• U.S. Foreign Policy and the Defense of Religious Freedom in India

      Kristina M. Teater (MDPI AG, 2020-03-01)
      The defense of religious freedom around the world is a U.S. foreign policy initiative upheld by successive administrations since the passing of the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA). Supported by various religious constituencies that advocate for the freedom of religion of like-minded individuals across borders, the U.S. government engages with foreign governments, human rights groups, and NGOs to preserve an individual’s right to freedom of religion or belief. Their results, however, are mixed, especially in diverse contexts where religious rights are deeply contested. This paper explores the advocacy effort in response to the Government of India’s crackdown on the inflow of foreign funds to NGOs, many of which are faith-based. Using the revocation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) license of faith-based NGO Compassion International as a case study, this paper finds that U.S. involvement in defense of religious freedom meets counter-narratives. These counter-narratives include the preservation of state sovereignty, the protection of national interest, and the privileging of religious tolerance over religious freedom.
    • Uddālaka’s Yoga in the <i>Mokṣopāya</i>

      Tamara Cohen (MDPI AG, 2020-03-01)
      This paper suggests that the Uddālaka story, told in the <i>Mokṣopāya</i> (MU) (950 CE), in which the young sage Uddālaka undergoes a process of body and mind purification after an experience of the appearance of <i>kuṇḍalinī</i> in the body, prompted by the recitation of the syllable OṂ, could be seen as a precursor to systems of praxis outlined in later Haṭha Yoga (HY) texts. The narrative of Uddālaka paints a picture of a complex and blended world of sectarian influence, spiritual knowledge and embodied praxis within which the MU was no doubt composed, and within which early HY also likely emerged as praxis for the sake of <i>mokṣa</i>. The depiction of Uddālaka’s yogic transformation is summarized here and analyzed to reveal a multilayered picture of influence that may shed light on the formative environment of early Hatha Yoga.
    • Unapologetic Apologetics: Julius Wellhausen, Anti-Judaism, and Hebrew Bible Scholarship

      Stacy Davis (MDPI AG, 2021-07-01)
      Julius Wellhausen (1844–1918) is in many ways the ancestor of modern Hebrew Bible scholarship. His <i>Prolegomena to the History of Israel</i> condensed decades of source critical work on the Torah into a documentary hypothesis that is still taught today in almost all Hebrew Bible courses in some form. What is not taught as frequently is the anti-Judaism that underpins his hypothesis. This is in part due to unapologetic apologetics regarding Wellhausen’s bias, combined with the insistence that a nineteenth-century scholar cannot be judged by twenty-first century standards. These calls for compassion are made exclusively by white male scholars, leaving Jewish scholars the solitary task of pointing out Wellhausen’s clear anti-Judaism. In a discipline that is already overwhelmingly white, male and Christian, the minimizing of Wellhausen’s racism suggests two things. First, those who may criticize contextual biblical studies done by women and scholars of color have no problem pleading for a contextual understanding of Wellhausen while downplaying the growing anti-Judaism and nationalism that was a part of nineteenth-century Germany. Second, recent calls for inclusion in the Society of Biblical Literature may be well intentioned but ultimately useless if the guild cannot simply call one of its most brilliant founders the biased man that he was.
    • ‘Uncovering the Self’: Religious Doubts, Spirituality and Unveiling in Egypt

      Karin van Nieuwkerk (MDPI AG, 2021-12-01)
      Since the 1980s, discourse on religious piety has taken many different forms, from mosque lessons by lay preachers—such as `Amr Khalid—to religious TV programmes and leisure activities. Within this widespread religious culture and cultivation of forms of visible piety, wearing the veil became an almost uncontested norm for women. As Saba Mahmood demonstrated, the veil became a crucial way to express and cultivate a ‘pious self’. Yet especially since the 2011 revolution and its aftermath, many young Egyptians started to question political, religious and patriarchal authorities. Amongst others, this took on open or hidden forms of non-believing, as well as a search for new forms of spirituality. Based on fieldwork and interviews, this contribution looks into the motives and experiences of women who decided to cast off the veil. In view of the hegemonic piety discourse, this is a huge issue, which is met by fierce reactions and accusations of immorality and non-belief. Whereas for some women this decision is an expression of religious doubt or a turn to a non-religious worldview, for others it is a way to contest the current piety discourse in a search for a more personal and spiritual connection with God. While the relationship with religion among my interlocutors might differ, they share a common attempt to uncover their ‘authentic selves’. By unveiling, they express their wish to define their own space and ideas regarding religion, gender and their bodies.
    • Understanding Compliance in Patriarchal Religions: Mormon Women and the Latter Day Saints Church as a Case Study

