Tag Archives: King Abdullah

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

60yrsudhrlogoDecember 10 marks the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). This is an historic and foundational document. It is secular but receives extremely wide support from different political, religious and non-religious trends. It arose in part as a reaction to the horrors and violence of the Second World war –  particularly the Holocaust. But it has also been an inspiration for moral and social progress throughout the world – intermittent and unreliable as that has been.

AC Grayling is currently blogging in the Guardian on the UDHR – one article a day until December 10 (see AC Graylings articles on the UDHR). As always, his comments are worth reading.

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Secularism is good for religion

I mean “good” in two ways:

  • It helps reduce the tendency of religions to become cults with teachings and ideology more and more divorced from reality;
  • It helps reduce the tendency to define “outsiders” as dangerous, maybe even deserving of death for their “sins.”

Sam Fleischaker makes these points in an article Religion v. Secularism? Let’s Skip This Fight recently posted on the South Jerusalem blog. As a religious Jew, Sam is in favour of religious people of different “faiths” uniting on common issues. However, he deplores the current calls for unity emanating from the Madrid Interfaith Conference and Saudi King Abdullah. “Religious people should unite with one another, but will only continue to wreak havoc if they take secular people as their enemy. They will also harm themselves: the secular world is good for religion.”

[I question the very basis of “interfaith” activity as it is exclusive, limited to only religious people, and therefore has the danger of ignoring basic human rights. But clearly “interfaith” unity aimed at opposing or eliminating atheism (as in King Abdullah’s appeal) is downright dangerous. But that’s an aside].

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Interfaith dialogue and human rights

Abdullah opening Madrid Interfaith Conference

Abdullah opening Madrid Interfaith Conference

Well, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia got his – a Global Interfaith Dailogue. It helped that he financed the meeting. The meeting was held last week in Madrid, Spain.  After all such a dialogue would have been impossible in Saudi Arabia – which does make me wonder: If Abdullah is so interested in dialogue and understanding why isn’t he doing something about the situation in his own country? It’s not as if he has no influence there!

In his recent appeal for such dialogue Abdullah rather gave the game away (see Interfaith dialogue to fight against human rights). He revealed the purpose would be safeguarding humanity from “the disintegration of the family and the rise of atheism in the world – a frightening phenomenon that all religions must confront and vanquish.”

Some commentators were naturally sceptical about this meeting, although it was welcomed by at least one New Zealand blog.

So what has this rather stage-managed Madrid Conference achieved?

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