Francis Campbell on... Faith and the Public Square
16 Mar 2015
Francis Campbell speaks on how integrally important religion is in conflict prevention and conflict resolution, and how sidelining it can be highly problematic.
Throughout the western world, a lot of the development of the state, and a lot of the modernisation has actually come on the back of the role of faith communities; hospitals, schools, where faith communities set up charitable endeavors, and you see that today right across the world, but in particular in sub-Saharan African.
Marginalising religion can be a fatal mistake.
I think one of the areas where the role of religion and decision-making is absolutely central is in relation to conflict and foreign policy. And we're standing here in Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, and whilst this was not a religious conflict, religion was a variable in the conflict.
Marginalising religion from the area of either conflict prevention or conflict resolution is a fatal mistake in some instances. And there are examples throughout society where some states have tried to banish religion from the public square, and that has actually acted in a rebound way, and one can think of highly programmatic secular regimes that have tried to do that but in actual fact what they have done over the course of a generation is to actually have religion on a rebound, often in a very unhealthy manner.
Well, I think it's always better to have religion, which is a key component of an individual's identity, not an exclusive component but a key component, to have that very much in an integral way in a society. And there are different models even in Western Europe, there are different models of how one does that.
There is a British model, there is a Scandinavian model, there is a Latin model, but I think when you take a long view of history, the societies that are often the most stable are the ones that have found a proper place for the role of religion, neither creating a theocracy but nor creating a programmatic or militant secular regime which banishes religion. Because militant secularism is in itself a form of a religion that actually wants to have a dominant ideology to the detriment of other competing narratives.
Sign up to receive the Roundup
Sign up to the Centre on Religion & Geopolitics' Roundup to receive weekly updates with the latest commentary, analysis and news on the role of religion in conflict zones. Sign up here.