      Reid Leamaster; Andres Bautista (MDPI AG, 2018-04-01)
      Defining compliance as acquiescence in situations of inequality, this article explores patterns of compliance to gender traditionalism from the analysis of interviews with Mormon women. Analysis reveals that Mormon women face unique, context-specific mechanisms for stifling resistance to gender traditionalism. Additionally, many of the Mormon women interviewed who do not comply with traditional gender expectations regarding motherhood still accept and defend gender traditionalism. We explain this pattern with a concept that we call ideological compensation, which means that women in gender traditional religions defend gender traditionalism even if they do not live it as a way to compensate for their non-compliance. Finally, we find that some of the women frame their compliance to Mormon gender traditionalism as a statement of resistance against the broader society. We describe this phenomenon with a concept known as subcultural resistance. Overall, this study sheds light on how Mormon women interpret traditional gender expectations and the mechanisms that are put in place to stifle resistance.
    • Understanding Dante’s Comedy as Virtuous Friendship

      Matthew Rothaus Moser (MDPI AG, 2019-03-01)
      As Dante explains in his epistle to Can Grande, the purpose of the Comedy is to move the reader from a state of misery to a state of happiness. The poet himself testifies that the poem was written as a work of moral philosophy oriented to the achievement of happiness, eudaimonia: the beatific vision of God. Moreover, Dante insists on his poem’s efficacy to affect in its readers a similar moral and religious transformation as that which the poem represents through the narrative journey of the pilgrim. To put it another way, Dante represents his poem’s relationship to its reader as a kind of virtuous friendship. This essay sets forth a model for teaching Dante’s poem as an experiment in virtuous friendship that can transform the classroom into a workshop for the philosophical and religious quest for happiness. This involves teaching the text with an eye not only to the content and style of the poem but also to the performative and participatory demands of the text. Beginning with this framework, this essay works out pedagogical strategies for teaching the Comedy as a form of virtuous friendship extended over the centuries between Dante Alighieri and the contemporary reader. Chiefly, I explore ways Dante makes his readers complicit in the pilgrim’s own moral and spiritual journey toward the virtue of hope translated into the practice of prayer through a close, pedagogical reading of Inferno 3, Purgatorio 5, and Paradiso 20. I explore ways that Dante’s use of surprise, shock, misdirection, appeal to mystery, and retreat to silence creates a morally significant aporia of knowledge that serves as a laboratory for readers’ own virtuous transformation. I end with a critical assessment of the challenges involved in understanding the Comedy as virtuous friendship.
    • Understanding Moral Disagreement: A Christian Perspectivalist Approach

      Blake McAllister (MDPI AG, 2021-04-01)
      Deep moral disagreements exist between Christians and non-Christians. I argue that Christians should resist the temptation to pin all such disagreements on the irrationality of their disputants. To this end, I develop an epistemological framework on which both parties can be rational—the key being that their beliefs are formed from different perspectives and, hence, on the basis of different sets of evidence. I then alleviate concerns that such moral perspectivalism leads to relativism or skepticism, or that it prohibits rational discourse. I end by exploring new avenues for resolving deep moral disagreements opened up by the perspectivalist approach.
    • Understanding Neighbourhoods as Multifaith Spaces

