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Freedom of Religion Scholarly Articles

November 22, 2017

Resources on Freedom of Religion

I recently read several articles about freedom of religion and pulled important references and quotes from them to share with Big Ocean Cottage Leaders as part of our January 2017 campaign. Hope some of these are helpful to you as you plan your cottage discussion.


-Alicia Moulton
Big Ocean Media


Quotes from Jean Bingham’s Talk at European Parliament Conference:

Bahai teaching: “The world of humanity is possessed of two wings: the male and the female. So long as these two wings are not equivalent in strength, the bird will not fly. Until womankind reaches the same degree as man, until she enjoys the same arena of activity, extraordinary attainment for humanity will not be realized; … When the two wings . . . become equivalent in strength, enjoying the same prerogatives, the flight of humankind will be exceedingly lofty and extraordinary.”
The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912.” Bahá’í Reference Library. Accessed November 03, 2017.

“In Somalia, the cross-clan linkages women gain through marriage [make them…capable of mediating across clan lines]. In Central America, women [have been] key voices in… discouraging young people from joining criminal gangs and committing crime. Along the Tajik and Afghan border, … the Austrian NGO Women Without Borders is establishing schools for mothers to educate them on how to prevent the radicalization of their sons. So far, they have trained over 150 mothers, who report reconnecting with distant sons and daughters, persuading them not to attend illegal meetings or read radical material.” 
Carla Kopell, former Senior Gender Advisor at USAID. To Fight Extremism, the World Needs to Learn How to Talk to Women. August 12, 2015. Foreign Policy. 
“Violence is what happens when you try to resolve a religious dispute by means of power. It cannot be done…. Just as might does not establish right, so victory does not establish truth.”
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2015.
“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.” 
-Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights. United Nations General Assembly, Sixty-eight session, Elimination of all forms of religious intolerance, A/68/290, ¶ 69 (Aug. 7, 2013),, 19. 
Elizabeth Smart story how faith heals:
From Gender Gap in Religion Around the World: 
“This study finds that, globally, women are more devout than men by several standard measures of religious commitment.” 
“On all the standard measures of religious commitment examined in the study, Christian women are more religious than Christian men. By contrast, Muslim women and Muslim men show similar levels of religiousness on all measures of religious commitment except frequency of attendance at worship services. Because of religious norms, Muslim men attend services at a mosque much more often than Muslim women do.”
“An estimated 83.4% of women around the world identify with a faith group, compared with 79.9% of men.” 
Measured by affiliation (whether people belong to any particular religion); how often men and women attend religious services; daily prayer; importance of religion in their daily lives; belief in heaven, hell, and angels; 
Christian and Muslim gender gaps differ because men are more likely to attend weekly services, while women may practice at home. 
“Scholars of religion have been examining possible reasons for the gender gaps in religious commitment for some time. They have advanced many different theories, which cover a wide range of sources: biology, psychology, genetics, family environment, social status, workforce participation and a lack of “existential security” felt by many women because they generally are more afflicted than men by poverty, illness, old age and violence. Lately, a growing consensus in the academic community is that the religious gender gap probably stems from a confluence of multiple factors. But there is still no agreement on exactly which factors are most responsible for the gender differences.”
“Women who participate in the labor force tend to show lower levels of religious commitment than women who do not work outside the home for pay. As a result, when these two groups of women are compared with men (most of whom are in the labor force), the gender gaps differ.” 
Religious commitment is associated with education level, age, and marital status. 
The religion gender gap varies in different regions of the world. 
Quotes From Elder Holland’s Talk: 
“Allow me for a moment to discuss religious freedom as a means of preventing conflict and violence, especially to women. First, we need to remember what religious belief is. It answers the basic questions of the human experience: “Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? What is required of me?” These questions emanate from the human soul’s yearning desire to understand the purpose of one’s life. That is why a religious right is a human right. A human being must be permitted to find meaning in their life and for their life. For the vast majority of individuals on the planet that involves searching out, investigating, adopting, and, when necessary, adapting religious beliefs.” 
This is a super awesome reframe by Brian Grim and Roger Finke, religious violence cycle vs religious freedom cycle. Elder Holland is referring to their book in this quote. 
“Recent research by Brian Grim and Roger Finke indicates that these impediments to and restrictions on religious freedom lead to increased social hostilities over religion.[xxi] Grim specifically describes what he calls “the religious violence cycle,” where societal restriction on religion leads to governmental restrictions on religion, which together increase social violence toward religions and from religious groups toward society, prompting in turn more restrictions on religious freedom.[xxii] Obviously “the religious violence cycle” is a vicious one as well—literally. 
“The counterpart to the cycle of religious violence is what these two scholars call “the religious freedom cycle”—that increased religious freedom results in increased participation by religions and religious individuals in society, which in turn leads to positive contributions to the community.[xxiii] They note that religious communities are a bulwark of civil society, with high levels of religious freedom correlating in a statistically significant way with fewer incidents of armed conflict, high levels of health and earned income, and better educational opportunities for women, as well as with such foundational rights as civil liberty and freedom of the press.[xxiv]” 
xxi is from Brian Grim and Roger Finke, The Price of Freedom Denied, 22, 61–62.
xxii and xxiii are from Brian Grim, “Religious Freedom: Good for What Ails Us?” The Review of Faith and International Affairs, 3–4 
“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion.” John Adams, “To the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts,” Oct. 11, 1798.
“Religion and spirituality help [women and men] cope with trauma . . . [by] providing meaning in the face of grave loss, helping reduce anxiety, connecting victims to social support, and, in a more explicitly religious way, enabling them to attain communion with the sacred.” 
David Hollenbach, “Religion and Forced Migration” in The Oxford Handbook of Refugee and Forced Migration Studies, ed. Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, Gil Loescher, Katy Long, and Nando Sigona, Oxford Handbooks Online (
“What does all of this tell us? It tells us religion is a healing, hopeful, motivating influence, that religious rights are human rights, and that “human rights are women’s rights.”[xxvii] 
Elder Holland
xxvii Amy Chozick, “Hillary Clinton’s Beijing Speech on Women Resonates 20 Years Later,” New York Times, Sept. 5, 2013,
“As long as we take the view that these are problems for women alone to solve, we cannot expect to reverse the high incidence of rape and child abuse. Domestic violence will not be eradicated. We will not defeat this scourge that affects each and every one of us, until we succeed in mobilizing the whole of our society to fight it.” -Nelson Mandela, Address by President Nelson Mandela at National Men’s March, Pretoria, Nov. 22, 1997,
Abstract from Religious Freedom: Good for what ails us? People worldwide desire freedom to practice their religion, but religion is implicated in many of today’s most urgent security problems. Multinational statistical data indicate that a bundled commodity of human freedoms, including religious freedom, augments socio-economic wellbeing. The protection of fair religious competition leads to less religious violence and energizes productive participation. Research supports the concept of a religious freedom cycle, wherein religious freedom prompts religious participation which fuels positive social and political outcomes as grievances are removed. These outcomes reinforce religion’s role in a healthy society. Conversely, social and government restrictions can lead to religious violence, perpetuating those restrictions.