At their best, faith-based organizations and religious communities have embraced Ebola victims with loving care, heedless of their own safety in treating the suffering and working with public health officials in education and prevention efforts. Still, amid the uncertainty that has gripped governments, world health officials and religious groups alike, responses have been varied over religious rituals such as Muslim and traditional African burial practices encouraging the washing of the dead, Christian practices such as exchanging hugs and handshakes and receiving communion orally and the reliance on traditional healers that provide sources of comfort and hope to believers but also pose public health risks.
The transition to more religiously and ethnically diverse societies is rarely a smooth one. An economic downturn and heightened security fears have made it particularly challenging for countries throughout Europe. Amid the turmoil, many governments have forgone efforts at social integration in favor of legislation restricting religious freedom. But research indicates such efforts only increase conflict.[
Welcome to GlobalPlus, a new monthly feature designed to increase understanding on critical issues in international religion. Each GlobalPlus, produced by our partner, the Association of Religion Data Archives, lifts up the voices and contributions of international journalists, scholars and researchers to promote accurate, balanced reporting on religion enriched by the diverse, high-quality data being produced throughout the world. The inaugural report focuses on the issue of Islam and democracy.
Lifting up the virtue of humility may seem anachronistic in an age that extols self-adulation. But for Tomas Halik, a Czech priest and philosopher who won the 2014 Templeton Prize, the willingness of religious and secular individuals to engage in dialogue and learn from one another is essential to a civil society. “We must learn to share public space,” Halik declares.