      Melanie Prideaux (MDPI AG, 2019-08-01)
      This paper asked whether it is possible to understand neighbourhoods as ‘multifaith spaces’ and whether doing so helps us think differently about neighbourhoods or about multifaith spaces. By referring to the English context, this paper explored the significance of the local and the demotic in the experience of religious diversity, the construction of space as ‘multifaith’, and the practice and experience of interfaith dialogue. It concluded that thinking of neighbourhoods as multifaith spaces both challenges how multifaith spaces are identified and articulated and deepens the discussion of neighbourhoods as key to the experience of living with religious diversity.
    • Understanding Personal Change in a Women’s Faith-Based Transitional Center

      Ariana Mishay Stone; Alana J. Linn; Lauren Eason; Minh H. Nguyen; Kent R. Kerley; Heith Copes (MDPI AG, 2011-06-01)
      An impressive research literature has emerged that identifies linkages between religion and a wide range of attitudes, behaviors, and life events. We contribute to this literature by exploring how women undergoing difficult life circumstances—such as incarceration, drug and alcohol addiction, domestic violence, unemployment, and homelessness—use faith to cope with and change these circumstances. To address this issue we analyze semi-structured interviews with 40 residents of a faith-based transitional center for women in the Southern United States. The residents outline a narrative of change in which they distinguish between the “old self” and “new self.” The narratives also specify the role of religiosity in facilitating change, the creation of a faith-based identity, and the strategies used for maintaining change. We conclude with implications for faith-based treatment programs, local pastors and religious congregants involved in social outreach ministry, sociology of religion scholars, and policy makers.
    • Understanding the Letter to the Romans in the Sect-Cult Development of Early Churches

      Jin Young Kim (MDPI AG, 2020-05-01)
      This article examines how the model of sect-cult development in antiquity helps us understand Paul’s discussion of Jewish traditions in the Letter to the Romans. In the traditional Augustinian–Lutheran scholarship, Romans has often been interpreted within the binary framework of Judaism and Christianity, as Paul showcasing one of the earliest examples of Christian opposition to Judaism. Based on the recent studies on Second Temple Judaism and the modified model of sect-cult reflecting the ancient context, I argue that Romans reveals internal conflicts between cultic and sectarian tendencies present among early churches of the first century C.E. The cultic tendency is reflected in Roman gentile believers’ assimilation of the Jewish tradition with the Greco–Roman virtue of self-mastery and their growing separation from Judaism. Paul, on the other hand, tries to establish the unity between believing gentiles and Israel as exhibiting his sectarian understanding of the gospel and the gentile mission. By placing Romans in the trajectory of sect-cult development of an early church, we stop reading it as a text that justifies the Christian antagonism to Judaism, but as a text that shows an early apostle’s passionate effort to create a unified people of God in the hope for the final salvation.
    • Understanding the Relationship between Religiosity and Marital Commitment to Marital Stability: An Investigation on Indonesian Female Journalists

      Rena Latifa; Salsabila Salsabila; Heri Yulianto (MDPI AG, 2021-03-01)
      The complete understanding of marital stability is hindered by limitations of theory and method, especially investigation on female journalists. The purpose of the current study was to test the effect of religiosity and marital commitment on the marital stability, by assessing Indonesian female journalists. This research used a quantitative approach with multiple regression analysis methods. The sample of this study involved 200 married female journalists residing in Jakarta and were taken using non-probability sampling techniques, specifically purposive sampling. The measurements used in this study were adaptations of the (1) Marital Stability Scale; (2) Centrality of Religiosity Scale (CRS-15); and (3) Inventory of Marital Commitments. Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was used to test the validity of each scale. The results of the <i>F</i>-test showed a <i>p</i>-value = 0.000 (significant), and a total variance explained (<i>R</i><sup>2</sup> value) of 0.224. This finding indicated that religiosity and marital commitment have a significant effect on marital stability (sig < 0.05). The direction of the coefficient regression of the religiosity variable and marital commitment is positive, indicating that the higher the religiosity and marital commitment, the higher the marital stability.
    • Understanding the Role of the Exodus in the Institutionalization and Dismantling of Apartheid: Considering the Paradox of Justice and Injustice in the Exodus

