whom the death penalty is prescribed).
Judaism makes a distinction between the right to
be born and the right to life. Abortion is permissible, even required,
in some instances; but the child's life is inviolable and on a par
with its mother once born. Abortion, moreover, ought to be a last
resort, not used for birth control or population management. Fetal
life is sacred even if not personal.
Most of the world's religious traditions -- Islam,
for example -- allow some leeway on the permissibility of abortion.
Religious leaders and ethicists from the so-called "pro-choice"
and "pro-life" sides ought to be in regular dialogue with one another
about this divisive issue. They might then learn from one another
to see the matter in all its moral and medical complexity, and together
they might find ways to make abortions less necessary and yet always
available and safe.
Finally, governments ought to tread carefully in
this domain and show profound respect for the differing conclusions
that deeply religious people reach on the morality of abortion.
Benjamin J. Hubbard is Professor and Chair of
the Department of Comparative Religion at California State University
in Fullerton, Calif. He is also a member of the Board of Directors
of the Religious Consultation on Population. His most recent book
(co-authored with John Hatfield and James Santucci) is America's
Religions: An Educator's Guide to Beliefs and Practices.
Top (Table of Contents)
Book on Women and Population
Offers Important Analysis
By Daniel C. Maguire
I have been reading Women, Population
and Global Crisis: A Political-Economic Analysis by
Asoka Bandarage (Zed Books, 1997). It is an interesting critique
of the population debate drawn especially from the perspective of
a feminist woman of color.
Bandarage's main thesis is that population stabilization
"without poverty alleviation, environmental restoration and demilitarization
results in the exacerbation of the existing problems and the victimization
of poor women. ... [G]rowing global economic inequality, not population
growth, is the main issue of our time." She does not deny the need
for family planning, including contraception and abortion. "The
magnitude and speed of global population increase or decrease will
have a major impact upon political-economic as well as environmental
evolution in the 21st century."
Malthusians are the enemy in her view because "like
Malthus, contemporary Malthusian analysts who work within the population
control paradigm advocate population stabilization as a substitute
for social justice and political-economic transformation." This
approach "reduces 'women's rights' to 'reproductive rights' which
in turn are equated with 'population policies.'" Population stabilization
without the economic empowerment of all peoples is only a "band
Bandarage sees too much of this Malthusianism and
a too narrow, one rubric population "control" obsession even in
the 1994 Cairo Programme of Action and in the thought of many liberal
feminists who work out of the market capitalistic dogma of unlimited
Bandarage discusses the negative influence of world
religions regarding population and reproductive health issues, but
does not mention the positive values in religion and their potential
power. Yet, significantly, she rests her hope in "a new global ethic
and spirituality that is based on universal right and social justice."
She also cites the need for "an organic worldview which sees the
inherent interconnectedness of all phenomena ... the need for qualitative
development ... compassion in all of our relationships" without
referencing the rooting and development of these essential cures
in Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, etc. Her book underlines once again
the need for religious leaders on the progressive, reforming sides
of these great traditions to contribute to the ongoing debates on
population and economic justice and to work toward just and compassionate
Top (Table of Contents)
MOVERS AND SHAKERS:
Tracking the Activities of Our Participating Scholars
Simeon O. Ilesanmi
has been awarded tenure and been promoted to the rank of Associate
Professor of Religion at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem,
North Carolina. He recently won a Laurance S. Rockefeller fellowship
and was appointed a fellow of the Center for Human Values at Princeton
University for 1999-2000. While at the Center, Ilesanmi will be
writing a book on religion and human rights in African political
thought. He was also elected a fellow of the Institute for Advanced
Study at Princeton....
Chair of Jewish Studies at San Francisco State University, was just
elected President of the American Society for Bioethics and the
Humanities for 2001-2002. She has co-edited two volumes in the Series
on Bioethics from the University Publishing Group: Notes
From a Narrow Ridge: Religion and Bioethics, edited
with Dena Davis; and Margin of Error: The Inevitability,
Epistemology and Ethics of Mistakes in Medicine and Bioethics,
with Susan Rubin....
