Departmental Papers (ASC)

Document Type

Book Chapter

Date of this Version

January 2007

Publication Source

Censorial Sensitivities: Free Speech and Religion in a Fundamentalist World

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It is fairly clear that there is a need, in terms of global and comparative perspectives, to explore alternative schemes for thinking about the role of the state with respect to religious communication. The predominant mode of discussion, especially in the comfortable discourse of modern Western traditions, is to lodge analysis in terms of free speech and human rights. Increasingly, however, that discourse is insufficient descriptively and in danger of irrelevance prescriptively. Religious or implicitly religious speech is inflected with new power, as if it were a form of violence itself. Religious communication becomes a transcendent force with a claim to authority higher than that of other forms of speech. Religious speech, because it has the capacity to motivate large-scale attitudes, raises important questions as to the manner by which national and global identities are formed. As 'religion' becomes an integral aspect of defining international oppositions and threats to national security, how states think about the propagation of messages by religious groups changes greatly.



Date Posted: 04 February 2008