CFR Symposium: Religion and the Open Society

CFR Symposium: Religion and the Open Society

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This event is part of the Religion and Foreign Policy Symposia Series, which is made possible by the generous support of the Henry Luce Foundation.


WALTER RUSSELL MEAD:  All right.  May I have your attention, please.  Would everyone please sit down?

All right.  I'd like to welcome you to the second session of our Council on Foreign Relations seminar today.  This is a symposium on Religion and the Open Society.  This is our second session, on Religion-State Relation.

I am Walter Russell Mead, senior fellow for U.S. foreign policy.  It is my honor to introduce to you Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im, professor of law, Emory University Law School; Noah Feldman, professor of law, Harvard Law School and adjunct senior fellow here at the Council; and Philip Hamburger, professor of law, Columbia University Law School.  Welcome.  Welcome, everyone here, and also welcome to all of those who are joining our symposium this morning on video.

I'd like to remind you all that this is an on-the-record session, so anything that you say may be taken down in evidence and used against you.  (Laughter.) 

In our second session this morning we're going to try to follow up some of the lines of conversation that were introduced in the first session and also introduce some new themes. 

As the discussion was proceeding this morning, I was rather forcefully reminded that Abrahamic religions in particular -- that is, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam -- and some of the secular ideologies that have historically derived from that mix of religious cultures are bodies of thought which believe that there is a way the world ought to work.  There's a right way to live.  And obviously, if there's a right way to live, there are wrong ways to live.

And there are universal standards of justice, of conduct, that at least in theory ought to apply to all people everywhere.  And in human societies, as a general rule, there are states -- that is, bodies of organized authority whose mandate it is to see that things are run properly.

And so in Abrahamic societies, the relationship between the religion, which teaches us how the world ought to be run, and the state, that group of people whose job it is to run the world or at least to run that portion of the world under the authority of a particular state, have a charged relationship. 

Religious authorities will often, in sermons or otherwise, tell political authorities and state authorities how they ought to work.  Religious authorities will try to shape the conscience of voters in democratic societies so that the voters will vote for politicians who espouse the values that -- by which the state ought to run.  Certainly in our society in the United States we see many efforts, particularly in an election year, in which religious leaders of various kinds are trying to shape political outcomes.

Now, our three panelists today who, I guess, represent at least a good percentage of the faiths of the family of Abraham, are scholars who have spent a lot of time investigating the relationship of religion and state -- how it actually operates and how it ought to operate.  And I think it might be useful for the audience if we proceeded maybe just right down the panel and each of you share a kind of an overview of your sense of how religion and the state ought to operate, from your own particular perspective, whether that's a faith-based perspective or a more secular approach. 

And if you would like to start, Professor?

ABDULLAHI AHMED AN-NA'IM:  Good morning, everybody, and thank you for being here. 

I speak as a Muslim, so my perspective is religious.  And it is my perspective that indicates for me that I need the state to be secular in order for me to be the Muslim I choose to be.  And the only possibility of being Muslim is by choice. 

So I stake the secular state as a prerequisite, as one of the conditions for the possibility of being Muslim.  I may not be a good Muslim -- I'm sure I'm not -- but whatever degree of being Muslim it is, it has to be within a framework of a secular state.

But I make a distinction between the state and politics.  And I think this is a point that often, in the American system, is not clear enough -- that often people assume that separating church and state takes care of religion and politics.  (Laughter.)  My claim is that we need to deal with the other issue separately; that is, the state and religion should be separate.  By a secular state, I mean a state that is neutral regarding religious doctrine, but religion and politics cannot and should not be separated.

So the paradox is how -- for me is how to regulate and organize the connectedness of religion and politics in a way that safeguards the separation of religion and the state.

MEAD:  Okay.  Noah.

NOAH FELDMAN:  Thanks, Walter.  Thank you, Abdullahi. 

I just want to say quickly that I'm really grateful to be asked to participate on the panel with such distinguished scholars whose views I have drawn on in my own work.  I guess -- let me start with a quick historical point that draws on Walter's. 

I think that in modern Europe, one solution that was proffered to the problem of how to arrange religious affairs and the affairs of state was to suggest that the religion of the sovereign of the state would be the religion of the state.  You see this already in the Treaty of Augsburg, and then it becomes hardened at Westphalia, and it becomes in some way a basis for all of our modern thinking about church and state.

And that's easy to do when the sovereign is one guy.  When there's one person who is the king or the queen and says I'm the sovereign, that person picks a religion and then the state religion is that religion.  Now, of course, in practice, if that person flips religions, that makes things very complicated.  If you don't know whether that person is born into one religion or another, it makes things complicated.  But it sounds like a pretty good sort of working solution to the problem.

I don't think we would have the same set of church-state problems we have today if it weren't for a weird quirk that happened about a hundred years after that solution, and that quirk was the idea of popular sovereignty.  The core idea that underlies all of our democratic states, the core political idea, is this idea that it's not that one person is the sovereign; it's that all of the people are sovereign. 

Then if all of the people belong to the same religion, it's still not so difficult to say that the religion of the sovereign is the religion of the state, because if all of the people think of themselves as Muslims, and let's say they're the same -- belong to the same school of Islam, then you could still say that the state religion is the religion of that group of people and nobody will make much of an argument about it.

But if the sovereign people are plural with respect to religion, if they belong to lots of different religions, now you have a very serious practical problem.  How can you have the religion of the sovereign be the religion of the state if the sovereign belongs to many religions?  And it's at that point, I think, historically, that you start to see people saying maybe the state should not associate itself with any religion.  Maybe there shouldn't be any official religion.

Now, I wanted to use that historical background because I think it helps for me to see why I think that not every country in the world needs to have the exact same arrangement with respect to religion and government.

To my mind, there are some principles that are universal and should apply everywhere -- this goes to Walter's first point about the Abrahamic religions and their universalism -- and others that could be different in different places.

The parts that seem to me to be universal are the ideas of a basic human right to choose your religion.  Not everyone in the world necessarily agrees with this, but almost all of the great world religious traditions claim at least that there's no coercion in their religion.  The Koran actually says this explicitly, which gives it one step up on the Hebrew Bible or the New Testament.  But all of the world's religious traditions talk this way, I think it's fair to say.  Not all -- in fact, none -- are very good at implementing this in practice. 

But I think that that is enough of a universal value to say that every state, no matter where it is, even if it has an official religion, ought to allow people the freedom to choose their own religion, and with that comes the right as well not to be discriminated against on the basis of your religion.  To me, that's a universal value.

What's not a universal value, to me, is the idea of a secular state.  To me, if the society wants to arrange itself because the vast majority of people, or even just a slight majority of people prefer there to be an official state religion, provided that they grant every individual the basic human right to religious liberty, I think that that's just fine.  I think England is a good example of this.  There the established church may not be very active today.  It may be very difficult to find people in Anglican churches -- (laughter) -- but it's nevertheless the case that the Archbishop of Canterbury is a politically significant figure, not just because he says things that get people riled up every so often, but because he is connected to the organization of the state in an important way.

Similarly, in many Muslim countries, I think it would be practically absurd and, in principle, unnecessary to demand that the state not identify itself as Islamic, because that is what many, many, many -- the great majority, in many cases, of the population wants.  What is not absurd, however, is to insist in those cases that such states respect the basic human right to freedom of religion. 

And in a country like the United States where we have tremendous religious diversity, it would equally be absurd to say that we should have an established religion.  And as a matter of fact, our Constitution recognizes that and makes it impossible, at least formally, for there to be an established religion.

So I'll stop there, without claiming to have resolved any of the complicated difficulties that analysis raises, but at least it gives a framework for thinking that there are some things that everyone should do in every state, some rights that everyone should respect, but that the arrangement of church and state could still differ very significantly from place to place.

HAMBURGER:  Well, I confess I largely agree with what's been said thus far and -- in pursuing the theme that perhaps there can be variety in the world that's perfectly wholesome and that need not trouble us.  I can't help, though, observing that it may be easier to figure out what should not be than what should.  And that leads us to the very sort of narrow range of objections to sort of bullying that we don't like, that can come in many forms.  But that still leaves open many, many possibilities.  And fortunately, England is just one of them, though amusing these days.

It strikes me that religion is often treated in this country as something distinct from the state, something to be kept apart from it, perhaps something even dangerous.  And I -- one of the things one has to worry about is that Americans tend to forget the degree to which the state is itself constituted by religion.

Now, politically we find this an anathema to a Christian nation, but in a more profound sense, this is inevitable, and any anthropologist would point out you can hardly discuss a society without getting into its religion.

The very notion of equal liberty has its foundations in religion.  Now, we can claim equal liberty, equal rights, as some sort of right.  But if it's any more than just a demand, if it's actually going to be a moral duty -- for example, if slavery is immoral, and you actually have a duty to resist it.  If suicide is immoral, you have a duty to resist that -- where are we draw these conclusions from? 

And Locke has a lot to say about this, for all of his failings as a serious philosopher.  Nonetheless, on this point, he comes as close to profound as he ever gets, I think.  And we are too quick to forget that without the religious basis for equal rights, we would be impoverished and we might still have slavery.  So religion is fundamental to the very liberty that we think we sometimes need to protect from religion.

Second, it strikes me that in all societies, and although I'm not an expert in the Middle East, I gather from scholars of the Ottoman Empire that there are a lot of sermons, even in the 14th century, that are very similar to Christian sermons being given at the same time about the role of religion as part of the social structure.  If you want a degree of freedom from severe laws, you'd better hope these moral constraints (is ?) a fairly successful sort.  And religion inevitably has its own way of accomplishing that.

And then finally, it was only recently that we have escaped the notion that we have a government ordained by God.  And in the West we may think we're above religion now -- almost, perhaps, above God.  But in most of the world, such heady thoughts haven't yet permeated quite so far.  And it strikes me that if we are going to talk about religious liberty, we have to keep in mind the fairly -- importance of religion, even to the secular state. 

But I'll stop there.  Thank you.

MEAD:  Very good.

Well, I'm taking away a couple of things here.  One is I've been reminded again of just the sheer diversity of relationships that exist between religion and the state, even in the so-called Christian, so-called West.  So we not only have England, where the queen can't marry a Catholic or become a Catholic.  In Argentina, the president of the Argentine Republic must be a Roman Catholic, something that caused Carlos Menem to get baptized. 

In Germany, the president of the republic can be any religion he chooses or doesn't choose, but if you do sign up for church membership, the state will take a percentage of your income in tax each year and give it to those the state chooses to recognize as the legitimate authorities of the religion which you profess. 

So we can find all kinds of varieties with -- and yet it's interesting that all -- that certainly Germany, Argentina, and Britain, if you asked most citizens of those states do you live in a secular country, they would answer probably yes.  And it's -- while Americans like to talk about how much more religious America is than, say, Germany, I've been reminded by a member of the German Bundestag there are actually more doctors of divinity in the German parliament than in the American Congress.  That may explain something; I'm not quite sure what.  (Laughter.)

But then also I'm reminded, listening to the panelists, that our visions of what is the proper relationship of religion and state are often profoundly shaped by our own religious views.  There's the story in Belfast of a guy who's whisked into an alley by masked gunmen who point a gun to his head and they say what are you, Catholic or Protestant?  He goes, I'm an atheist!  I'm an atheist!  The gunmen think for a second and they say well, are you a Catholic atheist or a Protestant atheist?  (Laughter.)

And there's a sense in which a society can be Protestant secular or Catholic secular or Muslim secular, and those are not always the same thing. 

And what I'd like to do is ask the panelists to explore -- I think this is building on something that Philip said, that in America, certainly, our idea of this separation of church and state, or the relationship, is profoundly based on the overwhelming sort of Protestant character -- and Noah's written about this as well -- of our people at the time of -- you know, in the early American republic.

To what extent is that experience -- you may have some thoughts here, too -- applicable to people of other religious traditions and backgrounds, or how do we have to reconsider what seems to us to be natural in terms of separation of church and state that would work differently in another culture with a different background? 

Would you like to start on that, Phil?

HAMBURGER:  Sure.  Something you may know, I have a certain distaste for the notion of separation of church and state because, by accident, I fell into studying it and, to my horror, found out more about American history than I wanted to know.  (Laughter.)

To put it very bluntly, it's attributed straight to Jefferson, but it's popular --because of theological prejudice, a distaste for Catholicism, particularly Irish Catholic immigrants, the goal was to separate the church from the state.  And it's far from being a minoritarian position; it's a majoritarian position.  It's about protecting the majority of free individuals and their direct relationship to the state from a church which would exert its influence upon the people and deprive them of their mental liberty, thus debilitating them from being good citizens.

And in fact, if you -- just think for a minute.  Which is the organization that most popularized this idea in the first half of the 20th century?  The ACLU?  No.  The Ku Klux Klan.  And once that settles in, you get the idea.

So this fits in with what Noah was saying earlier.  It strikes me that it's very dangerous for us Americans to go around the world talking in broad generalities that seem natural to us, but may be only because we haven't looked at ourselves too carefully.

Our most common generalizations are separation of church and state and democracy.  Well, God help us if that's what we're exporting, and God help the rest of the world.

Democracy isn't what we practice here and it's the last thing we should wish on anyone else.  Our Founders quite deliberately established a republic.  And when one talks about democracy in many parts of the world, it sounds like majority rule.  In fact, it could have an almost fascist implication in some parts of the world.  One has to be very, very careful about overgeneralization.

And by the same token, I think separation of church and state imposes, as Noah suggested, such a high burden on nations for which this is just incompatible, obviously incompatible with their history.  So the best thing we need -- and this fits in with the views of my colleague from Emory -- we need a little modesty, not only in contemplating religion, but also our own propaganda. 

There's an old line from World War I about propaganda: one will not quite persuade one's enemies, and almost defeat oneself.  And I fear separation leads us in that direction.

MEAD:  Abdullahi, would you like to --

AN-NA'IM:  Okay.  I think various ideas will determine that the secular state everywhere is distinctive, historic, and contextual.  I mean, there are no two identical secular states anywhere. 

So secularism, or secular states, and the question of the relationship between religion and the state and religion and politics, which I try to always emphasize are different propositions, this relationship is contextual and historical.  And therefore every society has to negotiate this for itself over time, and this negotiation can go one way or the other.

But I think the -- one point I would like to bring to our discussion is I think we tend to dichotomize too much the secular and the religious.  And the so-called secular-religious dichotomy I think is overstated because religion becomes relevant in the secular world.  It is not the abstract sort of sensuality.  It is -- the relevance of religion in guiding people live -- lies in this world.  And therefore there is an inherent connectedness between the two.

Just referring back to what this morning was being said about the Koran and about the possibility of reinterpretation and so on, Ali ibn Abi Talib, the fourth caliph and the prophets' cousin and -- for the Shi'a, he is the first imam.  He said the Koran does not speak.  It is people who speak for the Koran.

And the point is that the Koran is a revelation to me as a Muslim, is divine to me as a Muslim.  But as soon as it enters human comprehension, it become secular.  It enters into this world to tell me how to live my life in this world.  And because every comprehension of the Koran is a human comprehension -- of course the possibility that there is more to the Koran than what humans can comprehend remains in the realm of individual religious experience. 

But collectively, socially, we are always dealing with someone's understanding of the Koran.  That makes me nervous about calling the state Islamic.  I don't believe that the state was ever Islamic.  Not a single day.  The state is a political institution.  It is incapable of having a religion.

Whenever we give the adjective of a religious state to any state, what we are saying is that, as you said rightly, it is the religion of the ruling elite.  So once you see it is not the religion of the state as such, but the religion of the ruling elite, you see how dangerous it is to permit the elite to attribute their religious belief to the state which we all share.

I would rather have it for me to negotiate what role Shari'a has in society and in the state in a framework that ensures a degree of equality of human rights, of freedom of religion and other freedoms.  And the proscription, as Professor Feldman describes, is to say the state can't have a religion, but at the same ensure freedom of religion for everybody, is a contradiction. 

The very fact that the state identifies with a religion is, by definition, a violation of freedom of religion.  And for that reason, I will try to strive to keep the state neutral, realizing it is not easy.  It's a constant struggle.  And where in the realm of politics to enable people to identify religiously as also as citizens in a variety of ways.

FELDMAN:  It would be very boring for the audience if we all agreed on everything, so I'm glad that we're hitting -- the rubber's meeting the road here a little bit. 

So I'm going to disagree, first with Abdullahi and then with Philip, if I might, and the framework for my disagreement is the same in both cases.  And it's the observation that when we use words that are big, grand words -- which I usually --

I have a 2-year-old son, and I know I'm dealing with a big, grand word when I can't point to the thing when I define it.  Right?  If he wants to know what a chair is, I can point to the chair.  If he wants to know what religion is, I can't point to anything in particular.  The same is true of the state.  I can't point to anyone; there's nothing I -- these are true abstractions, right?

When we talk about abstractions, which we have to do because much of our world is shaped out of these abstractions, we're never defining them in some way that is objectively correct.  We're always injecting into what we say the way we think they should be.

When we say, "religion is," what we mean is religion is and should be.  The same is true when we talk about the state.  They're just two, the two that happen to be in play in this conversation.

Now, when we talk about can there be such a thing as an Islamic state, I understand that argument, the political and religious argument that says no, there can be no such thing as an Islamic state because Islam is a faith and the state is not a faith.  There can be the religion of the people who run the state.

But if all of the people who run the state and organize the institutions of the state say that their state is religious -- right? -- if they assert this and if they have institutions that exist in the real world that they administer according to these ideas, if there are certain people who are in charge of deciding on this aspect of the expenditure of funds with regard to religion, and this group of people who are in charge of that aspect of making sure that -- I don't know -- as in Saudi Arabia, that people attend the mosque.  You know, if you're in the marketplace and prayer time comes in Saudi Arabia, someone comes along and urges you to attend the mosque.  And if notice that you're not a Muslim, then they say oh, sorry -- you know? -- not you.

But if you have people these sorts of things, then it's practically useful to be able to say that you're speaking in the context of an Islamic state, and that's all I need, I think, for me to be able to say that people may speak of themselves as having an Islamic state.

Now, is there a certain contradiction between that and the idea that some citizens would nevertheless be free to exercise their religious rights? And here I'm going to turn to Philip.  So this is the point that Abdullahi made.  There is a contradiction here.

I agree that there's some tension, because if all the people who run the state are saying this is an Islamic state, the person who's a non-Muslim may feel marginal, may have the experience of feeling like, well, wait a minute.  It's not my state.  I don't fully participate in that state.  Right?  And I agree that that can be a subjective experience that the person will have -- will be likely to have.

If, however, they have that feeling, I don't think it follows from that that they are not free to act in the realm of their own religion.  They might not be free.  You might have a great tendency to take away their rights, but it doesn't necessarily follow, I don't think, that they are not free to act in the realm of their own religion. 

And let me just give a practical example of why this so, and here I'll turn to -- my disagreement -- this is apart of where Philip and I disagree.  Although I think Philip and I often agree on the bottom line, we almost always disagree completely about how to get there.  (Laughter.)

So if you look at the Protestant tradition of the separation of church and state, which Philip has done so much to elucidate, it begins with the idea that the state does have a religion, but that that religion demands equal liberty and free choice of religion for each of its citizens.  Right?  Now, not everyone in the Protestant tradition says this, but let's just take Locke, whom Philip mentioned, who for Americans, at least, is the most influential thinker about the relationship between religion and government, I would argue.  

Locke, in his famous letter on toleration, does say that there's no such thing under the gospels as a Christian commonwealth.  He thinks there was a Jewish commonwealth under the Hebrew Bible, but that because of Christian liberty, there's no such thing as a truly Christian commonwealth.  So actually he agrees with Abdullahi on that point.

But he's imagining that the Church of England will remain the established church, and he is imagining that government money and church money will be fully intertwined.  But he thinks that his own religion, which is the religion of the state, in effect, itself demands -- and he makes a religious argument for this -- itself demands that each person be left free to choose his own religion, because the religion wants free choice of faith, and not coerced choice of faith.

Now, does that make separation of church and state a Protestant idea?  In some sense, yeah.  Yes, it does, in America.  And once you see that it's a Protestant idea, it's impossible to disentangle it from a long strain of anti-Catholicism in English-speaking Protestantism.  And so when you look at the historical materials, as Philip does very well in his very important book on this subject, you see, and what do you know -- the same people who were advocating religious liberty are also not in favor of the Catholic Church -- which, they note, as late as the 1860s and '70s says that, quote, "Liberty of conscience is a delirimentum."  Walter's Latin is better than mine, but it's nothing good to say that something is -- it's a, you know, a false imagining.  Something that you ought not to believe.  Right? 

So there's an actual disagreement there on whether the liberty of conscience is in fact an important value -- and, of course, the Catholic Church has changed its view on this radically since that time, and that's wonderful.  But the fact is that once you acknowledge in a historical sense that there is something distinctively Protestant about this development of separation of church and state, you find all the nasty stuff, too.  But that's okay -- and this is where Philip and I disagree.

You find the nasty stuff -- and he's right that it's there, but that doesn't trouble me very much, because all traditions of thought, whether they're religious, secular, or otherwise, have this nasty stuff caught up in it.  So when I read the new atheists, as they are -- they're sometimes called, you know, these writers who get so much attention these days who are, in fact, amazingly similar to the atheists of the 1870s and '80s. 

I mean, in fact, almost all of the arguments, with only a few exceptions, can already be found in those earlier texts.  So once a century they get their chance to really, you know -- (laughter) -- flex and stretch their muscles, and that's probably a good thing.  They're focusing on nasty things that religion has done, and it's almost never the case that they're wrong.  The nasty things they say religion has done, it has done.  But so has every other ideology. 

I'll leave it there.

AN-NA'IM:  Can I --

MEAD:  Sure.

AN-NA'IM:  I'm saying just about the -- because when you say when all the Muslims of a country say that we want our -- or say to me -- Muslims never agree on anything -- never agree.  But the day the prophet died, and before he was buried, Muslims disagreed about how to succeed and who to succeed.  So disagreements have been -- (inaudible) -- you will never agree and you will always disagree, and it's only God in the next life who will adjudicate your differences among you; several verses to this extent.

So the point is that my problem with a -- Islamic state is that what does Islamic mean?  When we cannot agree on what Islamic means, using the term is confusing; in fact, dangerous, because it hides all the nasty stuff that he was talking about behind this veneer of Islamic, so that it becomes harder to challenge it.

He gives an example of Saudi Arabia.  In Saudi Arabia, there is a significant minority of Shi'a in eastern Arabia.  I don't like to say Saudi Arabia.  I like to say Arabia.  How can you name a country after a family?  In Arabia, there is significant Shi'a in the east to whom the Wahhabi doctrine of the state is a heresy, and they are obliged to live under this heresy as the law of the state.

And when you see that Iran is an Islamic state and Saudi Arabia is an Islamic state, what will it mean when, to each of them, the other is a heresy?  So the term Islamic becomes totally incoherent.  You know, as you travel in the region, you will find that people call Islamic law -- Islamic sort of -- (inaudible) -- the term is overused that there is no thought as to exactly what we mean by it.  And when we look closely to what we mean by it, we see that no Muslims of any country will agree on what their state is when they call it an Islamic state.

All of this is to be in the realm of politics.  And that's why I will say let people affirm their Islamic identity and values through politics, but not through a state institutions, which is what I need to have for it to be possible for me to negotiate Shari'a in politics.

MEAD:  Philip.

PHILIP HAMBURGER:  I'm not learned enough to take a position on Islamic law such as Professor An-Na'im just did, but in defense of -- of his position against Professor Feldman's, I must say I fear that Professor Feldman, in defense of his view that there should be possibly should admit there to be an Islamic state, looks to Europe to say, "Well, there are Christian states there."  And it strikes me that, at least in the Anglo-American tradition, which is the freer part of the European tradition, that's not so clear.

So, yes, there would have been a social establishment of Christianity, particularly Anglicanism in England.  And, yes, the monarch is the head of the English church, but if one looks at the theological and political writings of the late 17th century and early 18th century, defending Anglican establishments, the writings that Americans look to and understand, the argument isn't the state is religious, let alone that it's Protestant, let alone that it's Anglican, but rather that there's an alliance between church and state.

So even in the English church's own writings, it's not asserted that there's an Anglican church -- I'm sorry -- an Anglican state, except in the strongest -- (inaudible) -- Tory writings.  In the mainstream English writings, for example, by Bishop Warburton is about an alliance of church and state, in which he does very interesting Madisonian-style reasons.  And so it's really, I think, much more cautious.  So I don't think we can look to Europe and say, "Well, that's what the Europeans did.  Therefore, we should be comfortable with a religious state elsewhere."

I'd also like to disagree, much as I appreciate Professor Feldman's views on this, with his casual use of separation of church and state, as if that is what we're talking about when we talk about disestablishment.  Disestablishment and separation are very different metaphors.  Establishment is about one object elevating another, and therefore it's about a restraint on the government elevating the church.  Separation of church and state, which we think of horizontally, it's about keeping apart two institutions, and necessarily it limits both.  And instead of talking about religion generally, it focuses on organized religion rather than individual spirituality.

So it seems to me, yes, a lot of violence has been pursued in this country even in the name of separation of church and state, as well as in the name of religion.  But that's not our ideal.  Our ideal is actually quite carefully drafted in the Constitution.  It's about disestablishment.

And then, finally, I can't help talking about violence, since that's what lies behind so much of this, right?  We're not talking about violence -- "Let's have some fun" -- because violence has its fun aspect, unfortunately; we're human, and we indulge in it occasionally.  So if it looks back, as the Supreme Court likes to do, they'll say, "Oh, we have to be careful of divisiveness and religious violence," and they allude to Europe, particularly the happy years of the 16th and 17th century when there was a lot of violence.

It's by no means clear that religion has a monopoly on this.  In fact, religion turned out to be rather inefficient.  The Inquisition only killed a few thousand people.  What were they up to?  Their mind was on God, not on the efficiency of killing.  And it strikes me that the secular state in the past century has really done a much better job of it, if you're into that sort of thing, which gets to the larger set of issues, I think, here that we haven't yet discussed, the relationship, as it were, social structures, if we include religion amongst these.

So let's not talk about religion.  I agree with Professor Feldman about this.  It's an amorphous concept.  Let's think just for a minute; not say this is what religion really is, but about unrealistic aspirations for purity and transcendence.

Now, if that is part of the human condition, how should it be pursued, with unrealistic aspirations for purity and transcendence in this world or another world?  And which is more dangerous?  I don't know that I know the answer.  But it's by no means clear to me that pursuing those unrealistic aspirations in another world is more dangerous than in this world.  And I think, sadly, the comparisons to the Soviet Union and the proceedings of the 16th Century illustrate that.

MEAD:  All right.  Boy, well, you certainly know how to bring the fun into a gathering.  (Laughter.)

HAMBURGER:  I don't like violence myself, but it's fun to talk about.

MEAD:  All right.  Well, I think, speaking of fun, maybe it's time to give the audience some and open this up for questions.  Again, I'd like to remind you that a question is a statement which can be grammatically ended with a question mark.  (Laughter.)  One can usually tell one's being asked a question by sort of a rising inflection that comes at the end of the sentence.  And questions are, generally speaking, rather short.

So if anybody has questions, please raise your hand.  We'll bring a microphone to you.  State your name and your affiliation for the sake of those watching by video.

QUESTIONER:  Charles Harper, John Templeton Foundation.

I want to state a thesis as a question for all of you.  Do you think that strategically, for the Council on Foreign Relations and the United States generally, that this issue for intellectuals of clarifying the difference in religion between a situation before and after an American-style politic -- constitutionally of the separation of state power from religious culture, do you see that as something that's vital for American intellectuals to engage with in the world to clarify what the American experiment and experience has been?

MEAD:  So if I rephrase that, gentlemen, does your life's work have any meaning or purpose?  (Laughter.)  Anybody want to jump in there?

FELDMAN:  One think that I think is fair to say is that, though it's obviously crucially important in the American realm for us to understand what we're doing ourselves domestically, we shouldn't draw the conclusion from that that once we've figured it out, then we'll have something we can hold their hands and export.

I mean, one of the weirdest experiences of my life was sitting in the Green Zone and hearing U.S. government officials, who were aligned with the political movement of deeply skeptical of, for example, the idea of a secular state -- we don't have a secular state here -- saying things like, "The most important thing we have to keep in mind for the new Iraq is that there must be a strictly secular state."

First of all, it bespoke a willingness to sort of imagine something on the U.S. side that they themselves denied exists on the U.S. side.  But second of all, it bespoke this idea that they knew exactly what we had in the United States and we should export that.

So I want to (exploit ?) all of that -- (inaudible).  I think the other panelists do too.  We do want to understand what we have here.  We want to understand the fights that we still have in the United States, the lack of clarity that we have.  And then we want to realize that whatever the lack of -- (inaudible) -- that we have is, that's probably not the suitable thing to impose on anybody else.  At least that's my own view.

MEAD:  They should have their own lack of clarity.

FELDMAN:  Exactly.  They should have their own version of confusion.

And this is the last thing I would say.  I mean, a constitutional tradition that works is one that is in a constant state of dynamic evolution.  You have a written constitution that says "x," but no constitutional system works if it just follows what's in that written constitution and never changes.  Interpretation gives it the freedom to change.  And if it doesn't even have a text, so much the better, often, because then you have a little bit more freedom for the dynamism.

So everyone's going to have some complex dynamic unresolved form of the relationship between religion and government, but they shouldn't all have the same confusion.

MEAD:   Abdullahi, do you want to --

AN-NA'IM:  I was going to -- I am from Sudan.  At this point I am an American citizen, but I am from Sudan and am formed by being from Sudan.  And one term or concept, idea that has not really been raised much is colonialism.  Much of what we see is post-colonialism, that it is more informed by colonialism than it is by anything else about Muslim societies and their history.

The Islamic state discourse is a post-colonial discourse, because one position that we have not clarified, what do we mean by the state?  The form of state -- the type of state that we now live with is a European model of the state.  And the idea of law that Muslims -- when Muslims talk about an Islamic state before Shari'a, they think of it as Shari'a as positive law; European idea of law, European idea of the state.

So it's a contradiction, I think, to claim to affirm Islamic identity through two European institutions, the state and law.  The type of state that Muslims lived with historically is a very different type of state than the state they are living with now in the post-colonial.

Now, coming to the American, also one question.  Iraq was mentioned a couple of times.  But the fact is that Iraq has been a colonial experience; that is, the United States has colonized and is still colonizing Iraq.  Iraq is not a sovereign state now, as we speak.  And probably in my book, the biggest moral failure of the United States since the Second World War has been the invasion, occupation and colonization of Iraq.

And this event, if we can call it an event, has done sort of horrendous consequences for decades to come and outraged, completely outraged, that we can talk about it as if it is something that happened and, okay, we'll just now deal with the consequences.  No, it has to be condemned for having happened in the first place.  And thus, having had to be condemned for having done it, now the impulse is the Americans go out in the world to engage in conversation about the American experience -- absolutely fine, wonderful.  In fact, we do this all the time.

I studied constitutional law with an American professor in the 1960s in Sudan, and I learned a lot from him.  And I continue to learn from my American experience.  But if you send your armies to missionize for your view of what freedom of religion is and what church and state is, that's completely unacceptable and utterly counterproductive.

FELDMAN:  Just for the record, I mean, we did invade Iraq; there's no question.  And there's no question, further, that our presence there has features that are in common with colonialism, or with imperialism maybe more precisely.  But if you look at the constitutional structure that emerged in Iraq, it has nothing to do with the U.S. constitutional structure.  I mean, for better or worse, it makes Iraq an Islamic state and says that no law passed may violate the judgments of Islam.  I mean, it says that when it comes to family law -- I mean, you can say these are terrible things.  I think you do think they're terrible things.  But whatever they are, they're not American things.

AN-NA'IM:  No, but the fact is that it was drafted during an American occupation, that the people of Iraq -- I mean, the question is also Britain colonized Sudan and Uganda and Kenya; I mean, most of African states.  And it was -- and the French did it too.  At the end of the colonial period, they drafted a constitution in Lancaster House in England for the new state to just go on and become independent and sovereign as of today, because we have made you sovereign.

When our secretary of State sends a letter to the government of Iraq to say that "We have your sovereignty for a year.  Here, have it back.  But we will keep 150,000 troops heavily armed under foreign command who will protect you from your own population, but you are a sovereign state."  The constitution of Iraq has not happened.  And the fact that you have a document called the constitution of Iraq is not and does not make it the constitution of Iraq.

You know, constitutions are not made in documents.  Constitutions are hearts and minds of people.  And until the people of Iraq have the freedom and the stability and the ability to draft their own constitution completely free, without any foreign advisers, without technocrats telling them how to draft this or how to work it out or not work it out, it is not a constitution.

MEAD:  Well, I think -- let's try to -- points taken, but let's try to keep this on the broader agenda of responding, I think, to the question of, you know, the validity -- sort of the importance for American foreign policy of trying to understand this issue of religious --

HAMBURGER:  I do want to get back to the original question.  I just cannot help engaging a little bit on this point.

MEAD:  Please don't.  (Laughter.)

HAMBURGER:  One sentence.  It's simply that if one takes everything that Professor An-Na'im just said as true, it just does strike me that we won't have to worry that the colonial discourse tends to lead us only to look at some tragedies and not others.  And I think if one's really to be concerned about the people of any nation in this world, as a human being, one has to recognize disasters can happen from any direction, including from within, and that's certainly been the case with Iraq.

Now, getting back to the question, though, it strikes me that, yes, we do need to be engaging.  I almost agreed with Noah there until he went on about the living constitution, and then I had to back -- can't win 'em all.  It strikes me that we have had a remarkable experience here, perhaps just by accident.  None of us in this room, I think, can take credit for it, but we have lived in a genuinely blessed country in a blessed period of time where it is just not normal in human experience to have what we have in the United States.

And by whatever grace that is, I think it is worth talking about.  It's worth talking about with all the caution that my colleagues have mentioned, because we don't know which elements are essential, and there's a danger we will misstate it, so we need to be very modest about it.  And it may be that we should not impose this; that's surely true.  And yet, at the same time, just to show the model of living, a Lutheran pastor once explained to me how he reached his congregation, and he said to me, "I don't have a congregation; I just try to live right, and people notice that."

And we can take the same approach.  But I think, at the same time, one can't just live right.  One has to talk about it.  And, yes, we need to be engaged with a sense of prudence, with a sense of the diversity of the world, but sharing at least the model so that people can adapt from it what I think they will undoubtedly find deeply attractive.  And frankly, people across the world do.

MEAD:  And I would probably add, from the standpoint of the Council on Foreign Relations, or at least some of us here, we think that certainly since September 11th, but a lot of events before that, have raised the importance of trying to get a clearer understanding in the U.S. of how our own traditions have evolved in this respect and then trying to understand better where those do and don't intersect with the experiences of other societies and what usefully can we do to try to advance some of the universal values that Noah was talking about in these very different contexts.

Sir.

QUESTIONER:  Jim Dingman, INN World Report.

When one travels to Europe, one's constantly confronted with the question of "What are you Americans doing letting these fundamentalist Christians dominate your foreign policy?"  All the time last fall, I got that continually.  And we know that operationally that influence has been realized in the HIV-AIDS policy of Bush's administration in Africa.

And I wanted to get your take on that and also how people in Europe are perceiving how religion is in the election process.  For example, we've had three weeks of Jeremiah Wright being thrown at us, and that has, of course, been perceived differently in Europe than in the United States.  I wanted to know how you see those things.

FELDMAN:  We're on the record, right?

MEAD:  No, go right ahead; sounds like you're itching to go.

FELDMAN:  Well, I mean, look, on the first point I would say welcome to participatory democracy.  There are all these foreign policy elites; some of them may be in this room.  Some of the people who helped create this room, who think that it might not be such a good idea for the general democratic population -- here I mean democratic, not a small "r" republican -- to be involved in foreign policymaking, right, because they think, "Wow, what happens when that happens is that all those people out there have these views that we elites don't agree with will impact our foreign policy -- yuk."

Now, you know, one of the costs of the democratization of foreign policy in the last 115 years, which is itself in part of a very complicated story that Walter has told part of very brilliantly of post-Cold War changes in the way foreign policy is shaped, one of the consequences of this democratization of foreign policy debates is that constituencies that historically didn't do that much or weren't able to do that much to affect our foreign policy now can and do.

I think that in many particular cases -- the one you mentioned is a good one -- I don't agree with what that particular constituency wants our foreign policy to be.  But I completely disagree that it somehow follows from that that public voices should be excluded from our foreign policy judgments.  I think if you're serious about being a democracy, you need to acknowledge that.

And when you make your foreign policy, you have to think seriously about the fact that that foreign policy is now going to be shaped in the long run by what the general public believes.  I think that's got to be now part of the foreign policy calculus.  When you decide to do something, you can't think, for example, that the next administration, even if it's of a different party, will do just what you expect it to do.  That's a mistake, I think, now in foreign policy, where then maybe it wasn't the case in certain aspects of the Cold War.  So that's on the first half of the question, and I'll leave Jeremiah Wright to my colleagues.

HAMBURGER:  I just want to comment on the notion of fundamentalists anywhere.  Who are the fundamentalists, right?  Fundamentalists are a small group that are more generally known as evangelicals.  The number of fundamentalists in this country who were actually traditional fundamentalists are tiny.  I mean, how many premillenarian literalists are there in this country?  That's not most evangelicals.

And so when people criticize fundamentalists, they're revealing a certain theological ignorance, I fear.  And what particularly worries me is that this is a theologically (inflected ?) term.  This is saying some people believe in fundamentals.  In other words, they believe in orthodoxies.  We are theologically liberal.  The implication is, "And we don't have orthodoxies."  And somehow this gets into class distinctions, too -- the educated versus uneducated and the rest.  And so I think we have to be very careful with labels.  Most evangelicals are highly individualistic.  Most of them are not fundamentalist in the traditional term.

And just a final thought here.  Since I am interested so much in the bullying of religious minorities, we would not ordinarily take the label for a small minority and treat that as a label for some sort of social ill or theological ill.  You know, if you're worried about some sort of habit that you associate with a particular religion, you wouldn't say, "How Protestant of you.  How Catholic of you.  How Islamic of you.  How Jewish of you."  We think how prejudiced that would be.  But we don't hesitate to say, "Gee, that's very fundamentalist," and we're not even talking about fundamentalists.  We're using minority label.

And so I just feel a lot of these criticisms don't even understand the theologies involved.  Now, it may be right, as Noah points out.  Perhaps we might disagree with the policies.  But that's a different issue altogether.

MEAD:  Yes.

QUESTIONER:  (Inaudible.)

MEAD:  I have a feeling we'll come back to Jeremiah Wright.

QUESTIONER:  I'm definitely not Jeremiah --

MEAD:  He'll take care of himself.

QUESTIONER:  Thank you.

I'd like to ask you to express an opinion.  Mr. Ratzinger, who has chosen the name of Pope Benedict XVI --

MEAD:  Are you a Protestant, by any chance?

QUESTIONER:  There's a chance.  There's a chance.  I'd like to ask you to comment on this too.  And I know you're the fair-minded moderator here.  I will not try to quote him, because he did it in Latin and my Latin is not that good.  But he said at one point here three or four months something to the effect that he would support the building of mosques in Rome when the Saudi government permitted the building of churches in Riyadh.  Would you comment on that?

AN-NA'IM:  There is so much more to the Muslim world than Saudi Arabia.

QUESTIONER:  (Off mike.)

AN-NA'IM:  (Laughs.)  Because he said Riyadh, so -- at least to be clear.  I made my point about the family and the country.  But now what I'm saying is this.  I noticed also this morning already that there is so much focus on the Middle East as if it is representative of the Muslim world at large.

The Arab Muslim region is about 10 (percent) to 12 percent of the total Muslim population -- 10 (percent) to 12 percent.  There are more Muslims in sub-Saharan Africa than there are Muslims in the Middle East.  There are -- India is the second-largest Muslim country in the world, or third, probably, when you compare it to Pakistan.

The point is that so much Muslims and Islam historically, as well as currently, are not anything to do with the Middle East; in fact, quite different, very much different, that -- so that I think for the pope's remark, I think it is unfair to sort of prejudge Muslims' attitudes about churches and Christian-Muslim relations and so on by what goes on in Arabia or Saudi Arabia, as your choice.

In that sense, the point is that also, I would say, I would hope that a pope would be more visionary and more leading the Christians than this tit-for-tat attitude.  He should say that "I would support building a mosque in Rome regardless of what" -- because he should be driven by his own religious conviction as a Christian, not by what -- and this is exactly what Muslims are doing now when they are (ranting ?) against the United States and condemning everything that's good about this country because they hate some aspects of the foreign policy of this country.

What the United States does or does not do should not define what I do or not do and my right as a Muslim.  And I would hope that the pope would think "What does my religious conviction as a Christian leader lead me to do about mosques in Rome?" rather than being defined by what Muslim leaders do or prefer to do in other countries.

MEAD:  I suppose the king of Saudi Arabia might also reply, "We'll separate mosque from state in Saudi Arabia when you do it in the Vatican, your holiness," and see what he gets.

QUESTIONER:  Hi.  Assam Rehman (sp), Muslim Bar Association of New York.