      Masiiwa Ragies Gunda (MDPI AG, 2021-08-01)
      The Exodus played an explicit and implicit role in sustaining the policy and practice of apartheid in South Africa and in various other places that went through the pains of colonization. Interestingly, the same Exodus also played a central part in the resistance to and the subsequent dismantling of the apartheid policy and practice in South Africa. That readers on both sides of the divide found solace in the Exodus was put down to the common assumption that guided both parties. The assumption of historicity caused the Exodus to be read as if it were a photographic record of what happened and the experience of oppression and discrimination by the readers assigned the Exodus a historical status for speaking to a historical situation. The assumption of historicity was central in the destructive uses of the Exodus thereby creating a cycle of oppressed–oppressors across the African continent, as groups took turns to seek out their own advantage. An assumption of justice was proposed as an alternative guiding principle through which justice for all, in line with pivotal events of the Old Testament, can be realized in the world.
    • Unexpected Convergences: Religious Nationalism in Israel and Turkey

      Jocelyne Cesari (MDPI AG, 2018-10-01)
      This article compares Israel and Turkey to demonstrate how religious nationalism can be analyzed by a combination of historical institutionalism and conceptual history of religious ideas and doctrines. Both cases exemplify how the building of the nation-state was associated with the exportation of the western concept of religion. The resulting association between national territory, state and religion can explain the existing politicization of religion.
    • Unifying Opposites through Metaphor: A Cognitive Approach to the Buddhist Metaphors for the Mind in the <i>Awakening of Faith</i> Discourse

      Byongchang Kang (MDPI AG, 2018-11-01)
      While metaphors for the human mind have been intensively discussed across multiple disciplines, there remains a gap on how Buddhism deals with the mind metaphorically. This study explores how Mahāyāna Buddhist discourse resorts to embodied and discursive metaphors in describing and explaining the mind. Buddhist texts analyzed are the <i>Treatise on the Awakening of Faith According to the Mahāyāna</i> and its two commentaries by Wŏnhyo. The <i>Awakening of Faith</i> discourse abounds in metaphors for the sentient being’s mind in two aspects: the ordinary phenomenal mind and the transcendental essential mind. The focus of this study is on the relationship between the seemingly opposing two minds, and the ways in which these two opposites are unified metaphorically. To do so, I first examine how the essential mind, which is said to transcend ordinary experience and verbal expression, is made speakable through primary metaphors and NON-CONTAINER (unboundedness) image schema, and how the phenomenal mind is metaphorically understood according to the covarying scalar properties in primary metaphors. With respect to the argument for harmonizing the two minds, in which introducing more apt analogical metaphors is important, two representative discursive metaphors (a mirror metaphor and an ocean metaphor) are compared and discussed.
    • Unifying Opposites through Metaphor: A Cognitive Approach to the Buddhist Metaphors for the Mind in the Awakening of Faith Discourse

      Byongchang Kang (MDPI AG, 2018-11-01)
      While metaphors for the human mind have been intensively discussed across multiple disciplines, there remains a gap on how Buddhism deals with the mind metaphorically. This study explores how Mahāyāna Buddhist discourse resorts to embodied and discursive metaphors in describing and explaining the mind. Buddhist texts analyzed are the Treatise on the Awakening of Faith According to the Mahāyāna and its two commentaries by Wŏnhyo. The Awakening of Faith discourse abounds in metaphors for the sentient being’s mind in two aspects: the ordinary phenomenal mind and the transcendental essential mind. The focus of this study is on the relationship between the seemingly opposing two minds, and the ways in which these two opposites are unified metaphorically. To do so, I first examine how the essential mind, which is said to transcend ordinary experience and verbal expression, is made speakable through primary metaphors and NON-CONTAINER (unboundedness) image schema, and how the phenomenal mind is metaphorically understood according to the covarying scalar properties in primary metaphors. With respect to the argument for harmonizing the two minds, in which introducing more apt analogical metaphors is important, two representative discursive metaphors (a mirror metaphor and an ocean metaphor) are compared and discussed.
    • Unifying Themes in the Oeuvre of John M. Headley

