Richard Amesbury

Richard Amesbury is Professor of Theological Ethics and Director of the Institute for Social Ethics at the University of Zurich. He is the author of Morality and Social Criticism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005) and Faith and Human Rights (Fortress, 2008). Read Nathan Schneider's interview with Amesbury here, and read Richard Amesbury's contributions to Reflections on summer reading, Reflections on summer reading, Surveying religious knowledge, Religion and the midterm elections, and After Sandy.

Posts by Richard Amesbury:

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

In whose name? ISIS, Islam, and social media

Commentators routinely remark on the sophisticated use of media by the organization that calls itself the Islamic State, but in the past few weeks many Muslims have been using the Twitter hashtag #NotInMyName to offer a counter-narrative about Islam. The campaign began earlier this month with a video released by the London-based Active Change Foundation, featuring British Muslims speaking out against the organization (variously known as ISIS and ISIL), which, they say, does “not represent Islam or any Muslim.” A recent tweet using the hashtag stated that, “ISIS is not a representation of Islam. My religion is based upon principles of respect, love and harmony.”

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Monday, December 17th, 2012

One nation under Gun?

How could a human invention hold such sway over us as a people? Garry Wills argues that the gun is, for most Americans, a sacred object.

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Sunday, February 12th, 2012

John Hick (1922 – 2012)

An influential thinker in the areas of Christology, eschatology, and the problem of evil, Hick will likely best be remembered for his “pluralistic hypothesis.”

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Thursday, September 1st, 2011

Islam: still a religion in Tennessee

A Tennessee judge has upheld his earlier decision allowing the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro to build a new mosque and community center.

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Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

Oppenheimer: the politics of authenticity?

Mark Oppenheimer discusses Charles Taylor’s work and its reception in a wide-ranging essay in The Nation.

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Friday, August 12th, 2011

Secularism and its discontents

In the current issue of the New Yorker, James Wood reviews The Joy of Secularism: 11 Essays for How We Live Now (Princeton, 2011).

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Thursday, January 27th, 2011

David Sehat: the moral establishment of American Protestantism

David Sehat talks about his new book, The Myth of American Religious Freedom, in a two-part interview with Paul Harvey on the Religion in American History blog.

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Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Native American civil religion?

Lee Gilmore reflects on the opening blessing at Obama’s Tucson speech last week by Carlos Gonzales, who identified himself as a Yaqui and fifth-generation Mexican-American.

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Thursday, January 6th, 2011

Adieu to philosophy of religion?

Julia Galef reports for Religion Dispatches on philosopher Keith Parsons’s decision to quit doing philosophy of religion. In September, Parsons, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, had announced on the The Secular Outpost.

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Monday, January 3rd, 2011

Church attendance and identity

In an essay on Slate, Shankar Vedantam speculates on why Americans tend to overreport attendance at religious services.

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Friday, August 20th, 2010

What’s wrong with burning the Qur’an?

A Florida church’s plans to burn copies of the Qur’an on September 11 have drawn widespread condemnation, including from the local fire department.

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Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Islam: not a religion?

Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, a Republican gubernatorial candidate, is drawing criticism for remarks made earlier this month in which he appears to question whether Islam is a religion. And the quetion may not be as straightforward as one would like to think. To be a religion is, in at least one important sense, to be acknowledged as such.

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Friday, March 5th, 2010

Religion and the civic imagination

Since the publication of Robert Bellah’s 1967 article “Civil Religion in America,” discussions of the topic have tended to devolve into debates between those who find the very idea morally objectionable and those who regard some form of civil religion as sociologically necessary. … Yet, if there is a benign form of American civil religion in the making, it has been a long time coming. The problem is not simply the proclivity to idolize the nation or the state, but the apparent impossibility of articulating our social bonds without relegating significant segments of the population to second-class citizenship. Because the “imagined community” of a nation rarely maps neatly onto the actual citizenry of a state, the quest for unity, however minimal its basis, ironically issues in exclusions. This may make perfectly good sense from a sociological perspective, but it presents a profound challenge to liberal democratic claims about equality.

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Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

Multi-religious denominationalism and American identity

secular_age1Charles Taylor has argued that those of us living in North America and Europe are witnessing a shift in our social imaginary from a “Durkheimian” self-understanding, according to which political identity is tied to religious belonging, towards a “post-Durkheimian” view, in which the two are no longer seen as intrinsically linked. In the emerging dispensation, Taylor predicts, “it will be less and less common for people to be drawn into or kept within a faith by some strong political or group identity, or by the sense that they are sustaining a socially essential ethic.” Whatever its merits as an analysis of contemporary European self-understanding—and these are surely significant—Taylor’s reading strikes me as underdetermined by the American evidence…

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