Just to take advantage of the fact that we have three law professors, I wanted to ask your opinion on the role of religious judicial bodies.  This is something that was discussed earlier this morning, but perhaps each of you can comment, because, for example, Professor An-Na'im, you talked about keeping religion out of the institutions.  How does that concept inform the existence of a judicial body or even a scholar who is empowered by the state to adjudicate matters?  Professor Feldman, you wrote about this recently.  I'd like to get your views as legal experts on that matter.

(Off mike commentary.) 

AN-NA'IM:  Okay.  You might be surprised, but I am opposed to what the archbishop has proposed.  I think it is bad for the state institutions to enforce religious adjudication.  Religious adjudication and other types of adjudication happen all the time.  And we can never stop it, and, in fact, we can encourage it.

My objection comes when you involve a state institution in enforcing the outcome of -- (inaudible) -- our situation.  If it is freely chosen by the parties, you can have types of issues where that happens outside the state institutions, and it will happen outside the state institutions, and it is good that it happens.

But implicating the state institutions into enforcing religious adjudication is dangerous for the state and for the religion.  Now, one point is that when -- say, if you have a Shari'a-based arbitrational family dispute in Britain go before English courts to enforce, is the court going to review only the procedural aspects, or is it going to review the substantive aspects?  Or is it going to enforce based on the authority of those who adjudicate it without questioning looking into what really went on and what are the issues?

Now, is an English court competent in Shari'a to be able to review adjudication outcomes?  If it is not, is it going to enforce an adjudication that it has no way of evaluating in terms of its good or bad nature, and so on?  Now, the point is that the realm of community life are very much -- I think my sense of separation of church and state, as you said, is protecting the state from religion and religion from the state.  And in that light, I would be opposed to enforcement of religious education.

Now, another point to add; I don't know how much time -- time, of course, is short.  The thing is, what is the Shari'a authorization for this selectivity, because if what you are doing is enforcing Shari'a, Shari'a has a lot to say on everything.  How come that you choose this particular limited issue and exclude all other issues on which Shari'a is as authoritative as it is on this issue?

In the sort of Ontario case, the same proposal was made in Ontario.  And the proposal was made excluding custody-of-children issues.  Because custody of children is a federal jurisdiction, so they were saying in Ontario, "Let us do it in other issues, not with custody of children."  How can you deal with a family dispute without including custody-of-children issues as a factor simply because the state structure is such that this is outside the realm of the provincial?  That is the sort of confusion that is bound to come through if you try to do this sort of thing.

HAMBURGER:  If I could just add a word here, for 480 years the law of the land has had complete obligation, within the jurisdiction of the common-law nations.  There is no room for a distinct jurisdiction independent of it.  And although in England church courts can be authorized by the state, it's always under their complete authority of the law of the land.  And that's just fundamental.  That's why our constitution refers to the supreme law of the land. 

And I agree with Professor An-Na'im.  It's very, very dangerous to start breaking that down.  That can go in a lot of different directions.  This was the split between the Catholic Church in England in the 1530s, and there's just nothing as fundamental as the complete force of the law of the land in jurisdiction.  And we're familiar with this in many areas, in questions of race, questions of religion and so forth.

There is some room for contractual arrangements by which individuals put themselves into someone else's judgment, be it religious or commercial, right?  But the secular courts must always have competence to decide the matter ultimately.  And to inquire, which is genuinely voluntary, there's potential for this to go in a very dangerous direction, and not, incidentally, to the advantage of Muslims.

FELDMAN:  Here I disagree with my colleagues.  To me, this question comes under the general category of things you could do differently in different countries, provided that basic human rights are respected.  And I would note that in his pretty tentative speech, if you actually read it, which obviously very few people have done -- in this room I'm sure many have, but in the world, very few people have done -- the archbishop of Canterbury spoke of, first of all -- the background assumption of the talk was that, of course, the laws of the state would ultimately be the ones that authorized the local court -- the arbitral body, and that the state law would be the supreme law of the land.  He was very explicit in this respect, and he also said very explicitly that equality of men and women would have to be respected, that that would trump any particular Islamic principles, and so forth and so on.

Now, I think it's worth noting the difference in approach -- and this goes back to the previous question -- between Pope Benedict and the archbishop of Canterbury because they both lead -- once much larger, but they both lead big Christian denominations -- when it comes to dealing with the question of Islam.  Pope Benedict's verbal practice thus far and his experience have been to be, let's say, on occasion sharply negative about aspects of Islam.  That has brought him a lot of opposition in the Muslim world, but it's been pretty good for him as a sort of political move within Europe.  I think it's fair to say that he has strengthened himself within Europe as a result.  An interesting strategy on his part, especially given that he has said explicitly when he became pope that one of the dangers for the church is becoming irrelevant in Europe.  So it turns out that being sharply negative about Islam is a very effective technique for making yourself a player in the contemporary European environment.

The archbishop of Canterbury --

(Cross talk.)

MEAD:  -- could maybe take a lead --

FELDMAN:  -- yeah, it's interesting.  Yeah.

The archbishop of Canterbury, by contrast, gave this very tentative and scholarly lecture in a pretty academic environment and all hell broke loose.  You know?  I mean, they were calling for his resignation.  And you know, he's been handling some pretty sensitive matters over the last couple of years that -- the Anglican community is not without its difficulties, as we know -- but nobody, as far as I know, has made as open, as loud, as angry a set of calls for his resignation as came over this one speech.  So there's an important lesson there about the political climate in Europe right now.  Say anything that might be construed as in some way -- and the archbishop was very explicit -- he was trying to experimentally think of ways to reach out to the Muslim community in England to make it feel fully a part, and you can think that that's a mistake; you can think it's wrong -- but the spirit of the speech I think is pretty clear, and look at the consequences. 

MEAD:  Okay.  We have a question from one of our very patient webcast viewers that I'd like to interject here.  This is from Rene Lape (sp) at Friends Academy, who asked, "Regarding the relationship between Christian believers in the United States and the state, when it comes to issue such as the prohibition we have always had on men having more than one wife, a rule strictly related, it seems, to our identity as a Christian nation, how do you see the role of the state in defining the nature of marriage -- whether we're speaking of same-sex marriage or monogamous marriages?" 

So, I guess behind that is the notion that religious presuppositions inform the approach of the state to such basic matters of family life -- is this appropriate? 

MR.     :  (Off mike.)  (Laughter.)

AN-NA'IM:  I'll try briefly.  I think it is legitimate that every society's legal order -- codes of family law included -- would reflect its values, its culture, its religious beliefs included in that.  But the point is that certain -- as it is enacted as law by virtue of the will of the state and not by virtue religious authority.  So monogamous marriage is now part of the -- of course we are clear, all of us, that the origin or the underpinnings of this are Christian or particularly at least some interpretation of Christian dogma, but the point is that it is family law by virtue of the will of the state, not by virtue of divine command.

If that is the case, then it can be changed, too.  Not that we are going to have polygamous marriages, but the point is that we are dealing with the secular world.  My view is that in Islamic-majority countries, family law also should be secular law and should be seen as such; that you have a family court.  If the peoples are Muslims, their values will be reflected in that court, but there is no confusion that what the law is is the rule of the state and not the religious commands according to some interpretations of it. 

So, in that sense, we can have polygamous marriage or not have this divorce or that divorce -- all of it as secular law so we can change it.  But once we say, "This is Shari'a," then what can we do about it?

MEAD:  So in some countries one can have multiple wives; in this country we have multiple conceptions of marriage.  But these come from the democratic system of politics.  And underlying this and the prior question really is the matter of women's rights.  Right?  To what -- whether we're talking about polygamy or we're talking about Shari'a is introduced as a set of -- a subpart of the legal system as to family matters, the concern that I think many people rightfully will have is what will happen to the woman as an individual?  Will her rights be fully respected?  And to what extent will her freedom remain under such a system?  And given the role of the equality of women generally one might say in the development of the set of political systems and freedoms that we appreciate -- and it's been a central part, frankly -- women's rights have been a central part of the movement against slavery in this country and in changing our polity I think in ways that are on the whole rather wholesome.  We ought to be very, very careful about inviting what might become instruments of undermining this.  In fact, if there's anything we can do for the rest of the world, it will be to remind the rest of the world that in fact half the population -- many parts -- are excluded from full participation as citizens.  And, to put it mildly, that's a shame.

Yes, in the back?

QUESTIONER:  Yes.  Eric Gregory from Princeton University.  I'm an academic, so you'll forgive me if I worry this is getting to concrete.  I'm going to ask an abstract question, and it was provoked by Professor Hamburger.  I think as a matter of intellectual history, the concept of the secular and even human rights and even the separation of church and state have their soil in theological and religious sources.  And you said that we would be impoverished today without those religious motivations to regard people as equal, et cetera.  Do you want to go further and say they're actually necessary and required?  And I wasn't sure if you meant that as a philosophical argument, as a sociological argument or as a historical argument.  Can we tick away the God talk as long as we have the constitutional practices and democratic republican institutions, or is religion necessary for the defense of human rights?  It's the question about Locke, really. 

HAMBURGER:  Yeah.  It's a good question.  It's an -- I don't know the answer, and I fear that we're living through an interesting experiment.  We won't know probably for a little while -- I hope not to live long enough to find out.  But this is the division between America and Europe, right?  And if we think -- I don't think America has ever really been the same as Europe, but there are some commonalities.  And if one looks at the fate of Europe and the fate of the United States, we each have our problems, but their problems may turn out to be more fundamental precisely because they place such a burden on their mere humanity, and that is more than most societies have survived.

I don't want to suggest that nothing -- you know, it isn't possible.  That would be going too far, right?  We have no evidence for that.  But if one looks across history -- and of course, we only have a few thousand years of detailed evidence -- but if one looks across history, it's difficult to find a society which really gets very far, survives very long without some outside source to define and give stability to what we loosely call -- politely call "values," right, but which actually have to be a little bit more magnetic than that.  So I don't really know, but I'm -- although personally an optimist, professionally I'm a pessimist.  (Laughter.)

MEAD:  Yes?  Wait for the microphone.

QUESTIONER:  Paul de Vries with New York Divinity School.  I'm also on the board of the National Association of Evangelicals.  It puzzles us that we've had such a giant influence on foreign policy.  We look at many of our attempts to affect foreign policy in terms of restricting sex trade, nonviolent conflict resolution, creation care, environmental issues to be part of foreign policy and so forth.  And perhaps the -- (inaudible) -- list several more, perhaps the only success was the AIDS program that Bush pushed in Africa. 

But I guess the question -- we represent directly 20 million evangelicals, and indirectly probably equal number.  What can we do to wake up Washington to what we see as the eternal values?

MEAD:  How can evangelicals get more political influence?  (Laughter.)  Who wants to answer that?

FELDMAN:  I'll say something about at least the first part of the question -- how it's a surprise.  It's sometimes a surprise where one has influence and where one doesn't have influence. 

I think one of the key rules of American foreign policy is that if you pick an issue that nobody really feels strongly on the other side of, or at least where the opposition to you is not well organized and where no really fundamental national security interest is on the other side, that's where you're likely, in the first instance, to have a lot of impact.  Right?  I mean, this is a key point in understanding the role of the pro-Israel lobby -- both the Jewish pro-Israel lobby and the evangelical pro-Israel lobby.  Walter has written recently in an interesting review of Mearsheimer and Walt's book about this phenomenon.  It helps if you're advocating for something and no one is very organized in advocating on the other side of that issue.

In terms of how, though, one has an effect or a group of concerned citizens have a big effect where the national security interest doesn't obviously align with what they're pushing for or where there are other strong interests -- especially corporate interests -- on the other side, there the thing about our republican democracy is that the push really has to happen at the level of individual congresspeople.  I mean, that really is the way it works.  And although, for example, we speak of the tremendous corporate impact on our politics, which is enormous, that is accomplished via the mechanism of targeted support for particular representatives and senators.  That's our version of what we don't consider to be corruption.  I mean, at the margins it can become corrupt, but the American approach for better or for worse is to say money has a huge impact, so let's create a legal channel for money to have its influence so that it doesn't have its influence through non-legal channels. 

That may be a terrible mistake -- and again here, the European example is an interesting contrast where there's at least in many places in Europe a serious attempt to avoid the influence of money in politics, and yet there doesn't seem to be the kind of corruption that one sees in some other places.  That's an interesting contrast, and especially whether we could achieve that is I think the central question and the question of campaign finance reform. 

But that's really my view:  You do it by identifying particular people who are vulnerable and trying to get them elected or not elected. 

MEAD:  Okay.  We have time I think for one more question.

QUESTIONER:  I'm Sayed (sp).  Once again, I just wanted to make a brief observation in terms of open societies.  If both religion and the secular-minded groups are so much strongly in favor of open society, what is it that makes this a difficult thing to be realized?  Are we not looking at the moral aspect of it, or is there something else?  Thank you.

HAMBURGER:  Well, if I may, I feel that too often both secular attitudes and religion are used, right?  In the particularly in the democratic style government, religion is used to mobilize passions -- sometimes for good; sometimes for evil -- and so too, fears of religion.  And so it may be that the civilized conversation we can have here is not easily replicated out there simply because of the nature of politics, getting people mobilized, the way that Noah suggested.  So it may be something we just have to live with, which would be sad, but I don't have a solution. 

FELDMAN:  I think part of it has to do with the way that in politics no one is ever satisfied with just winning a particular debate.  If you can win a debate, you then want to move the goalposts to increase your chances of winning the next debate.  And I think that's where the real potential for conflict actually happens.  It's not just -- I mean, there's of course conflict if two different groups see an issue differently and they argue about it and they're each trying to lobby their congressman to get certain results and one wins and the other loses -- yeah, that's ordinary political fighting.  But rarely do they stop there. 

So we have constitutional politics, for example, where secularists -- legal secularists, as I sometimes call them, argue that religion should not be allowed into public discourse and then try to create constitutional rules that will make it harder -- will raise the barrier for religious folks to participate in that debate. 

And on the other side, you might have situations where people you might call "values evangelicals" -- I don't mean literally just evangelicals but people who evangelize for values -- also want to change the constitutional rules so that for example, state funds can be used to sustain their institutions, which will enable them to do a better job and win more future political debates.  And that's where I think you get the really heavy fighting.  And I don't think there's any solution to that.  I mean, this is an answer to your -- to try to be a direct answer to your question of why don't we all just get along.  (Laughter.)  It's because we're all trying to harden our advantage for the next time out. 

But that's just what constitutional politics always looks like, in my view.  And the test of a successful constitutional polity is that you keep that fighting within some bounds, and usually the bounds are nonviolence.  (Laughs.)  That's a pretty good bound to aim for.

AN-NA'IM:  So, just to close by saying that I can agree with Professor Feldman.  On this one I do agree with him -- that the point is that if you're -- I mean, when, we say open or closed, these are relative terms because it is relatively closed or relatively open, and also a question of how open or how closed -- in what ways?  And those are issues on which people are going to disagree constantly and permanently. 

And disagreement is good.  Conflict is good.  And in fact conflict is creative.  That's what makes us human.  It's part of our humanness is to be in disagreement because we tend to be distinctive as who we are, and that is not going to be who he is or who the next person is.  The only point is not to be violent about it. 

So the challenge is how to create normative institutions and mechanisms whereby we can negotiate our difference without resorting to violence.  Whenever we have this, there is no end to how open and variety of ways in which you can be open. 

MEAD:  Well, we never did get back to Professor Wright, but I think you'll -- Pastor Wright, but I think you'll agree with me this was still a very successful session.  (Laughter.)  We have lunch now, and we reconvene -- (applause) -- thank you.  

AN-NA'IM:  Thank you.

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      THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.

-------------------------

This event is part of the Religion and Foreign Policy Symposia Series, which is made possible by the generous support of the Henry Luce Foundation.

 

TIMOTHY SAMUEL SHAW:  Good morning.  We like to be prompt at the Council on Foreign Relations, as many of you already probably know.  So it's three minutes after 9:00, so we should get started.

Good morning.  I am Timothy Samuel Shaw, adjunct senior fellow for Religion and Foreign Policy here at the Council on Foreign Relations.  And on behalf of my colleague and friend, Walter Russell Mead, with whom I work on religion and foreign policy, I'd like to welcome you to this symposium this morning on religion and the open society.

Before I forget, I want to emphasize that this symposium is on the record.  I would also like to ask you to please turn off your cell phones or BlackBerrys or "CrackBerrys," as they're sometimes called, and anything else that might make any noises.  So please turn those off now.

I also want to let you know that this symposium is going to be webcast, and we have a few dozen people watching this through the Web.

This symposium is part of a series of symposia designed to help American foreign policymakers and thinkers to understand religion for what we believe it is; namely, not a marginal and a declining force in world politics but a central and growing force in world politics.

We have already had symposia on religious conflict in Nigeria, on evangelicals and U.S. foreign policy, and we will soon have a symposium on religion and the future of China, which will take place here at the Council on June 11th.  So perhaps you can arrange to join us for that.

To make this series of symposia possible, we are indebted to the vision and generosity of the Henry Luce Foundation, and we're honored and delighted that the president of the Luce Foundation, Michael Gilligan, will be with us this morning.  And we're very honored that several members of the board of the Luce Foundation are with us as well.

The topic again this morning is religion and the open society.  The importance of this topic is perhaps obvious.  Religion is, as we've believed, a growing force.  We believe that the forms of religion expanding in the world are intense, devout, often very conservative.  And it's important, if not crucial, to ask whether this global growth of religious intensity can not only be reconciled with freedom and openness, but harnessed to advance the values of freedom and openness, the values at the heart of democratic societies, particularly because the fastest-growing forms of the world's two largest religions, Christianity and Islam, with 2 billion and 1 billion adherents respectively, that the forms of these religions that are growing the fastest are probably the most theologically and morally conservative forms of those religions.

And that fact raises this urgent question about whether intense and muscular forms of religion can be reconciled with the elements of free and open societies, not just democratic procedures but acceptance of pluralism, acceptance of freedom of inquiry, acceptance of conceptual innovation of various kinds.

This question has been asked and posed in various sharp forms for a very long time.  I noted that the great philosopher Bertrand Russell, at the end of an article in The New York Times Magazine in December 1951, put together what he called a liberal decalogue.  This, he said, was not in replacement of the old decalogue but as a supplement to it.

Bertrand Russell's first commandment in his liberal decalogue was "Do not feel absolutely certain of anything."  In other words, the way to establish the values of freedom and openness is to ensure that we don't have too much certitude or dogmatic conviction.

If that's true, that dogmatic conviction and openness are directly opposed, that would pose the question we have today in a very sharp form indeed.  Is it possible that dogmatic belief, conviction, are reconcilable with openness and freedom?  Bertrand Russell thought that was not the case.

We're exploring today whether there are ways in which the resources, the theological resources of Christianity and Islam, are not only reconcilable with but also can be harnessed to advance the values of freedom and openness.

And we also want to address the question, given that no religious tradition or community is absolutely static or fixed in time, how are Christianity and Islam evolving in ways that bear on the task of building societies that are free, open, democratic, or open to innovation?  How are the most rapidly changing and evolving forms of these religions influencing the development of free societies?

Again, I want to very much acknowledge our debt to Walter Russell Mead, my colleague.  And I should say that any praise or blame that you'd like to assign for this symposium and its underlying premises should go to Walter, because he discusses many of these ideas in his fascinating recent book, "God and Gold," and argues that, contrary to the beliefs of people like Karl Popper and Bertrand Russell, dogmatic conviction is not necessarily opposed to the development of free societies and that religions can take dynamic forms that actually advance freedom and openness.  And these are ideas that, since Walter will be presiding over the second session, that we'll be exploring further.

With that, I'd like to turn things over to George Rupp, who will be presiding over the first session.  Thank you again.

GEORGE RUPP:  Thank you very much, Tim.

Tim has done all of my homework in terms of context-setting and asking you to turn off your cell phones and the like.  So I will proceed immediately to introducing our panelists.  But let me reinforce the welcome he's expressed to all of you and also to those of you who are looking at this program over the Worldwide Web, since this is webcast both across the country and around the world.  We're delighted that all of you have joined us.  And we're especially pleased that our three panelists have joined us.  The introductory materials about them are in the programs that you received, so I will only give very brief highlights.

All the way to your right is Mustafa Akyol.  Mustafa is a Turkish journalist who's written extensively on issues of religion and secularism.  He writes regular columns in the Turkish press and also is widely published in American periodicals, including The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and other more niche publications.

Dalia Mogahed is a senior analyst and executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies.  With John Esposito, she is the co-author of the book "Who Speaks for Islam?  What a Billion Muslims Really Think."  And as Tim's setting up of this set of issues or questions we're looking at makes clear, that's a directly germane question for all of us as we look forward.  Dalia also has appeared regularly in opinion columns and news columns in this country and abroad.

Peter Berger, directly to my left, is professor emeritus of Religion, Sociology and Theology and director of the Institute on Culture, Religion and World Affairs at Boston University.  He's previously taught at the New School for Social Research at Rutgers and at Boston College.  He has numerous publications in theoretical sociology, sociology of religion.  Many of them are listed in your program.

To give you a sense of the span of what he's written over four decades, let me mention three books that are not listed among those in your program.  With Thomas Luckmann, those of us at a certain age learned about sociology of knowledge by reading "The Social Construction of Reality," published in 1966.  "The Heretical Imperative," published in 1979, I think, had a significant influence on Protestant theological institutions; and then "Questions of Faith:  A Skeptical Affirmation of Christianity," published in 2004.   Peter has been widely published and continues to be a leading thinker on this set of issues.

Now, all three of you, in various ways, have argued that religious conviction is compatible with pluralism and freedom of inquiry.  That's a position that puts you at odds not only with some religious voices, but also with what I'll label prescriptive secularists.  You may all have your own ways of labeling those people.

What we'd like to hear in the course of the morning is further reflections from you on both the range of religious positions in various traditions and then also the ways in which those traditions interact with secular voices that are often critical, not only of fundamentalists or radical religious positions, but of all religious positions.

Dalia, let me start with you.  Who does speak for Islam?  Give us a sense of the range of voices on the relationship between Islamic views and democratic values.

DALIA MOGAHED:  Thank you.

Well, we polled in 140 countries at Gallup.  Now, I focus on countries with majority Muslim populations or places with significant Muslim percentages, around 40.  And what we found is a huge amount of diversity, of course, ranging from Egypt, where the majority say that they want Shari'a as the only source of legislation, all the way to Turkey, where the majority say that it should not be a source of legislation at all.

So when the question is asked, "Who speaks for Islam?" the answer is a billion Muslims do, and it's very different depending on who you ask.  And that diversity is what we have to make a lot of room for.  Unfortunately, what has happened, especially since 9/11, is a vocal fringe.  Whether it be the religious voice or an anti-religious voice has really monopolized the conversation.

RUPP:  It might be helpful, since one of the great virtues of your polling is to take multiple countries -- and you just referred to a couple of instances -- but maybe go through the roster of major Muslim majority countries and give us a little bit of a flavor of how they differ.

MOGAHED:  Sure.  Well, if we start in Turkey -- and it's one of the only countries where a majority, in fact, say that Shari'a should not be a source of legislation, so we found that in 2005, 57 percent of the Turkish population said that there should be no role for Shari'a in legislation.

Now, the three choices were it should be the only source, or a source but not the only source, or not a source at all.  And Turkey was the outlier in that a majority said it should not be a source.

Now, some people who have been observing Turkey often say that Ataturk would roll in his grave if he found out that only 57 percent said that Shari'a should not be a source of legislation.  But that's kind of one side of the spectrum.

Now, in the middle you find Indonesia and Iran, interestingly.  So Indonesia actually -- Iran looks very much like Indonesia, where the majority want Shari'a as a source but not the only source of legislation.  But only a small minority want Shari'a to play no role at all.

And then on the other side is Egypt.  Egypt was the country with the largest percentage, a majority of both men and women, who said that Shari'a should be the only source of legislation.  Interestingly, in all of those examples, the majority do not want religious leaders to directly craft legislation.  They want them either as advisers or to play no role at all.

RUPP:  We'll come back to that, and I'm sure there'll be questions about particulars in one country or another.

But let's turn to you, Mustafa.  Tell us about the relationship between Islam and secularism.  Dalia has touched on that, but it's an area you know a great deal about; and the question about Islam's relation to secularism and then how both of them relate to democratic values.

MUSTAFA AKYOL:  I think we should start by asking which secularism.  What kind of secularism are we speaking about?  And in Turkey, now the debate is not on whether we should be a secular state but what kind of secularism we should accept.  And thanks to Dalia about mentioning the 57 percent which do not want Shari'a.

There are also studies within Turkey, and it shows that even the, like, 43 percent which might be sympathetic to the idea of Shari'a, when they're asked -- I mean, the whole society is asked, "Do you want the excesses of Shari'a, the very harsh measures of Shari'a, like stoning?" the answer is 2 percent.  Only 2 percent have said yes.

So for many conservative Muslims, Shari'a is like justice.  Do you want it?  I mean, it's just government, just rulers.  Yes, we want that.  But when you really go down and ask details, it might turn out to be different.

And one interesting study in Turkey was that during the so-called Islamic or mildly Islamic government we have since 2002, which is conservative as it defines itself -- (inaudible) -- justice and the role of one-party government, the demand for an Islamic state declined.

Polls show that in 1999, 15 percent said, "We want an Islamic state."  Now it has decreased to 7 percent, because for that 15 percent, Islamic state was a state which would save them from the secular repressive attitudes of the -- secure repressive methods.  For them, an Islamic state would be something which would allow them to go to the campus with their head scarf.  But now, since they understand that this is possible in a secular but not necessarily secularist regime, they say, "Oh, yeah, we want that kind of secularism."

Actually, in Turkey now, the big debate is whether we should follow the French way or the American way in these matters.  And the conservatives are saying, "We should follow the American way."  And interestingly, right now the government is being accused by the judiciary, the secular judiciary, for collaborating with the United States to establish mild Islam in Turkey.  This is one of the accusations brought to the government by the judiciary right now.

RUPP:  Can you say a little bit more about mild Islam?

Mustafa is a Council regular.  He was here last week as well in a very, very interesting discussion of interpretations of Hadith.  And that seems to me -- I'm not asking you to repeat what you said there, since some of the same people are in the room, but to use maybe that as a window on what this mild Islam might look like, as distinguished from the more polar extremes.

AKYOL:  Of course, in the -- I mean, I would make a mistake if I say, "This is mild Islam, and every Muslim should be accepting that."  I mean, I think societies find their own ways.  And I believe each Muslim society, each Muslim nation, finds its own way towards a more democratic or liberal perception of Islam.

But if you look at the Turkish case, you see there are two different dynamics here.  One is a theory about a democratic mild or moderate, whatever you call it, Islam, which is articulated by intellectuals and theologians.  They say, "Well, the Shari'a is basically a -- (inaudible) -- construction.  Much of the Shari'a is historical.  It's not eternally valid.  We can change things.  We can question the Hadith."

So the idea is it's been there since the 19th century.  Islamic scholars or intellectuals make these ideas.  But will the society be willing to buy that idea?  That's a different question.  And I think that depends on the modernization of the society.  And what we have seen in Turkey in the past decade is that society has modernized, and the Islamic part of the society included, because in the past in Turkey there was the secular ruling class and there were the religious proletariat, if you will.  They were pushed out of the public square.

But now we've seen the rise of an Islamic bourgeoisie, and Islamic middle class, Islamic intellectuals, which say, "Yes, we are happy to be modern.  We don't want to live like the Saudis live.  And how can we do this?"  And now, then, the idea of -- the modern ideas articulated by the intellectuals find audience in the society.

And I think there are two issues to keep in mind.  I mean, modernizing the society itself -- and that's through democracies, that's through free markets, it's through economy, which brings economic rationalization, which makes people think about how the world works.  And then they look at their text and they think -- if they care about stock market, they just can't look at their text in a way that they've looked in the Middle East.  They have to re-understand it.  And you have theories out there which articulate how you can re-understand it.

And in Turkey we see, I think, these two trends coming together.  And the recent project, the Hadith revision in Turkey -- the Turkish Religious Directorate Affairs, which is the official body about religion, has decided to revise the Hadith collection, which is much of the Shari'a, because Hadith are sayings from Muhammad.  And to put them into context, leave some of them aside and create a whole new collection.

And one of their concerns was the status of women in Islam.  There are some not very nice Hadiths about the status of women.  And they've said, "Well, these are not what our prophet has said.  These are medieval traditions which have infiltrated into Islam, and now we are leaving that aside."  And why they have the passion to do this, because it is a society which says men and women are equal, of course equal.  Why -- (inaudible) -- differently?

So when you face that question, you have to address it in some way.  And I think that brings us kind of, if you will, revision or modernization process within Islamic tradition.

RUPP:  Okay.  Well, thank you very much.  I'm sure there will be more particular questions of you as well.

So far we've focused attention on the range of positions within Islam.  And Peter, maybe you could back our lens up a bit and talk about the ways in which other religious traditions as well grapple with this polarity, let's say, between fundamentalism or authoritarianism, on the one side, or modernism or relativism on the other side.  Draw a larger map.

PETER L. BERGER:  Well, I think I was five years old when my mother taught me, "When you're in somebody else's house, you must never criticize your host."  But I must tell you that this physical arrangement is one of the most uncomfortable I've been in for many years.  And it's not the panel lineup, it's the police lineup and I'm sorely tempted to confess I'm guilty -- (laughter) -- but I will try to overcome this physical disadvantage.

Look, I think we -- we have a working group at my research center at Boston University called Between Relativism and Fundamentalism.  And I think one can argue that these two are reverse sides of the same coin.  The coin is modernization, which contrary to what many people still believe, does not secularize necessarily.  What it does is it pluralizes.  And what that means is that no religious tradition in most of the world can any longer be taken for granted.

And it's possible, I think, to -- well, it seems to me that from the point of view of any serious religious believer, but also from the point of view of a democratic society, one wants a middle position which is neither relativistic in which all questions of truth become irrelevant -- so the television interview of an Aztec priest who believes that the gods require endless blood sacrifices:  "Yes, we do."  "How interesting; tell us more" -- okay?  That's one end.  And the other end, of course, is fanatical absolutist intolerant fundamentalism.  How does one establish a middle position?

Now, obviously, there's no time now to go into how I would do this as a Christian, but I think one can outline a few general conditions of what are the requirements for such a position.  In any -- I think any religious tradition is capable of doing this -- at least any I can think of, other than Middle American Aztec religion, which is not terribly relevant today, thank God.

But you mentioned hadith can be reinterpreted.  Of course, I think there are a number of basic conditions.  And perhaps the most basic condition is that people in a religious position accept the fact that it is no longer taken for granted.  It becomes a voluntary act of believers -- a reiterated voluntary act, which means that religious institutions, even if they have a very different tradition, become in fact voluntary associations.  What happened to the Catholic Church is a wonderful example of this.  Certainly a very alien idea and the church has been dragged kicking and screaming into accepting the fact of religious freedom and in fact, legitimizing it theologically.  That's very crucial -- the voluntariness of religion.

Another thing, I think, which is very important, is the distinction between the core of a religion and a periphery, which is negotiable.  The core is there -- this is a truth which we believe in but the periphery is negotiable.  And that can be done in different ways and different traditions:  Muslim or Christian or Jewish or what have you.

There are a few others which I think are less central.  There is the acceptance of the religiously neutral state -- or at the least state which does not coerce people into any particular religion.  There is a way of defining the other as something not an enemy, but possibly an interesting interlocutor -- and some other conditions one could list.  But these are, I think, very basic ones.  And as one thinks about the topic of this conference, it seems to me that is the direction in which one should think.

RUPP:  Well, let me ask you -- clearly, with the amount of time we have in this initial exchange, I appreciate the fact that you cannot go into detail in all of the cases that could illustrate this intervening position.  But let's take the United States:  Part of the challenge any such discussion faces in the United States is the role that evangelical Christianity or even fundamentalism has played for almost 30 years.  I mean, it played a role long before that, but the role in recent decades.  Why don't you just talk a little bit about that movement and how it fits into your typology?

BERGER:  Well, Tim Shaw heads a project of our institute on the new evangelical intellectuals.  And I think in the public awareness and the media -- certainly in academia -- there's still a very distorted view of evangelicals as, I don't know, barefoot people who chew tobacco and vote for Ku Klux Klan or something like that -- which was never accurate, is totally inaccurate today.

So I think the mentioning of evangelicals and fundamentalists in one sentence is already a distortion.  Yes, there are some evangelicals who are fundamentalists.  There are some secularists who are very much fundamentalist.  And true as every tradition that one can think of -- Christian, Jewish, Muslim, whatever -- that exists in the United States.

So I don't know.  I think evangelicals are increasingly becoming important in the public scene, not just for political reasons, but for cultural reasons.  They're increasingly -- well, very much what you said about Turkish conservative Muslims.  They've become middleclass.  They have higher education.  They can no longer be brushed aside as provincial ignoramuses and that's very significant.  And the political alignment may change.  It may already be changing in this election, but I think the cultural presence of evangelicals will continue and become increasingly important.  And I think it should be recognized by the people who are not themselves evangelicals as a significant component of the American society.

RUPP:  Okay.  Thank you.

Let's take just one more very -- just very quick response from all of you to a common question.  And then we'll open for observations from the floor.

What do you -- how do you appraise the prospects for dialogue or non-hostile forms of interaction among religious traditions?  Maybe we'll just go in order across the -- starting with you, Mustafa.

AKYOL:  Yeah.  Maybe I just should -- I'd like to add one thing before that.

I think in the 20th century, we have seen that there is nothing which makes the secular mind more reasonable than the religious mind.  So, I mean, secular tyrannies have been out there.  They're still out there.  I mean, being secular, being not defined by religion, doesn't make people necessarily open minded and tolerant and accepting as we were, you know, told.  Communism is a wonderful example, I guess.

RUPP:  And what's proscriptive secularism?

AKYOL:  Proscriptive secularism -- I mean, North Korea is a secular republic.  You know, it's not the nicest place on earth.  So the idea that -- so if secularists try to push within outside of the public square, they become a tyrannical force and then religions start to fight against it.

And for many Muslims, this has been the history of the last like century.  There have been various secularist dictators who wanted to modernize their countries by force, try to change their culture, the way they dress, the way they live.  The shah in Iran was a great example.  And then you have a reaction.

If you tell the religious people that, well, you have a space in this multicultural and this pluralistic setting, are you willing to accept that you have a place, that you should also accept other people's places?  I think -- then you can start a dialogue.  Because other way, I think it's like a zero-sum game -- either they will win or either we will win.  And if you will win, we will push them all the other way.

So I think accepting the pluralism and accepting the fact that modernization doesn't secularize, which is a very important, I think, point made by Dr. Berger.  It's good to engage in this in the first place.  If you -- if modernization is described to you as a process which will secularize you at the end and you should secularize to be modern, why would you engage with that?  You start to fight against it.  I think --

RUPP:  Okay.  So now a word about how you would appraise the prospects for interaction of non-hostile sorts, whether dialogue or other forms, among religious traditions -- do you have any sense of that?

AKYOL:  Well -- (inaudible) -- has a nice coat.  I mean, tolerance is not indifference to differences as if differences make no difference.  So we shouldn't start by saying, hey, we should all be like this and then start to dialogue.  We should accept that we are different, but there should be some limits.  We should say that there should be respect for human life.  There should be respect for the right for others to exist.  And there should be a common ground.

And after that common ground, anybody who accepts that can engage and can start -- we can start a dialogue.  And that's what we desperately need.  I mean, especially within the Islamic world and the Western world.

RUPP:  Dalia?

MOGAHED:  Well, I guess if your question is, "how would I appraise it?"  I think the prospects are very positive.  And the reason I say that is because as we analyze the mammoth study that we've done, we've found is that the opinions that people profess of other countries really fall along policy and not cultural or religious lines.

So for example, we find that the opinions of Europe -- whether it's France or Germany -- are neutral to positive, whereas opinions of the United States and Britain are very negative.  So the way people see countries, whether they celebrate or express negative opinions, really are driven by that country's perceived policy and not their religious differences.

The other thing that I think gives us some hope are initiatives that have actually happened in the last year or so.  For example, the common word initiative where 138 of the most prominent Muslim scholars wrote an open letter to Christians around the world calling them to a common word of love for neighbor and love for God.  And that has started a series of dialogue events, including with the Vatican.

So not only are we looking at public opinion and seeing that there's hope for dialogue and non-adverse interactions, but we actually see it happening on the ground.

RUPP:  Good.

Peter?

BERGER:  Well, I would say the prospects are very good unless they're stopped -- stopped by either secularists or religious fundamentalists who want to impose their will.  If that does not happen, if there's freedom of communication, I think it's almost inevitable that the prospects will be good.

Let me make one point in this connection:  When people talk about interreligious dialogue they mean people like us sitting around the table -- unfortunately, there is no table here -- but sitting around the table and having, you know, intellectual conversations.  That's fine.  I'm all for it.  Vatican does it, World Council of Churches, whatever.  But it's happening on the street level, which is much more significant, because it involves millions of people.

If I may be personal for a moment, my oldest son is married to a Hindu and they have two children.  When my granddaughter -- they lived in Washington -- was about five, her best friend was a little girl across the street whose parents were missionaries for Jews for Jewish.  And these two little girls were having theological discussions for each other, which I wish I had taped.  They were fascinating!  They tried to come to terms with each other without demonizing each other.

Well, this is happening by the millions in every modern or modernizing society.  And this is an enormous effect.  So unless the government or some other force -- terrorist, whatever -- stops this conversation, I would say the prospects are very good that major traditions come to amicable terms with each other.

RUPP:  Thank you.

Well, I deliberately -- you said, dialogue or other forms of non-hostile interaction, because I agree with you.  I think what's going on on the ground in pluralistic societies is by far more important than what happens in academic institutions -- even including Boston University, hard as that is to believe.

We would now like to invite all of you into our conversation.  If you have questions -- let's say, speak only if you have a question or at least you can frame what you have to say in interrogative form.

Wait until the microphone gets to you.  Then stand up, give us your name and your affiliation.  Please keep the questions brief and at least in interrogative form and we will then let our panelists respond.

Yes.  Wait until you get the mike, please.

QUESTIONER:  Thank you.  My name is Olin Robison, Oxford University.

Peter, I'm sorry there's no table for you.  I'm glad to hear someone make the distinction between evangelicals and fundamentalists.  I grew up in area which was both -- some people are both.  I'd like to think that perhaps I'm not now.

I would like to hear the panel, especially Dalia, comment on the archbishop of Canterbury's recent statement, which he says was not properly interpreted in the press and I really don't know.

For those who don't follow this, I spend a great deal of time in the U.K. and the archbishop, who is frequently misunderstood -- so he says -- basically made a statement in which he talked about Sha'ria law saying there should be a two-track system in the U.K. whereby -- the press at least said that he said, I do not know -- that there should be one track of law for Muslims and one track of law for everyone else.

Anyway, would you all comment on the Reverend Dr. Williams and his seeming foot-in-mouth problem?  But as you can see, that's my prejudice, but be that as it may, could you comment on what he said -- what he is said to have said?

MOGAHED:  Well, my understanding of what he in fact said is that -- first of all, I'll just give you the context:  He was speaking to a group of lawyers and it was a legal lecture and it was a very nuanced legal lecture with terms of arts that were for a specific audience that understood this nuance.

And my understanding of what he said was, it's inevitable that the British legal system will have to make room for arbitration on certain legal matters such as family law and in some cases, rules of -- basically non-interest bearing loans and things like that -- Shari'a compliant financing.  And that this would have to be -- would also have to guarantee equality of women, and that it wouldn't have to not violate British law, but that to make this kind of allowance for Muslims in Britain is something that inevitably, you know, Britain will have to do.  There are already similar allowances for some aspects of Jewish law.

That is what he said.  The word "Shari'a" seems to sort of make people -- sort of this kneejerk reaction to the word and people immediately think of, you know, hands being amputated.

So it was more -- I think the reaction that the British press had to that statement and the way it was sort of misunderstood is more a testimony to the misunderstanding of that concept of that word.

And Noah Feldman -- I don't know if he's here yet, but he will be speaking on the next panel -- in his column, article in The New York Times, he kind of goes through this a bit.

But really, when we look at what people mean by the word "Shari'a" we've gone to -- we've done a lot of research on, what do you mean by Shari'a compliance?  What we really find over and over is people are talking about economic and social justice.  So women will say Shari'a -- they associate it with justice for women.  People think Shari'a means minority rights.  So we can't sort of assume we understand what that word means, as much baggage as it has accumulated.  We really have to look at what believers believe it means -- what they interpret their own sacred law to mean.

But I hope that helps as far as the archbishop's statement.

RUPP:  Other comments?

AKYOL:  Well, maybe I can -- well, again, I mean, I'm not very sure about what he meant, but the Ottoman Empire had these multiple legal systems.  Muslims, Jews and Christians had their own legal traditions, but the Ottoman Empire had to abolish this in the 19th century and bring a civil, equal law for all citizens, because that system didn't work.

I mean, in the Middle Ages, a Muslim and a Christian would hardly have anything-together common.  They were living in their communities, but the more interaction in the society increased, then you start to have legal cases between the Muslim and the Jew and the Christian every day.  And it became such an uncontrollable system, then that's why in the 19th century Ottoman's had to bring this universal civil code for all citizens regardless of their, I think, citizenship.

