The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on religious minoritiesVol. 16 No. 1 (2023)
The COVID-19 pandemic was more than a health crisis; it had a disproportionate impact on minorities, including religious minorities. We are pleased to publish this special issue on religious freedom in the age of COVID-19. It is a timely analysis of the crisis from a variety of perspectives. While the IJRF has typically had its major focus on persecution of Christians, this issue addresses many religious minorities. It is important to recognize that while diverse religions experience persecution, the experiences of persecution are similar.
We are pleased to welcome two guest editors for this issue. Adelaide Madera is a Full Professor at the Department of Law of the University of Messina, Italy, where she currently teaches Canon Law, Law and Religion, Comparative Religious Laws, and Religious Factor and Antidiscrimination Law. Since 2020, her research has focused on the impact of COVID-19 on religious freedom and the evolution of church-state relationships.
Kerstin Wonish was a PhD researcher in the field of religious minorities at the Institute for Minority Rights at EURAC Bolzano until 2022. With a background in law and religious studies she studied the accommodation of Islamic pluralism, religion and gender, and religion and human rights.
In addition to the thematic articles, I note a short “In my opinion” article by Kyle Wisdom about his project with the International Institute for Religious Freedom on “Good practices to reduce, resolve and prevent religious conflict”. The IIRF is looking for input so please consider participating in this project. As well, we have an interesting selection of book reviews.
We are also very pleased to have a new look for the journal. A hearty thank you to Ben Nimmo of Solid Ground for the new design.
Refugees and religious freedomVol. 15 No. 1/2 (2022)
In 2014, I joined the European Religious Liberty Forum of the European Evangelical Alliance and Advocates Europe. The issue of freedom of religion and belief (FoRB) for refugees was high on the agenda. In the Netherlands, I had been campaigning for better asylum procedures for Christians, especially those coming from Muslim countries, and also for a better understanding of religious persecution within the
Dutch reception centres. I was pleased to become networked with international specialists on these issues. Subsequently, I was asked to introduce the subject at meetings of the Refugee Highway Partnership (RHP).
In 2021, the Refugees and Religious Liberty Task Force was created as a joint initiative of the Religious Liberty Partnership, the RHP and the World Evangelical Alliance. The idea was suggested that a special issue of the International Journal of Religious Freedom should be dedicated to refugees and FoRB. This issue brings together two opinion pieces and seven articles of interest on several related topics, ranging from the acts of religious persecution that cause people to flee, on one hand, to the reception of refugees in countries of asylum, where they often find that their religious liberty is still at risk.
The two opinion pieces include theological reflections and research on aspects of freedom of religion in Nicaragua. Mark Glanville, associate professor of pastoral theology at Regent College, Vancouver, introduces us to the biblical ethics of kinship for people on the move and its meaning for our attitude towards refugees. God’s family includes people of all cultures and nations. Rossana Muga Gonzales, of Open Doors, and Teresa Flores Chiscul, of the Observatory for Religious Freedom in Latin America, discuss the impact of the Sandinista dictatorship on the freedom of religion and the freedom of expression of the churches in Nicaragua that causes, among others, forced displacements and exile of Christian leaders.
The articles are focused on issues of refugees and FoRB in Europe and Africa. Kareem McDonald, a PhD fellow at the University of Padova, Italy, explains why the issue of religious freedom for asylum seekers and refugees is so important. Next, Iwona Zamkowska, a professor at the University of Technology and Humanities of Radom, Poland, considers the emergence of Islamic State-instigated terrorism in the Sahel, focusing specifically on Burkina Faso. Although the country has a history of religious tolerance, she warns that international neglect of the effect of jihadism on the Christian community could have a lasting negative effect on the well-being of internally displaced Christians.
Olanike Adelakun, lecturer at the American University of Nigeria School of Law and a gender justice expert, and Adedayo Adelakun, a graduate student, introduce the role of religious practices in limiting women’s participation in peacebuilding processes in northeast Nigeria, which may threaten sustainable peace and lead to the recurrence of conflict.
Paul Diamond writes about issues between countries of origin and countries of asylum. He is a British lawyer who specializes in matters of religious liberty. His article evaluates the UK’s Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme for Syrian refugees and concludes that religious minorities in the country of origin were disproportionately overlooked and rarely benefitted. Diamond fears that the same thing will happen with the current Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme and warns about such ‘wilful blindness’.
Moving to the reception of refugees in countries of asylum, we have a contribution by David van der Maas, who studied the influence of secular humanitarian discourse on religion, religious minorities, and policy practice, especially in Dutch reception centres, during a traineeship at the WEA. He demonstrates that religious liberty can be compromised because of the religious illiteracy of reception centre staff.
Religious liberty can also be at stake in the process of handling religion-based asylum claims. Adelaide Madera, a professor who studies the interrelationship between law and religion, reflects on European trends and the diversity of attitudes across European countries, with a special focus on Italy. She shows that European countries could more effectively safeguard the essential core of religious freedom. Lidia Rieder, of ADF International in Vienna, also discusses the complexity of credibility assessment in asylum claims involving religious conversion, examining the UK and Germany. She concludes her contribution with a helpful list of best practices and recommendations to ensure a more objective approach.
