RELIGIOUS LITERACY AND POLICY MAKING - Halimiz
RELIGIOUS LITERACY AND POLICY MAKING
11 Nisan 2019
KİRPİ
11 Nisan 2019

Religious literacy does not require or mean an adherence to any particular faith or belief, but it is the attainment of a level of knowledge regarding the mindsets, beliefs, and practices of various faith traditions, which can have a direct impact on the thinking, behavior and the political, moral and social decisions of individuals or groups in a given context.

Religious literacy is essentially the intellectual backdrop that enables policymakers and citizens to understand and properly analyze the complex and dynamic relationship between religion and politics. In particular, religious literacy should help enable politicians/opinion leaders/intellectuals to delve into the fault lines of their societies and develop relevant policies at the national and international level.

General Observations

  1. Historically religion has been a harbinger of conflict and violence within and among organized human entities. Despite claims of peace and tolerance, monotheistic religions in particular, given their ultimately exclusionary nature, have often bred and fed violent confrontations with their internal or external opposites.
  2. Modernization and prosperity along with timely interjections of thought and philosophy helped the development of secularism, placing matters of faith and belief in the private domain, separating them from the affairs of the state.
  3. The principle of secularism and its practice in different contexts are certainly not uniform.  However, in all successful cases of secularism, the end result is the same: religion is not part of the mainstream of politics.  Put differently, secularism, when successful, harmonizes the co-habituation politics and faith but keeps them separate.
  4. The more sustainable version of secularism is when state and religion are separated, but religion and society remain connected.  This is best exemplified by the USA. The more aggressive version of secularism is when not only the state but also the society is separated from a religion where the manifestations of the latter are challenged on charges of anti-secularism.  This stricter version is exemplified by Turkey and France.
  5. The virtue of secularism is that it provides a leveling ground for all faiths and beliefs.  It rests on the assumption that there is not and cannot be a hierarchy among different religions/faiths/beliefs. In this sense, it embraces an egalitarian stance towards different faiths. Secularism is therefore the neutral backdrop to pluralism.
  6. Chronic poverty, exclusion, and hopelessness at one end and prosperity and boredom at the other end breed the search for more, not less religion. For the poor, religious radicalism is the means of social mobility on earth, for the well-to-do, spirituality is the path of social mobility in the after-life.
  7. Analysts have often disregarded the role of religion as a public force capable of shaping domestic and international politics, though this has changed since the terrorist attacks undertaken by radicals. This has led to the current focus on religion as a tool in the hands of radical and extremist elements. However, religion has also become an effective tool in the hands of main-stream politicians vying or holding power, abusing it domestically and in their foreign relations in order to gain or maintain themselves in power and shape society and the world according to their beliefs.
  8. Democracy should be a secular regime by nature and by definition. It rests on the equal participation of all citizens – which are equal before the law – in the political process.

It is therefore misleading to try to establish an organic link between democracy and a particular religion. Nonetheless, the relationship between political culture and religion is an important one because it is ultimately the political culture of any given society that sustains its democracy. Religious beliefs and precepts are more assertive ingredients of political culture in Muslim societies than in others.

  1. All terrorist organizations are the products, reflections, and manifestations of prevailing political, economic, social and psychological conditions in any given society. If this premise is sound, then it follows that the fight against Al Qaida, ISIS and others is/should be more about addressing those conditions and ameliorating them than about weakening and eradicating the terrorists. We must learn to deal with the causes of these events, not just the consequences.
  2. What then are we to do in the light of the above analysis?
  • Approach “religious literacy” as a society-wide need.
  • Involve and engage international institutions and organizations in the drive to increase religious literacy on a global scale.
  • Promote secularism by appropriate means in schools and civil society.
  • Give equal space to different faiths/beliefs.
  • Explore and study the subject of “political culture” and its relationship to democracy; uncover and strengthen elements in a traditional culture that could be transferred to the political arena in support of democracy.
  • Help improve economic and social conditions and enhance the sense of hope and opportunity for the younger generation.
  • Religious literacy requires an understanding of how religion is used for political ends by political actors.
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Faruk Loğoğlu

Dr. Loğoğlu retired from public service in 2006 after thirty-five years in the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  Following his work as Special Adviser to the Foreign Minister (1990-1993), he was appointed Turkey’s Ambassador to Copenhagen, Denmark (1993-1996) and subsequently transferred to Baku, Azerbaijan (1996-1998). Ambassador Loğoğlu became Deputy Undersecretary for multilateral political affairs in 1998.  He then served as Undersecretary of the Foreign Ministry from 2000 until his posting as Ambassador of Turkey to Washington D.C., USA in 2001 where he stayed until the end of 2005.   He attended Brandeis University, did his doctorate in Political Science at Princeton University and was a lecturer in Political Science at Middlebury College, 1969-1970. He is the author of İsmet İnönü and the Making of Modern Turkey, a political biography of the second President of Turkey. He has published articles on foreign affairs in both Turkish and English languages.   Dr. Loğoğlu served as President of the think-tank the Eurasian Strategic Studies Center (ASAM) for two years (2006-2008).  He was the Deputy Chairman of the Turkish National Commission for UNESCO (2006-2010).  He was elected a member of parliament from Adana (2011-2015) and served as a member of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Turkish Grand National Assembly. From August 2011 to September 2014 Dr. Loğoğlu was also the Vice-Chairman of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) in charge of foreign relations.           Memleketi Kadirli. ABD’de Brandeis Üniversitesi mezunu. Princeton Üniversitesinde siyasi ilimler doktora çalışmaları yaptı.  Middlebury Üniversitesi'nde öğretim üyesi olarak çalıştı. Dışişleri Bakanlığında sırasıyla; siyasi danışman, Avrupa Ekonomik Toplulukları Daimi Temsilciliğinde Başkâtip, Dakka Maslahatgüzarı, BM nezdinde Türkiye Daimi Temsilciliğinde siyasi işlerden sorumlu Müsteşar ve Hamburg Başkonsolosu olarak görev yaptı. Danimarka ve Azerbaycan Büyükelçisi oldu. Çok taraflı siyasi işlerden sorumlu Müsteşar Yardımcılığına, Bakanlık Müsteşarlığına, Washington Büyükelçiliğine getirildi. ASAM Başkanı ve UNESCO Türkiye Milli Komisyonu Başkan Vekilliği görevini yürüttü. İsmet İnönü hakkında İngilizce bir kitabı, dış politika alanında çok sayıda makalesi yayınlanmıştır. 2011 genel seçimlerinde Adana’dan CHP milletvekili oldu.  2011-2015 döneminde CHP Dış İlişkiler ve Yurtdışı Örgütlenmelerden sorumlu Genel Başkan Yardımcılığı yaptı.

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