So if you're living still in a modern age, and if there's a nation state, I think it should have a standard law for everybody.  But like you can maybe create a niche -- like inheritance.  I mean, you can think of some regulations which will not override the national civil code, but which can maybe supplement.  But it should be done carefully.  I mean, you can't just say Shari'a is compatible, because the understanding of Shari'a might differ from one group to another and there are some extreme cases, as we know.

RUPP: Okay.  Yes -- all the way in the back.

QUESTIONER:  Jim Dingman, IMN World Report.

I was wondering of the panel can comment on the gulf between the Christian perspectives critically looking at the writings of the Bible, and the perception in the West that there's an uncritical look at the Koran.

For example, since the 19th century there's been a growth of a critical look at the New Testament -- Albert Schweitzer.  And certainly, in the post-war period the critical Jesus Seminar out at Berkley, et cetera.  There's a constant looking at the Bible critically and seeing it very differently.

And we know that from articles in -- I think it was in Atlantic or Harper's -- that kind of movement in the Muslim world has been repressed politically.  I was wondering what your take on that is.

RUPP:  Okay.

Counterintuitive though it may seem, why don't we start with Peter on that.

BERGER:  Well, I think one of the most interesting episodes in the history of religion is late 18th century and then very strong in 19th century when starting in protestant theological faculties in Germany, scholars used all the critical apparatus of modern scholarship at the Bible -- not to the intention of debunking the Bible, but making it more alive.

This is difficult, I think, in a Muslim context.  With hadith you can do it, but with the Koran it's much more difficult.  And I think it's a mistake to equate the Koran and the Bible -- as at least as I understand Islam -- you have to equate the Koran with Christ -- the preexistence of the Koran, the eternity of the Koran, et cetera.  So this is very difficult.

I think with higher education, with a knowledge of historic scholarship, it's going to be very difficult to avoid looking at one's own sacred scriptures using modern historical scholarship.  And I think that's very positive.

Let me -- when I mean, perhaps, I can say in one sentence:  I recently had a conversation with an evangelical.  I'm theologically very liberal Lutheran.  And I said I have some difficulties with evangelicals.  And this interlocutor said, well, why?  What do you mean?  I said, well, the use of the Bible.  And then I said, look, you say the Bible is the word of God.  I would say the Bible contains the word of God, which seems a similar statement, but is really vastly different.  When you say the Bible contains the word of God, you can then -- there's a core here, which is God speaking to human beings.  But around us at the periphery again -- that I mentioned before -- there's a lot of things that are historically relative, contingent and negotiable.

How this can be done from a Muslim point of view it's not for me to say.  I think sooner or later, the question will arise and be very difficult to avoid.

RUPP:  Mustafa?

AKYOL:  Actually, I mean, there is a tradition in Islam -- there is a debate over the nature of the Koran in the history of Islamic civilization.  The -- (inaudible) -- and the traditionalists in the very early centuries debated on whether the Koran is a created or an uncreated book.  And it was an important -- I mean, there was a theological and practical war over this for a few centuries.

And the people who said the Koran is an uncreated book said that the Koran existed before the whole universe ever existed.  And it was with God and it came down in the 7th century.  The other people said, well, the Koran was how God spoke to the society of the 7th century.

So this meant that -- I mean, for the people who said the Koran is created, they also implicitly accepted that the context of the 7th century influenced the text of the Koran.  Now, this idea was -- like, this was debated in the early centuries of Islam and it was left aside.  And the idea that the Koran is an uncreated book basically dominated.

But what you see now, for example in countries like especially in Turkey, there are like a group of theologians right now who just still -- now, took the idea again.  And it was actually started by Azur Rhakman (sp) who was a scholar in the U.S. in Chicago.  And he actually revived some of these basic ideas.

And they say theirs is the historicity of the Koran.  And the context, again, of the society in the century influenced the text.  It was the one word that God spoke to that society by taking into the consideration the norms of the times so we can understand it in a less literal way.  So that would be one way of approaching it.

But of course, people -- they are saying the Koran is not divine at all, and that's a point of view, but Muslims would not accept that and remain as Muslims.

BERGER:  If you say it was not divine, you'd cease being a Muslim.

AKYOL:  Yeah.  Sure.

MOGAHED:  Right.  Yeah.

RUPP:  Okay.  Yes?

QUESTIONER:  Charles Strohmer from the Center for Public Justice.

Dalia, you mentioned that in Egypt a majority of the Muslims would like to see Shari'a as the only source of legislation.  How much does the Muslim Brotherhood sort of influence that majority opinion?  I mean, since its inception, the brothers have seemed to have had, you know, different sort of swinging back and forth views and philosophies.  And even today we hear conflicting reports about what they might be doing.

Can you help on that?

MOGAHED:  Well, I think it's entirely possible that the Muslim Brotherhood does influence that point of view.

I think in regards to Egypt especially, the current constitution already says that Shari'a should be a source of legislation.  So when you have a majority saying, well, this is the way it is now and the majority are asking for change -- the way I read that number, 65 percent saying Shari'a should be the only source of legislation -- is if the current government is already claiming to have Shari'a as a source, then lets, you know, let's increase whatever amount of Shari'a we have to something higher, because it's really associated with good governance.  It's associated with the rule of law.  And it really, interestingly, correlates very strongly with the fact that Egypt also is the country with the highest percentage who say that moving toward greater democracy will help Muslims progress.  So they're highest on those two measures:  Shari'a as the only source of legislation and moving toward greater democracy.

So it's more a measure of a level of frustration with the status quo and a call for more accountability to government.

RUPP:  Yes?

QUESTIONER:  Shari Arazur (ph).

My question is for you, Dalia.  You talked about the fact that there are fringe Muslim voices that seem to dominate or monopolize the conversation.  Originally, I come from Pakistan and I kind of know how difficult it is for a moderate voice to be actually properly heard, because you get totally shouted down.

So the real issue, in a sense, is they may be fringe, but the fact is that they actually exercise power far in excess of their real supporters.  And is there any idea as to what can be done to actually change that to begin a dialogue, because right now, a dialogue within the Muslim countries isn't possible?

All the dialogue that I know seems to take place between Muslims and the West, and that's totally a false dichotomy in large measure.  The real dialogue hasn't really started, which is within these Muslim countries.

What can be done to facilitate and encourage that dialogue so that the fringe voice can be -- their antenna can be lowered a little bit and the moderates can be strengthened?

MOGAHED:  That's a really difficult question, actually.

One thing we have to keep in mind is that internal dialogue is made much more possible when people feel less under siege.  So the problem -- the main problem is that we find all over the world people have this sense of being completely threatened, under siege --

that there's this imminent threat of an invasion or just of a cultural hegemony.  And so that sense of threats elevates them and amplifies the voices of extremists -- of people who are claiming to stand up for -- against cultural hegemony of the West or for the core values of the society.  So that perception has to in some way to away for that internal dialogue to happen.

The other thing is really what we're trying to do at Gallup is this idea of helping people be heard, of giving voice to the silenced majority.  You know, democratizing this debate so it isn't just about who has access to the airwaves; that we actually start to look at this debate from a more representative and scientific point of view using survey research.

RUPP:  Yes.  No, I'm sorry.  I guess just one of you.  Go ahead, yes.

QUESTIONER:  Good morning.  I'm Syed Z. Sayeed, religious life advisor from Muslim Student Association, Columbia University.

I have two points that I want to make, and the following questions:  I think within the public we should also attempt to recognize that there is an intellectual fundamentalism.  People who go to colleges and universities and get to higher levels of education, they develop a certain kind of mental structure, which is not as open as it should be, because they are higher -- you know, highly educated people.  So we need to address that.

And secondly, I think if we look at the history of Islam during the prophet's time, it was basically a challenge to that kind of intellectual fundamentalism.  People take things for granted and they don't want to reflect on that at all, so the Prophet presented an alternative, and we see that there was a tremendous struggle.

This hegemony that you've pointed out between the dominant culture is really threatening people who want to think freely everywhere.  Even in this country we are under siege.  We can't speak up.  So that needs to be addressed if we really want to have open societies and free dialogue.

And if you'd like to comment on that -- thank you.

RUPP:  Maybe you could just pass that microphone one row forward.

Yes, comments on that question dispensed with the interrogative form, but the question is there anyway.

AKYOL:  Well, there is something called the opium of the intellectuals, as one French writer once described -- Raymond Aron.

Yes, but then you have intellectuals who oppose that line of thinking.  And I think Dr. Berger is a great example of that, I think, in that sense.  The secularist thesis that societies should secularize -- it was there for a long time, but then some people saw that and they say, no it's not.  So you had this paradigm shift.

And right now, if you think there's this paradigm which is not very objective or honest about Islam or any other religion, then it's time to work and make your case at, again, the intellectual level.  I mean, intellectuals might be stubborn, but they open to challenge -- I mean, open to speak and you can challenge, and if you put your case in a good way, I think it will have an audience.  And that's where this society is.  And despite the sacred fundamentalism -- I mean, the society here is -- despite all their efforts -- is open and you can make your case.

(Inaudible) -- in terms of the point that was raised had a very good phrase.  He talked about the diverse culture, which is this international intelligentsia.  And I would say, basically, the statement I would make, and  this majority of sociologists of religion would agree, the world today is intensely religious.  There are two exceptions. Secularization theory was a mistake.  Okay, fine.  But the two interesting exceptions -- one is geographical -- Western and Central Europe, which is a fascinating case.  I think it's one of the most interesting issues in the sociology of religion.  Why is Europe so different?  Not the United States, Europe.  And the other is this international intelligentsia, which is much more heavily secularized than the general population in most countries with the exception of Europe.

I can't go into why this is, but let me say this is changing for the reasons that have already been discussed, because intensely religious people who tended to be -- (inaudible) -- proletariat, not the -- participating in intellectually respectable conversation are becoming more middle-class, are becoming more educated and therefore their presence, even in a diverse culture, is becoming more noticeable and influential.

RUPP:  Well, this is a further example of the way this is changing.  Just think of American political alliances.  I mean, we did, after all, support the Shah -- as you pointed out, a hard-line secularist.  And we have been allied with those Turkish elements that have been most secular reductionist or prescriptive and we have moved to the point of recognizing -- at least in the case of Turkey -- we're still very confused by --

AKYOL:  Unfortunately.

RUPP:  -- Iran.  But at least in the case of Turkey, where we recognize that an Islamist -- "mild Islamist" to use your term, government in fact represents the popular will and has, by far, better prospects than a secular fundamentalism that is trying to push back the clock.  Those are two examples where the U.S. policy -- which I find myself amazed, noting positive turns in U.S. policy.  But there are two examples, that seem to me quite clear.

Yes, Don.  Oh, I'm sorry.  The -- yes, we have one -- we have a waiting question who was --

(Cross talk.)

QUESTIONER:  -- Baer Holdings.

Turkey.  Why is that the anti-American feeling is so strong?  Is it religious, is it economic or is it political?  And I'd like to know from the survey point of view, what was the group you surveyed and from your point of view, Mustafa, is the street different than the survey?

AKYOL:  In Turkey or in the world?

QUESTIONER:  No, in Turkey.

AKYOL:  In Turkey.

Okay, well -- is it my turn?  (Off mike.)  Okay, well, in Turkey, yes.  There's a strong anti-Americanism.  And in trusting that this is more related to the Kurdish issue, not the other -- you know, these -- the -- when the United States occupied Iraq -- you know, the Kurds became the ally of the United States.  And for many Turkish nationalists which constitute a great majority of the population, the Karzai bete noire -- I mean, there shouldn't be any Kurdish entity on Earth and rise of the Kurdistan in the north made UNCHR and made all the state establishment and much of the Turkish nationals very angry.  And they have become basically anti-American because of that.

There's also concern for the humanitarian situation in Iraq.  I mean, people say, why the U.S. started this war and because of the situation of the country.  But for Turkey to especially -- the Turkish nationalists will have gone anti-American.  And interestingly, at the same time, the Turkish nationals are now choosing the governing party -- the -- (inaudible) -- party which you can call mildly slumming -- they call themselves conservatives or just Muslim democrats.  They accuse them for being too soft and too pro-United States -- too soft on or too pro-United States.  And actually, the recent best-seller in Turkey, for example -- a secularist best-seller -- is a book which accuses the Islamist prime minister to be a secret Jew who works with the Elders of Zion in order to destroy Turkey's national ethos and its secular Ataturk Kemal's Republic.

So incessantly with that -- anti-Americanism is strong, but it's not coming from an Islamic background.  It's coming from a nationalist background, which I think should show us that the Islamic realm is very complex and sometime the forces that we attribute to Islam might be coming from different national or local sources.

MOGAHED:  Just to add a few things, we did measure the opinion of Turks in 2001 as it related to the United States.  And the majority actually had favorable views of the United States, and it was one of just a handful of majority Muslim countries where there were majority-favorable views.  But that has dramatically changed.  When we measured again in 2005, I think only 30 percent had favorable views and it actually has just gone down in the last measurement.  So this was -- this isn't a very old problem in Turkey.  It -- just in 2001, the majority had favorable views.

The other thing is we've done a lot of analysis on anti-American sentiment and have looked at religiosity and found that there is no correlation.  So anti-American sentiment or even sympathy for extremism or anti-American terrorism does not correlate with religiosity.

RUPP:  Okay, I called you earlier, Don.

Up front here.

QUESTIONER:  Don Shriver from Union Theological Seminary.

Almost 400 years ago, Pastor John Robinson sent those Pilgrims off from Holland to America with the cautionary "God has yet more light to break forth from God's holy word."  Of any religion, I'm always curious, what is the principle that makes change in religious interpretation both possible and mandatory?  I'd like to ask of -- the Muslim members of this panel what is that principle in Islam?  In the Christian case, we can say that the principle of change is the Holy Spirit.  What is it that -- in interpretation of the Koran, for example, that is the theological principle that mandates and makes possible changing interpretations?

AKYOL:  Well, in the Islamic tradition, there is this notion called ishtihad, which is -- which is the Jurist's opinion -- an opinion-making process based on the sources of the Koran and the Sunna.  And one -- I think one of the big issues and it's a very known -- it's a cliche, but it's true -- in Islam is that the -- this -- the gates of the ishtihad, as it is called, was set to be closed down in the -- you know, in the end of Medieval Age.  And because Islamic scholars created the Shari'a and the basic sources -- and they read all the books.  And so Muslims stopped thinking and reforming about this.

And this went on until the modern times because Muslims had created a vast code of law and thinking, and they were winning with this for a long time and they didn't bother to ask about this.  But when they realized that the Europe is -- Europe is not strong and they started to lose wars and everything -- the moment that they realized that something has gone wrong, then started their efforts to open the gates of ishtihad to bring new efforts.  So it's just like kind of awakening.  It started in the 19th century.

But different answers were given why we -- what went wrong.  Some people said well when -- what happened was we stopped being religious enough.  We abandoned our religion, so let's go back to the sources and get -- to get more religious and maybe sometimes radically religious.  Some people said, "It's not religion.  It's just -- we just -- we did not modernize and evolve ourselves.  We did not update ourselves."  That would be the modernist line.  Some people said, "It's because of Islam that we are backward."  And then -- you know, you had this different secularist line of thinking.  But Islam has in itself a tradition which says, like the ishtihad, "You can -- as world changes, you should change your law, your -- it's not a theology.  It's not your ideas about God which will change.  But you have the theological justification to change your laws and the way you interpret your religion."  And that's ishtihad.

MOGAHED:  I just wanted to add that -- you know, I heard it once said and this is, I think, very true, that the closing of the doors of ishtihad is itself an ishtihad.  So if that means a -- an opinion of a scholar and even the fact that they were closed at all is disputed and is under debate.  So it's not -- it isn't as clear-cut as we may think.

The other piece that I just wanted to add to everything Mustafa said was that there -- there' is the difference between the principles and then the law.  So principles of Islam don't change -- they're considered timeless values -- but that by its very nature, Islam has to, in terms of how it's applied, change from time to place -- time and place.  And that -- you know, Muslims understand this to be its strength and its resilience and the reason that it can accommodate a society as different as China and Indonesia, or Morocco and Nigeria.  And so -- I mean, my understanding is that is a mandate, not only an allowance.

RUPP:  Okay, we'll get you -- yes?

QUESTIONER:  Joseph Loconte with Pepperdine University.

Thank you, panel.  A very provocative discussion here so far.

This year we're going to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights -- the adoption of that document, as you know.  And probably -- certainly one of the most important articles was Article 18, the Religious Liberty Article.  And the person who argued most forcefully for that article, I believe, was Charles Malik, the Lebanese delegate to the commission, an Arab intellectual and a believing Christian.  And his argument was if we don't allow freedom of conscience, then we're not allowing people to move from one faith to another faith tradition -- that we're not allowing people to become.  And somehow that will debase human dignity.  If people can't change -- if they don't have the freedom to change -- to become, then human dignity is debased.

My question then is where is the Islamic world, do you think, on this fundamental article in the Universal Declaration, freedom of conscience?  Because if it is the cornerstone of liberal democracy as many would argue, than unless the centers of Islamic influence get this right, it's hard to be hopeful about real change politically.

Thanks.

AKYOL:  Well, a good question.  And you point to a very important problem in the Islamic world, which is a lack of religious freedom, unfortunately -- not in the Koran, but in the post-Koranic Islamic tradition -- the Shari'a, there is a rule which says apostasy is a crime and it's punishable by death.  And we have seen how horrible -- you know, it's -- we have seen the horrible results it has given -- it is still giving in some Muslim countries and Christians who convert -- I mean, Muslims who convert to Christianity simply be threatened or even killed because of this law.  And there has -- there have been intellectuals -- Muslim intellectuals or thinkers -- theologians -- who criticize us a lot -- severely and say we should get rid of this because first of all, it's not in the Koran.  And they say it is contradictory to the -- to Koranic verses like -- which says there's no compulsory religion.

And these are also -- scholars point out to the fact that the idea of not allowing apostasy was a political idea which became religious over time.  After the death of Prophet Muhammad, the caliphs suppressed the rebellions against the Islamic state -- it was a political rebellion and you crush it.  Then later on, the Jurists who looked at that case said that, "Oh, so people who abandon Islam should be punished?"  The caliphs abandoned the -- you know, rebellions against the state.  So a political concept became religious and just -- it became, unfortunately, a part of Islamic tradition.  That's a great problem Muslims face -- question and I think get rid of.  And there are people who debate this a lot, yeah.

MOGAHED:  It is debated right now.  The -- and just to add to what Mustafa said about Muslim intellectuals, people like Sheikh Ali Gomaa, the Grand Mufti of Egypt, has actually given an opinion on apostasy and said that whereas historically it was tied with citizenship, so apostasy was a type of treason.  So it was interpreted as just like treason is punishable by death, leaving one's faith is like revoking one's citizenship.  And that is no longer the case in a modern nation-state and therefore, his opinion was that -- you know, that that no longer applies.  So it's been debated and not only in sort of the intellectual class, but in very orthodox, traditional circles and that's the conclusions that many are coming to.

RUPP:  Okay.

Well, I think for our last question, we'll go to Walter as we -- and view it as a transition to the next session.

Walter?

QUESTIONER:  Walter Mead, Council on Foreign Relations.

I'm following up a little bit on Don's question where he asked about theological principle in Islam that would support reexamination or re-questioning.  And certainly, we've been hearing this morning that there is in the world even very pious, conservative and orthodox Muslims -- a lot of intellectual and theological ferment.  I've heard people talk about the idea that even if the Koran is an uncreated book that existed before the universe, people's understanding of the Koran -- the understanding of an individual of theological apparatus with which you approach it is obviously created is -- and to confuse one's theological apprehension of the Koran with the Koran itself is -- would be viewed by some scholars, I suppose, as an active idolatry almost.

MOGAHED:  Mm-hmm.

QUESTIONER:  And I'm wondering -- and Peter can maybe chime in, too, from the standpoint of the way Protestants have looked at the Bible -- is this an important theological principle and is it really shaping the -- influencing the way people are approaching some of these issue today?

AKYOL:  One thing I would say, Walter, is that -- I mean, I can't -- on this panel I shouldn't be speaking for Islam.  I think one thing one should keep in mind here is that there's an enormous tradition of philosophical thought in Islam.  I mean, when Christian Europe was basically living through a kind of barbaric period intellectually -- though less, perhaps -- less so than many of us think -- but anyway, you had an enormous flourishing of critical, philosophical thought in the Muslim world.  And I think this tradition is not dead, that it can be revived.  And once you -- once reason is put into place as a dominant principle, it's extremely difficult to stop where that reason goes.

And the disconnection, I'm tempted to quote one of my favorite lines from a great Muslim thinker, namely al-Ghazali, with whom I identify because he was a professor in Baghdad and felt what he was teaching was a lot of nonsense.  And he developed a speech defect.  He couldn't speak anymore.  But he was a great professor.  And he went into the desert and had mystical experiences.  But when he came back and incorporated -- tried to incorporate these experiences in his system of thought, there's one line which I love -- I don't know if I can quote it verbatim -- but he said that, "The basic mystical experience is ineffable.  It cannot be put into words.  But then we have to try."

And then he had this wonderful sentence -- "because reason is God's scale on Earth."  If you recognize reason as being God's scale on Earth -- the gift of God to human beings, then that reason cannot be confined to this area or that area.  It moves and I think this has theological, religious implications.

MOGAHED:  I was just going to -- I think the distinction you're making, Walter, is extremely important.  To believe that the Koran is divine is a principle of faith.  And so to ask Muslims to stop believing that is really asking them to stop being Muslim.  It's a very central part of being a Muslim.  But that isn't the same as believing that anyone's opinion on what the Koran is saying is divine -- that there is this distinction between the divine word of God and our human understanding of that word, which will differ.  And there's a huge amount of diversity in terms of how people are interpreting the Koran.  And that human element -- reason informed by revelation -- is the story of humanity, is the story of time, is the story of diversity across geography.  So that second piece is really the human story, and ishtihad actually means, literally, "human effort" or "human reason" in the -- in -- applied to the understanding of revelation.

AKYOL:  You made a very good point, Walter.  And yes, there is an -- there is this Islamic idea that your commentary is much lesser of a value than the -- you know, source itself.  And actually, Islamic scholars have the tradition of ending their comments by saying "Alahua alem," which means "Only God knows the best."  So he says something he knows.  And there's also a like a tradition in -- especially in Turkey, when they start a book, they say, "If there's anything which is right in this book, that is from God. Is there is any mistake, that is from me."  So this, like -- this modesty -- this tradition of modesty is well, you know, versed in the -- in Koran and that -- that's why you have an Islamic pluralism in -- actually.  I mean, there are different scholars.  They say, "This is my opinion, but I'm humble.  I'm not imposing it."

Unfortunately, this has become a little bit diluted in the modern times when different religious opinions are trying to gain political ascendance over each other and they have to claim perfect -- claim to be perfect.  And I think a good example of this is the Vilayat-el-Faqi idea in Iran.  I mean, before Khomeini, the idea that an imam can guide -- an ayatollah can guide the whole society and state without any mistake -- any sin was not known.  I mean, that was the idea of Vilayat-el-Faqi, but Khomeini made this a political doctrine.  But today some Shi'ites like Ayatollah Sistani, for example, doesn't accept it.  So the politicization of the whole -- (inaudible) -- also made this pluralism go down a little bit because if you're into politics, you should say you're perfect.  I mean, you can't say, "I'm wrong, but I want your support."  So that -- you know, messed things all -- messed things a little bit.

RUPP:  Since we're going to continue to have discussions about similarities and differences between Islam and Christianity, I would -- I'd like to underscore a point that Peter made earlier almost in passing.  Namely, if we want to look at comparisons between Islam and Christianity, for Christians or westerners -- Christians or Jews -- almost immediately, the analog to the Koran that comes to mind is the Bible.  And that's only a very imperfect analogy.  If we look at traditional Christology, much of what it said about the Christ is also what is said about the Koran.

And this is not just a -- for someone like me who happens to be interested in comparative religion and arcane fact.  It also has real bearing on our understanding because those who are not fundamentalist Christians -- that is, they who don't literally absolutize the Scriptures -- can have an easier relationship to the Bible than can easily be then projected onto Muslims because the status of the Koran is more than the status of the Bible in Christian and Jewish traditions.  And I think it's important in the ongoing discussions of similarities and differences among these traditions to bear that mind.

Well, sorry. We're a couple of minutes over.  I thank you all very much for joining us and those of you on the Web as well.  And this conference will continue after a 15-minute break?

MR.    :  Correct.

RUPP:  Fifteen-minute break.

Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.

-------------------------

This event is part of the Religion and Foreign Policy Symposia Series, which is made possible by the generous support of the Henry Luce Foundation.


WALTER RUSSELL MEAD:  All right.  May I have your attention, please.  Would everyone please sit down?

All right.  I'd like to welcome you to the second session of our Council on Foreign Relations seminar today.  This is a symposium on Religion and the Open Society.  This is our second session, on Religion-State Relation.

I am Walter Russell Mead, senior fellow for U.S. foreign policy.  It is my honor to introduce to you Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im, professor of law, Emory University Law School; Noah Feldman, professor of law, Harvard Law School and adjunct senior fellow here at the Council; and Philip Hamburger, professor of law, Columbia University Law School.  Welcome.  Welcome, everyone here, and also welcome to all of those who are joining our symposium this morning on video.

I'd like to remind you all that this is an on-the-record session, so anything that you say may be taken down in evidence and used against you.  (Laughter.) 

In our second session this morning we're going to try to follow up some of the lines of conversation that were introduced in the first session and also introduce some new themes. 

As the discussion was proceeding this morning, I was rather forcefully reminded that Abrahamic religions in particular -- that is, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam -- and some of the secular ideologies that have historically derived from that mix of religious cultures are bodies of thought which believe that there is a way the world ought to work.  There's a right way to live.  And obviously, if there's a right way to live, there are wrong ways to live.

And there are universal standards of justice, of conduct, that at least in theory ought to apply to all people everywhere.  And in human societies, as a general rule, there are states -- that is, bodies of organized authority whose mandate it is to see that things are run properly.

And so in Abrahamic societies, the relationship between the religion, which teaches us how the world ought to be run, and the state, that group of people whose job it is to run the world or at least to run that portion of the world under the authority of a particular state, have a charged relationship. 

Religious authorities will often, in sermons or otherwise, tell political authorities and state authorities how they ought to work.  Religious authorities will try to shape the conscience of voters in democratic societies so that the voters will vote for politicians who espouse the values that -- by which the state ought to run.  Certainly in our society in the United States we see many efforts, particularly in an election year, in which religious leaders of various kinds are trying to shape political outcomes.

Now, our three panelists today who, I guess, represent at least a good percentage of the faiths of the family of Abraham, are scholars who have spent a lot of time investigating the relationship of religion and state -- how it actually operates and how it ought to operate.  And I think it might be useful for the audience if we proceeded maybe just right down the panel and each of you share a kind of an overview of your sense of how religion and the state ought to operate, from your own particular perspective, whether that's a faith-based perspective or a more secular approach. 

And if you would like to start, Professor?

ABDULLAHI AHMED AN-NA'IM:  Good morning, everybody, and thank you for being here. 

I speak as a Muslim, so my perspective is religious.  And it is my perspective that indicates for me that I need the state to be secular in order for me to be the Muslim I choose to be.  And the only possibility of being Muslim is by choice. 

So I stake the secular state as a prerequisite, as one of the conditions for the possibility of being Muslim.  I may not be a good Muslim -- I'm sure I'm not -- but whatever degree of being Muslim it is, it has to be within a framework of a secular state.

But I make a distinction between the state and politics.  And I think this is a point that often, in the American system, is not clear enough -- that often people assume that separating church and state takes care of religion and politics.  (Laughter.)  My claim is that we need to deal with the other issue separately; that is, the state and religion should be separate.  By a secular state, I mean a state that is neutral regarding religious doctrine, but religion and politics cannot and should not be separated.

So the paradox is how -- for me is how to regulate and organize the connectedness of religion and politics in a way that safeguards the separation of religion and the state.

MEAD:  Okay.  Noah.

NOAH FELDMAN:  Thanks, Walter.  Thank you, Abdullahi. 

I just want to say quickly that I'm really grateful to be asked to participate on the panel with such distinguished scholars whose views I have drawn on in my own work.  I guess -- let me start with a quick historical point that draws on Walter's. 

I think that in modern Europe, one solution that was proffered to the problem of how to arrange religious affairs and the affairs of state was to suggest that the religion of the sovereign of the state would be the religion of the state.  You see this already in the Treaty of Augsburg, and then it becomes hardened at Westphalia, and it becomes in some way a basis for all of our modern thinking about church and state.

And that's easy to do when the sovereign is one guy.  When there's one person who is the king or the queen and says I'm the sovereign, that person picks a religion and then the state religion is that religion.  Now, of course, in practice, if that person flips religions, that makes things very complicated.  If you don't know whether that person is born into one religion or another, it makes things complicated.  But it sounds like a pretty good sort of working solution to the problem.

I don't think we would have the same set of church-state problems we have today if it weren't for a weird quirk that happened about a hundred years after that solution, and that quirk was the idea of popular sovereignty.  The core idea that underlies all of our democratic states, the core political idea, is this idea that it's not that one person is the sovereign; it's that all of the people are sovereign. 

Then if all of the people belong to the same religion, it's still not so difficult to say that the religion of the sovereign is the religion of the state, because if all of the people think of themselves as Muslims, and let's say they're the same -- belong to the same school of Islam, then you could still say that the state religion is the religion of that group of people and nobody will make much of an argument about it.

But if the sovereign people are plural with respect to religion, if they belong to lots of different religions, now you have a very serious practical problem.  How can you have the religion of the sovereign be the religion of the state if the sovereign belongs to many religions?  And it's at that point, I think, historically, that you start to see people saying maybe the state should not associate itself with any religion.  Maybe there shouldn't be any official religion.

Now, I wanted to use that historical background because I think it helps for me to see why I think that not every country in the world needs to have the exact same arrangement with respect to religion and government.

To my mind, there are some principles that are universal and should apply everywhere -- this goes to Walter's first point about the Abrahamic religions and their universalism -- and others that could be different in different places.

The parts that seem to me to be universal are the ideas of a basic human right to choose your religion.  Not everyone in the world necessarily agrees with this, but almost all of the great world religious traditions claim at least that there's no coercion in their religion.  The Koran actually says this explicitly, which gives it one step up on the Hebrew Bible or the New Testament.  But all of the world's religious traditions talk this way, I think it's fair to say.  Not all -- in fact, none -- are very good at implementing this in practice. 

But I think that that is enough of a universal value to say that every state, no matter where it is, even if it has an official religion, ought to allow people the freedom to choose their own religion, and with that comes the right as well not to be discriminated against on the basis of your religion.  To me, that's a universal value.

What's not a universal value, to me, is the idea of a secular state.  To me, if the society wants to arrange itself because the vast majority of people, or even just a slight majority of people prefer there to be an official state religion, provided that they grant every individual the basic human right to religious liberty, I think that that's just fine.  I think England is a good example of this.  There the established church may not be very active today.  It may be very difficult to find people in Anglican churches -- (laughter) -- but it's nevertheless the case that the Archbishop of Canterbury is a politically significant figure, not just because he says things that get people riled up every so often, but because he is connected to the organization of the state in an important way.

Similarly, in many Muslim countries, I think it would be practically absurd and, in principle, unnecessary to demand that the state not identify itself as Islamic, because that is what many, many, many -- the great majority, in many cases, of the population wants.  What is not absurd, however, is to insist in those cases that such states respect the basic human right to freedom of religion. 

And in a country like the United States where we have tremendous religious diversity, it would equally be absurd to say that we should have an established religion.  And as a matter of fact, our Constitution recognizes that and makes it impossible, at least formally, for there to be an established religion.

So I'll stop there, without claiming to have resolved any of the complicated difficulties that analysis raises, but at least it gives a framework for thinking that there are some things that everyone should do in every state, some rights that everyone should respect, but that the arrangement of church and state could still differ very significantly from place to place.

HAMBURGER:  Well, I confess I largely agree with what's been said thus far and -- in pursuing the theme that perhaps there can be variety in the world that's perfectly wholesome and that need not trouble us.  I can't help, though, observing that it may be easier to figure out what should not be than what should.  And that leads us to the very sort of narrow range of objections to sort of bullying that we don't like, that can come in many forms.  But that still leaves open many, many possibilities.  And fortunately, England is just one of them, though amusing these days.

It strikes me that religion is often treated in this country as something distinct from the state, something to be kept apart from it, perhaps something even dangerous.  And I -- one of the things one has to worry about is that Americans tend to forget the degree to which the state is itself constituted by religion.

Now, politically we find this an anathema to a Christian nation, but in a more profound sense, this is inevitable, and any anthropologist would point out you can hardly discuss a society without getting into its religion.

The very notion of equal liberty has its foundations in religion.  Now, we can claim equal liberty, equal rights, as some sort of right.  But if it's any more than just a demand, if it's actually going to be a moral duty -- for example, if slavery is immoral, and you actually have a duty to resist it.  If suicide is immoral, you have a duty to resist that -- where are we draw these conclusions from? 

And Locke has a lot to say about this, for all of his failings as a serious philosopher.  Nonetheless, on this point, he comes as close to profound as he ever gets, I think.  And we are too quick to forget that without the religious basis for equal rights, we would be impoverished and we might still have slavery.  So religion is fundamental to the very liberty that we think we sometimes need to protect from religion.

Second, it strikes me that in all societies, and although I'm not an expert in the Middle East, I gather from scholars of the Ottoman Empire that there are a lot of sermons, even in the 14th century, that are very similar to Christian sermons being given at the same time about the role of religion as part of the social structure.  If you want a degree of freedom from severe laws, you'd better hope these moral constraints (is ?) a fairly successful sort.  And religion inevitably has its own way of accomplishing that.

And then finally, it was only recently that we have escaped the notion that we have a government ordained by God.  And in the West we may think we're above religion now -- almost, perhaps, above God.  But in most of the world, such heady thoughts haven't yet permeated quite so far.  And it strikes me that if we are going to talk about religious liberty, we have to keep in mind the fairly -- importance of religion, even to the secular state. 

But I'll stop there.  Thank you.

MEAD:  Very good.

Well, I'm taking away a couple of things here.  One is I've been reminded again of just the sheer diversity of relationships that exist between religion and the state, even in the so-called Christian, so-called West.  So we not only have England, where the queen can't marry a Catholic or become a Catholic.  In Argentina, the president of the Argentine Republic must be a Roman Catholic, something that caused Carlos Menem to get baptized. 

In Germany, the president of the republic can be any religion he chooses or doesn't choose, but if you do sign up for church membership, the state will take a percentage of your income in tax each year and give it to those the state chooses to recognize as the legitimate authorities of the religion which you profess. 

So we can find all kinds of varieties with -- and yet it's interesting that all -- that certainly Germany, Argentina, and Britain, if you asked most citizens of those states do you live in a secular country, they would answer probably yes.  And it's -- while Americans like to talk about how much more religious America is than, say, Germany, I've been reminded by a member of the German Bundestag there are actually more doctors of divinity in the German parliament than in the American Congress.  That may explain something; I'm not quite sure what.  (Laughter.)

But then also I'm reminded, listening to the panelists, that our visions of what is the proper relationship of religion and state are often profoundly shaped by our own religious views.  There's the story in Belfast of a guy who's whisked into an alley by masked gunmen who point a gun to his head and they say what are you, Catholic or Protestant?  He goes, I'm an atheist!  I'm an atheist!  The gunmen think for a second and they say well, are you a Catholic atheist or a Protestant atheist?  (Laughter.)

And there's a sense in which a society can be Protestant secular or Catholic secular or Muslim secular, and those are not always the same thing. 

And what I'd like to do is ask the panelists to explore -- I think this is building on something that Philip said, that in America, certainly, our idea of this separation of church and state, or the relationship, is profoundly based on the overwhelming sort of Protestant character -- and Noah's written about this as well -- of our people at the time of -- you know, in the early American republic.

To what extent is that experience -- you may have some thoughts here, too -- applicable to people of other religious traditions and backgrounds, or how do we have to reconsider what seems to us to be natural in terms of separation of church and state that would work differently in another culture with a different background? 

Would you like to start on that, Phil?

HAMBURGER:  Sure.  Something you may know, I have a certain distaste for the notion of separation of church and state because, by accident, I fell into studying it and, to my horror, found out more about American history than I wanted to know.  (Laughter.)

To put it very bluntly, it's attributed straight to Jefferson, but it's popular --because of theological prejudice, a distaste for Catholicism, particularly Irish Catholic immigrants, the goal was to separate the church from the state.  And it's far from being a minoritarian position; it's a majoritarian position.  It's about protecting the majority of free individuals and their direct relationship to the state from a church which would exert its influence upon the people and deprive them of their mental liberty, thus debilitating them from being good citizens.

And in fact, if you -- just think for a minute.  Which is the organization that most popularized this idea in the first half of the 20th century?  The ACLU?  No.  The Ku Klux Klan.  And once that settles in, you get the idea.

So this fits in with what Noah was saying earlier.  It strikes me that it's very dangerous for us Americans to go around the world talking in broad generalities that seem natural to us, but may be only because we haven't looked at ourselves too carefully.

Our most common generalizations are separation of church and state and democracy.  Well, God help us if that's what we're exporting, and God help the rest of the world.

Democracy isn't what we practice here and it's the last thing we should wish on anyone else.  Our Founders quite deliberately established a republic.  And when one talks about democracy in many parts of the world, it sounds like majority rule.  In fact, it could have an almost fascist implication in some parts of the world.  One has to be very, very careful about overgeneralization.

And by the same token, I think separation of church and state imposes, as Noah suggested, such a high burden on nations for which this is just incompatible, obviously incompatible with their history.  So the best thing we need -- and this fits in with the views of my colleague from Emory -- we need a little modesty, not only in contemplating religion, but also our own propaganda. 

There's an old line from World War I about propaganda: one will not quite persuade one's enemies, and almost defeat oneself.  And I fear separation leads us in that direction.

MEAD:  Abdullahi, would you like to --

AN-NA'IM:  Okay.  I think various ideas will determine that the secular state everywhere is distinctive, historic, and contextual.  I mean, there are no two identical secular states anywhere. 

So secularism, or secular states, and the question of the relationship between religion and the state and religion and politics, which I try to always emphasize are different propositions, this relationship is contextual and historical.  And therefore every society has to negotiate this for itself over time, and this negotiation can go one way or the other.

But I think the -- one point I would like to bring to our discussion is I think we tend to dichotomize too much the secular and the religious.  And the so-called secular-religious dichotomy I think is overstated because religion becomes relevant in the secular world.  It is not the abstract sort of sensuality.  It is -- the relevance of religion in guiding people live -- lies in this world.  And therefore there is an inherent connectedness between the two.

Just referring back to what this morning was being said about the Koran and about the possibility of reinterpretation and so on, Ali ibn Abi Talib, the fourth caliph and the prophets' cousin and -- for the Shi'a, he is the first imam.  He said the Koran does not speak.  It is people who speak for the Koran.

And the point is that the Koran is a revelation to me as a Muslim, is divine to me as a Muslim.  But as soon as it enters human comprehension, it become secular.  It enters into this world to tell me how to live my life in this world.  And because every comprehension of the Koran is a human comprehension -- of course the possibility that there is more to the Koran than what humans can comprehend remains in the realm of individual religious experience. 

But collectively, socially, we are always dealing with someone's understanding of the Koran.  That makes me nervous about calling the state Islamic.  I don't believe that the state was ever Islamic.  Not a single day.  The state is a political institution.  It is incapable of having a religion.

Whenever we give the adjective of a religious state to any state, what we are saying is that, as you said rightly, it is the religion of the ruling elite.  So once you see it is not the religion of the state as such, but the religion of the ruling elite, you see how dangerous it is to permit the elite to attribute their religious belief to the state which we all share.

I would rather have it for me to negotiate what role Shari'a has in society and in the state in a framework that ensures a degree of equality of human rights, of freedom of religion and other freedoms.  And the proscription, as Professor Feldman describes, is to say the state can't have a religion, but at the same ensure freedom of religion for everybody, is a contradiction. 

The very fact that the state identifies with a religion is, by definition, a violation of freedom of religion.  And for that reason, I will try to strive to keep the state neutral, realizing it is not easy.  It's a constant struggle.  And where in the realm of politics to enable people to identify religiously as also as citizens in a variety of ways.

FELDMAN:  It would be very boring for the audience if we all agreed on everything, so I'm glad that we're hitting -- the rubber's meeting the road here a little bit. 

So I'm going to disagree, first with Abdullahi and then with Philip, if I might, and the framework for my disagreement is the same in both cases.  And it's the observation that when we use words that are big, grand words -- which I usually --

I have a 2-year-old son, and I know I'm dealing with a big, grand word when I can't point to the thing when I define it.  Right?  If he wants to know what a chair is, I can point to the chair.  If he wants to know what religion is, I can't point to anything in particular.  The same is true of the state.  I can't point to anyone; there's nothing I -- these are true abstractions, right?

When we talk about abstractions, which we have to do because much of our world is shaped out of these abstractions, we're never defining them in some way that is objectively correct.  We're always injecting into what we say the way we think they should be.