I believe this special issue offers important insights that will aid the promotion of religious liberty for all, and especially for refugees and asylum seekers who often find themselves in vulnerable situations.
Dr Marnix Visscher
The 21 martyrsVol. 14 No. 1/2 (2021)
This issue represents a number of significant changes for the International Journal for Religious Freedom. There have been some major changes in the leadership of the International Institute for Religious Freedom (IIRF), the research institute that publishes this journal. One of the founders of the IIRF was appointed the Secretary General of the World Evangelical Alliance. Dennis Petri has been appointed the new International Director of the IIRF and has ambitious plans to develop the institute. We have interviews with both Thomas Schirrmacher looking back on his years with the IIRF, and with Dennis Petri looking forward to a new vision for the institute. Also, after seven issues catching up with back issues, this issue represents the final “catch up” issue.
The theme of this issue “The 21 Martyrs” reflects the seriousness of the moment of 21 Coptic Christians being executed for their faith on a beach in Libya. The event was filmed and spread around the world. Two resources countering the ISIS narrative are addressed in this issue. In 2019, a book was published, which is reviewed by Paul Rowe. Second, Mark Rogers, a film producer, is working on an animated film to be released in 2023 on the 21 Martyrs. The cover photo is from the film. These resources paint a very different picture than the ISIS video and reveal 21 heroes of the faith who died on that beach.
The articles in this issue cover a broad diversity of geographical locations and perspectives on persecution. Two articles address theological issues. One addresses a methodological issue. Two articles focus on legal issues, one national and one international. One article focuses on describing the persecution of a religious minority. Another suggests that organized crime can be an engine of persecution. And finally, an article examines religious education. The articles address persecution in China, France, Myanmar and Mexico.
Responding to secularismVol. 13 No. 1/2 (2020)
We are pleased to address in this issue the important issue of how secularism impacts religion and religious adherents. Secularism arose in the West, largely through the influence of European philosophers and sociologists. Christians in the West have in- creasingly been marginalized in secular states. But secular intolerance has spread to other countries as well. The articles in this issue represent a wide range of current and historical issues across several countries. We trust that you will find them interesting and informative. Please note that this issue is being published in early 2022.
The impact of religious freedom researchVol. 12 No. 1/2 (2019)
We are pleased that IJRF is continuing to catch up on its backlog. While this volume comes under the label of 2019, the articles were written in 2020 and 2021. The issue is being published at the end of 2021.
Our guest editors for this special issue are Dr Dennis P. Petri and Prof Dr Govert J. Buijs. Dr Petri has contributed articles to several previous issues of the IJRF. A political scientist, international consultant and researcher, Petri founded and serves as scholar-at-large of the Observatory of Religious Freedom in Latin America (OLIRE).
From marginalization to martyrdomVol. 11 No. 1/2 (2018)
This issue covers a wide variety of topics from a truly global array of authors. Several authors show that Christians face marginalization, particularly in the West, for their faith. Christians can even be marginalized within their religious communities. But we are also aware that Christians face death for their faith and we honour those who have been martyred for their faith.
Responding to PersecutionVol. 10 No. 1/2 (2017)
This issue of IJRF deals with responses by those who are persecuted, as well as responses by those advocating on behalf of the persecuted.
Gender and Religious FreedomVol. 9 No. 1/2 (2016)
Religious persecution is frequently gender-specific, impacting men and women dif-ferently. Grassroots research in countries such as Egypt and Pakistan in 2012 and 2013 showed that many women were experiencing double vulnerability not only due to their faith, but also as women. As a result, representatives of international charities who aid Christians facing persecution decided to form a steering group, bringing together non-governmental agencies, Christian ministries, and church leaders who were already seeking to address these issues. This issue presents some of the papers originally delivered in the scholarly tracks of several conferences, as well as other papers related to the issue of gender and persecution. Some of the papers are more recent than the 2016 date of this issue, which is being published in 2020 because the journal was dormant for several years.
Christian minorities & religious freedomVol. 8 No. 1/2 (2015)
This issue represents the geographical and interdisciplinary breadth that the jour-nal 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.
Religious Extremism & Religious ToleranceVol. 7 No. 1/2 (2014)
Religious extremism is considered as one of the major causes of contemporary reli-gious persecution, whereas religious tolerance is a foundation of religious freedom. This dual topic covers most of the articles in this issue and its terminology is inspired by the opinion piece of Thomas K. Johnson on “Religious extremism” and the report on the research project “Measuring religious tolerance ...” by Johannes van der Walt et al.
