'Go Ye, Therefore, and Make Disciples of All Nations': Proselytism in the New World Order

RELIGION AND INTERNATIONAL PEACE, Thomas Banchoff, ed., Oxford University Press, 2007

16 Pages Posted: 15 Sep 2007  

John Witte Jr.

Emory University School of Law

Abstract

This article describes the modern paradox of religious rights - the sudden awakening of religion and religious freedom around the globe versus the tragic escalation of religious rights abuses born of local bigotry and creedal clashes. This paradox lies in part in competing understandings of the rights and rites of conversion and the role that local political communities can play in preventing or facilitating the same. Some communities regard the right to change one's religion as an essential principle of religious freedom that the state must protect. Others regard it as a calculated insult to the rights of the religious community whose interests the state must support. The paradox also lies in part in competing understandings of the rights and wrongs of proselytism - particularly the clash between one party's claims to free exercise rights to share the faith versus another party's rights to freedom of conscience and religious self-determination. This article suggests measures drawn from the Western story of religious rights to mitigate the problem of conversion and to soften the tensions between the religious rights of individuals and groups. This article further argues that while peaceable proselytism is protected by international human rights law, resolving the modern problem of proselytism will require more self-restraint from proselytizers than legal limitations from government.

Keywords: proselytism, religion, rights, human rights, law, international law

Suggested Citation

Witte, John, 'Go Ye, Therefore, and Make Disciples of All Nations': Proselytism in the New World Order. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1014724

John Witte Jr. (Contact Author)

Emory University School of Law ( email )

1301 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States
404-727-6980 (Phone)
404-712-8605 (Fax)

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