When we say, "religion is," what we mean is religion is and should be.  The same is true when we talk about the state.  They're just two, the two that happen to be in play in this conversation.

Now, when we talk about can there be such a thing as an Islamic state, I understand that argument, the political and religious argument that says no, there can be no such thing as an Islamic state because Islam is a faith and the state is not a faith.  There can be the religion of the people who run the state.

But if all of the people who run the state and organize the institutions of the state say that their state is religious -- right? -- if they assert this and if they have institutions that exist in the real world that they administer according to these ideas, if there are certain people who are in charge of deciding on this aspect of the expenditure of funds with regard to religion, and this group of people who are in charge of that aspect of making sure that -- I don't know -- as in Saudi Arabia, that people attend the mosque.  You know, if you're in the marketplace and prayer time comes in Saudi Arabia, someone comes along and urges you to attend the mosque.  And if notice that you're not a Muslim, then they say oh, sorry -- you know? -- not you.

But if you have people these sorts of things, then it's practically useful to be able to say that you're speaking in the context of an Islamic state, and that's all I need, I think, for me to be able to say that people may speak of themselves as having an Islamic state.

Now, is there a certain contradiction between that and the idea that some citizens would nevertheless be free to exercise their religious rights? And here I'm going to turn to Philip.  So this is the point that Abdullahi made.  There is a contradiction here.

I agree that there's some tension, because if all the people who run the state are saying this is an Islamic state, the person who's a non-Muslim may feel marginal, may have the experience of feeling like, well, wait a minute.  It's not my state.  I don't fully participate in that state.  Right?  And I agree that that can be a subjective experience that the person will have -- will be likely to have.

If, however, they have that feeling, I don't think it follows from that that they are not free to act in the realm of their own religion.  They might not be free.  You might have a great tendency to take away their rights, but it doesn't necessarily follow, I don't think, that they are not free to act in the realm of their own religion. 

And let me just give a practical example of why this so, and here I'll turn to -- my disagreement -- this is apart of where Philip and I disagree.  Although I think Philip and I often agree on the bottom line, we almost always disagree completely about how to get there.  (Laughter.)

So if you look at the Protestant tradition of the separation of church and state, which Philip has done so much to elucidate, it begins with the idea that the state does have a religion, but that that religion demands equal liberty and free choice of religion for each of its citizens.  Right?  Now, not everyone in the Protestant tradition says this, but let's just take Locke, whom Philip mentioned, who for Americans, at least, is the most influential thinker about the relationship between religion and government, I would argue.  

Locke, in his famous letter on toleration, does say that there's no such thing under the gospels as a Christian commonwealth.  He thinks there was a Jewish commonwealth under the Hebrew Bible, but that because of Christian liberty, there's no such thing as a truly Christian commonwealth.  So actually he agrees with Abdullahi on that point.

But he's imagining that the Church of England will remain the established church, and he is imagining that government money and church money will be fully intertwined.  But he thinks that his own religion, which is the religion of the state, in effect, itself demands -- and he makes a religious argument for this -- itself demands that each person be left free to choose his own religion, because the religion wants free choice of faith, and not coerced choice of faith.

Now, does that make separation of church and state a Protestant idea?  In some sense, yeah.  Yes, it does, in America.  And once you see that it's a Protestant idea, it's impossible to disentangle it from a long strain of anti-Catholicism in English-speaking Protestantism.  And so when you look at the historical materials, as Philip does very well in his very important book on this subject, you see, and what do you know -- the same people who were advocating religious liberty are also not in favor of the Catholic Church -- which, they note, as late as the 1860s and '70s says that, quote, "Liberty of conscience is a delirimentum."  Walter's Latin is better than mine, but it's nothing good to say that something is -- it's a, you know, a false imagining.  Something that you ought not to believe.  Right? 

So there's an actual disagreement there on whether the liberty of conscience is in fact an important value -- and, of course, the Catholic Church has changed its view on this radically since that time, and that's wonderful.  But the fact is that once you acknowledge in a historical sense that there is something distinctively Protestant about this development of separation of church and state, you find all the nasty stuff, too.  But that's okay -- and this is where Philip and I disagree.

You find the nasty stuff -- and he's right that it's there, but that doesn't trouble me very much, because all traditions of thought, whether they're religious, secular, or otherwise, have this nasty stuff caught up in it.  So when I read the new atheists, as they are -- they're sometimes called, you know, these writers who get so much attention these days who are, in fact, amazingly similar to the atheists of the 1870s and '80s. 

I mean, in fact, almost all of the arguments, with only a few exceptions, can already be found in those earlier texts.  So once a century they get their chance to really, you know -- (laughter) -- flex and stretch their muscles, and that's probably a good thing.  They're focusing on nasty things that religion has done, and it's almost never the case that they're wrong.  The nasty things they say religion has done, it has done.  But so has every other ideology. 

I'll leave it there.

AN-NA'IM:  Can I --

MEAD:  Sure.

AN-NA'IM:  I'm saying just about the -- because when you say when all the Muslims of a country say that we want our -- or say to me -- Muslims never agree on anything -- never agree.  But the day the prophet died, and before he was buried, Muslims disagreed about how to succeed and who to succeed.  So disagreements have been -- (inaudible) -- you will never agree and you will always disagree, and it's only God in the next life who will adjudicate your differences among you; several verses to this extent.

So the point is that my problem with a -- Islamic state is that what does Islamic mean?  When we cannot agree on what Islamic means, using the term is confusing; in fact, dangerous, because it hides all the nasty stuff that he was talking about behind this veneer of Islamic, so that it becomes harder to challenge it.

He gives an example of Saudi Arabia.  In Saudi Arabia, there is a significant minority of Shi'a in eastern Arabia.  I don't like to say Saudi Arabia.  I like to say Arabia.  How can you name a country after a family?  In Arabia, there is significant Shi'a in the east to whom the Wahhabi doctrine of the state is a heresy, and they are obliged to live under this heresy as the law of the state.

And when you see that Iran is an Islamic state and Saudi Arabia is an Islamic state, what will it mean when, to each of them, the other is a heresy?  So the term Islamic becomes totally incoherent.  You know, as you travel in the region, you will find that people call Islamic law -- Islamic sort of -- (inaudible) -- the term is overused that there is no thought as to exactly what we mean by it.  And when we look closely to what we mean by it, we see that no Muslims of any country will agree on what their state is when they call it an Islamic state.

All of this is to be in the realm of politics.  And that's why I will say let people affirm their Islamic identity and values through politics, but not through a state institutions, which is what I need to have for it to be possible for me to negotiate Shari'a in politics.

MEAD:  Philip.

PHILIP HAMBURGER:  I'm not learned enough to take a position on Islamic law such as Professor An-Na'im just did, but in defense of -- of his position against Professor Feldman's, I must say I fear that Professor Feldman, in defense of his view that there should be possibly should admit there to be an Islamic state, looks to Europe to say, "Well, there are Christian states there."  And it strikes me that, at least in the Anglo-American tradition, which is the freer part of the European tradition, that's not so clear.

So, yes, there would have been a social establishment of Christianity, particularly Anglicanism in England.  And, yes, the monarch is the head of the English church, but if one looks at the theological and political writings of the late 17th century and early 18th century, defending Anglican establishments, the writings that Americans look to and understand, the argument isn't the state is religious, let alone that it's Protestant, let alone that it's Anglican, but rather that there's an alliance between church and state.

So even in the English church's own writings, it's not asserted that there's an Anglican church -- I'm sorry -- an Anglican state, except in the strongest -- (inaudible) -- Tory writings.  In the mainstream English writings, for example, by Bishop Warburton is about an alliance of church and state, in which he does very interesting Madisonian-style reasons.  And so it's really, I think, much more cautious.  So I don't think we can look to Europe and say, "Well, that's what the Europeans did.  Therefore, we should be comfortable with a religious state elsewhere."

I'd also like to disagree, much as I appreciate Professor Feldman's views on this, with his casual use of separation of church and state, as if that is what we're talking about when we talk about disestablishment.  Disestablishment and separation are very different metaphors.  Establishment is about one object elevating another, and therefore it's about a restraint on the government elevating the church.  Separation of church and state, which we think of horizontally, it's about keeping apart two institutions, and necessarily it limits both.  And instead of talking about religion generally, it focuses on organized religion rather than individual spirituality.

So it seems to me, yes, a lot of violence has been pursued in this country even in the name of separation of church and state, as well as in the name of religion.  But that's not our ideal.  Our ideal is actually quite carefully drafted in the Constitution.  It's about disestablishment.

And then, finally, I can't help talking about violence, since that's what lies behind so much of this, right?  We're not talking about violence -- "Let's have some fun" -- because violence has its fun aspect, unfortunately; we're human, and we indulge in it occasionally.  So if it looks back, as the Supreme Court likes to do, they'll say, "Oh, we have to be careful of divisiveness and religious violence," and they allude to Europe, particularly the happy years of the 16th and 17th century when there was a lot of violence.

It's by no means clear that religion has a monopoly on this.  In fact, religion turned out to be rather inefficient.  The Inquisition only killed a few thousand people.  What were they up to?  Their mind was on God, not on the efficiency of killing.  And it strikes me that the secular state in the past century has really done a much better job of it, if you're into that sort of thing, which gets to the larger set of issues, I think, here that we haven't yet discussed, the relationship, as it were, social structures, if we include religion amongst these.

So let's not talk about religion.  I agree with Professor Feldman about this.  It's an amorphous concept.  Let's think just for a minute; not say this is what religion really is, but about unrealistic aspirations for purity and transcendence.

Now, if that is part of the human condition, how should it be pursued, with unrealistic aspirations for purity and transcendence in this world or another world?  And which is more dangerous?  I don't know that I know the answer.  But it's by no means clear to me that pursuing those unrealistic aspirations in another world is more dangerous than in this world.  And I think, sadly, the comparisons to the Soviet Union and the proceedings of the 16th Century illustrate that.

MEAD:  All right.  Boy, well, you certainly know how to bring the fun into a gathering.  (Laughter.)

HAMBURGER:  I don't like violence myself, but it's fun to talk about.

MEAD:  All right.  Well, I think, speaking of fun, maybe it's time to give the audience some and open this up for questions.  Again, I'd like to remind you that a question is a statement which can be grammatically ended with a question mark.  (Laughter.)  One can usually tell one's being asked a question by sort of a rising inflection that comes at the end of the sentence.  And questions are, generally speaking, rather short.

So if anybody has questions, please raise your hand.  We'll bring a microphone to you.  State your name and your affiliation for the sake of those watching by video.

QUESTIONER:  Charles Harper, John Templeton Foundation.

I want to state a thesis as a question for all of you.  Do you think that strategically, for the Council on Foreign Relations and the United States generally, that this issue for intellectuals of clarifying the difference in religion between a situation before and after an American-style politic -- constitutionally of the separation of state power from religious culture, do you see that as something that's vital for American intellectuals to engage with in the world to clarify what the American experiment and experience has been?

MEAD:  So if I rephrase that, gentlemen, does your life's work have any meaning or purpose?  (Laughter.)  Anybody want to jump in there?

FELDMAN:  One think that I think is fair to say is that, though it's obviously crucially important in the American realm for us to understand what we're doing ourselves domestically, we shouldn't draw the conclusion from that that once we've figured it out, then we'll have something we can hold their hands and export.

I mean, one of the weirdest experiences of my life was sitting in the Green Zone and hearing U.S. government officials, who were aligned with the political movement of deeply skeptical of, for example, the idea of a secular state -- we don't have a secular state here -- saying things like, "The most important thing we have to keep in mind for the new Iraq is that there must be a strictly secular state."

First of all, it bespoke a willingness to sort of imagine something on the U.S. side that they themselves denied exists on the U.S. side.  But second of all, it bespoke this idea that they knew exactly what we had in the United States and we should export that.

So I want to (exploit ?) all of that -- (inaudible).  I think the other panelists do too.  We do want to understand what we have here.  We want to understand the fights that we still have in the United States, the lack of clarity that we have.  And then we want to realize that whatever the lack of -- (inaudible) -- that we have is, that's probably not the suitable thing to impose on anybody else.  At least that's my own view.

MEAD:  They should have their own lack of clarity.

FELDMAN:  Exactly.  They should have their own version of confusion.

And this is the last thing I would say.  I mean, a constitutional tradition that works is one that is in a constant state of dynamic evolution.  You have a written constitution that says "x," but no constitutional system works if it just follows what's in that written constitution and never changes.  Interpretation gives it the freedom to change.  And if it doesn't even have a text, so much the better, often, because then you have a little bit more freedom for the dynamism.

So everyone's going to have some complex dynamic unresolved form of the relationship between religion and government, but they shouldn't all have the same confusion.

MEAD:   Abdullahi, do you want to --

AN-NA'IM:  I was going to -- I am from Sudan.  At this point I am an American citizen, but I am from Sudan and am formed by being from Sudan.  And one term or concept, idea that has not really been raised much is colonialism.  Much of what we see is post-colonialism, that it is more informed by colonialism than it is by anything else about Muslim societies and their history.

The Islamic state discourse is a post-colonial discourse, because one position that we have not clarified, what do we mean by the state?  The form of state -- the type of state that we now live with is a European model of the state.  And the idea of law that Muslims -- when Muslims talk about an Islamic state before Shari'a, they think of it as Shari'a as positive law; European idea of law, European idea of the state.

So it's a contradiction, I think, to claim to affirm Islamic identity through two European institutions, the state and law.  The type of state that Muslims lived with historically is a very different type of state than the state they are living with now in the post-colonial.

Now, coming to the American, also one question.  Iraq was mentioned a couple of times.  But the fact is that Iraq has been a colonial experience; that is, the United States has colonized and is still colonizing Iraq.  Iraq is not a sovereign state now, as we speak.  And probably in my book, the biggest moral failure of the United States since the Second World War has been the invasion, occupation and colonization of Iraq.

And this event, if we can call it an event, has done sort of horrendous consequences for decades to come and outraged, completely outraged, that we can talk about it as if it is something that happened and, okay, we'll just now deal with the consequences.  No, it has to be condemned for having happened in the first place.  And thus, having had to be condemned for having done it, now the impulse is the Americans go out in the world to engage in conversation about the American experience -- absolutely fine, wonderful.  In fact, we do this all the time.

I studied constitutional law with an American professor in the 1960s in Sudan, and I learned a lot from him.  And I continue to learn from my American experience.  But if you send your armies to missionize for your view of what freedom of religion is and what church and state is, that's completely unacceptable and utterly counterproductive.

FELDMAN:  Just for the record, I mean, we did invade Iraq; there's no question.  And there's no question, further, that our presence there has features that are in common with colonialism, or with imperialism maybe more precisely.  But if you look at the constitutional structure that emerged in Iraq, it has nothing to do with the U.S. constitutional structure.  I mean, for better or worse, it makes Iraq an Islamic state and says that no law passed may violate the judgments of Islam.  I mean, it says that when it comes to family law -- I mean, you can say these are terrible things.  I think you do think they're terrible things.  But whatever they are, they're not American things.

AN-NA'IM:  No, but the fact is that it was drafted during an American occupation, that the people of Iraq -- I mean, the question is also Britain colonized Sudan and Uganda and Kenya; I mean, most of African states.  And it was -- and the French did it too.  At the end of the colonial period, they drafted a constitution in Lancaster House in England for the new state to just go on and become independent and sovereign as of today, because we have made you sovereign.

When our secretary of State sends a letter to the government of Iraq to say that "We have your sovereignty for a year.  Here, have it back.  But we will keep 150,000 troops heavily armed under foreign command who will protect you from your own population, but you are a sovereign state."  The constitution of Iraq has not happened.  And the fact that you have a document called the constitution of Iraq is not and does not make it the constitution of Iraq.

You know, constitutions are not made in documents.  Constitutions are hearts and minds of people.  And until the people of Iraq have the freedom and the stability and the ability to draft their own constitution completely free, without any foreign advisers, without technocrats telling them how to draft this or how to work it out or not work it out, it is not a constitution.

MEAD:  Well, I think -- let's try to -- points taken, but let's try to keep this on the broader agenda of responding, I think, to the question of, you know, the validity -- sort of the importance for American foreign policy of trying to understand this issue of religious --

HAMBURGER:  I do want to get back to the original question.  I just cannot help engaging a little bit on this point.

MEAD:  Please don't.  (Laughter.)

HAMBURGER:  One sentence.  It's simply that if one takes everything that Professor An-Na'im just said as true, it just does strike me that we won't have to worry that the colonial discourse tends to lead us only to look at some tragedies and not others.  And I think if one's really to be concerned about the people of any nation in this world, as a human being, one has to recognize disasters can happen from any direction, including from within, and that's certainly been the case with Iraq.

Now, getting back to the question, though, it strikes me that, yes, we do need to be engaging.  I almost agreed with Noah there until he went on about the living constitution, and then I had to back -- can't win 'em all.  It strikes me that we have had a remarkable experience here, perhaps just by accident.  None of us in this room, I think, can take credit for it, but we have lived in a genuinely blessed country in a blessed period of time where it is just not normal in human experience to have what we have in the United States.

And by whatever grace that is, I think it is worth talking about.  It's worth talking about with all the caution that my colleagues have mentioned, because we don't know which elements are essential, and there's a danger we will misstate it, so we need to be very modest about it.  And it may be that we should not impose this; that's surely true.  And yet, at the same time, just to show the model of living, a Lutheran pastor once explained to me how he reached his congregation, and he said to me, "I don't have a congregation; I just try to live right, and people notice that."

And we can take the same approach.  But I think, at the same time, one can't just live right.  One has to talk about it.  And, yes, we need to be engaged with a sense of prudence, with a sense of the diversity of the world, but sharing at least the model so that people can adapt from it what I think they will undoubtedly find deeply attractive.  And frankly, people across the world do.

MEAD:  And I would probably add, from the standpoint of the Council on Foreign Relations, or at least some of us here, we think that certainly since September 11th, but a lot of events before that, have raised the importance of trying to get a clearer understanding in the U.S. of how our own traditions have evolved in this respect and then trying to understand better where those do and don't intersect with the experiences of other societies and what usefully can we do to try to advance some of the universal values that Noah was talking about in these very different contexts.

Sir.

QUESTIONER:  Jim Dingman, INN World Report.

When one travels to Europe, one's constantly confronted with the question of "What are you Americans doing letting these fundamentalist Christians dominate your foreign policy?"  All the time last fall, I got that continually.  And we know that operationally that influence has been realized in the HIV-AIDS policy of Bush's administration in Africa.

And I wanted to get your take on that and also how people in Europe are perceiving how religion is in the election process.  For example, we've had three weeks of Jeremiah Wright being thrown at us, and that has, of course, been perceived differently in Europe than in the United States.  I wanted to know how you see those things.

FELDMAN:  We're on the record, right?

MEAD:  No, go right ahead; sounds like you're itching to go.

FELDMAN:  Well, I mean, look, on the first point I would say welcome to participatory democracy.  There are all these foreign policy elites; some of them may be in this room.  Some of the people who helped create this room, who think that it might not be such a good idea for the general democratic population -- here I mean democratic, not a small "r" republican -- to be involved in foreign policymaking, right, because they think, "Wow, what happens when that happens is that all those people out there have these views that we elites don't agree with will impact our foreign policy -- yuk."

Now, you know, one of the costs of the democratization of foreign policy in the last 115 years, which is itself in part of a very complicated story that Walter has told part of very brilliantly of post-Cold War changes in the way foreign policy is shaped, one of the consequences of this democratization of foreign policy debates is that constituencies that historically didn't do that much or weren't able to do that much to affect our foreign policy now can and do.

I think that in many particular cases -- the one you mentioned is a good one -- I don't agree with what that particular constituency wants our foreign policy to be.  But I completely disagree that it somehow follows from that that public voices should be excluded from our foreign policy judgments.  I think if you're serious about being a democracy, you need to acknowledge that.

And when you make your foreign policy, you have to think seriously about the fact that that foreign policy is now going to be shaped in the long run by what the general public believes.  I think that's got to be now part of the foreign policy calculus.  When you decide to do something, you can't think, for example, that the next administration, even if it's of a different party, will do just what you expect it to do.  That's a mistake, I think, now in foreign policy, where then maybe it wasn't the case in certain aspects of the Cold War.  So that's on the first half of the question, and I'll leave Jeremiah Wright to my colleagues.

HAMBURGER:  I just want to comment on the notion of fundamentalists anywhere.  Who are the fundamentalists, right?  Fundamentalists are a small group that are more generally known as evangelicals.  The number of fundamentalists in this country who were actually traditional fundamentalists are tiny.  I mean, how many premillenarian literalists are there in this country?  That's not most evangelicals.

And so when people criticize fundamentalists, they're revealing a certain theological ignorance, I fear.  And what particularly worries me is that this is a theologically (inflected ?) term.  This is saying some people believe in fundamentals.  In other words, they believe in orthodoxies.  We are theologically liberal.  The implication is, "And we don't have orthodoxies."  And somehow this gets into class distinctions, too -- the educated versus uneducated and the rest.  And so I think we have to be very careful with labels.  Most evangelicals are highly individualistic.  Most of them are not fundamentalist in the traditional term.

And just a final thought here.  Since I am interested so much in the bullying of religious minorities, we would not ordinarily take the label for a small minority and treat that as a label for some sort of social ill or theological ill.  You know, if you're worried about some sort of habit that you associate with a particular religion, you wouldn't say, "How Protestant of you.  How Catholic of you.  How Islamic of you.  How Jewish of you."  We think how prejudiced that would be.  But we don't hesitate to say, "Gee, that's very fundamentalist," and we're not even talking about fundamentalists.  We're using minority label.

And so I just feel a lot of these criticisms don't even understand the theologies involved.  Now, it may be right, as Noah points out.  Perhaps we might disagree with the policies.  But that's a different issue altogether.

MEAD:  Yes.

QUESTIONER:  (Inaudible.)

MEAD:  I have a feeling we'll come back to Jeremiah Wright.

QUESTIONER:  I'm definitely not Jeremiah --

MEAD:  He'll take care of himself.

QUESTIONER:  Thank you.

I'd like to ask you to express an opinion.  Mr. Ratzinger, who has chosen the name of Pope Benedict XVI --

MEAD:  Are you a Protestant, by any chance?

QUESTIONER:  There's a chance.  There's a chance.  I'd like to ask you to comment on this too.  And I know you're the fair-minded moderator here.  I will not try to quote him, because he did it in Latin and my Latin is not that good.  But he said at one point here three or four months something to the effect that he would support the building of mosques in Rome when the Saudi government permitted the building of churches in Riyadh.  Would you comment on that?

AN-NA'IM:  There is so much more to the Muslim world than Saudi Arabia.

QUESTIONER:  (Off mike.)

AN-NA'IM:  (Laughs.)  Because he said Riyadh, so -- at least to be clear.  I made my point about the family and the country.  But now what I'm saying is this.  I noticed also this morning already that there is so much focus on the Middle East as if it is representative of the Muslim world at large.

The Arab Muslim region is about 10 (percent) to 12 percent of the total Muslim population -- 10 (percent) to 12 percent.  There are more Muslims in sub-Saharan Africa than there are Muslims in the Middle East.  There are -- India is the second-largest Muslim country in the world, or third, probably, when you compare it to Pakistan.

The point is that so much Muslims and Islam historically, as well as currently, are not anything to do with the Middle East; in fact, quite different, very much different, that -- so that I think for the pope's remark, I think it is unfair to sort of prejudge Muslims' attitudes about churches and Christian-Muslim relations and so on by what goes on in Arabia or Saudi Arabia, as your choice.

In that sense, the point is that also, I would say, I would hope that a pope would be more visionary and more leading the Christians than this tit-for-tat attitude.  He should say that "I would support building a mosque in Rome regardless of what" -- because he should be driven by his own religious conviction as a Christian, not by what -- and this is exactly what Muslims are doing now when they are (ranting ?) against the United States and condemning everything that's good about this country because they hate some aspects of the foreign policy of this country.

What the United States does or does not do should not define what I do or not do and my right as a Muslim.  And I would hope that the pope would think "What does my religious conviction as a Christian leader lead me to do about mosques in Rome?" rather than being defined by what Muslim leaders do or prefer to do in other countries.

MEAD:  I suppose the king of Saudi Arabia might also reply, "We'll separate mosque from state in Saudi Arabia when you do it in the Vatican, your holiness," and see what he gets.

QUESTIONER:  Hi.  Assam Rehman (sp), Muslim Bar Association of New York.

Just to take advantage of the fact that we have three law professors, I wanted to ask your opinion on the role of religious judicial bodies.  This is something that was discussed earlier this morning, but perhaps each of you can comment, because, for example, Professor An-Na'im, you talked about keeping religion out of the institutions.  How does that concept inform the existence of a judicial body or even a scholar who is empowered by the state to adjudicate matters?  Professor Feldman, you wrote about this recently.  I'd like to get your views as legal experts on that matter.

(Off mike commentary.) 

AN-NA'IM:  Okay.  You might be surprised, but I am opposed to what the archbishop has proposed.  I think it is bad for the state institutions to enforce religious adjudication.  Religious adjudication and other types of adjudication happen all the time.  And we can never stop it, and, in fact, we can encourage it.

My objection comes when you involve a state institution in enforcing the outcome of -- (inaudible) -- our situation.  If it is freely chosen by the parties, you can have types of issues where that happens outside the state institutions, and it will happen outside the state institutions, and it is good that it happens.

But implicating the state institutions into enforcing religious adjudication is dangerous for the state and for the religion.  Now, one point is that when -- say, if you have a Shari'a-based arbitrational family dispute in Britain go before English courts to enforce, is the court going to review only the procedural aspects, or is it going to review the substantive aspects?  Or is it going to enforce based on the authority of those who adjudicate it without questioning looking into what really went on and what are the issues?

Now, is an English court competent in Shari'a to be able to review adjudication outcomes?  If it is not, is it going to enforce an adjudication that it has no way of evaluating in terms of its good or bad nature, and so on?  Now, the point is that the realm of community life are very much -- I think my sense of separation of church and state, as you said, is protecting the state from religion and religion from the state.  And in that light, I would be opposed to enforcement of religious education.

Now, another point to add; I don't know how much time -- time, of course, is short.  The thing is, what is the Shari'a authorization for this selectivity, because if what you are doing is enforcing Shari'a, Shari'a has a lot to say on everything.  How come that you choose this particular limited issue and exclude all other issues on which Shari'a is as authoritative as it is on this issue?

In the sort of Ontario case, the same proposal was made in Ontario.  And the proposal was made excluding custody-of-children issues.  Because custody of children is a federal jurisdiction, so they were saying in Ontario, "Let us do it in other issues, not with custody of children."  How can you deal with a family dispute without including custody-of-children issues as a factor simply because the state structure is such that this is outside the realm of the provincial?  That is the sort of confusion that is bound to come through if you try to do this sort of thing.

HAMBURGER:  If I could just add a word here, for 480 years the law of the land has had complete obligation, within the jurisdiction of the common-law nations.  There is no room for a distinct jurisdiction independent of it.  And although in England church courts can be authorized by the state, it's always under their complete authority of the law of the land.  And that's just fundamental.  That's why our constitution refers to the supreme law of the land. 

And I agree with Professor An-Na'im.  It's very, very dangerous to start breaking that down.  That can go in a lot of different directions.  This was the split between the Catholic Church in England in the 1530s, and there's just nothing as fundamental as the complete force of the law of the land in jurisdiction.  And we're familiar with this in many areas, in questions of race, questions of religion and so forth.

There is some room for contractual arrangements by which individuals put themselves into someone else's judgment, be it religious or commercial, right?  But the secular courts must always have competence to decide the matter ultimately.  And to inquire, which is genuinely voluntary, there's potential for this to go in a very dangerous direction, and not, incidentally, to the advantage of Muslims.

FELDMAN:  Here I disagree with my colleagues.  To me, this question comes under the general category of things you could do differently in different countries, provided that basic human rights are respected.  And I would note that in his pretty tentative speech, if you actually read it, which obviously very few people have done -- in this room I'm sure many have, but in the world, very few people have done -- the archbishop of Canterbury spoke of, first of all -- the background assumption of the talk was that, of course, the laws of the state would ultimately be the ones that authorized the local court -- the arbitral body, and that the state law would be the supreme law of the land.  He was very explicit in this respect, and he also said very explicitly that equality of men and women would have to be respected, that that would trump any particular Islamic principles, and so forth and so on.

Now, I think it's worth noting the difference in approach -- and this goes back to the previous question -- between Pope Benedict and the archbishop of Canterbury because they both lead -- once much larger, but they both lead big Christian denominations -- when it comes to dealing with the question of Islam.  Pope Benedict's verbal practice thus far and his experience have been to be, let's say, on occasion sharply negative about aspects of Islam.  That has brought him a lot of opposition in the Muslim world, but it's been pretty good for him as a sort of political move within Europe.  I think it's fair to say that he has strengthened himself within Europe as a result.  An interesting strategy on his part, especially given that he has said explicitly when he became pope that one of the dangers for the church is becoming irrelevant in Europe.  So it turns out that being sharply negative about Islam is a very effective technique for making yourself a player in the contemporary European environment.

The archbishop of Canterbury --

(Cross talk.)

MEAD:  -- could maybe take a lead --

FELDMAN:  -- yeah, it's interesting.  Yeah.

The archbishop of Canterbury, by contrast, gave this very tentative and scholarly lecture in a pretty academic environment and all hell broke loose.  You know?  I mean, they were calling for his resignation.  And you know, he's been handling some pretty sensitive matters over the last couple of years that -- the Anglican community is not without its difficulties, as we know -- but nobody, as far as I know, has made as open, as loud, as angry a set of calls for his resignation as came over this one speech.  So there's an important lesson there about the political climate in Europe right now.  Say anything that might be construed as in some way -- and the archbishop was very explicit -- he was trying to experimentally think of ways to reach out to the Muslim community in England to make it feel fully a part, and you can think that that's a mistake; you can think it's wrong -- but the spirit of the speech I think is pretty clear, and look at the consequences. 

MEAD:  Okay.  We have a question from one of our very patient webcast viewers that I'd like to interject here.  This is from Rene Lape (sp) at Friends Academy, who asked, "Regarding the relationship between Christian believers in the United States and the state, when it comes to issue such as the prohibition we have always had on men having more than one wife, a rule strictly related, it seems, to our identity as a Christian nation, how do you see the role of the state in defining the nature of marriage -- whether we're speaking of same-sex marriage or monogamous marriages?" 

So, I guess behind that is the notion that religious presuppositions inform the approach of the state to such basic matters of family life -- is this appropriate? 

MR.     :  (Off mike.)  (Laughter.)

AN-NA'IM:  I'll try briefly.  I think it is legitimate that every society's legal order -- codes of family law included -- would reflect its values, its culture, its religious beliefs included in that.  But the point is that certain -- as it is enacted as law by virtue of the will of the state and not by virtue religious authority.  So monogamous marriage is now part of the -- of course we are clear, all of us, that the origin or the underpinnings of this are Christian or particularly at least some interpretation of Christian dogma, but the point is that it is family law by virtue of the will of the state, not by virtue of divine command.

If that is the case, then it can be changed, too.  Not that we are going to have polygamous marriages, but the point is that we are dealing with the secular world.  My view is that in Islamic-majority countries, family law also should be secular law and should be seen as such; that you have a family court.  If the peoples are Muslims, their values will be reflected in that court, but there is no confusion that what the law is is the rule of the state and not the religious commands according to some interpretations of it. 

So, in that sense, we can have polygamous marriage or not have this divorce or that divorce -- all of it as secular law so we can change it.  But once we say, "This is Shari'a," then what can we do about it?

MEAD:  So in some countries one can have multiple wives; in this country we have multiple conceptions of marriage.  But these come from the democratic system of politics.  And underlying this and the prior question really is the matter of women's rights.  Right?  To what -- whether we're talking about polygamy or we're talking about Shari'a is introduced as a set of -- a subpart of the legal system as to family matters, the concern that I think many people rightfully will have is what will happen to the woman as an individual?  Will her rights be fully respected?  And to what extent will her freedom remain under such a system?  And given the role of the equality of women generally one might say in the development of the set of political systems and freedoms that we appreciate -- and it's been a central part, frankly -- women's rights have been a central part of the movement against slavery in this country and in changing our polity I think in ways that are on the whole rather wholesome.  We ought to be very, very careful about inviting what might become instruments of undermining this.  In fact, if there's anything we can do for the rest of the world, it will be to remind the rest of the world that in fact half the population -- many parts -- are excluded from full participation as citizens.  And, to put it mildly, that's a shame.

Yes, in the back?

QUESTIONER:  Yes.  Eric Gregory from Princeton University.  I'm an academic, so you'll forgive me if I worry this is getting to concrete.  I'm going to ask an abstract question, and it was provoked by Professor Hamburger.  I think as a matter of intellectual history, the concept of the secular and even human rights and even the separation of church and state have their soil in theological and religious sources.  And you said that we would be impoverished today without those religious motivations to regard people as equal, et cetera.  Do you want to go further and say they're actually necessary and required?  And I wasn't sure if you meant that as a philosophical argument, as a sociological argument or as a historical argument.  Can we tick away the God talk as long as we have the constitutional practices and democratic republican institutions, or is religion necessary for the defense of human rights?  It's the question about Locke, really. 

HAMBURGER:  Yeah.  It's a good question.  It's an -- I don't know the answer, and I fear that we're living through an interesting experiment.  We won't know probably for a little while -- I hope not to live long enough to find out.  But this is the division between America and Europe, right?  And if we think -- I don't think America has ever really been the same as Europe, but there are some commonalities.  And if one looks at the fate of Europe and the fate of the United States, we each have our problems, but their problems may turn out to be more fundamental precisely because they place such a burden on their mere humanity, and that is more than most societies have survived.

I don't want to suggest that nothing -- you know, it isn't possible.  That would be going too far, right?  We have no evidence for that.  But if one looks across history -- and of course, we only have a few thousand years of detailed evidence -- but if one looks across history, it's difficult to find a society which really gets very far, survives very long without some outside source to define and give stability to what we loosely call -- politely call "values," right, but which actually have to be a little bit more magnetic than that.  So I don't really know, but I'm -- although personally an optimist, professionally I'm a pessimist.  (Laughter.)

MEAD:  Yes?  Wait for the microphone.

QUESTIONER:  Paul de Vries with New York Divinity School.  I'm also on the board of the National Association of Evangelicals.  It puzzles us that we've had such a giant influence on foreign policy.  We look at many of our attempts to affect foreign policy in terms of restricting sex trade, nonviolent conflict resolution, creation care, environmental issues to be part of foreign policy and so forth.  And perhaps the -- (inaudible) -- list several more, perhaps the only success was the AIDS program that Bush pushed in Africa. 

But I guess the question -- we represent directly 20 million evangelicals, and indirectly probably equal number.  What can we do to wake up Washington to what we see as the eternal values?

MEAD:  How can evangelicals get more political influence?  (Laughter.)  Who wants to answer that?

FELDMAN:  I'll say something about at least the first part of the question -- how it's a surprise.  It's sometimes a surprise where one has influence and where one doesn't have influence. 

I think one of the key rules of American foreign policy is that if you pick an issue that nobody really feels strongly on the other side of, or at least where the opposition to you is not well organized and where no really fundamental national security interest is on the other side, that's where you're likely, in the first instance, to have a lot of impact.  Right?  I mean, this is a key point in understanding the role of the pro-Israel lobby -- both the Jewish pro-Israel lobby and the evangelical pro-Israel lobby.  Walter has written recently in an interesting review of Mearsheimer and Walt's book about this phenomenon.  It helps if you're advocating for something and no one is very organized in advocating on the other side of that issue.

In terms of how, though, one has an effect or a group of concerned citizens have a big effect where the national security interest doesn't obviously align with what they're pushing for or where there are other strong interests -- especially corporate interests -- on the other side, there the thing about our republican democracy is that the push really has to happen at the level of individual congresspeople.  I mean, that really is the way it works.  And although, for example, we speak of the tremendous corporate impact on our politics, which is enormous, that is accomplished via the mechanism of targeted support for particular representatives and senators.  That's our version of what we don't consider to be corruption.  I mean, at the margins it can become corrupt, but the American approach for better or for worse is to say money has a huge impact, so let's create a legal channel for money to have its influence so that it doesn't have its influence through non-legal channels. 

That may be a terrible mistake -- and again here, the European example is an interesting contrast where there's at least in many places in Europe a serious attempt to avoid the influence of money in politics, and yet there doesn't seem to be the kind of corruption that one sees in some other places.  That's an interesting contrast, and especially whether we could achieve that is I think the central question and the question of campaign finance reform. 

But that's really my view:  You do it by identifying particular people who are vulnerable and trying to get them elected or not elected. 

MEAD:  Okay.  We have time I think for one more question.

QUESTIONER:  I'm Sayed (sp).  Once again, I just wanted to make a brief observation in terms of open societies.  If both religion and the secular-minded groups are so much strongly in favor of open society, what is it that makes this a difficult thing to be realized?  Are we not looking at the moral aspect of it, or is there something else?  Thank you.

HAMBURGER:  Well, if I may, I feel that too often both secular attitudes and religion are used, right?  In the particularly in the democratic style government, religion is used to mobilize passions -- sometimes for good; sometimes for evil -- and so too, fears of religion.  And so it may be that the civilized conversation we can have here is not easily replicated out there simply because of the nature of politics, getting people mobilized, the way that Noah suggested.  So it may be something we just have to live with, which would be sad, but I don't have a solution. 

FELDMAN:  I think part of it has to do with the way that in politics no one is ever satisfied with just winning a particular debate.  If you can win a debate, you then want to move the goalposts to increase your chances of winning the next debate.  And I think that's where the real potential for conflict actually happens.  It's not just -- I mean, there's of course conflict if two different groups see an issue differently and they argue about it and they're each trying to lobby their congressman to get certain results and one wins and the other loses -- yeah, that's ordinary political fighting.  But rarely do they stop there. 

So we have constitutional politics, for example, where secularists -- legal secularists, as I sometimes call them, argue that religion should not be allowed into public discourse and then try to create constitutional rules that will make it harder -- will raise the barrier for religious folks to participate in that debate. 

And on the other side, you might have situations where people you might call "values evangelicals" -- I don't mean literally just evangelicals but people who evangelize for values -- also want to change the constitutional rules so that for example, state funds can be used to sustain their institutions, which will enable them to do a better job and win more future political debates.  And that's where I think you get the really heavy fighting.  And I don't think there's any solution to that.  I mean, this is an answer to your -- to try to be a direct answer to your question of why don't we all just get along.  (Laughter.)  It's because we're all trying to harden our advantage for the next time out. 

But that's just what constitutional politics always looks like, in my view.  And the test of a successful constitutional polity is that you keep that fighting within some bounds, and usually the bounds are nonviolence.  (Laughs.)  That's a pretty good bound to aim for.

AN-NA'IM:  So, just to close by saying that I can agree with Professor Feldman.  On this one I do agree with him -- that the point is that if you're -- I mean, when, we say open or closed, these are relative terms because it is relatively closed or relatively open, and also a question of how open or how closed -- in what ways?  And those are issues on which people are going to disagree constantly and permanently. 

And disagreement is good.  Conflict is good.  And in fact conflict is creative.  That's what makes us human.  It's part of our humanness is to be in disagreement because we tend to be distinctive as who we are, and that is not going to be who he is or who the next person is.  The only point is not to be violent about it. 

So the challenge is how to create normative institutions and mechanisms whereby we can negotiate our difference without resorting to violence.  Whenever we have this, there is no end to how open and variety of ways in which you can be open. 

MEAD:  Well, we never did get back to Professor Wright, but I think you'll -- Pastor Wright, but I think you'll agree with me this was still a very successful session.  (Laughter.)  We have lunch now, and we reconvene -- (applause) -- thank you.  

AN-NA'IM:  Thank you.

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      THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.

-------------------------

This event is part of the Religion and Foreign Policy Symposia Series, which is made possible by the generous support of the Henry Luce Foundation.

 

PETER STEINFELS:  I am Peter Steinfels, and it's my pleasure and privilege to preside over this third session of a fascinating day -- this session being on religion, innovation and economic progress.

I'd just like to repeat the ritual request that all of you turn off cell phones, BlackBerrys, camcorders, whatever makes spontaneous and unwanted noises.

Secondly, again, I'll remind you that this session is on-the-record and it is being webcast live to a larger audience.  So you might want to keep that in mind.

We have three very distinguished panelists here today.  In the program you have there are much more extended biographies, which you really ought to look at.  They're very interesting.  But I'll give them very brief introductions here.

From right next to me is Timur Kuran, who's a professor of Economics, Political Science and of Islam and Social Sciences at Duke University.  Among his areas of study are Islamic teachings and economic innovation and the economic lag in the Middle East.

Next to him is Lawrence Harrison, who is director of the Cultural Change Institute at the Fletcher School.  He is well known to many of us for very extensive writings on the impact of culture and religious values on economic development.

And at the end is Robert Woodberry, who's a professor at the University of Texas in Austin.  And he has conducted studies of the role of missionaries as a way of analyzing and examining change and diffusion in both economic and political values.