      James M. Weiss (MDPI AG, 2012-11-01)
      The great variety of historical figures and themes found in the published works of John Headley since 1963 reveal a unity of themes and values. The numerous persons whom Headley studied all envisioned a humane universal order even as they moved from theoretical reflection to actual political implementation. His more recent work holds up the European legacy of human rights, democracy, and freedom that have become a Western gift and challenge to non-Western cultures.
    • Unique Ethical Insights Gained from Integrating Gradual Practice with Sudden Enlightenment in the Platform Sutra—An Interpretation from the Perspective of Daoism

      Rongkun Zhang (MDPI AG, 2020-08-01)
      Since sudden enlightenment in the Platform Sutra is over-emphasized and gradual practice is comparatively ignored by quite a number of scholars, this article is primarily intended to illustrate that for Huineng, gradual practice and sudden enlightenment are practically integrated, which has profound ethical implications. Furthermore, it goes a step further to explore how gradual practice is made possible, by using original material in the text and by introducing relevant theory from Daoism. It also addresses the question about transcendence of morality that some scholars raise. Through exploring the topics of virtue and knowledge in Huineng’s thought with the help of Daoist wisdom, I aim to show that, as sudden enlightenment is accompanied by gradual practice, virtue together with knowledge appear hand in hand in a “perfect” form, which also strengthens the feature of perfection revealed in Huineng’s ethical doctrine.
    • Unpacking Donor Retention: Individual Monetary Giving to U.S.-Based Christian Faith-Related, International Nongovernmental Organizations

      Ramya Ramanath (MDPI AG, 2016-11-01)
      This article examines an important but relatively overlooked aspect in the field of international giving in the U.S.—individual monetary donations to Christian faith-related international nongovernmental organizations (INGOs)—and outlines the cognitive process influencing donors who choose to keep up their financial support to Christian faith-related INGOs. The propositions forwarded in this article draw on existing literature on Christian giving to international causes, INGO management, donor retention and finally, the logic of self-perception to highlight how existing donors might evaluate their repeat giving decision. The more existing donors of Christian faith-related INGOs can identify themselves with the INGO’s identity—comprising its beliefs and values, its claims to legitimacy, and performance—the more likely it is for donors to be satisfied and decide to maintain a stable relationship with the specific INGO.
    • Untangling the “Unwritten Documents” of the Prophet Muḥammad. An <i>Isnād-cum-Matn</i> Analysis of Interwoven Traditions

      Nicolet Boekhoff-van der Voort (MDPI AG, 2021-07-01)
      Since the earliest studies of Islam by non-Muslims were carried out, variant traditions (<i>aḥādīth</i>) have been regarded as a proof of forgery or editing within the <i>ḥadīth</i> material. Early studies have shown that variances are the result of different processes, some intentionally and others mistakenly; some caused by editing processes, while others through the process of transmission across the first centuries of Islam. During the transmission process, or the genesis of a tradition, accounts are constantly shaped and adjusted. The use of topoi forms a part of this process as well as the inclusion of motifs in different accounts. The present article will explore one of these motifs, specifically, the instruction of the Prophet Muḥammad, on his deathbed, to bring him writing materials so that he could prepare a document for his community. This motif appears in a number of accounts with different settings, characters and details on the nature of the document itself. This article examines whether there exists a direct relationship between the different accounts and, if so, what does this mean. Through this study, we will see that additional motifs have been added to this tradition during its transmission process and that some of these motifs can be attributed to regionalisation or specific transmitters.
    • Unveiling the Innovators—A Glimpse on Sufi-Salafi Polemics

      Hazim Fouad (MDPI AG, 2020-03-01)
      In western public discourse, as well as in parts of academia, Sufism and Salafism are sometimes portrayed as arch enemies in Islam. However, so far, very few studies have analyzed in detail the polemics between Sufis and Salafis in a western setting. This article tries to fill this gap by providing a snapshot of the critique of Salafism by the Sufi <i>Nāẓimiyya</i> order, as well as the response from the British Salafi spectrum. It will argue that although both protagonists would perceive themselves in the same way as outlined above, in fact both groups are influenced by each other with regard to the benchmark of what constitutes “authentic Islam”, as well as the ways in which arguments are portrayed as legitimately grounded in Islamic thought. These insights may help in better understanding the complexities of contemporary intra-Muslim debates and representations.