IJRF Vol 8 Issue 1/2 2015

Christian minorities & religious freedom

This issue represents the geographical and interdisciplinary breadth that the journal strives for, with articles ranging from law to theology and from Nigeria to North America. While there was no preconceived thematic focus, the uniting thread of most of the contributions is a focus on Christian minorities and religious freedom. Thomas Schirrmacher’s opinion essay on laws relating to loudspeakers on minarets is part of an ongoing dialogue on this issue.

Leah Farish draws on surveys of Moroccan Christians to describe in detail their experiences of living in a Muslim country. My article on the history of separatist Anabaptist Christians in Canada explores a similar experience of life as a religious minority, but through the lens of legal cases. I contrast political promises of accommodation of religious practices with the less favourable reality and ensuing legal challenges.Emmanuel Osewe Akubor discusses in depth the rise of fundamentalist Islamic groups in northern Nigeria and their impact on Christian minorities in that region.

Nicholas Kerton-Johnson and Tom Simmons have contributed articles on religious freedom issues in the US. Kerton-Johnson focuses on the theology of persecution and how Christians and churches should and should not respond to being marginalized. Although he discusses the US situation specifically, his theological approach is applicable to a variety of contexts. Simmons reviews the Hobby Lobby decision of the US Supreme Court and considers the implications of granting religious freedom to corporate entities.

Three of the articles in this issue feature the ongoing tensions, sometimes leading to persecution, between Muslims and Christians. Accordingly, Carsten Polanz’s review essay on the Muslim concept of takfir is an important contribution to our understanding. The essay is based on two books exploring this topic.

Thomas Schirrmacher has contributed an extended review and commentary on Michael Schwartz’s book on ethnic cleansing. Other reviews cover books on Turkish martyrs and on the theology of persecution.

Some of the articles in this issue were submitted in 2015 so you will find that they are current as of the date of the issue. Some articles have references after 2015, because they were submitted for publication after the 2015 date. We did not ask authors to revise. This issue went to press in early 2020. We trust you will still find this issue interesting and valuable.

Prof Dr Janet Epp Buckingham, managing editor

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