I've asked each one of the panelists just to begin not with the larger theoretical picture or their larger conclusions, necessarily -- though they may want to refer to those -- but with a specific concrete example of the way in their work where they have seen the impact of religion and culture -- religion primarily -- these values on economic change or development.

I've said you can give a positive example or a negative example, but if each one of them would give a single or two anecdotes or cases, and then we'll move from there to the larger theoretical structure that they've been working with in their studies.

So, Professor Kuran.

TIMUR KURAN:  Thank you.

My answer will be both positive and negative and will come in -- the example will come in two parts, which may seem contradictory.

Muslim societies have always welcomed change.  If you look at the last two centuries, you can see this.  Two centuries ago nowhere in the Islamic world were there corporations, did banks exist, did stock markets exist, was there standardized accounting.  These institutions, these practices have been accepted -- widely accepted all across the Islamic world.  And in fact, even Islamists who -- radical Islamists who oppose various elements of modernity accept these.  They don't make an issue out of them.

In earlier times, tax systems repeatedly changed.  Military technologies were -- new military technologies were generated.  Military technologies were borrowed from abroad again and again.

The same token, certain elements of -- certain elements of the infrastructure of the private economy remained stagnant for almost a millennium across the Islamic world.  If someone -- if a merchant who had lived in the 10th century came alive in 1800, he would find the types of contracts in use quite familiar.  Credit markets would be quite familiar.  Economic relations would seem quite similar to those that he had experienced eight centuries earlier.

So the economic infrastructure of the economy had undergone a stagnation.  And it turns out that this -- even though changes had occurred in other areas, in this particular area the stagnation mattered dramatically to economic development.

STEINFELS:  Professor Harrison.

LAWRENCE HARRISON:  First of all, consistent with the ambiance of dissent that was established this morning, I would like to express my strong disagreement with Peter Berger.  Having spent the morning in the unpadded seats of the audience, being up on the stage in the lineup is a great blessing.  (Laughter.)

I'm going to read a sentence to you, which will summarize my case in a general sense.  And then I'm going to give you the most immediate example:  Religious relativism -- the notion that all religions are essentially equal -- is an illusion when it comes to progress.  Some religions or ethical codes -- for example, Protestantism, Judaism and Confucianism -- do better than others, in the extreme case, Haitian Voodoo.

The example that I want to cite is the example of our own Hemisphere.  Carlos Rangel, a very distinguished Venezuelan writer, wrote in a book that he published in the 1970s that in the year 1700, viewed from Europe, the Spanish colonies in the south of the New World looked to be much more successful, much more promising, much more affluent than the British colonies in the north.  Three hundred years later there's been an immense flip-flop.  How can it be explained, he goes on to say?

And he answers it in basically the answer that our analysis illuminates.  What you have is Ibero-Catholic culture, which is progress resistant in the sense not only of economics, but also in the sense of social justice and democracy -- democratic governance -- falling far behind Anglo-Protestant culture in terms of its ability to produce democratic societies.  Social justice certainly in a much greater degree than in Latin America and a greater degree of prosperity.

So that in the year 2008, Latin America, which may well have been ahead of the English colonies in the north in the year 1700, is now perhaps 50 or 75 years behind.  And while a number of other factors are involved, I believe that the contrast between Ibero-Catholic and Anglo-Protestant culture is a principal explanation.

STEINFELS:  Professor Woodberry.

ROBERT WOODBERRY:  There are lots of things that we think have a secular origin or origin due to technology, which actually have religious origins and then we forget.

One of the things you can you look at with that is, for example, the spread of printing and mass literacy.  We think that's a technological development, which inevitably leads to newspapers and mass literacy and other things like that.  It's not.  The early places to have mass printing -- or the early places to have significant printing -- were Germany, Italy, France and Spain.  The early places to have mass literacy were Scandinavia, Geneva, the Puritan areas of England, lowland Scotland, New England, Iceland, et cetera -- not the places with early printing.

The spread of printing internationally demonstrates this clearly as well.  Printing gets used for mass printing and newspapers and things like that in the religious debates with reformations and spreads internationally, primarily with the spread of Protestant missions.  You can show that most societies knew about printing and had examples of printing in their own language for 200 to 300 years before they ever used it.  The Chinese and the Koreans invented printing and they had moveable fonts, metal type, prior to Europe.  They didn't have newspapers until the 19th century until they were introduced by Protestant missionaries.  They didn't have literacy until the 19th century when it was introduced by Protestant missionaries.

Throughout Asia -- throughout Asia, the first people to print significantly were Catholic missionaries, but they mostly printed only 100 to 200 copies of their texts and it didn't overwhelm the copyists and no one ever copied them.  Foreign trade companies also printed treaties, but also in small numbers.  It didn't overwhelm the copyists.  No one copied them.

When protestant missionaries came, they printed so many copies it overwhelmed the ability of people to copy by hand.  So in India, the first three British missionaries -- who actually had to go to Danish colonies, because they were banned from British colonies -- printed over 200,000 copies -- over 200,000 books in 14 languages in 32 years.  Copyists could not keep up.  The first printers -- Indian printers -- were people who had worked with the missionaries.  And I can show that throughout Asia.  And the early people who printed newspapers, indigenous people, had also worked with missionaries -- (inaudible).

STEINFELS:  Thank you.

Now I think we'll give each of the panelists a chance to explain how the specific things they mentioned fit into a larger pattern.

Beginning with you, Professor Kuran, you talked about the contrast between the dynamism of Islamic societies in many respects and the stagnation in the economic area.  Would you like to expand on that a little bit more and are there differences in those Islamic societies that also shed light on the reasons?

KURAN:  I deliberately used the same examples in the last 200 years -- the dramatic change in commercial life in the Middle East and the rest of the Islamic world came about through transplants.  And the transplants occurred, institutions were borrowed from the West at a time of crisis when it appeared that unless major borrowings took place, unless merchants and investors were given ways to pool resources on a large scale to take advantage of modern technologies, that they would all be dominated -- that these societies would be dominated by outsiders.

Now, the big question is:  Why did these institutions, these modern institutions -- say, joint stock companies, the corporations, banks, large-scale organizations, stock markets, standardized accounting -- why did these develop organically in Europe and why didn't they develop organically within the Islamic civilization so they have to be borrowed in a period of crisis from abroad with all of the distortions that accompany it?  This is the question.

Now, here is where Islam and specific aspects of Islam come into play and that helps us explain why there was a long period of stagnation.  Certain institutions that are elements of Islamic law failed to create the incentives for organizational modernization.  And parallel institutions in Europe did create those incentives so you have cascading phases of the modernization.

Let me give you an example of an institution that made a difference:  Islam's inheritance system.  By medieval standards, Islam's inheritance system is highly egalitarian.  It mandates a share for all children, male and female -- and surviving parents, sometimes also members of the extended family.  It was much more egalitarian than the inheritance systems elsewhere in the world in the medieval period.

One problem that this creates -- that this inheritance system created is it made it very difficult to carry successful enterprises from one generation to the next.  And the problem was particularly acute with successful businessmen who left large estates.  Why?  Because they had -- they typically, as a sign of their success, as a result of their success, they had multiple wives and many children.  More surviving children than in the West.  They had huge numbers of heirs.  So the successful business -- all the assets got fragmented very quickly.

Europe was able to solve this problem, because unlike Islam, in Christianity the inheritance -- there is no inheritance system grounded in the Bible.  There's a great deal of flexibility.  In some places, and particularly the places that eventually gave us the industrial revolution, primogenitor -- leaving the assets, all the assets to the oldest son -- was adopted as a solution.  This enabled successful businesses to be passed to the son.

Now, why is this so important to economic development?  Because if you can pass on an enterprise to others, it can grow over -- as an industry grow over time.  That growth generates communication and coordination problems that then require the development of new organizational forms.  It developed --

for example, a need for standardized accounting develops, a need for stock market develops when people instead of forming short-lived enterprises, they form enterprises that are going to last more than a generation.

So this is a dynamic that was not -- did not take off in the Middle East.  And this is not because Islam was designed as an inflexible religion, that there was a certain, you know, rule in Islam that says enterprises have to be small and short-lived.  This was an unanticipated, unintended consequence of an inheritance system that served certain needs quite well.

STEINFELS:  Thank you.

Professor Harrison, you gave the example of the contrast between the Ibero-Catholic culture in Latin America and the protestant culture in North America.  You have a larger study in which these kinds of questions are extended globally.

HARRISON:  You all should have a copy of a table, which is probably very mystifying to you.  It is a table that appears and it is, actually, the basis of chapter four of my most recent book, "The Central Liberal Truth".  And what it does is take 117 countries, and based on predominant religion, assess each of them against 10 indicators of progress.

Those 10 indicators of progress include the U.N. human development index, which is a combination of health, education and prosperity; the literacy, which is self-explanatory -- female literacy both from U.N. data; fertility's also self-explanatory.  The freedom total is from Freedom House's annual surveys of the state of democracy in virtually all the countries of the world.  The democratization date is the date of the start of democratic continuity.  And you'll notice that there are several blanks -- there are some groups or countries that have yet to achieve this.  The per capital GDP is self-explanatory.  The Gini coefficient, of course, is the way to assess the equitability of income distribution.  Trust is from the World Values Survey.  Corruption from Transparency International's data -- their corruption perception's index.

It's obviously a highly generalized table, and there are a lot of other factors that are not presented in it.  Very importantly, the performance in several of these issues -- for literacy and quite possibly trust -- is a function of the degree of economic advance.  The more affluent countries are likely to do better than the less affluent.

We have tried to take into account some of the income effects on this table by breaking out first world countries in the Protestant, Catholic and Confucian groups from the others.  But weighted -- by the way, weighted averages are weighted by population.  And there are a whole host of other factors that could influence this.  So you've got to look for very, very gross discrepancies.

And what -- when you do find them, you're led to certain conclusions.  And the conclusions that we reached -- again, they're elaborated on in chapter four -- are that generally, Protestants have done better than Catholics.  But the Nordic countries are the champions of progress.  We could refer to them as Lutheran-agnostics now.  That in the vanguard of progress a millennium ago, Islam has fallen far behind and this obviously has contributed to the humiliation that I believe is at one of the roots of jihadism.

There are close parallels between Catholics and Orthodox Christians -- particularly discomfort with capitalism.  I might add that the most recent Catholic miracles -- economic miracles -- have taken place in countries -- Spain, Ireland, the Province of Quebec -- that are now referred to often as post-Catholic.  Buddhism and Hinduism are not progress prone.

Finally, there is the evidence in this analysis -- and the analysis that is contained through the book, "The Central Liberal Truth" that there is a universal progress culture that emphasizes education, merit, achievement, frugality and community.  And these are values that are largely shared among Protestants, Jews, Confucians, Sikhs and other groups.

STEINFELS:  Thank you.

Professor Woodberry, your example suggests a very strong connection between focus on the Bible, literacy, printing and so on.  Did you want to expand that further?

And I'm interested, also, in the question of -- since you were talking about missionaries -- of the interaction of the missionaries and the cultures in which they were operating, which could be very complicated, I think.

WOODBERRY:  Right.  I think an important thing to emphasize is that religious traditions are not static.  They change and they change through interaction and competition.  So there's nothing inherent about Islam that's anti-printing or anti-mass literacy.  But there were some restrictions on religious liberty that influenced the spread of missionaries and colonial powers enforced those, because they kept missionaries out of Muslim areas and not out of other areas, for the most part.  And in the Muslim world, they were allowed in areas with Christians -- Lebanon, Egypt, et cetera.  And you have early printing and newspapers and early education there.

But through competition, these things spread to other cultures.  And so if you compare Catholic education in Ireland or North America, it's really quite good.  They didn't want the Catholics to become Protestant, so they invested in education to fight the Protestant education and the Protestant state education.  And that happens everywhere.

If you want to reduce the impact of Protestantism on a lot of these outcomes, you need to control for the prevalence of Protestant missionaries per capita and the length of Protestant missionary activity, and you can remove or very strongly reduce the impact of Protestantism.

People don't have to be converted to be influenced by the idea that everyone should be educated or you should have mass printing or you should have organizations outside state control.  They spread, and people copy them.

So you get these Protestant-initiated social movements or organizational forums, like the YMCA, and then you get the Young Men's Muslim Association, the Young Men's Hebrew Association, and the Young Men's Buddhist Association.  You get movements to fight Sufi in India, and then you get the rise of Brahmo Samaj and Calcutta Darama Sabah (sp) and these other organizations that copy the same tactics and organizational forms to fight them and become the foundation for political parties and civil society prior to decolonization, et cetera.  So people don't have to convert in order to copy.

STEINFELS:  Professor Kuran?

KURAN:  I'd like to add something to what Bob has said.  It's certainly true that missionaries in the 19th century -- even earlier -- and the 20th century certainly have been at the forefront of transferring certain technologies.  They've set up schools, promoted literacy.  They've set up hospitals, certainly.  But I think we should recognize also that from -- transfers from the West to places like India that you mentioned, originate from other groups.

Merchants carried the institutions of the modern economy, modern commercial techniques, modern organizational forms, to India and to the Middle East.  Before the British arrived, Muslims India pooled resources thorough Islamic partnerships.  These were small and ephemeral, for the various reasons that I gave earlier.  Hindus used family firms, which enjoyed continuity.  The firm could -- a business could stay in the family for generations, but they were limited by the resources of the single family.

The British introduced modern organizational forms like the joint stock company and the corporation, and they established secular commercial courts where disputes involving these modern organizational forms could be adjudicated.  And Muslims and Hindus -- Hindus more rapidly than the Muslims -- started using these modern organizational forms, started doing -- using contracts that would be filed in the modern courts.  And this gave a big boost to the Indian economy.

STEINFELS:  (Off mike.)

HARRISON:  With respect to the ripple effect from innovation, there is still evidence, it seems to me, historic evidence, that a rigid culture can resist for an extended period of time these otherwise widely accepted innovations.  The printing press is the thing that comes to mind.

And if I remember correctly, the printing press was not made legal in the Ottoman Empire until the 18th century -- is that right, Timur?

KURAN:  Seventeen twenty-seven, yeah.

HARRISON:  Seventeen twenty-seven.  And of course it had become a commonplace artifact throughout the Western world for a couple of hundred years before that.

WOODBERRY:  Well, it was not made legal for Muslims.  It was used by Jews and Christians earlier than that.

HARRISON:  Okay.  Okay.

STEINFELS:  What --

KURAN:  On a small scale, though.  Very, very small scale.

WOODBERRY:  On a very small scale.  But also, the introduction was only basically one person, and when he died, you know --

STEINFELS:  What do you think is the key to resistance?  I shouldn't say "the" key; there's probably a number of different factors.  But why in the face of borrowing or transfers or so on, are some religious, cultural configurations more ready to accept and adapt, and others see the threat there?  Is this doctrinal, political?  What factors?

WOODBERRY:  I think it's a combination of a lot of things.  You have to look at elite interests.  Elites didn't want mass education and they didn't want mass access to books.  They wanted to reinforce their elite status.  You need a religious reason to get around that.  Once you have a particular class structure, as that develops in Latin American through the colonial policy, et cetera, that's very hard to overcome.  It doesn't -- it's not overcome instantly.

Religious groups undermine that because they're trying to convert -- well, at least some groups are trying to convert everyone.  They're trying to convert poor people and women, et cetera.  They transfer resources for them as part of this exchange, and sort of exposing themselves to witness and also because, for religious reasons, like they need to be able to read the Bible in their own language.

Eventually, that changes the class structure which changes political calculations.  But that does not change instantly.  Once a class structure is embedded, it's very hard to change and there's elite interests that block that change.

There's also -- not all cultural ideas are equally easy to change.  Some threaten the authority of a religious tradition more profoundly than others.  So if you have a law that's provided by Mohamed or provided by God and then you have the example of Mohamed and the caliph and the early righteous caliphs, et cetera, of establishing a state with a Shari'a law, you have to deal with that.  You can't just -- I mean, there's interpretation, but it's something you have to deal with.

With Christians, it was a hard enough process going to separation of church and state, but you didn't have a religious law.  And the example of Jesus and the early apostles was not setting up a state, which made the process easier, et cetera.

So, I mean, there are cultural reasons change is harder or easier in particular contexts because of the threat to a religious institution, but secular reasons are important, too.

STEINFELS:  Professor Kuran?

KURAN:  As Bob said, there were multiple factors or multiple mechanisms at play, and these reinforced each other.  I would add that in the case of the printing press and the Ottoman Empire, the key factor was lack of demand.

The conventional wisdom is that there was clerical resistance, but the people who say there was clerical resistance have great difficulty finding examples of clerical resistance.  And when the printing press was finally introduced, there wasn't much clerical resistance.  The issue was lack of demand.

So one has to ask why was there no demand for the printing press?  This technology was certainly known, as Bob has said.  Jews in the Ottoman Empire were allowed to print books in Hebrew.  Christians were allowed to print books.  Why was there -- was the demand limited, and why did Christians and Jews print so few books?  These are elements of the puzzle.

Now, the two issues -- one is stagnation of education, and there's another institution that if I have time I can get into, but education stagnated in the 18th century.  When the printing press was introduced in the madrassas, the colleges, of the Islamic world, people were learning the sciences from texts that go back many centuries.  So --

And the reason for that is that the madrassas were organized as trusts and the founder of the trusts, called the waqfs in Islamic law, would say exactly what would be taught in the madrassa and how many professors there would be and so on.  These were created as static institutions.  So there wasn't a need for new books to communicate new bits of knowledge.

The second factor is that -- is related to the points I made earlier.  Exchange was still personal, predominantly personal.  The transition -- the region had not yet made the transition, as Europe was already doing so, the transition from personal exchange to impersonal exchange.

When you move to impersonal exchange, you need forms, you need bylaws of companies.  These are not, in an economy where exchange is personal, contracts are oral, you don't have much need for forms and books.  So these two factors reduced the demand.

When, of course, the demand increased, or a demand emerged, the adoption of the printing press was quite rapid and spread of the printing press was quite rapid across the Islamic world.

HARRISON:  I think the question of the adoption goes beyond culture to personality and to the performance of the elites.  The case that comes to mind is the response of China and the response in Japan to the European incursions in the 19th century.

The Chinese leadership, basically the Mandarin mentality, said these guys are barbarians.  We of the Middle Kingdom know all and have all and we can't get anything from them.  The Japanese, particularly after the -- Meiji restoration, after the ouster of the Togogawa Dynasty, said these guys could have murdered us.  They're so far ahead of us in so many respects, we've got to learn from them.

And one of the first things that the young Meiji leaders did was to spend nine months in the United States, nine months in Western Europe studying the advanced institutions and technologies of the West and starting the adaptation process.

STEINFELS:  At this point, although I may reserve the right to slip in a question myself later on, if no one asks it from the audience, but I would like to invite questions from everyone.  The instructions, as before, are to please wait for the microphone, to speak into it, to identify yourself and your affiliation, and to keep your questions brief and clear.

There's one right here.

QUESTIONER:  Thank you.  Mustafa Akyol, from Turkish Daily News and from the first panel.  I'd just like to add also -- I mean, I very much agree with the Ottoman printing problem, and it was the scribes actually who opposed the coming of the printing press, because they clashed.  I mean, it was not in their interest.  Turkish secularists loved to put the blame on religion, but there was more of a kind of internal class problem there.

And just a question.  Protestant religion has been obviously successful in creating economy progress, and this is what Max Weber pointed out a century ago.  Could it be related to the fact that the geography in which the Protestant religion expanded and is dominant still today is also a geography which allows economic progress?  Because if it's -- Middle East is dry and North Europe is not, and you can have sea trade.

And we should also not forget that the world trade routes had changed from the Mediterranean to the oceans, which just dried up the whole Middle East.  And even the Mediterranean itself, which enriched Europe, and is the success of the Protestant religion can be related -- its theology definitely has a share, but is it also related to those kind of secular elements?  And also, would that explain the fall and the stagnation of the Middle East, and is it maybe because of not Islam's own texts, but because of the geography and how it's unfolded?  Does geography play also a role in all this?

STEINFELS:  Thank you very much.  This is a very basic question which I hope all of you address, which is what is the relationship of the kind of religious and cultural factors that you have examined to all those other factors that are often advanced to explain economic change and innovation, whether it be geography, whether it be natural resources?  Or recently, you know, botany and germs and all sorts of things have been --changes in the weather patterns have been advanced as important factors in that.

So if you would relate your -- why don't we start with you at the end -- to those other explanations which are --

WOODBERRY:  Okay.  Well, there's two issues.  One, the issue of demand and printing, I think the idea that every household should have access to God's word, with the Reformation, overcame that problem of the resistance of class.

But geography, I've spent a lot of time thinking and working about that and measuring it.  A lot of the arguments in Europe get bogged about the impact of religion on economic development, get bogged down on well, maybe it's the class structure, maybe it's the power of the state, maybe it's geography, et cetera.

What you can test, though, is with the spread of missions and colonialism and European settlers, et cetera, you have sort of a test case where their spread is not influenced necessarily by the same factors that happened in Europe, and then look at economic development, education, political democracy, et cetera.  And then control for -- I controlled for over 26 geographic factors -- percent swamp, access to a navigable river, distance from the coast, distance from Europe, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.  And you keep on.

It does not remove the impact of Protestant missions.  It does remove the impact of European settlers and who colonized you, et cetera.  The spread of Protestant missions is not just in Northeastern Europe.  They were trying to convert everyone.  They were restricted by regulations and they were restricted by disease, which I've done a lot of work to try and control for the factors that influenced where they went.  And it's still a very powerful effect.

So for example, to just name one case, you can explain about half the variation in post-colonial democracy with the number of Protestant missionaries per capital in 1923, the length of Protestant missionary activity, and estimates of the percent of the population evangelized by 1900.  It removed who colonized you, for how long, percent European -- all these geographic factors -- percent Muslim, all kinds of stuff.

It's a very powerful effect, and it's not just the geography in Northwest Europe.

STEINFELS:  Professor Harrison?

HARRISON:  I think that geography and climate are an indispensable first approximation to understanding why some societies move more rapidly than others.  It's clear that most of the poorer countries are in tropical zones and that most of the affluent countries are in temperate zones.

But then you run into the exceptions.  For example, roughly a third of Australia is in the tropical zones.  A third of Mexico is in the temperate zones.  In Latin America, populations tended to gravitate to the higher elevations where you have temperate climate.  That's true in the Andean countries and several of the Central American countries as well.

When you really start to disaggregate, you run into some real problems with taking the climate and geographical arguments to their logical extreme.  For example, how can one explain the difference between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, which share the island of Hispaniola?  How can one explain the striking difference between Nicaragua and Costa Rica?  How can one explain the striking differences between Australia and Argentina?

So at that point, the geographic and climate arguments break down and you've got to look with more finesse at cultural explanations, it seems to me.

KURAN:  I agree with the points that Bob and Larry made, so I'm going to, rather than repeating the points, I'm going to answer the question in relation to the Islamic world -- could it be climate or geography that explains why the Islamic world slipped into a state of economic underdevelopment?

The climatic conditions are not uniform across the Islamic world.  The proximity to the sea or proximity to the ocean is not uniform.  So if climate or proximity to the sea or elevation were key factors, we would expect the places that are more favorably situated in temperate climates, close to the sea, low elevation, et cetera, we would expect those places to have escaped this state of underdevelopment.  So I think that this is a second-order factor.  Institutions are more important.

People could also migrate from one place to another and, I would argue, that within the Middle East, even in places that have climates that are not ideal, there were periods of great progress.  Iraq is a good example.

Baghdad had a flourishing economy.  It had -- it was a place that attracted scholars, it was a place where innovations were made, technological innovations.  So it's -- despite the climate.

STEINFELS:  There's a question --

QUESTIONER:  To me?

STEINFELS:  Yeah.

QUESTIONER:  Walter Mead, Council on Foreign Relations.

I wonder if any of you would care to be predictive, looking at particularly some of the religious changes that have taken place in the last century, the rise of Christianity in sub-Saharan Africa, rise of evangelical Protestant Christianity in much of Latin America.  Should we be fastening our seat belts and getting ready for major booms in these areas, or do you think that some of the associations that you see in the past may not be as prevalent or as important in the future?

Also, do we have to continue to be so pessimistic about India which, according to some of this analysis, looks like it shouldn't be progressing, but seems to be?  How does the past project forward, in your minds?

STEINFELS:  Professor Harrison, do you want to take a shot at that, or --

(Cross talk.)

HARRISON:  Okay.  No, I'll take a shot at it.

With respect to India, we have to be mindful that what lies behind the Indian miracle is a fragment of India's population.  A geographic fragment, a cultural fragment, and a fragment that has been powerfully influenced by British values.  And, I might add, a native-speaking English fragment.  English is one of the valuable resources, national resources of some several countries that have developed very rapidly -- Ireland leaps to mind.

And so I believe that enough of the democratic tradition has taken root in India, and that I think the British can take some considerable claim to responsibility for.  Enough of the education systems that were installed by the British, coupled with some very deep-rooted Indian traditions of entrepreneurship that go back way before the Raj, to leave me quite hopeful, really, about India's prospects.

STEINFELS:  Anyone else want to offer a --

Professor Kuran?

KURAN:  It's been said that prediction is pretty risky, especially when it's about the future, and particularly risky when the person making the prediction has been immersed in economic and political history.

But on the basis of the work that I've done, I'm optimistic in the long run.  With respect to the Islamic world, I'm optimistic in the long run.  I think in the short run, there could be more trouble, more turbulence, and we shouldn't expect major economic breakthroughs any time soon.

But why am I optimistic for the longer run?  Because the -- all of the institutional obstacles to development of the private economy and development of a strong civil society, these have already been put in place.  These exist now in all of the major countries.  You have corporations, you have -- it's possible to form NGOs that have flexibilities that they would have lacked two centuries or earlier.

Civil societies are still weak.  The private economies of the major countries are still weak, but they are developing.  What is holding the region back now, or the Islamic world as a whole back, is political systems that generate instability and that discourage innovation -- very repressive regimes.  But sooner or later, change is going to come from within.  When you have growing civil societies, increasing numbers of organizations that don't have direct ties to the state, increasing numbers of corporations that are privately controlled, sooner or later, they are going to put in place democratic freedoms.

WOODBERRY:  I think religious change takes time.  One thing, class structures are pretty much in place.  Changing them takes a lot of time.  You don't suddenly get a middle class; you don't suddenly change the calculations that elites make.  Elites try and keep in power and reinforce their distinction; that's hard to overcome.

Cultures also don't change instantly, because they're not just what you think.  It's what you think other people think.  It's expectations; it's how the system works.  Changing that doesn't happen instantly with the introduction of a new religious tradition.  It's something that takes time.

QUESTIONER:  So that would be relevant to sub-Saharan Africa?

WOODBERRY:  Sub-Saharan Africa.  It's not going to instantly become low-corruption, high-democratic, whatever, because you have a lot of spread of Protestantism and Catholicism as well as Islam.

Religious competition is important.  Religious liberty is important in terms of transferring some of these things and -- one -- in terms of transferring resources to the poor -- when the people who are more likely to defect or convert are the people who are not being serviced by any particular system.  So gays and lesbians in the United States or African Americans in the United States, et cetera, are more likely to convert to other religious traditions.

In other countries, poor people, whatever, the non-elite, and missionaries go and work with them.  When they do that, then whatever the dominant religion is starts to have to transfer resources towards them.  Eventually, that changes the class structure.  Eventually, that changes the calculations that people make.  But that takes a long time.  It's not an instant thing.

Another comment I want to make is I think the British get far too much credit for being a great colonizer.  They were as mean and selfish and violent as anyone else.  They lived in a different situation.  They were forced to allow religious liberty -- separation of church and state in the colonies after 1813, by political pressure.

Then -- and in that same process they were forced to establish the Grant-in-Aid System, the education system which then they get so much credit for doing.  They didn't do it voluntarily; they were forced to do it by religiously motivated activists who were doing this for religious reasons.  And then moderating -- (inaudible) -- this is also through that mechanism -- I can go into detail the rise of evolutionism, et cetera -- it's directly connected to non-state missionaries working directly with slaves and sending back information to England, et cetera.

So you can go on a -- the British were a selfish and vial as anyone else.  And before the rise of non-state missions, you could have plenty of evidence for it.

STEINFELS:  Other questions -- way in the back there.  And then up here.

QUESTIONER:  Jim Dingman, INM World Report.

How does the panel understand the whole question of synchrotism in the modern world, such as Solufism.

And in your discussion, while you talk about economic change, there's been a couple of references to the question of outright war and the effect of wars of imperial conquest and colonialism for several centuries because we've seen West Africa, East Africa, Southeast Asia, et cetera, manifestations of a political synchrotism rising to oppose these movements.  And I wonder how you see that factoring into the picture you talk about.

STEINFELS:  And war is certainly a factor both for and against in the economic change and development.

Anyone have any observations about -- yeah.

KURAN:  I might say a course that where religious movements advocate wars, advocate violence, which is just a source in instability and you're not going to have healthy economic growth in a place like Afghanistan or Iraq until law and order is established so these religious movements can do great harm.

At the same time I'd like to add that most of the Islamists are not pursuing a violent agenda.  They do want to -- they do have Islamization agendas, but often they're quite compatible with modern economic growth.  The Islamists in many countries have embraced modern economic institutions.  They quietly in fact incorporated them into their own traditions with forgetting conveniently that the foreign origins -- Islamic banking is a good example -- there was no bank in the Islamic tradition -- there was no such thing as an Islamic bank before the mid-20th century.

They've incorporated these things and they've shown that they can be quite good businessmen.  They can invest quite wisely.  But the radical fringes of the Islamists movement, or for that matter, other religious movements are a source of instability.

STEINFELS:  Question here.

QUESTIONER:  Sayid Yarazn (sp), Muslim Public Affairs Council.

I think one of the problems in innovation is that there seems to be natural resistance amongst humans to change -- I mean, period -- any kind of change.  We just resist change.

And also all the panelists seem to have focused, if you will, in the post reformation, you know, which is just the last 500 years of, what did this change?  There was this whole time, if you will -- it reminds me that I think it took the Catholic Church to adopt Arabic numerals after they had been -- it had been 300 years before they could realize that this is a far more efficient method than the Roman numerals.

So it seems to me that whether it -- I mean, if we were to study this over thousands of years, the process, the only -- I mean, what will would then the factors of change come from?  I mean it would seem to me it would come from what the process of globalization, so to speak, has gone on forever, gone on for thousands of years, it is the interactions of various cultures and peoples that causes change and you cannot really -- you can -- in a microcosm, you could say Protestantism and all that but that is like being conditioned by what you're trying to study in the first place rather than answering the bigger question.

MR. STEINFELS:  We'll take that as a question for comment or a -- if there is any about --

MR. WOODBERRY:  Yeah.  I think competition -- any religious tradition can contribute things.  So the zero comes from the Hindus and then it's used by the Muslims, the Arabs.  And it's -- really religious idea of nothing which became a very valuable concept which then through interaction and competition gets spread, first to the Muslims and then to Europe.

So any group can develop new ideas through interaction and competition.  The things that work get adapted and used and adopted as people's own and often forgotten the origin of them and they just use them.  So it doesn't have to be from Protestantism, it just -- the example -- that's what I've studied and so in the examples I'm using are from Protestantism, but could be from Islam; it could be from Hinduism; it could be from any tradition.

HARRISON:  But we have talked about how different traditions may have different factors that contribute in different ways.  For example, your original illustration about printing and literacy seem to me to be very tightly connected to a certain element of Protestant Christianity.  We were discussing earlier today the question of, why didn't the concern for the Koran play that same role?  And I think at lunchtime you pointed out that the Koran was used differently; it was a different kind of document than the text and the Bible; it was shorter; it was recited; it was memorized, et cetera, which is pretty hard to do with the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament.

WOODBERRY:  Yeah.  Well, I think it's --

HARRISON:  And so there may not have been that concern for literacy.

Now, I'm only giving that as one example and I'd be interested in picking out other examples from other religious traditions of elements that were more positive or negative toward our economic change.

STEINFELS:  I think we've got to look at the question of leadership.  In his book, "Guns, Germs, and Steel", Jared Diamond leaves open a very big parenthesis in his final chapter for leadership that is not necessarily related to environmental or historic antecedents.  The examples that come to mind include Ataturk in Turkey, the Meiji leadership in Japan, and in our own hemisphere, the young leaders of Quebec at the time of the Silent Revolution in the 1960s who had a different vision of what their society should be, to be sure they all operated in environments in which stimuli were applied to them.  In the case of Turkey, the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the almost disappearance of Turkey as an entity and the military leadership converting to a position of almost unprecedented political power.

In the case of Japan, you have young leaders who almost astonishingly sensed that their country was at a great disadvantage because it had not kept abreast of developments in the other parts of the world and seeking out every possible development they could find in the other parts in the world.

In the case of --

KURAN:  Oh, I'm sorry.

STEINFELS:  In the case of Quebec, you have the indignation of young leaders who saw their province falling far behind the provinces and wanting to show that they were as good as anybody else.

But in each case it was a leader with a vision that made a big difference.

KURAN:  You're absolutely right that Islamists -- that periods of great success and those periods had to be ones when Islam was open to borrowing.  Islamic civilization was a magnificent synthesis because it borrowed from many earlier traditions -- laws were borrowed from the Romans and the Persians and others, and they were then synthesized creatively; they were added to; technologies were borrowed.  And in other periods also -- I've given other examples of borrowings that have taken place more or less seamlessly without creating a major religious crisis.

I've also said that Islam has -- at least those of them who are pursuing their agendas peacefully have been quite open to technological change and institutional change.  I would like to add a footnote to that comment because it's appropriate here -- there are areas in which Islamists are resisting change.  And they all have to do with the overarching campaign of Islamism which is defined and put in practice on Islamic way of life, a distinctly Islamic way of life.

So a number of issues have been selected as pet issues, key issues that in the minds of Islamists, define the proper Muslim behavior.  You either accept those, you know, proper -- you're a good Muslim or you're not a good Muslim or you're not a Muslim at all.

In the economic sphere, interest is one of these.  Interest has always been given and taken in the Islamic world, more or less openly in some places as in Medieval Europe there various strategists that were used to get around it; the Islamic banks today give and take interest as a matter of course.

But this is one of those issues, being committed to the ratification of interests is one of those issues.  Gender issues, family issues -- these also are elements where Islamists are resisting change.  And in those areas I think they are keeping the Islamic world backwards.

STEINFELS:  This is the time I want to slip in a question because it follows from that, which is that in looking at possible sources of resistance to new developments, whether from within or borrowed from without, one that seems fairly on the surface is a fear of secularization, namely the eroding of any distinctive way of life.  And we have tended to see secularization as not necessarily inimical to carrying on a religious tradition.  Yet at the same time in Western Europe certainly, it meant the removal of the economy to a large extent from direct oversight or supervision by religious authorities.

And I'm also struck by Professor Harrison's mentions of the Nordic countries as at the high end of his list of successes in terms of the things we're talking about.

Is there in fact more grounds for resistance based on this fear of secularization than perhaps we have acknowledged?

Silence falls.

HARRISON:  Well, I tend to think with Peter Berger that modernization leads to pluralization.  There creates a space for secular people to voice their points of view and mobilize for their types of things as well as various types of religious groups.  That can be a fear unless we make Northwestern Europe sort of the example of what inevitably modernism leads to, then we do have secularization as a thing and that really will scare religious people.

I think an argument against, say the most radical forms of Islamism, have to be made on religious grounds.  And one of them could be, for example, seeing what's the effect of establishing Islamic state on Muslim religiousocity and belief.  If you can show that it undermines religiousocity and belief, there will be religious grounds to fight it.  But you can't just make an argument on secular grounds because you have religiously motivated people.

And people sometimes either if that evidence can be given or else people sometimes need to experience something in order for it to be undermined.  So as long as the U.S. is fighting this thing and trying to undermine all the Islamists groups and whatever, then it can be anti-Americanism and it can be glorified and we'd have perfection if the Americans just stopped us from, you know, didn't -- because it's the U.S. fault for stopping all this stuff.  Maybe people have to experience -- undermines the desire for an Islamic state in Iran and Afghanistan at least among the non-Pashtun people, et cetera.

STEINFELS:  Professor Kuran?

KURAN:  I can say something briefly.  I think among certain groups there is a fear of secularization, but it relates to areas outside of economics.  Turkey's of course the extreme case of trying to remove religion from public life in the guides of secularization.  And there are people who feel that religion should play a role in political life and in education among other areas, and in social life as well.

But they are not -- bringing religion into economic life has not been outside the few symbolic areas, has not been a big issue.  And I think people are, where experiments have occurred in Pakistan and Iran to reform the economy along Islamic lines, they've been failures and they're widely recognized as failures.  I don't think there's a fear of economic secularization that has much substance.

STEINFELS:  A question back over there?

QUESTIONER:  Paul Rauschenbush from Princeton University.

I'm curious about economic progress and whether -- how that's been identified with Protestantism and perhaps is identified with the United States, and if some fear of gross materialism might be at the basis of some of the resistance to what's viewed as, you know, American progress.

STEINFELS:  Yes?

HARRISON:  American progress is perhaps an extreme expression of democratic capitalism.  And it's perhaps underscored by the extreme inequality of income distribution in the United States which is the most inequitable of the advanced democracies.

But when you consider my champions of progress from Nordic countries are basically democratic capitalist countries and guided by highly Protestant ethic considerations even though the Protestant religion may not be as viable in the full sense of it as it was 30, 40, 50, 100 years ago.

It seems to me that really what you're talking about is a reaction to the American style of life and this is something which varies.  Our style there is to some extent with depending on who's --whether you have a Democratic or Republican administration.  I'm very troubled by the tendency of people outside the United States to generalize on the United States over history on the basis of the performance of the United States in the last eight years.  The reality is that there is going to be another administration; I will lay my cards on the table and say I hope it is a Democratic administration.  And the United States is probably -- even if it is not a Democratic administration -- is probably going to look a lot different to the rest of the world after 2008.

So it troubles me when American "greed" -- in quotation marks -- is -- becomes the focus of attention around the world as representative of the consequences of democratic capitalism when you have, as I said before, in the Nordic countries, the full interplay of democracy and capitalism.

STEINFELS:  Professor Kuran.

KURAN:  People everywhere including the very poorest countries -- they want to achieve prosperity; they want to enjoy many of the comforts that people in the advanced countries, the richest countries enjoy, including the United States.  What generates, I think, a reaction and an intensifying reaction is the crass materialism that people everywhere can now see on a daily basis on television and over the Internet -- Hollywood's version of the American lifestyle which is something that people resent partly because they can't attain it -- most people in the United States can't attain the type of lifestyle that is depicted in the Hollywood series -- and also because the lifestyles that are depicted in television series and over the Internet can be very destabilizing to communities.  So there is a reason for resenting it and objecting to it and expecting, hoping that the United States would rein it in.

STEINFELS:  There's a question here.

QUESTIONER:  Thank you.  Mona Aboelnaga with Proctor Investment Managers.

I'm curious about learning more about the core values or traditions that different religions may have that may impact economic development.

So, for example, Professor Kuran, you mentioned specifically organizational structures and the lack of those structures in the past in much of the Islamic world and how through borrowing and other mechanisms they are now there and, thus, you are more optimistic for the future.

And I guess -- I'm curious as to why there isn't a more fundamental issue at hand.  So as we talk about different traditions amongst religions, the Koran, for example, the tradition of memorization, of which has become something you can see in educational systems in terms of learning versus the way perhaps in the educational systems in the U.S. we think in essay form or more freely.

Why aren't you questioning more the basic issues of how a culture is encouraged to think and educate its citizens and that impact on economic development?

KURAN:  But this is -- you do make a good point, attitudes do matter but they also change.  And attitudes are -- attitudes co-evolve with institutions.  And institutions change, so do those attitudes.

Now today -- and this is something that I think Larry would be able to speak to much better than I can -- but if you ask, if you survey people in the Middle East and also, say in Western Europe or the United States, you're likely to find more people who will consider knowledge -- in the Middle East -- knowledge to be something that you acquire from the previous generation and then pass on to the next generation unchanged as opposed to something that you receive from the previous generation, add to, refine, perhaps change and then pass on to the next generation in a different form or in a more advanced form.

What this was -- these attitudes didn't develop differently independent of the educational institutions.  In the Middle East, I mentioned this briefly before, the schools were organized; schools were run by trust and they were set up with a particular mission, their educational mission, what they were to teach generally was what was specified.  They were committed to a static concept of knowledge.

In the West, schools were established, generally, certainly schools acquired learning were established as corporations which were -- could change.  They were meant to be self-renewing, self-governing organizations.  So the knowledge that they taught changed -- they expected it to change.

This is something these institutions have changed now.  Schools have, in many parts of the Islamic world, now have much more flexibility; they do change their curriculum much more easily than in the past.  The attitudes however don't -- the attitudes are the old attitudes; they are changing gradually and it will take time to change.  The point that Bob made, that they don't get changed immediately, but I'm optimistic that new institutions, those attitudes will gradually erode.

STEINFELS:  Professor Harrison and Professor Woodberry, I think we might wind up with any comments you have about this sort of question of fundamental things that we either attended to or didn't attend to sufficiently in our discussion.