Puntarigvivat, a Buddhist scholar at Mahidol University
at Salaya in Thailand, has been much sought after by the Thai broadcast
and print media to comment on the issue of "Dhammakaya" -- a capitalist/consumerist
form of Thai Buddhism which has been gaining adherents. He spoke
recently on "Business and Religion: Merit or Sin?" and "Dhammakaya
and Buddhism" on Thai television. In June, he did a presentation,
"Dhammakaya: Problems of Theory and Practice" at the Oriental Culture
Academy in Bangkok. His article, "Toward a Buddhist Social Ethics:
The Case of Thailand," was published in Cross Currents
(Fall, 1998, 347-365). He will participate in the Parliament of
the World's Religions in Cape Town in December, presenting findings
of the Religious Consultation's "What Men Owe to Women" project
with other team members....
John C. Raines
of the Department of Religion at Temple University has been awarded
a Senior Fulbright Research Grant for Spring, 2000. He will lecture
at the Muslim Religious College in Jakarta on the uses of modern
and post-modern social sciences in the study of religion. He will
work with local religious scholars to establish the first graduate
level program in Comparative Religion at the University of Indonesia.
"Ninety percent of Indonesians are Muslims," Raines commented, "and
religion is a required subject from elementary school through university.
But up to now, students have studied only their own religion, taught
by teachers who have studied only their own religion. Religion is
learned dogmatically rather than descriptively and comparatively.
This has consequences on the problems of ethnic strife and misunderstanding
in Indonesia. Students in the program will have to major in a religion
other than their own and learn to use modern methodologies in that
Nawal H. Ammar
has been tenured and promoted to the rank of Associate Professor
in the Department of Justice Studies at Kent State University. She
is currently a Fellow of the Open Society Institute studying "Health
and Reproductive Health Among Women Inmates in Ohio Prisons." She
won (along with Dr. Edna Erez) a National Institute of Justice Grant
to study the Criminal Justice Response to Battered Immigrant Women.
Earlier this year, she addressed the United Nation's Commission
for Social Development, 37th Session, as one of four experts on
service delivery in the 21st century. Recent publications include:
"Women's Grassroots Movements in Egypt: Legal and Social Democratization,"
with Leila Lababidy, in Democratization and Women's
Grassroots Movements, J. Bystyziensk and J. Sekhon
(eds.) from Indiana University Press; and "Health Care Delivery
in Ohio Women's Prisons" Fellow Observer, Spring 1999,
Vol. II, No. II....
Mary C. Churchill
of the University of Colorado-Boulder participated in the "Critical
Issues in Reproductive Health" series sponsored by the University
of Colorado-Denver and the Colorado National Abortion and Reproductive
Rights Action League. Her presentation, "When No One is Left to
Choose: Choice and American Indian Women," critiqued the feminist
strategy of emphasizing reproductive "choice" by examining issues
central to indigenous women's reproductive health, including the
unethical practices involved in providing contraceptives to Native
women, sterilization, the effects of toxic wastes on reproductive
health and the loss of many traditional puberty rites. Churchill
is with the Religious Consultation's "The Right to Family Planning,
Contraception and Abortion in Ten World Religions" project....
Martin-Schramm of Luther College in Decorah, Iowa
will have two papers published as part of anthologies: "Incentives,
Consumption Patterns, and Population Policies: A Christian Ethical
Perspective" in Christianity and Ecology,
from Harvard University Press; and "Population, Consumption, and
Ecojustice: A Moral Assessment of the United Nations 1994 International
Conference on Population and Development" in Consumption,
Population, and Sustainability: Perspectives from Science and Religion,
from Island Press. He represented the World Council of Churches
at meetings of the United Nations during the ICPD+5 review process
this year and will be the Convenor for "Race, Population, and Environmental
Justice," at the American Academy of Religion meeting in Boston
After completing her five-year position as Program
Officer in the Population division at the Ford Foundation, Marjorie
Muecke of the University of Washington has been
in ChiangMai, Thailand to continue research on two projects. One
explores the biases and blind spots in the Thai health care system,
specifically, the neglected problem of male drunkenness and its
impact on reproductive health. In spite of Buddhist prescriptions
against liquor, beer is one of the top consumer items in the country,
and the negative ramifications of excessive drinking are all but
ignored in Thai health care policy. Muecke is also conducting an
AIDS study among urban families in northern Thailand and identifying
discontinu- ities between the prevailing AIDS ideology in Thailand
and actual social experiences of the disease. She plans to publish
her findings after the research is completed....
R.C. and E.Y. Lee Chair Professor at the University of Toronto,
received a senior scholar grant of $30,000 from the CCK Foundation.
She traveled to Hong Kong for a conference in July and to China
for a research trip afterwards. She will be a distinguished visitor
at the National University of Singapore next year.
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