Researching Religious FreedomVol. 6 No. 1/2 (2013)
There are several platforms and networks used by researchers interested in the study of religious freedom. Some of the contributions in this issue emanate from the In-ternational Consultation on Religious Freedom Research, held in Istanbul on 16-18 March 2013. They have all undergone the usual peer review process for IJRF – includ-ing the opinion pieces. They only represent a fraction of the many papers presented at the consultation. A separate consultation compendium is still being contemplated.The articles fall in roughly three groups: the opinion pieces, research that focuses on various regions and countries and an equal contingent of research on diverse topics relating to religious freedom and persecution.
Measuring and Encountering PersecutionVol. 5 No. 2 (2012)
Religious persecution is a phenomenon experienced by many adherents of various religions worldwide. In some contexts it is not outright persecution, but believers face serious challenges to the free exercise of religion. A common theme that unites most articles of this issue of IJRF is the encountering of persecution. What precisely are the challenges that believers, and particularly Christians, face in various con-texts? How do they cope with it? How do they react? Which role do theological inter-pretations play? Another question connected to the documentation of persecution is how it can be measured, and whether trans-national comparisons are possible.
Rising Restrictions WorldwideVol. 5 No. 1 (2012)
Religious freedom has been thrust to the top of the political agenda in recent months. The violence in places like Nigeria has been on the front pages for some time, where sadly it continues (as Yakubu Joseph and Rainer Rothfuss describe in this issue in some detail). But in the industrial democracies – and now the United States in particular – religious freedom is becoming newsworthy as seldom be-fore. President Obama’s healthcare mandates have highlighted conflicts between religious freedom and personal behavior elsewhere in the developed world. We hope to explore this in a future issue, but it brings to a head trends that have been explored in this issue and other recent issues of IJRF.
Religion and Civil SocietyVol. 4 No. 2 (2011)
“Civil society” is a concept that dates back to the late eighteenth century, as Silvio Ferrari points out in these pages, and it entered the vocabulary of political philoso-phy largely through Hegel and Marx. But it became newly fashionable following the collapse of communism in Central and Eastern Europe. It emphasizes the impor-tance to freedom of autonomous social groups and institutions below the state and not controlled by it. More recently, it has become controversial and the original meaning diluted by being adopted as the mantle for groups that are sometimes funded and supported by governments and international organizations. This is a significant potential pitfall when confronting problems of church and state. We approach civil society and the relations of church and state from several directions in this issue of the International Journal for Religious Freedom.
Advocacy and LawVol. 4 No. 1 (2011)
This issue of IJRF focuses on “advocacy and law”, namely issues related to reli-gious freedom advocacy and legal matters surrounding religious freedom. Here is a stimulating general definition which applies well to social justice advocacy, includ-ing religious freedom advocacy on behalf of those persecuted for the sake of their religion and/or because of the religious motives of the persecutors: “Advocacy is speaking, acting, writing, with minimal conflict of interest on behalf of the sincerely perceived interests of a disadvantaged person or group to promote, protect and defend their welfare and justice by being on their side and no-one else’s; being primarily concerned with their fundamental needs; remaining loyal and accountable to them in a way which is emphatic and vigorous and which is, or is likely to be, costly to the advocate or advocacy group.” (Action for Advocacy Development).
Volume 3, Issue 2Vol. 3 No. 2 (2010)
This issue of our journal strongly reflects the interdisciplinarynature of the IJRF, presenting original research in Islamic Studies,Geography, Law and Ethics, Government Science, and Theology.
Volume 3, Issue 1Vol. 3 No. 1 (2010)
There are a number of global Christian mission conferences happeningin 2010. In addition, the discussion on how the propagation of one’sworld view and the issues of religious freedom, persecution and evenmartyrdom are related, has increased. Therefore we have chosen tofocus in this issue of the International Journal for Religious Freedomon “mission and persecution.”
Volume 2, Issue 2Vol. 2 No. 2 (2009)
This issue of the International Journal for Religious Freedom wasborn in the tension between a lot of excitement and deep pain. That istrue both on a global as well as on a personal level. The editors, staff, associates of the International Institute for Religious Freedom, and theauthors of this IJRF issue have had many opportunities to contributeto the upholding of religious freedom, some of which are reflected inthis journal. However, researching and documenting the abuse ofhuman beings and the restriction or denial of their religious freedom,do not pass lightly. Some of us have seen moments of breakthroughand triumph as well as various degrees of personal suffering.
Volume 2, Issue 1Vol. 2 No. 1 (2009)
It gives the editors of the International Journal for Religious Freedom (IJRF) great pleasure to present our readers with the second issue of thisinterdisciplinary and scholarly publication. We hope that you will find thearticles informative, thought-provoking, and of a high standard, and that thejournal will equally serve religious freedom. For that purpose we have addedsome new rubrics.
Volume 1Vol. 1 No. 1 (2008)
Introducing the International Journal for Religious Freedom: The International Journal for Religious Freedom (IJRF) is dedicated tothe scholarly discourse on the issue of religious freedom in general andthe persecution of Christians in particular. It is an interdisciplinary,international, peer reviewed, scholarly journal, serving the practicalinterests of religious freedom and contains research articles,documentation, book reviews and academic news on the issue.