HARRISON:  Well, taking off on your question -- well, the final sections of Chapter Four of the book that I mentioned that is a source of the table that I distributed, talks about the importance of cultural change through religious reform.  And this is a question of fundamental values that are enumerated in an earlier chapter -- such questions as, does the religion nurture rationality achievement?  Does it promote materials pursuits?  Does it focus on this world rather than the next world?  Is it pragmatic?  In contrast, does it -- to those religions that may nurture irrationality -- inhibit material pursuits and may focus on the other in a more Utopian way?  The view of a religion with respect to destiny, the extent to which a person can influence their own destiny is a very important factor.  Time orientation -- does the religion focus the eyes of its faithful unto the future or does it keep them in the present or focused on the past?

These are the kinds of issues that are very central to the role that religion plays in culture.  But there's one underlying factor in this discussion that we've, I think, ignored, and that is that religion is not the only source of values and attitudes.  And it does -- the culture changes.  There is so much compelling evidence of that which, of course, is why the institute that I direct is called The Cultural Change Institute.  And we believe that focusing on cultural change offers some really hopeful opportunities for a better world.

STEINFELS:  Professor Woodberry, if you'd spend a minute or so on --

WOODBERRY:  I would say the focus on memorization, et cetera, is not just an Islamic thing, that's a traditional thing that was in Confucion society and Buddhist society and Hindu society and probably Christian society, and Jewish society, et cetera.  It hasn't inhibited change over time in particular context.  Jews have been very successful economically -- a long tradition of memorization and recitation and looking backwards.  Same thing with rationality -- a lot of Islamic arguments, Jewish arguments, Christian arguments -- very, very rational but maybe not focused on, you know, scientific experimentation.

I don't think these are things are inherently inimical to progress.  They do change.  I think important factors are more contextual.  It's a combination of beliefs and the context and the amount of competition between traditions and class structure and things like that.  It's a more complex thing than just a particular belief shaping the outcome of a society.

STEINFELS:  I'm sure you all want to join me in thanking this panel for a superb discussion.  (Applause.)

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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.

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This event is part of the Religion and Foreign Policy Symposia Series, which is made possible by the generous support of the Henry Luce Foundation.

 

TIMOTHY SAMUEL SHAW:  Good morning.  We like to be prompt at the Council on Foreign Relations, as many of you already probably know.  So it's three minutes after 9:00, so we should get started.

Good morning.  I am Timothy Samuel Shaw, adjunct senior fellow for Religion and Foreign Policy here at the Council on Foreign Relations.  And on behalf of my colleague and friend, Walter Russell Mead, with whom I work on religion and foreign policy, I'd like to welcome you to this symposium this morning on religion and the open society.

Before I forget, I want to emphasize that this symposium is on the record.  I would also like to ask you to please turn off your cell phones or BlackBerrys or "CrackBerrys," as they're sometimes called, and anything else that might make any noises.  So please turn those off now.

I also want to let you know that this symposium is going to be webcast, and we have a few dozen people watching this through the Web.

This symposium is part of a series of symposia designed to help American foreign policymakers and thinkers to understand religion for what we believe it is; namely, not a marginal and a declining force in world politics but a central and growing force in world politics.

We have already had symposia on religious conflict in Nigeria, on evangelicals and U.S. foreign policy, and we will soon have a symposium on religion and the future of China, which will take place here at the Council on June 11th.  So perhaps you can arrange to join us for that.

To make this series of symposia possible, we are indebted to the vision and generosity of the Henry Luce Foundation, and we're honored and delighted that the president of the Luce Foundation, Michael Gilligan, will be with us this morning.  And we're very honored that several members of the board of the Luce Foundation are with us as well.

The topic again this morning is religion and the open society.  The importance of this topic is perhaps obvious.  Religion is, as we've believed, a growing force.  We believe that the forms of religion expanding in the world are intense, devout, often very conservative.  And it's important, if not crucial, to ask whether this global growth of religious intensity can not only be reconciled with freedom and openness, but harnessed to advance the values of freedom and openness, the values at the heart of democratic societies, particularly because the fastest-growing forms of the world's two largest religions, Christianity and Islam, with 2 billion and 1 billion adherents respectively, that the forms of these religions that are growing the fastest are probably the most theologically and morally conservative forms of those religions.

And that fact raises this urgent question about whether intense and muscular forms of religion can be reconciled with the elements of free and open societies, not just democratic procedures but acceptance of pluralism, acceptance of freedom of inquiry, acceptance of conceptual innovation of various kinds.

This question has been asked and posed in various sharp forms for a very long time.  I noted that the great philosopher Bertrand Russell, at the end of an article in The New York Times Magazine in December 1951, put together what he called a liberal decalogue.  This, he said, was not in replacement of the old decalogue but as a supplement to it.

Bertrand Russell's first commandment in his liberal decalogue was "Do not feel absolutely certain of anything."  In other words, the way to establish the values of freedom and openness is to ensure that we don't have too much certitude or dogmatic conviction.

If that's true, that dogmatic conviction and openness are directly opposed, that would pose the question we have today in a very sharp form indeed.  Is it possible that dogmatic belief, conviction, are reconcilable with openness and freedom?  Bertrand Russell thought that was not the case.

We're exploring today whether there are ways in which the resources, the theological resources of Christianity and Islam, are not only reconcilable with but also can be harnessed to advance the values of freedom and openness.

And we also want to address the question, given that no religious tradition or community is absolutely static or fixed in time, how are Christianity and Islam evolving in ways that bear on the task of building societies that are free, open, democratic, or open to innovation?  How are the most rapidly changing and evolving forms of these religions influencing the development of free societies?

Again, I want to very much acknowledge our debt to Walter Russell Mead, my colleague.  And I should say that any praise or blame that you'd like to assign for this symposium and its underlying premises should go to Walter, because he discusses many of these ideas in his fascinating recent book, "God and Gold," and argues that, contrary to the beliefs of people like Karl Popper and Bertrand Russell, dogmatic conviction is not necessarily opposed to the development of free societies and that religions can take dynamic forms that actually advance freedom and openness.  And these are ideas that, since Walter will be presiding over the second session, that we'll be exploring further.

With that, I'd like to turn things over to George Rupp, who will be presiding over the first session.  Thank you again.

GEORGE RUPP:  Thank you very much, Tim.

Tim has done all of my homework in terms of context-setting and asking you to turn off your cell phones and the like.  So I will proceed immediately to introducing our panelists.  But let me reinforce the welcome he's expressed to all of you and also to those of you who are looking at this program over the Worldwide Web, since this is webcast both across the country and around the world.  We're delighted that all of you have joined us.  And we're especially pleased that our three panelists have joined us.  The introductory materials about them are in the programs that you received, so I will only give very brief highlights.

All the way to your right is Mustafa Akyol.  Mustafa is a Turkish journalist who's written extensively on issues of religion and secularism.  He writes regular columns in the Turkish press and also is widely published in American periodicals, including The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and other more niche publications.

Dalia Mogahed is a senior analyst and executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies.  With John Esposito, she is the co-author of the book "Who Speaks for Islam?  What a Billion Muslims Really Think."  And as Tim's setting up of this set of issues or questions we're looking at makes clear, that's a directly germane question for all of us as we look forward.  Dalia also has appeared regularly in opinion columns and news columns in this country and abroad.

Peter Berger, directly to my left, is professor emeritus of Religion, Sociology and Theology and director of the Institute on Culture, Religion and World Affairs at Boston University.  He's previously taught at the New School for Social Research at Rutgers and at Boston College.  He has numerous publications in theoretical sociology, sociology of religion.  Many of them are listed in your program.

To give you a sense of the span of what he's written over four decades, let me mention three books that are not listed among those in your program.  With Thomas Luckmann, those of us at a certain age learned about sociology of knowledge by reading "The Social Construction of Reality," published in 1966.  "The Heretical Imperative," published in 1979, I think, had a significant influence on Protestant theological institutions; and then "Questions of Faith:  A Skeptical Affirmation of Christianity," published in 2004.   Peter has been widely published and continues to be a leading thinker on this set of issues.

Now, all three of you, in various ways, have argued that religious conviction is compatible with pluralism and freedom of inquiry.  That's a position that puts you at odds not only with some religious voices, but also with what I'll label prescriptive secularists.  You may all have your own ways of labeling those people.

What we'd like to hear in the course of the morning is further reflections from you on both the range of religious positions in various traditions and then also the ways in which those traditions interact with secular voices that are often critical, not only of fundamentalists or radical religious positions, but of all religious positions.

Dalia, let me start with you.  Who does speak for Islam?  Give us a sense of the range of voices on the relationship between Islamic views and democratic values.

DALIA MOGAHED:  Thank you.

Well, we polled in 140 countries at Gallup.  Now, I focus on countries with majority Muslim populations or places with significant Muslim percentages, around 40.  And what we found is a huge amount of diversity, of course, ranging from Egypt, where the majority say that they want Shari'a as the only source of legislation, all the way to Turkey, where the majority say that it should not be a source of legislation at all.

So when the question is asked, "Who speaks for Islam?" the answer is a billion Muslims do, and it's very different depending on who you ask.  And that diversity is what we have to make a lot of room for.  Unfortunately, what has happened, especially since 9/11, is a vocal fringe.  Whether it be the religious voice or an anti-religious voice has really monopolized the conversation.

RUPP:  It might be helpful, since one of the great virtues of your polling is to take multiple countries -- and you just referred to a couple of instances -- but maybe go through the roster of major Muslim majority countries and give us a little bit of a flavor of how they differ.

MOGAHED:  Sure.  Well, if we start in Turkey -- and it's one of the only countries where a majority, in fact, say that Shari'a should not be a source of legislation, so we found that in 2005, 57 percent of the Turkish population said that there should be no role for Shari'a in legislation.

Now, the three choices were it should be the only source, or a source but not the only source, or not a source at all.  And Turkey was the outlier in that a majority said it should not be a source.

Now, some people who have been observing Turkey often say that Ataturk would roll in his grave if he found out that only 57 percent said that Shari'a should not be a source of legislation.  But that's kind of one side of the spectrum.

Now, in the middle you find Indonesia and Iran, interestingly.  So Indonesia actually -- Iran looks very much like Indonesia, where the majority want Shari'a as a source but not the only source of legislation.  But only a small minority want Shari'a to play no role at all.

And then on the other side is Egypt.  Egypt was the country with the largest percentage, a majority of both men and women, who said that Shari'a should be the only source of legislation.  Interestingly, in all of those examples, the majority do not want religious leaders to directly craft legislation.  They want them either as advisers or to play no role at all.

RUPP:  We'll come back to that, and I'm sure there'll be questions about particulars in one country or another.

But let's turn to you, Mustafa.  Tell us about the relationship between Islam and secularism.  Dalia has touched on that, but it's an area you know a great deal about; and the question about Islam's relation to secularism and then how both of them relate to democratic values.

MUSTAFA AKYOL:  I think we should start by asking which secularism.  What kind of secularism are we speaking about?  And in Turkey, now the debate is not on whether we should be a secular state but what kind of secularism we should accept.  And thanks to Dalia about mentioning the 57 percent which do not want Shari'a.

There are also studies within Turkey, and it shows that even the, like, 43 percent which might be sympathetic to the idea of Shari'a, when they're asked -- I mean, the whole society is asked, "Do you want the excesses of Shari'a, the very harsh measures of Shari'a, like stoning?" the answer is 2 percent.  Only 2 percent have said yes.

So for many conservative Muslims, Shari'a is like justice.  Do you want it?  I mean, it's just government, just rulers.  Yes, we want that.  But when you really go down and ask details, it might turn out to be different.

And one interesting study in Turkey was that during the so-called Islamic or mildly Islamic government we have since 2002, which is conservative as it defines itself -- (inaudible) -- justice and the role of one-party government, the demand for an Islamic state declined.

Polls show that in 1999, 15 percent said, "We want an Islamic state."  Now it has decreased to 7 percent, because for that 15 percent, Islamic state was a state which would save them from the secular repressive attitudes of the -- secure repressive methods.  For them, an Islamic state would be something which would allow them to go to the campus with their head scarf.  But now, since they understand that this is possible in a secular but not necessarily secularist regime, they say, "Oh, yeah, we want that kind of secularism."

Actually, in Turkey now, the big debate is whether we should follow the French way or the American way in these matters.  And the conservatives are saying, "We should follow the American way."  And interestingly, right now the government is being accused by the judiciary, the secular judiciary, for collaborating with the United States to establish mild Islam in Turkey.  This is one of the accusations brought to the government by the judiciary right now.

RUPP:  Can you say a little bit more about mild Islam?

Mustafa is a Council regular.  He was here last week as well in a very, very interesting discussion of interpretations of Hadith.  And that seems to me -- I'm not asking you to repeat what you said there, since some of the same people are in the room, but to use maybe that as a window on what this mild Islam might look like, as distinguished from the more polar extremes.

AKYOL:  Of course, in the -- I mean, I would make a mistake if I say, "This is mild Islam, and every Muslim should be accepting that."  I mean, I think societies find their own ways.  And I believe each Muslim society, each Muslim nation, finds its own way towards a more democratic or liberal perception of Islam.

But if you look at the Turkish case, you see there are two different dynamics here.  One is a theory about a democratic mild or moderate, whatever you call it, Islam, which is articulated by intellectuals and theologians.  They say, "Well, the Shari'a is basically a -- (inaudible) -- construction.  Much of the Shari'a is historical.  It's not eternally valid.  We can change things.  We can question the Hadith."

So the idea is it's been there since the 19th century.  Islamic scholars or intellectuals make these ideas.  But will the society be willing to buy that idea?  That's a different question.  And I think that depends on the modernization of the society.  And what we have seen in Turkey in the past decade is that society has modernized, and the Islamic part of the society included, because in the past in Turkey there was the secular ruling class and there were the religious proletariat, if you will.  They were pushed out of the public square.

But now we've seen the rise of an Islamic bourgeoisie, and Islamic middle class, Islamic intellectuals, which say, "Yes, we are happy to be modern.  We don't want to live like the Saudis live.  And how can we do this?"  And now, then, the idea of -- the modern ideas articulated by the intellectuals find audience in the society.

And I think there are two issues to keep in mind.  I mean, modernizing the society itself -- and that's through democracies, that's through free markets, it's through economy, which brings economic rationalization, which makes people think about how the world works.  And then they look at their text and they think -- if they care about stock market, they just can't look at their text in a way that they've looked in the Middle East.  They have to re-understand it.  And you have theories out there which articulate how you can re-understand it.

And in Turkey we see, I think, these two trends coming together.  And the recent project, the Hadith revision in Turkey -- the Turkish Religious Directorate Affairs, which is the official body about religion, has decided to revise the Hadith collection, which is much of the Shari'a, because Hadith are sayings from Muhammad.  And to put them into context, leave some of them aside and create a whole new collection.

And one of their concerns was the status of women in Islam.  There are some not very nice Hadiths about the status of women.  And they've said, "Well, these are not what our prophet has said.  These are medieval traditions which have infiltrated into Islam, and now we are leaving that aside."  And why they have the passion to do this, because it is a society which says men and women are equal, of course equal.  Why -- (inaudible) -- differently?

So when you face that question, you have to address it in some way.  And I think that brings us kind of, if you will, revision or modernization process within Islamic tradition.

RUPP:  Okay.  Well, thank you very much.  I'm sure there will be more particular questions of you as well.

So far we've focused attention on the range of positions within Islam.  And Peter, maybe you could back our lens up a bit and talk about the ways in which other religious traditions as well grapple with this polarity, let's say, between fundamentalism or authoritarianism, on the one side, or modernism or relativism on the other side.  Draw a larger map.

PETER L. BERGER:  Well, I think I was five years old when my mother taught me, "When you're in somebody else's house, you must never criticize your host."  But I must tell you that this physical arrangement is one of the most uncomfortable I've been in for many years.  And it's not the panel lineup, it's the police lineup and I'm sorely tempted to confess I'm guilty -- (laughter) -- but I will try to overcome this physical disadvantage.

Look, I think we -- we have a working group at my research center at Boston University called Between Relativism and Fundamentalism.  And I think one can argue that these two are reverse sides of the same coin.  The coin is modernization, which contrary to what many people still believe, does not secularize necessarily.  What it does is it pluralizes.  And what that means is that no religious tradition in most of the world can any longer be taken for granted.

And it's possible, I think, to -- well, it seems to me that from the point of view of any serious religious believer, but also from the point of view of a democratic society, one wants a middle position which is neither relativistic in which all questions of truth become irrelevant -- so the television interview of an Aztec priest who believes that the gods require endless blood sacrifices:  "Yes, we do."  "How interesting; tell us more" -- okay?  That's one end.  And the other end, of course, is fanatical absolutist intolerant fundamentalism.  How does one establish a middle position?

Now, obviously, there's no time now to go into how I would do this as a Christian, but I think one can outline a few general conditions of what are the requirements for such a position.  In any -- I think any religious tradition is capable of doing this -- at least any I can think of, other than Middle American Aztec religion, which is not terribly relevant today, thank God.

But you mentioned hadith can be reinterpreted.  Of course, I think there are a number of basic conditions.  And perhaps the most basic condition is that people in a religious position accept the fact that it is no longer taken for granted.  It becomes a voluntary act of believers -- a reiterated voluntary act, which means that religious institutions, even if they have a very different tradition, become in fact voluntary associations.  What happened to the Catholic Church is a wonderful example of this.  Certainly a very alien idea and the church has been dragged kicking and screaming into accepting the fact of religious freedom and in fact, legitimizing it theologically.  That's very crucial -- the voluntariness of religion.

Another thing, I think, which is very important, is the distinction between the core of a religion and a periphery, which is negotiable.  The core is there -- this is a truth which we believe in but the periphery is negotiable.  And that can be done in different ways and different traditions:  Muslim or Christian or Jewish or what have you.

There are a few others which I think are less central.  There is the acceptance of the religiously neutral state -- or at the least state which does not coerce people into any particular religion.  There is a way of defining the other as something not an enemy, but possibly an interesting interlocutor -- and some other conditions one could list.  But these are, I think, very basic ones.  And as one thinks about the topic of this conference, it seems to me that is the direction in which one should think.

RUPP:  Well, let me ask you -- clearly, with the amount of time we have in this initial exchange, I appreciate the fact that you cannot go into detail in all of the cases that could illustrate this intervening position.  But let's take the United States:  Part of the challenge any such discussion faces in the United States is the role that evangelical Christianity or even fundamentalism has played for almost 30 years.  I mean, it played a role long before that, but the role in recent decades.  Why don't you just talk a little bit about that movement and how it fits into your typology?

BERGER:  Well, Tim Shaw heads a project of our institute on the new evangelical intellectuals.  And I think in the public awareness and the media -- certainly in academia -- there's still a very distorted view of evangelicals as, I don't know, barefoot people who chew tobacco and vote for Ku Klux Klan or something like that -- which was never accurate, is totally inaccurate today.

So I think the mentioning of evangelicals and fundamentalists in one sentence is already a distortion.  Yes, there are some evangelicals who are fundamentalists.  There are some secularists who are very much fundamentalist.  And true as every tradition that one can think of -- Christian, Jewish, Muslim, whatever -- that exists in the United States.

So I don't know.  I think evangelicals are increasingly becoming important in the public scene, not just for political reasons, but for cultural reasons.  They're increasingly -- well, very much what you said about Turkish conservative Muslims.  They've become middleclass.  They have higher education.  They can no longer be brushed aside as provincial ignoramuses and that's very significant.  And the political alignment may change.  It may already be changing in this election, but I think the cultural presence of evangelicals will continue and become increasingly important.  And I think it should be recognized by the people who are not themselves evangelicals as a significant component of the American society.

RUPP:  Okay.  Thank you.

Let's take just one more very -- just very quick response from all of you to a common question.  And then we'll open for observations from the floor.

What do you -- how do you appraise the prospects for dialogue or non-hostile forms of interaction among religious traditions?  Maybe we'll just go in order across the -- starting with you, Mustafa.

AKYOL:  Yeah.  Maybe I just should -- I'd like to add one thing before that.

I think in the 20th century, we have seen that there is nothing which makes the secular mind more reasonable than the religious mind.  So, I mean, secular tyrannies have been out there.  They're still out there.  I mean, being secular, being not defined by religion, doesn't make people necessarily open minded and tolerant and accepting as we were, you know, told.  Communism is a wonderful example, I guess.

RUPP:  And what's proscriptive secularism?

AKYOL:  Proscriptive secularism -- I mean, North Korea is a secular republic.  You know, it's not the nicest place on earth.  So the idea that -- so if secularists try to push within outside of the public square, they become a tyrannical force and then religions start to fight against it.

And for many Muslims, this has been the history of the last like century.  There have been various secularist dictators who wanted to modernize their countries by force, try to change their culture, the way they dress, the way they live.  The shah in Iran was a great example.  And then you have a reaction.

If you tell the religious people that, well, you have a space in this multicultural and this pluralistic setting, are you willing to accept that you have a place, that you should also accept other people's places?  I think -- then you can start a dialogue.  Because other way, I think it's like a zero-sum game -- either they will win or either we will win.  And if you will win, we will push them all the other way.

So I think accepting the pluralism and accepting the fact that modernization doesn't secularize, which is a very important, I think, point made by Dr. Berger.  It's good to engage in this in the first place.  If you -- if modernization is described to you as a process which will secularize you at the end and you should secularize to be modern, why would you engage with that?  You start to fight against it.  I think --

RUPP:  Okay.  So now a word about how you would appraise the prospects for interaction of non-hostile sorts, whether dialogue or other forms, among religious traditions -- do you have any sense of that?

AKYOL:  Well -- (inaudible) -- has a nice coat.  I mean, tolerance is not indifference to differences as if differences make no difference.  So we shouldn't start by saying, hey, we should all be like this and then start to dialogue.  We should accept that we are different, but there should be some limits.  We should say that there should be respect for human life.  There should be respect for the right for others to exist.  And there should be a common ground.

And after that common ground, anybody who accepts that can engage and can start -- we can start a dialogue.  And that's what we desperately need.  I mean, especially within the Islamic world and the Western world.

RUPP:  Dalia?

MOGAHED:  Well, I guess if your question is, "how would I appraise it?"  I think the prospects are very positive.  And the reason I say that is because as we analyze the mammoth study that we've done, we've found is that the opinions that people profess of other countries really fall along policy and not cultural or religious lines.

So for example, we find that the opinions of Europe -- whether it's France or Germany -- are neutral to positive, whereas opinions of the United States and Britain are very negative.  So the way people see countries, whether they celebrate or express negative opinions, really are driven by that country's perceived policy and not their religious differences.

The other thing that I think gives us some hope are initiatives that have actually happened in the last year or so.  For example, the common word initiative where 138 of the most prominent Muslim scholars wrote an open letter to Christians around the world calling them to a common word of love for neighbor and love for God.  And that has started a series of dialogue events, including with the Vatican.

So not only are we looking at public opinion and seeing that there's hope for dialogue and non-adverse interactions, but we actually see it happening on the ground.

RUPP:  Good.

Peter?

BERGER:  Well, I would say the prospects are very good unless they're stopped -- stopped by either secularists or religious fundamentalists who want to impose their will.  If that does not happen, if there's freedom of communication, I think it's almost inevitable that the prospects will be good.

Let me make one point in this connection:  When people talk about interreligious dialogue they mean people like us sitting around the table -- unfortunately, there is no table here -- but sitting around the table and having, you know, intellectual conversations.  That's fine.  I'm all for it.  Vatican does it, World Council of Churches, whatever.  But it's happening on the street level, which is much more significant, because it involves millions of people.

If I may be personal for a moment, my oldest son is married to a Hindu and they have two children.  When my granddaughter -- they lived in Washington -- was about five, her best friend was a little girl across the street whose parents were missionaries for Jews for Jewish.  And these two little girls were having theological discussions for each other, which I wish I had taped.  They were fascinating!  They tried to come to terms with each other without demonizing each other.

Well, this is happening by the millions in every modern or modernizing society.  And this is an enormous effect.  So unless the government or some other force -- terrorist, whatever -- stops this conversation, I would say the prospects are very good that major traditions come to amicable terms with each other.

RUPP:  Thank you.

Well, I deliberately -- you said, dialogue or other forms of non-hostile interaction, because I agree with you.  I think what's going on on the ground in pluralistic societies is by far more important than what happens in academic institutions -- even including Boston University, hard as that is to believe.

We would now like to invite all of you into our conversation.  If you have questions -- let's say, speak only if you have a question or at least you can frame what you have to say in interrogative form.

Wait until the microphone gets to you.  Then stand up, give us your name and your affiliation.  Please keep the questions brief and at least in interrogative form and we will then let our panelists respond.

Yes.  Wait until you get the mike, please.

QUESTIONER:  Thank you.  My name is Olin Robison, Oxford University.

Peter, I'm sorry there's no table for you.  I'm glad to hear someone make the distinction between evangelicals and fundamentalists.  I grew up in area which was both -- some people are both.  I'd like to think that perhaps I'm not now.

I would like to hear the panel, especially Dalia, comment on the archbishop of Canterbury's recent statement, which he says was not properly interpreted in the press and I really don't know.

For those who don't follow this, I spend a great deal of time in the U.K. and the archbishop, who is frequently misunderstood -- so he says -- basically made a statement in which he talked about Sha'ria law saying there should be a two-track system in the U.K. whereby -- the press at least said that he said, I do not know -- that there should be one track of law for Muslims and one track of law for everyone else.

Anyway, would you all comment on the Reverend Dr. Williams and his seeming foot-in-mouth problem?  But as you can see, that's my prejudice, but be that as it may, could you comment on what he said -- what he is said to have said?

MOGAHED:  Well, my understanding of what he in fact said is that -- first of all, I'll just give you the context:  He was speaking to a group of lawyers and it was a legal lecture and it was a very nuanced legal lecture with terms of arts that were for a specific audience that understood this nuance.

And my understanding of what he said was, it's inevitable that the British legal system will have to make room for arbitration on certain legal matters such as family law and in some cases, rules of -- basically non-interest bearing loans and things like that -- Shari'a compliant financing.  And that this would have to be -- would also have to guarantee equality of women, and that it wouldn't have to not violate British law, but that to make this kind of allowance for Muslims in Britain is something that inevitably, you know, Britain will have to do.  There are already similar allowances for some aspects of Jewish law.

That is what he said.  The word "Shari'a" seems to sort of make people -- sort of this kneejerk reaction to the word and people immediately think of, you know, hands being amputated.

So it was more -- I think the reaction that the British press had to that statement and the way it was sort of misunderstood is more a testimony to the misunderstanding of that concept of that word.

And Noah Feldman -- I don't know if he's here yet, but he will be speaking on the next panel -- in his column, article in The New York Times, he kind of goes through this a bit.

But really, when we look at what people mean by the word "Shari'a" we've gone to -- we've done a lot of research on, what do you mean by Shari'a compliance?  What we really find over and over is people are talking about economic and social justice.  So women will say Shari'a -- they associate it with justice for women.  People think Shari'a means minority rights.  So we can't sort of assume we understand what that word means, as much baggage as it has accumulated.  We really have to look at what believers believe it means -- what they interpret their own sacred law to mean.

But I hope that helps as far as the archbishop's statement.

RUPP:  Other comments?

AKYOL:  Well, maybe I can -- well, again, I mean, I'm not very sure about what he meant, but the Ottoman Empire had these multiple legal systems.  Muslims, Jews and Christians had their own legal traditions, but the Ottoman Empire had to abolish this in the 19th century and bring a civil, equal law for all citizens, because that system didn't work.

I mean, in the Middle Ages, a Muslim and a Christian would hardly have anything-together common.  They were living in their communities, but the more interaction in the society increased, then you start to have legal cases between the Muslim and the Jew and the Christian every day.  And it became such an uncontrollable system, then that's why in the 19th century Ottoman's had to bring this universal civil code for all citizens regardless of their, I think, citizenship.

So if you're living still in a modern age, and if there's a nation state, I think it should have a standard law for everybody.  But like you can maybe create a niche -- like inheritance.  I mean, you can think of some regulations which will not override the national civil code, but which can maybe supplement.  But it should be done carefully.  I mean, you can't just say Shari'a is compatible, because the understanding of Shari'a might differ from one group to another and there are some extreme cases, as we know.

RUPP: Okay.  Yes -- all the way in the back.

QUESTIONER:  Jim Dingman, IMN World Report.

I was wondering of the panel can comment on the gulf between the Christian perspectives critically looking at the writings of the Bible, and the perception in the West that there's an uncritical look at the Koran.

For example, since the 19th century there's been a growth of a critical look at the New Testament -- Albert Schweitzer.  And certainly, in the post-war period the critical Jesus Seminar out at Berkley, et cetera.  There's a constant looking at the Bible critically and seeing it very differently.

And we know that from articles in -- I think it was in Atlantic or Harper's -- that kind of movement in the Muslim world has been repressed politically.  I was wondering what your take on that is.

RUPP:  Okay.

Counterintuitive though it may seem, why don't we start with Peter on that.

BERGER:  Well, I think one of the most interesting episodes in the history of religion is late 18th century and then very strong in 19th century when starting in protestant theological faculties in Germany, scholars used all the critical apparatus of modern scholarship at the Bible -- not to the intention of debunking the Bible, but making it more alive.

This is difficult, I think, in a Muslim context.  With hadith you can do it, but with the Koran it's much more difficult.  And I think it's a mistake to equate the Koran and the Bible -- as at least as I understand Islam -- you have to equate the Koran with Christ -- the preexistence of the Koran, the eternity of the Koran, et cetera.  So this is very difficult.

I think with higher education, with a knowledge of historic scholarship, it's going to be very difficult to avoid looking at one's own sacred scriptures using modern historical scholarship.  And I think that's very positive.

Let me -- when I mean, perhaps, I can say in one sentence:  I recently had a conversation with an evangelical.  I'm theologically very liberal Lutheran.  And I said I have some difficulties with evangelicals.  And this interlocutor said, well, why?  What do you mean?  I said, well, the use of the Bible.  And then I said, look, you say the Bible is the word of God.  I would say the Bible contains the word of God, which seems a similar statement, but is really vastly different.  When you say the Bible contains the word of God, you can then -- there's a core here, which is God speaking to human beings.  But around us at the periphery again -- that I mentioned before -- there's a lot of things that are historically relative, contingent and negotiable.

How this can be done from a Muslim point of view it's not for me to say.  I think sooner or later, the question will arise and be very difficult to avoid.

RUPP:  Mustafa?

AKYOL:  Actually, I mean, there is a tradition in Islam -- there is a debate over the nature of the Koran in the history of Islamic civilization.  The -- (inaudible) -- and the traditionalists in the very early centuries debated on whether the Koran is a created or an uncreated book.  And it was an important -- I mean, there was a theological and practical war over this for a few centuries.

And the people who said the Koran is an uncreated book said that the Koran existed before the whole universe ever existed.  And it was with God and it came down in the 7th century.  The other people said, well, the Koran was how God spoke to the society of the 7th century.

So this meant that -- I mean, for the people who said the Koran is created, they also implicitly accepted that the context of the 7th century influenced the text of the Koran.  Now, this idea was -- like, this was debated in the early centuries of Islam and it was left aside.  And the idea that the Koran is an uncreated book basically dominated.

But what you see now, for example in countries like especially in Turkey, there are like a group of theologians right now who just still -- now, took the idea again.  And it was actually started by Azur Rhakman (sp) who was a scholar in the U.S. in Chicago.  And he actually revived some of these basic ideas.

And they say theirs is the historicity of the Koran.  And the context, again, of the society in the century influenced the text.  It was the one word that God spoke to that society by taking into the consideration the norms of the times so we can understand it in a less literal way.  So that would be one way of approaching it.

But of course, people -- they are saying the Koran is not divine at all, and that's a point of view, but Muslims would not accept that and remain as Muslims.

BERGER:  If you say it was not divine, you'd cease being a Muslim.

AKYOL:  Yeah.  Sure.

MOGAHED:  Right.  Yeah.

RUPP:  Okay.  Yes?

QUESTIONER:  Charles Strohmer from the Center for Public Justice.

Dalia, you mentioned that in Egypt a majority of the Muslims would like to see Shari'a as the only source of legislation.  How much does the Muslim Brotherhood sort of influence that majority opinion?  I mean, since its inception, the brothers have seemed to have had, you know, different sort of swinging back and forth views and philosophies.  And even today we hear conflicting reports about what they might be doing.

Can you help on that?

MOGAHED:  Well, I think it's entirely possible that the Muslim Brotherhood does influence that point of view.

I think in regards to Egypt especially, the current constitution already says that Shari'a should be a source of legislation.  So when you have a majority saying, well, this is the way it is now and the majority are asking for change -- the way I read that number, 65 percent saying Shari'a should be the only source of legislation -- is if the current government is already claiming to have Shari'a as a source, then lets, you know, let's increase whatever amount of Shari'a we have to something higher, because it's really associated with good governance.  It's associated with the rule of law.  And it really, interestingly, correlates very strongly with the fact that Egypt also is the country with the highest percentage who say that moving toward greater democracy will help Muslims progress.  So they're highest on those two measures:  Shari'a as the only source of legislation and moving toward greater democracy.

So it's more a measure of a level of frustration with the status quo and a call for more accountability to government.

RUPP:  Yes?

QUESTIONER:  Shari Arazur (ph).

My question is for you, Dalia.  You talked about the fact that there are fringe Muslim voices that seem to dominate or monopolize the conversation.  Originally, I come from Pakistan and I kind of know how difficult it is for a moderate voice to be actually properly heard, because you get totally shouted down.

So the real issue, in a sense, is they may be fringe, but the fact is that they actually exercise power far in excess of their real supporters.  And is there any idea as to what can be done to actually change that to begin a dialogue, because right now, a dialogue within the Muslim countries isn't possible?

All the dialogue that I know seems to take place between Muslims and the West, and that's totally a false dichotomy in large measure.  The real dialogue hasn't really started, which is within these Muslim countries.

What can be done to facilitate and encourage that dialogue so that the fringe voice can be -- their antenna can be lowered a little bit and the moderates can be strengthened?

MOGAHED:  That's a really difficult question, actually.

One thing we have to keep in mind is that internal dialogue is made much more possible when people feel less under siege.  So the problem -- the main problem is that we find all over the world people have this sense of being completely threatened, under siege --

that there's this imminent threat of an invasion or just of a cultural hegemony.  And so that sense of threats elevates them and amplifies the voices of extremists -- of people who are claiming to stand up for -- against cultural hegemony of the West or for the core values of the society.  So that perception has to in some way to away for that internal dialogue to happen.

The other thing is really what we're trying to do at Gallup is this idea of helping people be heard, of giving voice to the silenced majority.  You know, democratizing this debate so it isn't just about who has access to the airwaves; that we actually start to look at this debate from a more representative and scientific point of view using survey research.

RUPP:  Yes.  No, I'm sorry.  I guess just one of you.  Go ahead, yes.

QUESTIONER:  Good morning.  I'm Syed Z. Sayeed, religious life advisor from Muslim Student Association, Columbia University.

I have two points that I want to make, and the following questions:  I think within the public we should also attempt to recognize that there is an intellectual fundamentalism.  People who go to colleges and universities and get to higher levels of education, they develop a certain kind of mental structure, which is not as open as it should be, because they are higher -- you know, highly educated people.  So we need to address that.

And secondly, I think if we look at the history of Islam during the prophet's time, it was basically a challenge to that kind of intellectual fundamentalism.  People take things for granted and they don't want to reflect on that at all, so the Prophet presented an alternative, and we see that there was a tremendous struggle.

This hegemony that you've pointed out between the dominant culture is really threatening people who want to think freely everywhere.  Even in this country we are under siege.  We can't speak up.  So that needs to be addressed if we really want to have open societies and free dialogue.

And if you'd like to comment on that -- thank you.

RUPP:  Maybe you could just pass that microphone one row forward.

Yes, comments on that question dispensed with the interrogative form, but the question is there anyway.

AKYOL:  Well, there is something called the opium of the intellectuals, as one French writer once described -- Raymond Aron.

Yes, but then you have intellectuals who oppose that line of thinking.  And I think Dr. Berger is a great example of that, I think, in that sense.  The secularist thesis that societies should secularize -- it was there for a long time, but then some people saw that and they say, no it's not.  So you had this paradigm shift.

And right now, if you think there's this paradigm which is not very objective or honest about Islam or any other religion, then it's time to work and make your case at, again, the intellectual level.  I mean, intellectuals might be stubborn, but they open to challenge -- I mean, open to speak and you can challenge, and if you put your case in a good way, I think it will have an audience.  And that's where this society is.  And despite the sacred fundamentalism -- I mean, the society here is -- despite all their efforts -- is open and you can make your case.

(Inaudible) -- in terms of the point that was raised had a very good phrase.  He talked about the diverse culture, which is this international intelligentsia.  And I would say, basically, the statement I would make, and  this majority of sociologists of religion would agree, the world today is intensely religious.  There are two exceptions. Secularization theory was a mistake.  Okay, fine.  But the two interesting exceptions -- one is geographical -- Western and Central Europe, which is a fascinating case.  I think it's one of the most interesting issues in the sociology of religion.  Why is Europe so different?  Not the United States, Europe.  And the other is this international intelligentsia, which is much more heavily secularized than the general population in most countries with the exception of Europe.

I can't go into why this is, but let me say this is changing for the reasons that have already been discussed, because intensely religious people who tended to be -- (inaudible) -- proletariat, not the -- participating in intellectually respectable conversation are becoming more middle-class, are becoming more educated and therefore their presence, even in a diverse culture, is becoming more noticeable and influential.

RUPP:  Well, this is a further example of the way this is changing.  Just think of American political alliances.  I mean, we did, after all, support the Shah -- as you pointed out, a hard-line secularist.  And we have been allied with those Turkish elements that have been most secular reductionist or prescriptive and we have moved to the point of recognizing -- at least in the case of Turkey -- we're still very confused by --

AKYOL:  Unfortunately.

RUPP:  -- Iran.  But at least in the case of Turkey, where we recognize that an Islamist -- "mild Islamist" to use your term, government in fact represents the popular will and has, by far, better prospects than a secular fundamentalism that is trying to push back the clock.  Those are two examples where the U.S. policy -- which I find myself amazed, noting positive turns in U.S. policy.  But there are two examples, that seem to me quite clear.

Yes, Don.  Oh, I'm sorry.  The -- yes, we have one -- we have a waiting question who was --

(Cross talk.)

QUESTIONER:  -- Baer Holdings.

Turkey.  Why is that the anti-American feeling is so strong?  Is it religious, is it economic or is it political?  And I'd like to know from the survey point of view, what was the group you surveyed and from your point of view, Mustafa, is the street different than the survey?

AKYOL:  In Turkey or in the world?

QUESTIONER:  No, in Turkey.

AKYOL:  In Turkey.

Okay, well -- is it my turn?  (Off mike.)  Okay, well, in Turkey, yes.  There's a strong anti-Americanism.  And in trusting that this is more related to the Kurdish issue, not the other -- you know, these -- the -- when the United States occupied Iraq -- you know, the Kurds became the ally of the United States.  And for many Turkish nationalists which constitute a great majority of the population, the Karzai bete noire -- I mean, there shouldn't be any Kurdish entity on Earth and rise of the Kurdistan in the north made UNCHR and made all the state establishment and much of the Turkish nationals very angry.  And they have become basically anti-American because of that.

There's also concern for the humanitarian situation in Iraq.  I mean, people say, why the U.S. started this war and because of the situation of the country.  But for Turkey to especially -- the Turkish nationalists will have gone anti-American.  And interestingly, at the same time, the Turkish nationals are now choosing the governing party -- the -- (inaudible) -- party which you can call mildly slumming -- they call themselves conservatives or just Muslim democrats.  They accuse them for being too soft and too pro-United States -- too soft on or too pro-United States.  And actually, the recent best-seller in Turkey, for example -- a secularist best-seller -- is a book which accuses the Islamist prime minister to be a secret Jew who works with the Elders of Zion in order to destroy Turkey's national ethos and its secular Ataturk Kemal's Republic.

So incessantly with that -- anti-Americanism is strong, but it's not coming from an Islamic background.  It's coming from a nationalist background, which I think should show us that the Islamic realm is very complex and sometime the forces that we attribute to Islam might be coming from different national or local sources.

MOGAHED:  Just to add a few things, we did measure the opinion of Turks in 2001 as it related to the United States.  And the majority actually had favorable views of the United States, and it was one of just a handful of majority Muslim countries where there were majority-favorable views.  But that has dramatically changed.  When we measured again in 2005, I think only 30 percent had favorable views and it actually has just gone down in the last measurement.  So this was -- this isn't a very old problem in Turkey.  It -- just in 2001, the majority had favorable views.

The other thing is we've done a lot of analysis on anti-American sentiment and have looked at religiosity and found that there is no correlation.  So anti-American sentiment or even sympathy for extremism or anti-American terrorism does not correlate with religiosity.

RUPP:  Okay, I called you earlier, Don.

Up front here.

QUESTIONER:  Don Shriver from Union Theological Seminary.

Almost 400 years ago, Pastor John Robinson sent those Pilgrims off from Holland to America with the cautionary "God has yet more light to break forth from God's holy word."  Of any religion, I'm always curious, what is the principle that makes change in religious interpretation both possible and mandatory?  I'd like to ask of -- the Muslim members of this panel what is that principle in Islam?  In the Christian case, we can say that the principle of change is the Holy Spirit.  What is it that -- in interpretation of the Koran, for example, that is the theological principle that mandates and makes possible changing interpretations?

