Religion & freedom
Separation of church and state does not eliminate religion's
November 9, 2000
Law, and Freedom: A Global Perspective edited by Joel Thierstein
and Yahya R. Kamalipour (2000, Praeger Publishers). Dr. Yahya R. Kamalipour
is professor of mass communications and head of the Department of Communication
and Creative Arts, Purdue University Calumet, Hammond, Indiana. His previous
books include Images
of the U.S. Around the World: A Multicultural Perspective (1999)
Diversity and the U.S. Media (with T. Carilli, 1998).
In 1706, Jonathan Swift wrote: "We have just enough religion to
make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another." It is in
the spirit of love and understanding that Dr. Joel Thierstein and Dr. Yahya
R. Kamalipour have published a book that explores three intertwined issues,
religion, law, and freedom from a global perspective.
Protecting domestic moral values and beliefs, often built on religious
foundations, affects a country's legal limitations on the flow of information
and communication. Conversely, the structure of a nation's communication
system affects the nation's legal structure as well as its religious ideology.
The relationship among law, religion, and the mass media manifest themselves
in many different areas, including culture, politics, and international
and intercultural communication.
In general, the values and strength of a country's dominant religion
often determine the type of government or legal structure a country has.
Even in nations where there is a separation of church and state, the dominant
religion of the society impacts on the system of governance. For example,
the United States, which espouses the separation of church and state, based
its Constitution and republican system of government on the organizational
structure of the Presbyterian Church. There were more Presbyterians in
the Continental Congress than men of any other religion.
Furthermore, the evangelical nature of the dominant religion of a particular
country affects the exportation of cultural values, beliefs, or icons of
that culture to other nations through the global media. Many countries
have begun to recognize this influence and have attempted to construct
legal barriers to restrict the importation of foreign media. Religious
mores are major factors in nation-states' sensitivity toward the importation
of foreign media, such as music, videos, TV programs, movies, and the Internet.
A country's religious dogma, legal structure, and media systems are
seldom static. Historically, as these three societal elements have changed,
so have the dynamics of their relationships. Even in today's global information
age, religion, law, and the media systems of nations are still very much
intertwined. The various global perspectives presented in this book illustrate
the relationship among religion, law, and communication freedom.
For more information about the book and its contents go