AKYOL:  Well, in the Islamic tradition, there is this notion called ishtihad, which is -- which is the Jurist's opinion -- an opinion-making process based on the sources of the Koran and the Sunna.  And one -- I think one of the big issues and it's a very known -- it's a cliche, but it's true -- in Islam is that the -- this -- the gates of the ishtihad, as it is called, was set to be closed down in the -- you know, in the end of Medieval Age.  And because Islamic scholars created the Shari'a and the basic sources -- and they read all the books.  And so Muslims stopped thinking and reforming about this.

And this went on until the modern times because Muslims had created a vast code of law and thinking, and they were winning with this for a long time and they didn't bother to ask about this.  But when they realized that the Europe is -- Europe is not strong and they started to lose wars and everything -- the moment that they realized that something has gone wrong, then started their efforts to open the gates of ishtihad to bring new efforts.  So it's just like kind of awakening.  It started in the 19th century.

But different answers were given why we -- what went wrong.  Some people said well when -- what happened was we stopped being religious enough.  We abandoned our religion, so let's go back to the sources and get -- to get more religious and maybe sometimes radically religious.  Some people said, "It's not religion.  It's just -- we just -- we did not modernize and evolve ourselves.  We did not update ourselves."  That would be the modernist line.  Some people said, "It's because of Islam that we are backward."  And then -- you know, you had this different secularist line of thinking.  But Islam has in itself a tradition which says, like the ishtihad, "You can -- as world changes, you should change your law, your -- it's not a theology.  It's not your ideas about God which will change.  But you have the theological justification to change your laws and the way you interpret your religion."  And that's ishtihad.

MOGAHED:  I just wanted to add that -- you know, I heard it once said and this is, I think, very true, that the closing of the doors of ishtihad is itself an ishtihad.  So if that means a -- an opinion of a scholar and even the fact that they were closed at all is disputed and is under debate.  So it's not -- it isn't as clear-cut as we may think.

The other piece that I just wanted to add to everything Mustafa said was that there -- there' is the difference between the principles and then the law.  So principles of Islam don't change -- they're considered timeless values -- but that by its very nature, Islam has to, in terms of how it's applied, change from time to place -- time and place.  And that -- you know, Muslims understand this to be its strength and its resilience and the reason that it can accommodate a society as different as China and Indonesia, or Morocco and Nigeria.  And so -- I mean, my understanding is that is a mandate, not only an allowance.

RUPP:  Okay, we'll get you -- yes?

QUESTIONER:  Joseph Loconte with Pepperdine University.

Thank you, panel.  A very provocative discussion here so far.

This year we're going to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights -- the adoption of that document, as you know.  And probably -- certainly one of the most important articles was Article 18, the Religious Liberty Article.  And the person who argued most forcefully for that article, I believe, was Charles Malik, the Lebanese delegate to the commission, an Arab intellectual and a believing Christian.  And his argument was if we don't allow freedom of conscience, then we're not allowing people to move from one faith to another faith tradition -- that we're not allowing people to become.  And somehow that will debase human dignity.  If people can't change -- if they don't have the freedom to change -- to become, then human dignity is debased.

My question then is where is the Islamic world, do you think, on this fundamental article in the Universal Declaration, freedom of conscience?  Because if it is the cornerstone of liberal democracy as many would argue, than unless the centers of Islamic influence get this right, it's hard to be hopeful about real change politically.

Thanks.

AKYOL:  Well, a good question.  And you point to a very important problem in the Islamic world, which is a lack of religious freedom, unfortunately -- not in the Koran, but in the post-Koranic Islamic tradition -- the Shari'a, there is a rule which says apostasy is a crime and it's punishable by death.  And we have seen how horrible -- you know, it's -- we have seen the horrible results it has given -- it is still giving in some Muslim countries and Christians who convert -- I mean, Muslims who convert to Christianity simply be threatened or even killed because of this law.  And there has -- there have been intellectuals -- Muslim intellectuals or thinkers -- theologians -- who criticize us a lot -- severely and say we should get rid of this because first of all, it's not in the Koran.  And they say it is contradictory to the -- to Koranic verses like -- which says there's no compulsory religion.

And these are also -- scholars point out to the fact that the idea of not allowing apostasy was a political idea which became religious over time.  After the death of Prophet Muhammad, the caliphs suppressed the rebellions against the Islamic state -- it was a political rebellion and you crush it.  Then later on, the Jurists who looked at that case said that, "Oh, so people who abandon Islam should be punished?"  The caliphs abandoned the -- you know, rebellions against the state.  So a political concept became religious and just -- it became, unfortunately, a part of Islamic tradition.  That's a great problem Muslims face -- question and I think get rid of.  And there are people who debate this a lot, yeah.

MOGAHED:  It is debated right now.  The -- and just to add to what Mustafa said about Muslim intellectuals, people like Sheikh Ali Gomaa, the Grand Mufti of Egypt, has actually given an opinion on apostasy and said that whereas historically it was tied with citizenship, so apostasy was a type of treason.  So it was interpreted as just like treason is punishable by death, leaving one's faith is like revoking one's citizenship.  And that is no longer the case in a modern nation-state and therefore, his opinion was that -- you know, that that no longer applies.  So it's been debated and not only in sort of the intellectual class, but in very orthodox, traditional circles and that's the conclusions that many are coming to.

RUPP:  Okay.

Well, I think for our last question, we'll go to Walter as we -- and view it as a transition to the next session.

Walter?

QUESTIONER:  Walter Mead, Council on Foreign Relations.

I'm following up a little bit on Don's question where he asked about theological principle in Islam that would support reexamination or re-questioning.  And certainly, we've been hearing this morning that there is in the world even very pious, conservative and orthodox Muslims -- a lot of intellectual and theological ferment.  I've heard people talk about the idea that even if the Koran is an uncreated book that existed before the universe, people's understanding of the Koran -- the understanding of an individual of theological apparatus with which you approach it is obviously created is -- and to confuse one's theological apprehension of the Koran with the Koran itself is -- would be viewed by some scholars, I suppose, as an active idolatry almost.

MOGAHED:  Mm-hmm.

QUESTIONER:  And I'm wondering -- and Peter can maybe chime in, too, from the standpoint of the way Protestants have looked at the Bible -- is this an important theological principle and is it really shaping the -- influencing the way people are approaching some of these issue today?

AKYOL:  One thing I would say, Walter, is that -- I mean, I can't -- on this panel I shouldn't be speaking for Islam.  I think one thing one should keep in mind here is that there's an enormous tradition of philosophical thought in Islam.  I mean, when Christian Europe was basically living through a kind of barbaric period intellectually -- though less, perhaps -- less so than many of us think -- but anyway, you had an enormous flourishing of critical, philosophical thought in the Muslim world.  And I think this tradition is not dead, that it can be revived.  And once you -- once reason is put into place as a dominant principle, it's extremely difficult to stop where that reason goes.

And the disconnection, I'm tempted to quote one of my favorite lines from a great Muslim thinker, namely al-Ghazali, with whom I identify because he was a professor in Baghdad and felt what he was teaching was a lot of nonsense.  And he developed a speech defect.  He couldn't speak anymore.  But he was a great professor.  And he went into the desert and had mystical experiences.  But when he came back and incorporated -- tried to incorporate these experiences in his system of thought, there's one line which I love -- I don't know if I can quote it verbatim -- but he said that, "The basic mystical experience is ineffable.  It cannot be put into words.  But then we have to try."

And then he had this wonderful sentence -- "because reason is God's scale on Earth."  If you recognize reason as being God's scale on Earth -- the gift of God to human beings, then that reason cannot be confined to this area or that area.  It moves and I think this has theological, religious implications.

MOGAHED:  I was just going to -- I think the distinction you're making, Walter, is extremely important.  To believe that the Koran is divine is a principle of faith.  And so to ask Muslims to stop believing that is really asking them to stop being Muslim.  It's a very central part of being a Muslim.  But that isn't the same as believing that anyone's opinion on what the Koran is saying is divine -- that there is this distinction between the divine word of God and our human understanding of that word, which will differ.  And there's a huge amount of diversity in terms of how people are interpreting the Koran.  And that human element -- reason informed by revelation -- is the story of humanity, is the story of time, is the story of diversity across geography.  So that second piece is really the human story, and ishtihad actually means, literally, "human effort" or "human reason" in the -- in -- applied to the understanding of revelation.

AKYOL:  You made a very good point, Walter.  And yes, there is an -- there is this Islamic idea that your commentary is much lesser of a value than the -- you know, source itself.  And actually, Islamic scholars have the tradition of ending their comments by saying "Alahua alem," which means "Only God knows the best."  So he says something he knows.  And there's also a like a tradition in -- especially in Turkey, when they start a book, they say, "If there's anything which is right in this book, that is from God. Is there is any mistake, that is from me."  So this, like -- this modesty -- this tradition of modesty is well, you know, versed in the -- in Koran and that -- that's why you have an Islamic pluralism in -- actually.  I mean, there are different scholars.  They say, "This is my opinion, but I'm humble.  I'm not imposing it."

Unfortunately, this has become a little bit diluted in the modern times when different religious opinions are trying to gain political ascendance over each other and they have to claim perfect -- claim to be perfect.  And I think a good example of this is the Vilayat-el-Faqi idea in Iran.  I mean, before Khomeini, the idea that an imam can guide -- an ayatollah can guide the whole society and state without any mistake -- any sin was not known.  I mean, that was the idea of Vilayat-el-Faqi, but Khomeini made this a political doctrine.  But today some Shi'ites like Ayatollah Sistani, for example, doesn't accept it.  So the politicization of the whole -- (inaudible) -- also made this pluralism go down a little bit because if you're into politics, you should say you're perfect.  I mean, you can't say, "I'm wrong, but I want your support."  So that -- you know, messed things all -- messed things a little bit.

RUPP:  Since we're going to continue to have discussions about similarities and differences between Islam and Christianity, I would -- I'd like to underscore a point that Peter made earlier almost in passing.  Namely, if we want to look at comparisons between Islam and Christianity, for Christians or westerners -- Christians or Jews -- almost immediately, the analog to the Koran that comes to mind is the Bible.  And that's only a very imperfect analogy.  If we look at traditional Christology, much of what it said about the Christ is also what is said about the Koran.

And this is not just a -- for someone like me who happens to be interested in comparative religion and arcane fact.  It also has real bearing on our understanding because those who are not fundamentalist Christians -- that is, they who don't literally absolutize the Scriptures -- can have an easier relationship to the Bible than can easily be then projected onto Muslims because the status of the Koran is more than the status of the Bible in Christian and Jewish traditions.  And I think it's important in the ongoing discussions of similarities and differences among these traditions to bear that mind.

Well, sorry. We're a couple of minutes over.  I thank you all very much for joining us and those of you on the Web as well.  And this conference will continue after a 15-minute break?

MR.    :  Correct.

RUPP:  Fifteen-minute break.

Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.

-------------------------

This event is part of the Religion and Foreign Policy Symposia Series, which is made possible by the generous support of the Henry Luce Foundation.


WALTER RUSSELL MEAD:  All right.  May I have your attention, please.  Would everyone please sit down?

All right.  I'd like to welcome you to the second session of our Council on Foreign Relations seminar today.  This is a symposium on Religion and the Open Society.  This is our second session, on Religion-State Relation.

I am Walter Russell Mead, senior fellow for U.S. foreign policy.  It is my honor to introduce to you Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im, professor of law, Emory University Law School; Noah Feldman, professor of law, Harvard Law School and adjunct senior fellow here at the Council; and Philip Hamburger, professor of law, Columbia University Law School.  Welcome.  Welcome, everyone here, and also welcome to all of those who are joining our symposium this morning on video.

I'd like to remind you all that this is an on-the-record session, so anything that you say may be taken down in evidence and used against you.  (Laughter.) 

In our second session this morning we're going to try to follow up some of the lines of conversation that were introduced in the first session and also introduce some new themes. 

As the discussion was proceeding this morning, I was rather forcefully reminded that Abrahamic religions in particular -- that is, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam -- and some of the secular ideologies that have historically derived from that mix of religious cultures are bodies of thought which believe that there is a way the world ought to work.  There's a right way to live.  And obviously, if there's a right way to live, there are wrong ways to live.

And there are universal standards of justice, of conduct, that at least in theory ought to apply to all people everywhere.  And in human societies, as a general rule, there are states -- that is, bodies of organized authority whose mandate it is to see that things are run properly.

And so in Abrahamic societies, the relationship between the religion, which teaches us how the world ought to be run, and the state, that group of people whose job it is to run the world or at least to run that portion of the world under the authority of a particular state, have a charged relationship. 

Religious authorities will often, in sermons or otherwise, tell political authorities and state authorities how they ought to work.  Religious authorities will try to shape the conscience of voters in democratic societies so that the voters will vote for politicians who espouse the values that -- by which the state ought to run.  Certainly in our society in the United States we see many efforts, particularly in an election year, in which religious leaders of various kinds are trying to shape political outcomes.

Now, our three panelists today who, I guess, represent at least a good percentage of the faiths of the family of Abraham, are scholars who have spent a lot of time investigating the relationship of religion and state -- how it actually operates and how it ought to operate.  And I think it might be useful for the audience if we proceeded maybe just right down the panel and each of you share a kind of an overview of your sense of how religion and the state ought to operate, from your own particular perspective, whether that's a faith-based perspective or a more secular approach. 

And if you would like to start, Professor?

ABDULLAHI AHMED AN-NA'IM:  Good morning, everybody, and thank you for being here. 

I speak as a Muslim, so my perspective is religious.  And it is my perspective that indicates for me that I need the state to be secular in order for me to be the Muslim I choose to be.  And the only possibility of being Muslim is by choice. 

So I stake the secular state as a prerequisite, as one of the conditions for the possibility of being Muslim.  I may not be a good Muslim -- I'm sure I'm not -- but whatever degree of being Muslim it is, it has to be within a framework of a secular state.

But I make a distinction between the state and politics.  And I think this is a point that often, in the American system, is not clear enough -- that often people assume that separating church and state takes care of religion and politics.  (Laughter.)  My claim is that we need to deal with the other issue separately; that is, the state and religion should be separate.  By a secular state, I mean a state that is neutral regarding religious doctrine, but religion and politics cannot and should not be separated.

So the paradox is how -- for me is how to regulate and organize the connectedness of religion and politics in a way that safeguards the separation of religion and the state.

MEAD:  Okay.  Noah.

NOAH FELDMAN:  Thanks, Walter.  Thank you, Abdullahi. 

I just want to say quickly that I'm really grateful to be asked to participate on the panel with such distinguished scholars whose views I have drawn on in my own work.  I guess -- let me start with a quick historical point that draws on Walter's. 

I think that in modern Europe, one solution that was proffered to the problem of how to arrange religious affairs and the affairs of state was to suggest that the religion of the sovereign of the state would be the religion of the state.  You see this already in the Treaty of Augsburg, and then it becomes hardened at Westphalia, and it becomes in some way a basis for all of our modern thinking about church and state.

And that's easy to do when the sovereign is one guy.  When there's one person who is the king or the queen and says I'm the sovereign, that person picks a religion and then the state religion is that religion.  Now, of course, in practice, if that person flips religions, that makes things very complicated.  If you don't know whether that person is born into one religion or another, it makes things complicated.  But it sounds like a pretty good sort of working solution to the problem.

I don't think we would have the same set of church-state problems we have today if it weren't for a weird quirk that happened about a hundred years after that solution, and that quirk was the idea of popular sovereignty.  The core idea that underlies all of our democratic states, the core political idea, is this idea that it's not that one person is the sovereign; it's that all of the people are sovereign. 

Then if all of the people belong to the same religion, it's still not so difficult to say that the religion of the sovereign is the religion of the state, because if all of the people think of themselves as Muslims, and let's say they're the same -- belong to the same school of Islam, then you could still say that the state religion is the religion of that group of people and nobody will make much of an argument about it.

But if the sovereign people are plural with respect to religion, if they belong to lots of different religions, now you have a very serious practical problem.  How can you have the religion of the sovereign be the religion of the state if the sovereign belongs to many religions?  And it's at that point, I think, historically, that you start to see people saying maybe the state should not associate itself with any religion.  Maybe there shouldn't be any official religion.

Now, I wanted to use that historical background because I think it helps for me to see why I think that not every country in the world needs to have the exact same arrangement with respect to religion and government.

To my mind, there are some principles that are universal and should apply everywhere -- this goes to Walter's first point about the Abrahamic religions and their universalism -- and others that could be different in different places.

The parts that seem to me to be universal are the ideas of a basic human right to choose your religion.  Not everyone in the world necessarily agrees with this, but almost all of the great world religious traditions claim at least that there's no coercion in their religion.  The Koran actually says this explicitly, which gives it one step up on the Hebrew Bible or the New Testament.  But all of the world's religious traditions talk this way, I think it's fair to say.  Not all -- in fact, none -- are very good at implementing this in practice. 

But I think that that is enough of a universal value to say that every state, no matter where it is, even if it has an official religion, ought to allow people the freedom to choose their own religion, and with that comes the right as well not to be discriminated against on the basis of your religion.  To me, that's a universal value.

What's not a universal value, to me, is the idea of a secular state.  To me, if the society wants to arrange itself because the vast majority of people, or even just a slight majority of people prefer there to be an official state religion, provided that they grant every individual the basic human right to religious liberty, I think that that's just fine.  I think England is a good example of this.  There the established church may not be very active today.  It may be very difficult to find people in Anglican churches -- (laughter) -- but it's nevertheless the case that the Archbishop of Canterbury is a politically significant figure, not just because he says things that get people riled up every so often, but because he is connected to the organization of the state in an important way.

Similarly, in many Muslim countries, I think it would be practically absurd and, in principle, unnecessary to demand that the state not identify itself as Islamic, because that is what many, many, many -- the great majority, in many cases, of the population wants.  What is not absurd, however, is to insist in those cases that such states respect the basic human right to freedom of religion. 

And in a country like the United States where we have tremendous religious diversity, it would equally be absurd to say that we should have an established religion.  And as a matter of fact, our Constitution recognizes that and makes it impossible, at least formally, for there to be an established religion.

So I'll stop there, without claiming to have resolved any of the complicated difficulties that analysis raises, but at least it gives a framework for thinking that there are some things that everyone should do in every state, some rights that everyone should respect, but that the arrangement of church and state could still differ very significantly from place to place.

HAMBURGER:  Well, I confess I largely agree with what's been said thus far and -- in pursuing the theme that perhaps there can be variety in the world that's perfectly wholesome and that need not trouble us.  I can't help, though, observing that it may be easier to figure out what should not be than what should.  And that leads us to the very sort of narrow range of objections to sort of bullying that we don't like, that can come in many forms.  But that still leaves open many, many possibilities.  And fortunately, England is just one of them, though amusing these days.

It strikes me that religion is often treated in this country as something distinct from the state, something to be kept apart from it, perhaps something even dangerous.  And I -- one of the things one has to worry about is that Americans tend to forget the degree to which the state is itself constituted by religion.

Now, politically we find this an anathema to a Christian nation, but in a more profound sense, this is inevitable, and any anthropologist would point out you can hardly discuss a society without getting into its religion.

The very notion of equal liberty has its foundations in religion.  Now, we can claim equal liberty, equal rights, as some sort of right.  But if it's any more than just a demand, if it's actually going to be a moral duty -- for example, if slavery is immoral, and you actually have a duty to resist it.  If suicide is immoral, you have a duty to resist that -- where are we draw these conclusions from? 

And Locke has a lot to say about this, for all of his failings as a serious philosopher.  Nonetheless, on this point, he comes as close to profound as he ever gets, I think.  And we are too quick to forget that without the religious basis for equal rights, we would be impoverished and we might still have slavery.  So religion is fundamental to the very liberty that we think we sometimes need to protect from religion.

Second, it strikes me that in all societies, and although I'm not an expert in the Middle East, I gather from scholars of the Ottoman Empire that there are a lot of sermons, even in the 14th century, that are very similar to Christian sermons being given at the same time about the role of religion as part of the social structure.  If you want a degree of freedom from severe laws, you'd better hope these moral constraints (is ?) a fairly successful sort.  And religion inevitably has its own way of accomplishing that.

And then finally, it was only recently that we have escaped the notion that we have a government ordained by God.  And in the West we may think we're above religion now -- almost, perhaps, above God.  But in most of the world, such heady thoughts haven't yet permeated quite so far.  And it strikes me that if we are going to talk about religious liberty, we have to keep in mind the fairly -- importance of religion, even to the secular state. 

But I'll stop there.  Thank you.

MEAD:  Very good.

Well, I'm taking away a couple of things here.  One is I've been reminded again of just the sheer diversity of relationships that exist between religion and the state, even in the so-called Christian, so-called West.  So we not only have England, where the queen can't marry a Catholic or become a Catholic.  In Argentina, the president of the Argentine Republic must be a Roman Catholic, something that caused Carlos Menem to get baptized. 

In Germany, the president of the republic can be any religion he chooses or doesn't choose, but if you do sign up for church membership, the state will take a percentage of your income in tax each year and give it to those the state chooses to recognize as the legitimate authorities of the religion which you profess. 

So we can find all kinds of varieties with -- and yet it's interesting that all -- that certainly Germany, Argentina, and Britain, if you asked most citizens of those states do you live in a secular country, they would answer probably yes.  And it's -- while Americans like to talk about how much more religious America is than, say, Germany, I've been reminded by a member of the German Bundestag there are actually more doctors of divinity in the German parliament than in the American Congress.  That may explain something; I'm not quite sure what.  (Laughter.)

But then also I'm reminded, listening to the panelists, that our visions of what is the proper relationship of religion and state are often profoundly shaped by our own religious views.  There's the story in Belfast of a guy who's whisked into an alley by masked gunmen who point a gun to his head and they say what are you, Catholic or Protestant?  He goes, I'm an atheist!  I'm an atheist!  The gunmen think for a second and they say well, are you a Catholic atheist or a Protestant atheist?  (Laughter.)

And there's a sense in which a society can be Protestant secular or Catholic secular or Muslim secular, and those are not always the same thing. 

And what I'd like to do is ask the panelists to explore -- I think this is building on something that Philip said, that in America, certainly, our idea of this separation of church and state, or the relationship, is profoundly based on the overwhelming sort of Protestant character -- and Noah's written about this as well -- of our people at the time of -- you know, in the early American republic.

To what extent is that experience -- you may have some thoughts here, too -- applicable to people of other religious traditions and backgrounds, or how do we have to reconsider what seems to us to be natural in terms of separation of church and state that would work differently in another culture with a different background? 

Would you like to start on that, Phil?

HAMBURGER:  Sure.  Something you may know, I have a certain distaste for the notion of separation of church and state because, by accident, I fell into studying it and, to my horror, found out more about American history than I wanted to know.  (Laughter.)

To put it very bluntly, it's attributed straight to Jefferson, but it's popular --because of theological prejudice, a distaste for Catholicism, particularly Irish Catholic immigrants, the goal was to separate the church from the state.  And it's far from being a minoritarian position; it's a majoritarian position.  It's about protecting the majority of free individuals and their direct relationship to the state from a church which would exert its influence upon the people and deprive them of their mental liberty, thus debilitating them from being good citizens.

And in fact, if you -- just think for a minute.  Which is the organization that most popularized this idea in the first half of the 20th century?  The ACLU?  No.  The Ku Klux Klan.  And once that settles in, you get the idea.

So this fits in with what Noah was saying earlier.  It strikes me that it's very dangerous for us Americans to go around the world talking in broad generalities that seem natural to us, but may be only because we haven't looked at ourselves too carefully.

Our most common generalizations are separation of church and state and democracy.  Well, God help us if that's what we're exporting, and God help the rest of the world.

Democracy isn't what we practice here and it's the last thing we should wish on anyone else.  Our Founders quite deliberately established a republic.  And when one talks about democracy in many parts of the world, it sounds like majority rule.  In fact, it could have an almost fascist implication in some parts of the world.  One has to be very, very careful about overgeneralization.

And by the same token, I think separation of church and state imposes, as Noah suggested, such a high burden on nations for which this is just incompatible, obviously incompatible with their history.  So the best thing we need -- and this fits in with the views of my colleague from Emory -- we need a little modesty, not only in contemplating religion, but also our own propaganda. 

There's an old line from World War I about propaganda: one will not quite persuade one's enemies, and almost defeat oneself.  And I fear separation leads us in that direction.

MEAD:  Abdullahi, would you like to --

AN-NA'IM:  Okay.  I think various ideas will determine that the secular state everywhere is distinctive, historic, and contextual.  I mean, there are no two identical secular states anywhere. 

So secularism, or secular states, and the question of the relationship between religion and the state and religion and politics, which I try to always emphasize are different propositions, this relationship is contextual and historical.  And therefore every society has to negotiate this for itself over time, and this negotiation can go one way or the other.

But I think the -- one point I would like to bring to our discussion is I think we tend to dichotomize too much the secular and the religious.  And the so-called secular-religious dichotomy I think is overstated because religion becomes relevant in the secular world.  It is not the abstract sort of sensuality.  It is -- the relevance of religion in guiding people live -- lies in this world.  And therefore there is an inherent connectedness between the two.

Just referring back to what this morning was being said about the Koran and about the possibility of reinterpretation and so on, Ali ibn Abi Talib, the fourth caliph and the prophets' cousin and -- for the Shi'a, he is the first imam.  He said the Koran does not speak.  It is people who speak for the Koran.

And the point is that the Koran is a revelation to me as a Muslim, is divine to me as a Muslim.  But as soon as it enters human comprehension, it become secular.  It enters into this world to tell me how to live my life in this world.  And because every comprehension of the Koran is a human comprehension -- of course the possibility that there is more to the Koran than what humans can comprehend remains in the realm of individual religious experience. 

But collectively, socially, we are always dealing with someone's understanding of the Koran.  That makes me nervous about calling the state Islamic.  I don't believe that the state was ever Islamic.  Not a single day.  The state is a political institution.  It is incapable of having a religion.

Whenever we give the adjective of a religious state to any state, what we are saying is that, as you said rightly, it is the religion of the ruling elite.  So once you see it is not the religion of the state as such, but the religion of the ruling elite, you see how dangerous it is to permit the elite to attribute their religious belief to the state which we all share.

I would rather have it for me to negotiate what role Shari'a has in society and in the state in a framework that ensures a degree of equality of human rights, of freedom of religion and other freedoms.  And the proscription, as Professor Feldman describes, is to say the state can't have a religion, but at the same ensure freedom of religion for everybody, is a contradiction. 

The very fact that the state identifies with a religion is, by definition, a violation of freedom of religion.  And for that reason, I will try to strive to keep the state neutral, realizing it is not easy.  It's a constant struggle.  And where in the realm of politics to enable people to identify religiously as also as citizens in a variety of ways.

FELDMAN:  It would be very boring for the audience if we all agreed on everything, so I'm glad that we're hitting -- the rubber's meeting the road here a little bit. 

So I'm going to disagree, first with Abdullahi and then with Philip, if I might, and the framework for my disagreement is the same in both cases.  And it's the observation that when we use words that are big, grand words -- which I usually --

I have a 2-year-old son, and I know I'm dealing with a big, grand word when I can't point to the thing when I define it.  Right?  If he wants to know what a chair is, I can point to the chair.  If he wants to know what religion is, I can't point to anything in particular.  The same is true of the state.  I can't point to anyone; there's nothing I -- these are true abstractions, right?

When we talk about abstractions, which we have to do because much of our world is shaped out of these abstractions, we're never defining them in some way that is objectively correct.  We're always injecting into what we say the way we think they should be.

When we say, "religion is," what we mean is religion is and should be.  The same is true when we talk about the state.  They're just two, the two that happen to be in play in this conversation.

Now, when we talk about can there be such a thing as an Islamic state, I understand that argument, the political and religious argument that says no, there can be no such thing as an Islamic state because Islam is a faith and the state is not a faith.  There can be the religion of the people who run the state.

But if all of the people who run the state and organize the institutions of the state say that their state is religious -- right? -- if they assert this and if they have institutions that exist in the real world that they administer according to these ideas, if there are certain people who are in charge of deciding on this aspect of the expenditure of funds with regard to religion, and this group of people who are in charge of that aspect of making sure that -- I don't know -- as in Saudi Arabia, that people attend the mosque.  You know, if you're in the marketplace and prayer time comes in Saudi Arabia, someone comes along and urges you to attend the mosque.  And if notice that you're not a Muslim, then they say oh, sorry -- you know? -- not you.

But if you have people these sorts of things, then it's practically useful to be able to say that you're speaking in the context of an Islamic state, and that's all I need, I think, for me to be able to say that people may speak of themselves as having an Islamic state.

Now, is there a certain contradiction between that and the idea that some citizens would nevertheless be free to exercise their religious rights? And here I'm going to turn to Philip.  So this is the point that Abdullahi made.  There is a contradiction here.

I agree that there's some tension, because if all the people who run the state are saying this is an Islamic state, the person who's a non-Muslim may feel marginal, may have the experience of feeling like, well, wait a minute.  It's not my state.  I don't fully participate in that state.  Right?  And I agree that that can be a subjective experience that the person will have -- will be likely to have.

If, however, they have that feeling, I don't think it follows from that that they are not free to act in the realm of their own religion.  They might not be free.  You might have a great tendency to take away their rights, but it doesn't necessarily follow, I don't think, that they are not free to act in the realm of their own religion. 

And let me just give a practical example of why this so, and here I'll turn to -- my disagreement -- this is apart of where Philip and I disagree.  Although I think Philip and I often agree on the bottom line, we almost always disagree completely about how to get there.  (Laughter.)

So if you look at the Protestant tradition of the separation of church and state, which Philip has done so much to elucidate, it begins with the idea that the state does have a religion, but that that religion demands equal liberty and free choice of religion for each of its citizens.  Right?  Now, not everyone in the Protestant tradition says this, but let's just take Locke, whom Philip mentioned, who for Americans, at least, is the most influential thinker about the relationship between religion and government, I would argue.  

Locke, in his famous letter on toleration, does say that there's no such thing under the gospels as a Christian commonwealth.  He thinks there was a Jewish commonwealth under the Hebrew Bible, but that because of Christian liberty, there's no such thing as a truly Christian commonwealth.  So actually he agrees with Abdullahi on that point.

But he's imagining that the Church of England will remain the established church, and he is imagining that government money and church money will be fully intertwined.  But he thinks that his own religion, which is the religion of the state, in effect, itself demands -- and he makes a religious argument for this -- itself demands that each person be left free to choose his own religion, because the religion wants free choice of faith, and not coerced choice of faith.

Now, does that make separation of church and state a Protestant idea?  In some sense, yeah.  Yes, it does, in America.  And once you see that it's a Protestant idea, it's impossible to disentangle it from a long strain of anti-Catholicism in English-speaking Protestantism.  And so when you look at the historical materials, as Philip does very well in his very important book on this subject, you see, and what do you know -- the same people who were advocating religious liberty are also not in favor of the Catholic Church -- which, they note, as late as the 1860s and '70s says that, quote, "Liberty of conscience is a delirimentum."  Walter's Latin is better than mine, but it's nothing good to say that something is -- it's a, you know, a false imagining.  Something that you ought not to believe.  Right? 

So there's an actual disagreement there on whether the liberty of conscience is in fact an important value -- and, of course, the Catholic Church has changed its view on this radically since that time, and that's wonderful.  But the fact is that once you acknowledge in a historical sense that there is something distinctively Protestant about this development of separation of church and state, you find all the nasty stuff, too.  But that's okay -- and this is where Philip and I disagree.

You find the nasty stuff -- and he's right that it's there, but that doesn't trouble me very much, because all traditions of thought, whether they're religious, secular, or otherwise, have this nasty stuff caught up in it.  So when I read the new atheists, as they are -- they're sometimes called, you know, these writers who get so much attention these days who are, in fact, amazingly similar to the atheists of the 1870s and '80s. 

I mean, in fact, almost all of the arguments, with only a few exceptions, can already be found in those earlier texts.  So once a century they get their chance to really, you know -- (laughter) -- flex and stretch their muscles, and that's probably a good thing.  They're focusing on nasty things that religion has done, and it's almost never the case that they're wrong.  The nasty things they say religion has done, it has done.  But so has every other ideology. 

I'll leave it there.

AN-NA'IM:  Can I --

MEAD:  Sure.

AN-NA'IM:  I'm saying just about the -- because when you say when all the Muslims of a country say that we want our -- or say to me -- Muslims never agree on anything -- never agree.  But the day the prophet died, and before he was buried, Muslims disagreed about how to succeed and who to succeed.  So disagreements have been -- (inaudible) -- you will never agree and you will always disagree, and it's only God in the next life who will adjudicate your differences among you; several verses to this extent.

So the point is that my problem with a -- Islamic state is that what does Islamic mean?  When we cannot agree on what Islamic means, using the term is confusing; in fact, dangerous, because it hides all the nasty stuff that he was talking about behind this veneer of Islamic, so that it becomes harder to challenge it.

He gives an example of Saudi Arabia.  In Saudi Arabia, there is a significant minority of Shi'a in eastern Arabia.  I don't like to say Saudi Arabia.  I like to say Arabia.  How can you name a country after a family?  In Arabia, there is significant Shi'a in the east to whom the Wahhabi doctrine of the state is a heresy, and they are obliged to live under this heresy as the law of the state.

And when you see that Iran is an Islamic state and Saudi Arabia is an Islamic state, what will it mean when, to each of them, the other is a heresy?  So the term Islamic becomes totally incoherent.  You know, as you travel in the region, you will find that people call Islamic law -- Islamic sort of -- (inaudible) -- the term is overused that there is no thought as to exactly what we mean by it.  And when we look closely to what we mean by it, we see that no Muslims of any country will agree on what their state is when they call it an Islamic state.

All of this is to be in the realm of politics.  And that's why I will say let people affirm their Islamic identity and values through politics, but not through a state institutions, which is what I need to have for it to be possible for me to negotiate Shari'a in politics.

MEAD:  Philip.

PHILIP HAMBURGER:  I'm not learned enough to take a position on Islamic law such as Professor An-Na'im just did, but in defense of -- of his position against Professor Feldman's, I must say I fear that Professor Feldman, in defense of his view that there should be possibly should admit there to be an Islamic state, looks to Europe to say, "Well, there are Christian states there."  And it strikes me that, at least in the Anglo-American tradition, which is the freer part of the European tradition, that's not so clear.

So, yes, there would have been a social establishment of Christianity, particularly Anglicanism in England.  And, yes, the monarch is the head of the English church, but if one looks at the theological and political writings of the late 17th century and early 18th century, defending Anglican establishments, the writings that Americans look to and understand, the argument isn't the state is religious, let alone that it's Protestant, let alone that it's Anglican, but rather that there's an alliance between church and state.

So even in the English church's own writings, it's not asserted that there's an Anglican church -- I'm sorry -- an Anglican state, except in the strongest -- (inaudible) -- Tory writings.  In the mainstream English writings, for example, by Bishop Warburton is about an alliance of church and state, in which he does very interesting Madisonian-style reasons.  And so it's really, I think, much more cautious.  So I don't think we can look to Europe and say, "Well, that's what the Europeans did.  Therefore, we should be comfortable with a religious state elsewhere."

I'd also like to disagree, much as I appreciate Professor Feldman's views on this, with his casual use of separation of church and state, as if that is what we're talking about when we talk about disestablishment.  Disestablishment and separation are very different metaphors.  Establishment is about one object elevating another, and therefore it's about a restraint on the government elevating the church.  Separation of church and state, which we think of horizontally, it's about keeping apart two institutions, and necessarily it limits both.  And instead of talking about religion generally, it focuses on organized religion rather than individual spirituality.

So it seems to me, yes, a lot of violence has been pursued in this country even in the name of separation of church and state, as well as in the name of religion.  But that's not our ideal.  Our ideal is actually quite carefully drafted in the Constitution.  It's about disestablishment.

And then, finally, I can't help talking about violence, since that's what lies behind so much of this, right?  We're not talking about violence -- "Let's have some fun" -- because violence has its fun aspect, unfortunately; we're human, and we indulge in it occasionally.  So if it looks back, as the Supreme Court likes to do, they'll say, "Oh, we have to be careful of divisiveness and religious violence," and they allude to Europe, particularly the happy years of the 16th and 17th century when there was a lot of violence.

It's by no means clear that religion has a monopoly on this.  In fact, religion turned out to be rather inefficient.  The Inquisition only killed a few thousand people.  What were they up to?  Their mind was on God, not on the efficiency of killing.  And it strikes me that the secular state in the past century has really done a much better job of it, if you're into that sort of thing, which gets to the larger set of issues, I think, here that we haven't yet discussed, the relationship, as it were, social structures, if we include religion amongst these.

So let's not talk about religion.  I agree with Professor Feldman about this.  It's an amorphous concept.  Let's think just for a minute; not say this is what religion really is, but about unrealistic aspirations for purity and transcendence.

Now, if that is part of the human condition, how should it be pursued, with unrealistic aspirations for purity and transcendence in this world or another world?  And which is more dangerous?  I don't know that I know the answer.  But it's by no means clear to me that pursuing those unrealistic aspirations in another world is more dangerous than in this world.  And I think, sadly, the comparisons to the Soviet Union and the proceedings of the 16th Century illustrate that.

MEAD:  All right.  Boy, well, you certainly know how to bring the fun into a gathering.  (Laughter.)

HAMBURGER:  I don't like violence myself, but it's fun to talk about.

MEAD:  All right.  Well, I think, speaking of fun, maybe it's time to give the audience some and open this up for questions.  Again, I'd like to remind you that a question is a statement which can be grammatically ended with a question mark.  (Laughter.)  One can usually tell one's being asked a question by sort of a rising inflection that comes at the end of the sentence.  And questions are, generally speaking, rather short.

So if anybody has questions, please raise your hand.  We'll bring a microphone to you.  State your name and your affiliation for the sake of those watching by video.

QUESTIONER:  Charles Harper, John Templeton Foundation.

I want to state a thesis as a question for all of you.  Do you think that strategically, for the Council on Foreign Relations and the United States generally, that this issue for intellectuals of clarifying the difference in religion between a situation before and after an American-style politic -- constitutionally of the separation of state power from religious culture, do you see that as something that's vital for American intellectuals to engage with in the world to clarify what the American experiment and experience has been?

MEAD:  So if I rephrase that, gentlemen, does your life's work have any meaning or purpose?  (Laughter.)  Anybody want to jump in there?

FELDMAN:  One think that I think is fair to say is that, though it's obviously crucially important in the American realm for us to understand what we're doing ourselves domestically, we shouldn't draw the conclusion from that that once we've figured it out, then we'll have something we can hold their hands and export.

I mean, one of the weirdest experiences of my life was sitting in the Green Zone and hearing U.S. government officials, who were aligned with the political movement of deeply skeptical of, for example, the idea of a secular state -- we don't have a secular state here -- saying things like, "The most important thing we have to keep in mind for the new Iraq is that there must be a strictly secular state."

First of all, it bespoke a willingness to sort of imagine something on the U.S. side that they themselves denied exists on the U.S. side.  But second of all, it bespoke this idea that they knew exactly what we had in the United States and we should export that.

So I want to (exploit ?) all of that -- (inaudible).  I think the other panelists do too.  We do want to understand what we have here.  We want to understand the fights that we still have in the United States, the lack of clarity that we have.  And then we want to realize that whatever the lack of -- (inaudible) -- that we have is, that's probably not the suitable thing to impose on anybody else.  At least that's my own view.

MEAD:  They should have their own lack of clarity.

FELDMAN:  Exactly.  They should have their own version of confusion.

And this is the last thing I would say.  I mean, a constitutional tradition that works is one that is in a constant state of dynamic evolution.  You have a written constitution that says "x," but no constitutional system works if it just follows what's in that written constitution and never changes.  Interpretation gives it the freedom to change.  And if it doesn't even have a text, so much the better, often, because then you have a little bit more freedom for the dynamism.

So everyone's going to have some complex dynamic unresolved form of the relationship between religion and government, but they shouldn't all have the same confusion.

MEAD:   Abdullahi, do you want to --

AN-NA'IM:  I was going to -- I am from Sudan.  At this point I am an American citizen, but I am from Sudan and am formed by being from Sudan.  And one term or concept, idea that has not really been raised much is colonialism.  Much of what we see is post-colonialism, that it is more informed by colonialism than it is by anything else about Muslim societies and their history.

The Islamic state discourse is a post-colonial discourse, because one position that we have not clarified, what do we mean by the state?  The form of state -- the type of state that we now live with is a European model of the state.  And the idea of law that Muslims -- when Muslims talk about an Islamic state before Shari'a, they think of it as Shari'a as positive law; European idea of law, European idea of the state.

So it's a contradiction, I think, to claim to affirm Islamic identity through two European institutions, the state and law.  The type of state that Muslims lived with historically is a very different type of state than the state they are living with now in the post-colonial.

Now, coming to the American, also one question.  Iraq was mentioned a couple of times.  But the fact is that Iraq has been a colonial experience; that is, the United States has colonized and is still colonizing Iraq.  Iraq is not a sovereign state now, as we speak.  And probably in my book, the biggest moral failure of the United States since the Second World War has been the invasion, occupation and colonization of Iraq.

And this event, if we can call it an event, has done sort of horrendous consequences for decades to come and outraged, completely outraged, that we can talk about it as if it is something that happened and, okay, we'll just now deal with the consequences.  No, it has to be condemned for having happened in the first place.  And thus, having had to be condemned for having done it, now the impulse is the Americans go out in the world to engage in conversation about the American experience -- absolutely fine, wonderful.  In fact, we do this all the time.

I studied constitutional law with an American professor in the 1960s in Sudan, and I learned a lot from him.  And I continue to learn from my American experience.  But if you send your armies to missionize for your view of what freedom of religion is and what church and state is, that's completely unacceptable and utterly counterproductive.

FELDMAN:  Just for the record, I mean, we did invade Iraq; there's no question.  And there's no question, further, that our presence there has features that are in common with colonialism, or with imperialism maybe more precisely.  But if you look at the constitutional structure that emerged in Iraq, it has nothing to do with the U.S. constitutional structure.  I mean, for better or worse, it makes Iraq an Islamic state and says that no law passed may violate the judgments of Islam.  I mean, it says that when it comes to family law -- I mean, you can say these are terrible things.  I think you do think they're terrible things.  But whatever they are, they're not American things.

AN-NA'IM:  No, but the fact is that it was drafted during an American occupation, that the people of Iraq -- I mean, the question is also Britain colonized Sudan and Uganda and Kenya; I mean, most of African states.  And it was -- and the French did it too.  At the end of the colonial period, they drafted a constitution in Lancaster House in England for the new state to just go on and become independent and sovereign as of today, because we have made you sovereign.

When our secretary of State sends a letter to the government of Iraq to say that "We have your sovereignty for a year.  Here, have it back.  But we will keep 150,000 troops heavily armed under foreign command who will protect you from your own population, but you are a sovereign state."  The constitution of Iraq has not happened.  And the fact that you have a document called the constitution of Iraq is not and does not make it the constitution of Iraq.

You know, constitutions are not made in documents.  Constitutions are hearts and minds of people.  And until the people of Iraq have the freedom and the stability and the ability to draft their own constitution completely free, without any foreign advisers, without technocrats telling them how to draft this or how to work it out or not work it out, it is not a constitution.

MEAD:  Well, I think -- let's try to -- points taken, but let's try to keep this on the broader agenda of responding, I think, to the question of, you know, the validity -- sort of the importance for American foreign policy of trying to understand this issue of religious --

HAMBURGER:  I do want to get back to the original question.  I just cannot help engaging a little bit on this point.

MEAD:  Please don't.  (Laughter.)

HAMBURGER:  One sentence.  It's simply that if one takes everything that Professor An-Na'im just said as true, it just does strike me that we won't have to worry that the colonial discourse tends to lead us only to look at some tragedies and not others.  And I think if one's really to be concerned about the people of any nation in this world, as a human being, one has to recognize disasters can happen from any direction, including from within, and that's certainly been the case with Iraq.

Now, getting back to the question, though, it strikes me that, yes, we do need to be engaging.  I almost agreed with Noah there until he went on about the living constitution, and then I had to back -- can't win 'em all.  It strikes me that we have had a remarkable experience here, perhaps just by accident.  None of us in this room, I think, can take credit for it, but we have lived in a genuinely blessed country in a blessed period of time where it is just not normal in human experience to have what we have in the United States.

And by whatever grace that is, I think it is worth talking about.  It's worth talking about with all the caution that my colleagues have mentioned, because we don't know which elements are essential, and there's a danger we will misstate it, so we need to be very modest about it.  And it may be that we should not impose this; that's surely true.  And yet, at the same time, just to show the model of living, a Lutheran pastor once explained to me how he reached his congregation, and he said to me, "I don't have a congregation; I just try to live right, and people notice that."

And we can take the same approach.  But I think, at the same time, one can't just live right.  One has to talk about it.  And, yes, we need to be engaged with a sense of prudence, with a sense of the diversity of the world, but sharing at least the model so that people can adapt from it what I think they will undoubtedly find deeply attractive.  And frankly, people across the world do.

MEAD:  And I would probably add, from the standpoint of the Council on Foreign Relations, or at least some of us here, we think that certainly since September 11th, but a lot of events before that, have raised the importance of trying to get a clearer understanding in the U.S. of how our own traditions have evolved in this respect and then trying to understand better where those do and don't intersect with the experiences of other societies and what usefully can we do to try to advance some of the universal values that Noah was talking about in these very different contexts.

Sir.

QUESTIONER:  Jim Dingman, INN World Report.

When one travels to Europe, one's constantly confronted with the question of "What are you Americans doing letting these fundamentalist Christians dominate your foreign policy?"  All the time last fall, I got that continually.  And we know that operationally that influence has been realized in the HIV-AIDS policy of Bush's administration in Africa.

And I wanted to get your take on that and also how people in Europe are perceiving how religion is in the election process.  For example, we've had three weeks of Jeremiah Wright being thrown at us, and that has, of course, been perceived differently in Europe than in the United States.  I wanted to know how you see those things.

FELDMAN:  We're on the record, right?

MEAD:  No, go right ahead; sounds like you're itching to go.

FELDMAN:  Well, I mean, look, on the first point I would say welcome to participatory democracy.  There are all these foreign policy elites; some of them may be in this room.  Some of the people who helped create this room, who think that it might not be such a good idea for the general democratic population -- here I mean democratic, not a small "r" republican -- to be involved in foreign policymaking, right, because they think, "Wow, what happens when that happens is that all those people out there have these views that we elites don't agree with will impact our foreign policy -- yuk."

Now, you know, one of the costs of the democratization of foreign policy in the last 115 years, which is itself in part of a very complicated story that Walter has told part of very brilliantly of post-Cold War changes in the way foreign policy is shaped, one of the consequences of this democratization of foreign policy debates is that constituencies that historically didn't do that much or weren't able to do that much to affect our foreign policy now can and do.

I think that in many particular cases -- the one you mentioned is a good one -- I don't agree with what that particular constituency wants our foreign policy to be.  But I completely disagree that it somehow follows from that that public voices should be excluded from our foreign policy judgments.  I think if you're serious about being a democracy, you need to acknowledge that.

And when you make your foreign policy, you have to think seriously about the fact that that foreign policy is now going to be shaped in the long run by what the general public believes.  I think that's got to be now part of the foreign policy calculus.  When you decide to do something, you can't think, for example, that the next administration, even if it's of a different party, will do just what you expect it to do.  That's a mistake, I think, now in foreign policy, where then maybe it wasn't the case in certain aspects of the Cold War.  So that's on the first half of the question, and I'll leave Jeremiah Wright to my colleagues.

HAMBURGER:  I just want to comment on the notion of fundamentalists anywhere.  Who are the fundamentalists, right?  Fundamentalists are a small group that are more generally known as evangelicals.  The number of fundamentalists in this country who were actually traditional fundamentalists are tiny.  I mean, how many premillenarian literalists are there in this country?  That's not most evangelicals.

And so when people criticize fundamentalists, they're revealing a certain theological ignorance, I fear.  And what particularly worries me is that this is a theologically (inflected ?) term.  This is saying some people believe in fundamentals.  In other words, they believe in orthodoxies.  We are theologically liberal.  The implication is, "And we don't have orthodoxies."  And somehow this gets into class distinctions, too -- the educated versus uneducated and the rest.  And so I think we have to be very careful with labels.  Most evangelicals are highly individualistic.  Most of them are not fundamentalist in the traditional term.

And just a final thought here.  Since I am interested so much in the bullying of religious minorities, we would not ordinarily take the label for a small minority and treat that as a label for some sort of social ill or theological ill.  You know, if you're worried about some sort of habit that you associate with a particular religion, you wouldn't say, "How Protestant of you.  How Catholic of you.  How Islamic of you.  How Jewish of you."  We think how prejudiced that would be.  But we don't hesitate to say, "Gee, that's very fundamentalist," and we're not even talking about fundamentalists.  We're using minority label.

And so I just feel a lot of these criticisms don't even understand the theologies involved.  Now, it may be right, as Noah points out.  Perhaps we might disagree with the policies.  But that's a different issue altogether.

MEAD:  Yes.

QUESTIONER:  (Inaudible.)

MEAD:  I have a feeling we'll come back to Jeremiah Wright.

QUESTIONER:  I'm definitely not Jeremiah --

MEAD:  He'll take care of himself.

QUESTIONER:  Thank you.

I'd like to ask you to express an opinion.  Mr. Ratzinger, who has chosen the name of Pope Benedict XVI --

MEAD:  Are you a Protestant, by any chance?

QUESTIONER:  There's a chance.  There's a chance.  I'd like to ask you to comment on this too.  And I know you're the fair-minded moderator here.  I will not try to quote him, because he did it in Latin and my Latin is not that good.  But he said at one point here three or four months something to the effect that he would support the building of mosques in Rome when the Saudi government permitted the building of churches in Riyadh.  Would you comment on that?

AN-NA'IM:  There is so much more to the Muslim world than Saudi Arabia.

QUESTIONER:  (Off mike.)

AN-NA'IM:  (Laughs.)  Because he said Riyadh, so -- at least to be clear.  I made my point about the family and the country.  But now what I'm saying is this.  I noticed also this morning already that there is so much focus on the Middle East as if it is representative of the Muslim world at large.

The Arab Muslim region is about 10 (percent) to 12 percent of the total Muslim population -- 10 (percent) to 12 percent.  There are more Muslims in sub-Saharan Africa than there are Muslims in the Middle East.  There are -- India is the second-largest Muslim country in the world, or third, probably, when you compare it to Pakistan.

The point is that so much Muslims and Islam historically, as well as currently, are not anything to do with the Middle East; in fact, quite different, very much different, that -- so that I think for the pope's remark, I think it is unfair to sort of prejudge Muslims' attitudes about churches and Christian-Muslim relations and so on by what goes on in Arabia or Saudi Arabia, as your choice.

In that sense, the point is that also, I would say, I would hope that a pope would be more visionary and more leading the Christians than this tit-for-tat attitude.  He should say that "I would support building a mosque in Rome regardless of what" -- because he should be driven by his own religious conviction as a Christian, not by what -- and this is exactly what Muslims are doing now when they are (ranting ?) against the United States and condemning everything that's good about this country because they hate some aspects of the foreign policy of this country.

What the United States does or does not do should not define what I do or not do and my right as a Muslim.  And I would hope that the pope would think "What does my religious conviction as a Christian leader lead me to do about mosques in Rome?" rather than being defined by what Muslim leaders do or prefer to do in other countries.

MEAD:  I suppose the king of Saudi Arabia might also reply, "We'll separate mosque from state in Saudi Arabia when you do it in the Vatican, your holiness," and see what he gets.

QUESTIONER:  Hi.  Assam Rehman (sp), Muslim Bar Association of New York.

Just to take advantage of the fact that we have three law professors, I wanted to ask your opinion on the role of religious judicial bodies.  This is something that was discussed earlier this morning, but perhaps each of you can comment, because, for example, Professor An-Na'im, you talked about keeping religion out of the institutions.  How does that concept inform the existence of a judicial body or even a scholar who is empowered by the state to adjudicate matters?  Professor Feldman, you wrote about this recently.  I'd like to get your views as legal experts on that matter.

(Off mike commentary.) 

AN-NA'IM:  Okay.  You might be surprised, but I am opposed to what the archbishop has proposed.  I think it is bad for the state institutions to enforce religious adjudication.  Religious adjudication and other types of adjudication happen all the time.  And we can never stop it, and, in fact, we can encourage it.

My objection comes when you involve a state institution in enforcing the outcome of -- (inaudible) -- our situation.  If it is freely chosen by the parties, you can have types of issues where that happens outside the state institutions, and it will happen outside the state institutions, and it is good that it happens.

But implicating the state institutions into enforcing religious adjudication is dangerous for the state and for the religion.  Now, one point is that when -- say, if you have a Shari'a-based arbitrational family dispute in Britain go before English courts to enforce, is the court going to review only the procedural aspects, or is it going to review the substantive aspects?  Or is it going to enforce based on the authority of those who adjudicate it without questioning looking into what really went on and what are the issues?

Now, is an English court competent in Shari'a to be able to review adjudication outcomes?  If it is not, is it going to enforce an adjudication that it has no way of evaluating in terms of its good or bad nature, and so on?  Now, the point is that the realm of community life are very much -- I think my sense of separation of church and state, as you said, is protecting the state from religion and religion from the state.  And in that light, I would be opposed to enforcement of religious education.

Now, another point to add; I don't know how much time -- time, of course, is short.  The thing is, what is the Shari'a authorization for this selectivity, because if what you are doing is enforcing Shari'a, Shari'a has a lot to say on everything.  How come that you choose this particular limited issue and exclude all other issues on which Shari'a is as authoritative as it is on this issue?

In the sort of Ontario case, the same proposal was made in Ontario.  And the proposal was made excluding custody-of-children issues.  Because custody of children is a federal jurisdiction, so they were saying in Ontario, "Let us do it in other issues, not with custody of children."  How can you deal with a family dispute without including custody-of-children issues as a factor simply because the state structure is such that this is outside the realm of the provincial?  That is the sort of confusion that is bound to come through if you try to do this sort of thing.

HAMBURGER:  If I could just add a word here, for 480 years the law of the land has had complete obligation, within the jurisdiction of the common-law nations.  There is no room for a distinct jurisdiction independent of it.  And although in England church courts can be authorized by the state, it's always under their complete authority of the law of the land.  And that's just fundamental.  That's why our constitution refers to the supreme law of the land. 

And I agree with Professor An-Na'im.  It's very, very dangerous to start breaking that down.  That can go in a lot of different directions.  This was the split between the Catholic Church in England in the 1530s, and there's just nothing as fundamental as the complete force of the law of the land in jurisdiction.  And we're familiar with this in many areas, in questions of race, questions of religion and so forth.

There is some room for contractual arrangements by which individuals put themselves into someone else's judgment, be it religious or commercial, right?  But the secular courts must always have competence to decide the matter ultimately.  And to inquire, which is genuinely voluntary, there's potential for this to go in a very dangerous direction, and not, incidentally, to the advantage of Muslims.

FELDMAN:  Here I disagree with my colleagues.  To me, this question comes under the general category of things you could do differently in different countries, provided that basic human rights are respected.  And I would note that in his pretty tentative speech, if you actually read it, which obviously very few people have done -- in this room I'm sure many have, but in the world, very few people have done -- the archbishop of Canterbury spoke of, first of all -- the background assumption of the talk was that, of course, the laws of the state would ultimately be the ones that authorized the local court -- the arbitral body, and that the state law would be the supreme law of the land.  He was very explicit in this respect, and he also said very explicitly that equality of men and women would have to be respected, that that would trump any particular Islamic principles, and so forth and so on.

Now, I think it's worth noting the difference in approach -- and this goes back to the previous question -- between Pope Benedict and the archbishop of Canterbury because they both lead -- once much larger, but they both lead big Christian denominations -- when it comes to dealing with the question of Islam.  Pope Benedict's verbal practice thus far and his experience have been to be, let's say, on occasion sharply negative about aspects of Islam.  That has brought him a lot of opposition in the Muslim world, but it's been pretty good for him as a sort of political move within Europe.  I think it's fair to say that he has strengthened himself within Europe as a result.  An interesting strategy on his part, especially given that he has said explicitly when he became pope that one of the dangers for the church is becoming irrelevant in Europe.  So it turns out that being sharply negative about Islam is a very effective technique for making yourself a player in the contemporary European environment.

The archbishop of Canterbury --

(Cross talk.)

MEAD:  -- could maybe take a lead --

FELDMAN:  -- yeah, it's interesting.  Yeah.

The archbishop of Canterbury, by contrast, gave this very tentative and scholarly lecture in a pretty academic environment and all hell broke loose.  You know?  I mean, they were calling for his resignation.  And you know, he's been handling some pretty sensitive matters over the last couple of years that -- the Anglican community is not without its difficulties, as we know -- but nobody, as far as I know, has made as open, as loud, as angry a set of calls for his resignation as came over this one speech.  So there's an important lesson there about the political climate in Europe right now.  Say anything that might be construed as in some way -- and the archbishop was very explicit -- he was trying to experimentally think of ways to reach out to the Muslim community in England to make it feel fully a part, and you can think that that's a mistake; you can think it's wrong -- but the spirit of the speech I think is pretty clear, and look at the consequences. 

MEAD:  Okay.  We have a question from one of our very patient webcast viewers that I'd like to interject here.  This is from Rene Lape (sp) at Friends Academy, who asked, "Regarding the relationship between Christian believers in the United States and the state, when it comes to issue such as the prohibition we have always had on men having more than one wife, a rule strictly related, it seems, to our identity as a Christian nation, how do you see the role of the state in defining the nature of marriage -- whether we're speaking of same-sex marriage or monogamous marriages?" 

So, I guess behind that is the notion that religious presuppositions inform the approach of the state to such basic matters of family life -- is this appropriate? 

MR.     :  (Off mike.)  (Laughter.)

AN-NA'IM:  I'll try briefly.  I think it is legitimate that every society's legal order -- codes of family law included -- would reflect its values, its culture, its religious beliefs included in that.  But the point is that certain -- as it is enacted as law by virtue of the will of the state and not by virtue religious authority.  So monogamous marriage is now part of the -- of course we are clear, all of us, that the origin or the underpinnings of this are Christian or particularly at least some interpretation of Christian dogma, but the point is that it is family law by virtue of the will of the state, not by virtue of divine command.

If that is the case, then it can be changed, too.  Not that we are going to have polygamous marriages, but the point is that we are dealing with the secular world.  My view is that in Islamic-majority countries, family law also should be secular law and should be seen as such; that you have a family court.  If the peoples are Muslims, their values will be reflected in that court, but there is no confusion that what the law is is the rule of the state and not the religious commands according to some interpretations of it. 

So, in that sense, we can have polygamous marriage or not have this divorce or that divorce -- all of it as secular law so we can change it.  But once we say, "This is Shari'a," then what can we do about it?

MEAD:  So in some countries one can have multiple wives; in this country we have multiple conceptions of marriage.  But these come from the democratic system of politics.  And underlying this and the prior question really is the matter of women's rights.  Right?  To what -- whether we're talking about polygamy or we're talking about Shari'a is introduced as a set of -- a subpart of the legal system as to family matters, the concern that I think many people rightfully will have is what will happen to the woman as an individual?  Will her rights be fully respected?  And to what extent will her freedom remain under such a system?  And given the role of the equality of women generally one might say in the development of the set of political systems and freedoms that we appreciate -- and it's been a central part, frankly -- women's rights have been a central part of the movement against slavery in this country and in changing our polity I think in ways that are on the whole rather wholesome.  We ought to be very, very careful about inviting what might become instruments of undermining this.  In fact, if there's anything we can do for the rest of the world, it will be to remind the rest of the world that in fact half the population -- many parts -- are excluded from full participation as citizens.  And, to put it mildly, that's a shame.

Yes, in the back?

QUESTIONER:  Yes.  Eric Gregory from Princeton University.  I'm an academic, so you'll forgive me if I worry this is getting to concrete.  I'm going to ask an abstract question, and it was provoked by Professor Hamburger.  I think as a matter of intellectual history, the concept of the secular and even human rights and even the separation of church and state have their soil in theological and religious sources.  And you said that we would be impoverished today without those religious motivations to regard people as equal, et cetera.  Do you want to go further and say they're actually necessary and required?  And I wasn't sure if you meant that as a philosophical argument, as a sociological argument or as a historical argument.  Can we tick away the God talk as long as we have the constitutional practices and democratic republican institutions, or is religion necessary for the defense of human rights?  It's the question about Locke, really. 

HAMBURGER:  Yeah.  It's a good question.  It's an -- I don't know the answer, and I fear that we're living through an interesting experiment.  We won't know probably for a little while -- I hope not to live long enough to find out.  But this is the division between America and Europe, right?  And if we think -- I don't think America has ever really been the same as Europe, but there are some commonalities.  And if one looks at the fate of Europe and the fate of the United States, we each have our problems, but their problems may turn out to be more fundamental precisely because they place such a burden on their mere humanity, and that is more than most societies have survived.

I don't want to suggest that nothing -- you know, it isn't possible.  That would be going too far, right?  We have no evidence for that.  But if one looks across history -- and of course, we only have a few thousand years of detailed evidence -- but if one looks across history, it's difficult to find a society which really gets very far, survives very long without some outside source to define and give stability to what we loosely call -- politely call "values," right, but which actually have to be a little bit more magnetic than that.  So I don't really know, but I'm -- although personally an optimist, professionally I'm a pessimist.  (Laughter.)

MEAD:  Yes?  Wait for the microphone.

QUESTIONER:  Paul de Vries with New York Divinity School.  I'm also on the board of the National Association of Evangelicals.  It puzzles us that we've had such a giant influence on foreign policy.  We look at many of our attempts to affect foreign policy in terms of restricting sex trade, nonviolent conflict resolution, creation care, environmental issues to be part of foreign policy and so forth.  And perhaps the -- (inaudible) -- list several more, perhaps the only success was the AIDS program that Bush pushed in Africa. 

But I guess the question -- we represent directly 20 million evangelicals, and indirectly probably equal number.  What can we do to wake up Washington to what we see as the eternal values?

MEAD:  How can evangelicals get more political influence?  (Laughter.)  Who wants to answer that?

FELDMAN:  I'll say something about at least the first part of the question -- how it's a surprise.  It's sometimes a surprise where one has influence and where one doesn't have influence. 

I think one of the key rules of American foreign policy is that if you pick an issue that nobody really feels strongly on the other side of, or at least where the opposition to you is not well organized and where no really fundamental national security interest is on the other side, that's where you're likely, in the first instance, to have a lot of impact.  Right?  I mean, this is a key point in understanding the role of the pro-Israel lobby -- both the Jewish pro-Israel lobby and the evangelical pro-Israel lobby.  Walter has written recently in an interesting review of Mearsheimer and Walt's book about this phenomenon.  It helps if you're advocating for something and no one is very organized in advocating on the other side of that issue.

In terms of how, though, one has an effect or a group of concerned citizens have a big effect where the national security interest doesn't obviously align with what they're pushing for or where there are other strong interests -- especially corporate interests -- on the other side, there the thing about our republican democracy is that the push really has to happen at the level of individual congresspeople.  I mean, that really is the way it works.  And although, for example, we speak of the tremendous corporate impact on our politics, which is enormous, that is accomplished via the mechanism of targeted support for particular representatives and senators.  That's our version of what we don't consider to be corruption.  I mean, at the margins it can become corrupt, but the American approach for better or for worse is to say money has a huge impact, so let's create a legal channel for money to have its influence so that it doesn't have its influence through non-legal channels. 

That may be a terrible mistake -- and again here, the European example is an interesting contrast where there's at least in many places in Europe a serious attempt to avoid the influence of money in politics, and yet there doesn't seem to be the kind of corruption that one sees in some other places.  That's an interesting contrast, and especially whether we could achieve that is I think the central question and the question of campaign finance reform. 

But that's really my view:  You do it by identifying particular people who are vulnerable and trying to get them elected or not elected. 

MEAD:  Okay.  We have time I think for one more question.

QUESTIONER:  I'm Sayed (sp).  Once again, I just wanted to make a brief observation in terms of open societies.  If both religion and the secular-minded groups are so much strongly in favor of open society, what is it that makes this a difficult thing to be realized?  Are we not looking at the moral aspect of it, or is there something else?  Thank you.

HAMBURGER:  Well, if I may, I feel that too often both secular attitudes and religion are used, right?  In the particularly in the democratic style government, religion is used to mobilize passions -- sometimes for good; sometimes for evil -- and so too, fears of religion.  And so it may be that the civilized conversation we can have here is not easily replicated out there simply because of the nature of politics, getting people mobilized, the way that Noah suggested.  So it may be something we just have to live with, which would be sad, but I don't have a solution. 

FELDMAN:  I think part of it has to do with the way that in politics no one is ever satisfied with just winning a particular debate.  If you can win a debate, you then want to move the goalposts to increase your chances of winning the next debate.  And I think that's where the real potential for conflict actually happens.  It's not just -- I mean, there's of course conflict if two different groups see an issue differently and they argue about it and they're each trying to lobby their congressman to get certain results and one wins and the other loses -- yeah, that's ordinary political fighting.  But rarely do they stop there. 

So we have constitutional politics, for example, where secularists -- legal secularists, as I sometimes call them, argue that religion should not be allowed into public discourse and then try to create constitutional rules that will make it harder -- will raise the barrier for religious folks to participate in that debate. 

And on the other side, you might have situations where people you might call "values evangelicals" -- I don't mean literally just evangelicals but people who evangelize for values -- also want to change the constitutional rules so that for example, state funds can be used to sustain their institutions, which will enable them to do a better job and win more future political debates.  And that's where I think you get the really heavy fighting.  And I don't think there's any solution to that.  I mean, this is an answer to your -- to try to be a direct answer to your question of why don't we all just get along.  (Laughter.)  It's because we're all trying to harden our advantage for the next time out. 

But that's just what constitutional politics always looks like, in my view.  And the test of a successful constitutional polity is that you keep that fighting within some bounds, and usually the bounds are nonviolence.  (Laughs.)  That's a pretty good bound to aim for.

AN-NA'IM:  So, just to close by saying that I can agree with Professor Feldman.  On this one I do agree with him -- that the point is that if you're -- I mean, when, we say open or closed, these are relative terms because it is relatively closed or relatively open, and also a question of how open or how closed -- in what ways?  And those are issues on which people are going to disagree constantly and permanently. 

And disagreement is good.  Conflict is good.  And in fact conflict is creative.  That's what makes us human.  It's part of our humanness is to be in disagreement because we tend to be distinctive as who we are, and that is not going to be who he is or who the next person is.  The only point is not to be violent about it. 

So the challenge is how to create normative institutions and mechanisms whereby we can negotiate our difference without resorting to violence.  Whenever we have this, there is no end to how open and variety of ways in which you can be open. 

MEAD:  Well, we never did get back to Professor Wright, but I think you'll -- Pastor Wright, but I think you'll agree with me this was still a very successful session.  (Laughter.)  We have lunch now, and we reconvene -- (applause) -- thank you.  

AN-NA'IM:  Thank you.

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      THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.

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This event is part of the Religion and Foreign Policy Symposia Series, which is made possible by the generous support of the Henry Luce Foundation.


WALTER RUSSELL MEAD:  All right.  May I have your attention, please.  Would everyone please sit down?

All right.  I'd like to welcome you to the second session of our Council on Foreign Relations seminar today.  This is a symposium on Religion and the Open Society.  This is our second session, on Religion-State Relation.

I am Walter Russell Mead, senior fellow for U.S. foreign policy.  It is my honor to introduce to you Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im, professor of law, Emory University Law School; Noah Feldman, professor of law, Harvard Law School and adjunct senior fellow here at the Council; and Philip Hamburger, professor of law, Columbia University Law School.  Welcome.  Welcome, everyone here, and also welcome to all of those who are joining our symposium this morning on video.

I'd like to remind you all that this is an on-the-record session, so anything that you say may be taken down in evidence and used against you.  (Laughter.) 

In our second session this morning we're going to try to follow up some of the lines of conversation that were introduced in the first session and also introduce some new themes. 

As the discussion was proceeding this morning, I was rather forcefully reminded that Abrahamic religions in particular -- that is, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam -- and some of the secular ideologies that have historically derived from that mix of religious cultures are bodies of thought which believe that there is a way the world ought to work.  There's a right way to live.  And obviously, if there's a right way to live, there are wrong ways to live.

And there are universal standards of justice, of conduct, that at least in theory ought to apply to all people everywhere.  And in human societies, as a general rule, there are states -- that is, bodies of organized authority whose mandate it is to see that things are run properly.

And so in Abrahamic societies, the relationship between the religion, which teaches us how the world ought to be run, and the state, that group of people whose job it is to run the world or at least to run that portion of the world under the authority of a particular state, have a charged relationship. 

Religious authorities will often, in sermons or otherwise, tell political authorities and state authorities how they ought to work.  Religious authorities will try to shape the conscience of voters in democratic societies so that the voters will vote for politicians who espouse the values that -- by which the state ought to run.  Certainly in our society in the United States we see many efforts, particularly in an election year, in which religious leaders of various kinds are trying to shape political outcomes.

Now, our three panelists today who, I guess, represent at least a good percentage of the faiths of the family of Abraham, are scholars who have spent a lot of time investigating the relationship of religion and state -- how it actually operates and how it ought to operate.  And I think it might be useful for the audience if we proceeded maybe just right down the panel and each of you share a kind of an overview of your sense of how religion and the state ought to operate, from your own particular perspective, whether that's a faith-based perspective or a more secular approach. 

And if you would like to start, Professor?

ABDULLAHI AHMED AN-NA'IM:  Good morning, everybody, and thank you for being here. 

I speak as a Muslim, so my perspective is religious.  And it is my perspective that indicates for me that I need the state to be secular in order for me to be the Muslim I choose to be.  And the only possibility of being Muslim is by choice. 

So I stake the secular state as a prerequisite, as one of the conditions for the possibility of being Muslim.  I may not be a good Muslim -- I'm sure I'm not -- but whatever degree of being Muslim it is, it has to be within a framework of a secular state.

But I make a distinction between the state and politics.  And I think this is a point that often, in the American system, is not clear enough -- that often people assume that separating church and state takes care of religion and politics.  (Laughter.)  My claim is that we need to deal with the other issue separately; that is, the state and religion should be separate.  By a secular state, I mean a state that is neutral regarding religious doctrine, but religion and politics cannot and should not be separated.

So the paradox is how -- for me is how to regulate and organize the connectedness of religion and politics in a way that safeguards the separation of religion and the state.

MEAD:  Okay.  Noah.

NOAH FELDMAN:  Thanks, Walter.  Thank you, Abdullahi. 

I just want to say quickly that I'm really grateful to be asked to participate on the panel with such distinguished scholars whose views I have drawn on in my own work.  I guess -- let me start with a quick historical point that draws on Walter's. 

I think that in modern Europe, one solution that was proffered to the problem of how to arrange religious affairs and the affairs of state was to suggest that the religion of the sovereign of the state would be the religion of the state.  You see this already in the Treaty of Augsburg, and then it becomes hardened at Westphalia, and it becomes in some way a basis for all of our modern thinking about church and state.

And that's easy to do when the sovereign is one guy.  When there's one person who is the king or the queen and says I'm the sovereign, that person picks a religion and then the state religion is that religion.  Now, of course, in practice, if that person flips religions, that makes things very complicated.  If you don't know whether that person is born into one religion or another, it makes things complicated.  But it sounds like a pretty good sort of working solution to the problem.

I don't think we would have the same set of church-state problems we have today if it weren't for a weird quirk that happened about a hundred years after that solution, and that quirk was the idea of popular sovereignty.  The core idea that underlies all of our democratic states, the core political idea, is this idea that it's not that one person is the sovereign; it's that all of the people are sovereign. 

Then if all of the people belong to the same religion, it's still not so difficult to say that the religion of the sovereign is the religion of the state, because if all of the people think of themselves as Muslims, and let's say they're the same -- belong to the same school of Islam, then you could still say that the state religion is the religion of that group of people and nobody will make much of an argument about it.

But if the sovereign people are plural with respect to religion, if they belong to lots of different religions, now you have a very serious practical problem.  How can you have the religion of the sovereign be the religion of the state if the sovereign belongs to many religions?  And it's at that point, I think, historically, that you start to see people saying maybe the state should not associate itself with any religion.  Maybe there shouldn't be any official religion.

Now, I wanted to use that historical background because I think it helps for me to see why I think that not every country in the world needs to have the exact same arrangement with respect to religion and government.

To my mind, there are some principles that are universal and should apply everywhere -- this goes to Walter's first point about the Abrahamic religions and their universalism -- and others that could be different in different places.

The parts that seem to me to be universal are the ideas of a basic human right to choose your religion.  Not everyone in the world necessarily agrees with this, but almost all of the great world religious traditions claim at least that there's no coercion in their religion.  The Koran actually says this explicitly, which gives it one step up on the Hebrew Bible or the New Testament.  But all of the world's religious traditions talk this way, I think it's fair to say.  Not all -- in fact, none -- are very good at implementing this in practice. 

But I think that that is enough of a universal value to say that every state, no matter where it is, even if it has an official religion, ought to allow people the freedom to choose their own religion, and with that comes the right as well not to be discriminated against on the basis of your religion.  To me, that's a universal value.

What's not a universal value, to me, is the idea of a secular state.  To me, if the society wants to arrange itself because the vast majority of people, or even just a slight majority of people prefer there to be an official state religion, provided that they grant every individual the basic human right to religious liberty, I think that that's just fine.  I think England is a good example of this.  There the established church may not be very active today.  It may be very difficult to find people in Anglican churches -- (laughter) -- but it's nevertheless the case that the Archbishop of Canterbury is a politically significant figure, not just because he says things that get people riled up every so often, but because he is connected to the organization of the state in an important way.

Similarly, in many Muslim countries, I think it would be practically absurd and, in principle, unnecessary to demand that the state not identify itself as Islamic, because that is what many, many, many -- the great majority, in many cases, of the population wants.  What is not absurd, however, is to insist in those cases that such states respect the basic human right to freedom of religion. 

And in a country like the United States where we have tremendous religious diversity, it would equally be absurd to say that we should have an established religion.  And as a matter of fact, our Constitution recognizes that and makes it impossible, at least formally, for there to be an established religion.

So I'll stop there, without claiming to have resolved any of the complicated difficulties that analysis raises, but at least it gives a framework for thinking that there are some things that everyone should do in every state, some rights that everyone should respect, but that the arrangement of church and state could still differ very significantly from place to place.

HAMBURGER:  Well, I confess I largely agree with what's been said thus far and -- in pursuing the theme that perhaps there can be variety in the world that's perfectly wholesome and that need not trouble us.  I can't help, though, observing that it may be easier to figure out what should not be than what should.  And that leads us to the very sort of narrow range of objections to sort of bullying that we don't like, that can come in many forms.  But that still leaves open many, many possibilities.  And fortunately, England is just one of them, though amusing these days.

It strikes me that religion is often treated in this country as something distinct from the state, something to be kept apart from it, perhaps something even dangerous.  And I -- one of the things one has to worry about is that Americans tend to forget the degree to which the state is itself constituted by religion.

Now, politically we find this an anathema to a Christian nation, but in a more profound sense, this is inevitable, and any anthropologist would point out you can hardly discuss a society without getting into its religion.

The very notion of equal liberty has its foundations in religion.  Now, we can claim equal liberty, equal rights, as some sort of right.  But if it's any more than just a demand, if it's actually going to be a moral duty -- for example, if slavery is immoral, and you actually have a duty to resist it.  If suicide is immoral, you have a duty to resist that -- where are we draw these conclusions from? 

And Locke has a lot to say about this, for all of his failings as a serious philosopher.  Nonetheless, on this point, he comes as close to profound as he ever gets, I think.  And we are too quick to forget that without the religious basis for equal rights, we would be impoverished and we might still have slavery.  So religion is fundamental to the very liberty that we think we sometimes need to protect from religion.

Second, it strikes me that in all societies, and although I'm not an expert in the Middle East, I gather from scholars of the Ottoman Empire that there are a lot of sermons, even in the 14th century, that are very similar to Christian sermons being given at the same time about the role of religion as part of the social structure.  If you want a degree of freedom from severe laws, you'd better hope these moral constraints (is ?) a fairly successful sort.  And religion inevitably has its own way of accomplishing that.

And then finally, it was only recently that we have escaped the notion that we have a government ordained by God.  And in the West we may think we're above religion now -- almost, perhaps, above God.  But in most of the world, such heady thoughts haven't yet permeated quite so far.  And it strikes me that if we are going to talk about religious liberty, we have to keep in mind the fairly -- importance of religion, even to the secular state. 

But I'll stop there.  Thank you.

MEAD:  Very good.

Well, I'm taking away a couple of things here.  One is I've been reminded again of just the sheer diversity of relationships that exist between religion and the state, even in the so-called Christian, so-called West.  So we not only have England, where the queen can't marry a Catholic or become a Catholic.  In Argentina, the president of the Argentine Republic must be a Roman Catholic, something that caused Carlos Menem to get baptized. 

In Germany, the president of the republic can be any religion he chooses or doesn't choose, but if you do sign up for church membership, the state will take a percentage of your income in tax each year and give it to those the state chooses to recognize as the legitimate authorities of the religion which you profess. 

So we can find all kinds of varieties with -- and yet it's interesting that all -- that certainly Germany, Argentina, and Britain, if you asked most citizens of those states do you live in a secular country, they would answer probably yes.  And it's -- while Americans like to talk about how much more religious America is than, say, Germany, I've been reminded by a member of the German Bundestag there are actually more doctors of divinity in the German parliament than in the American Congress.  That may explain something; I'm not quite sure what.  (Laughter.)

But then also I'm reminded, listening to the panelists, that our visions of what is the proper relationship of religion and state are often profoundly shaped by our own religious views.  There's the story in Belfast of a guy who's whisked into an alley by masked gunmen who point a gun to his head and they say what are you, Catholic or Protestant?  He goes, I'm an atheist!  I'm an atheist!  The gunmen think for a second and they say well, are you a Catholic atheist or a Protestant atheist?  (Laughter.)

And there's a sense in which a society can be Protestant secular or Catholic secular or Muslim secular, and those are not always the same thing. 

And what I'd like to do is ask the panelists to explore -- I think this is building on something that Philip said, that in America, certainly, our idea of this separation of church and state, or the relationship, is profoundly based on the overwhelming sort of Protestant character -- and Noah's written about this as well -- of our people at the time of -- you know, in the early American republic.

To what extent is that experience -- you may have some thoughts here, too -- applicable to people of other religious traditions and backgrounds, or how do we have to reconsider what seems to us to be natural in terms of separation of church and state that would work differently in another culture with a different background? 

Would you like to start on that, Phil?

HAMBURGER:  Sure.  Something you may know, I have a certain distaste for the notion of separation of church and state because, by accident, I fell into studying it and, to my horror, found out more about American history than I wanted to know.  (Laughter.)

To put it very bluntly, it's attributed straight to Jefferson, but it's popular --because of theological prejudice, a distaste for Catholicism, particularly Irish Catholic immigrants, the goal was to separate the church from the state.  And it's far from being a minoritarian position; it's a majoritarian position.  It's about protecting the majority of free individuals and their direct relationship to the state from a church which would exert its influence upon the people and deprive them of their mental liberty, thus debilitating them from being good citizens.

And in fact, if you -- just think for a minute.  Which is the organization that most popularized this idea in the first half of the 20th century?  The ACLU?  No.  The Ku Klux Klan.  And once that settles in, you get the idea.

So this fits in with what Noah was saying earlier.  It strikes me that it's very dangerous for us Americans to go around the world talking in broad generalities that seem natural to us, but may be only because we haven't looked at ourselves too carefully.

Our most common generalizations are separation of church and state and democracy.  Well, God help us if that's what we're exporting, and God help the rest of the world.

Democracy isn't what we practice here and it's the last thing we should wish on anyone else.  Our Founders quite deliberately established a republic.  And when one talks about democracy in many parts of the world, it sounds like majority rule.  In fact, it could have an almost fascist implication in some parts of the world.  One has to be very, very careful about overgeneralization.

And by the same token, I think separation of church and state imposes, as Noah suggested, such a high burden on nations for which this is just incompatible, obviously incompatible with their history.  So the best thing we need -- and this fits in with the views of my colleague from Emory -- we need a little modesty, not only in contemplating religion, but also our own propaganda. 

There's an old line from World War I about propaganda: one will not quite persuade one's enemies, and almost defeat oneself.  And I fear separation leads us in that direction.

MEAD:  Abdullahi, would you like to --

AN-NA'IM:  Okay.  I think various ideas will determine that the secular state everywhere is distinctive, historic, and contextual.  I mean, there are no two identical secular states anywhere. 

So secularism, or secular states, and the question of the relationship between religion and the state and religion and politics, which I try to always emphasize are different propositions, this relationship is contextual and historical.  And therefore every society has to negotiate this for itself over time, and this negotiation can go one way or the other.

But I think the -- one point I would like to bring to our discussion is I think we tend to dichotomize too much the secular and the religious.  And the so-called secular-religious dichotomy I think is overstated because religion becomes relevant in the secular world.  It is not the abstract sort of sensuality.  It is -- the relevance of religion in guiding people live -- lies in this world.  And therefore there is an inherent connectedness between the two.

Just referring back to what this morning was being said about the Koran and about the possibility of reinterpretation and so on, Ali ibn Abi Talib, the fourth caliph and the prophets' cousin and -- for the Shi'a, he is the first imam.  He said the Koran does not speak.  It is people who speak for the Koran.

And the point is that the Koran is a revelation to me as a Muslim, is divine to me as a Muslim.  But as soon as it enters human comprehension, it become secular.  It enters into this world to tell me how to live my life in this world.  And because every comprehension of the Koran is a human comprehension -- of course the possibility that there is more to the Koran than what humans can comprehend remains in the realm of individual religious experience. 

But collectively, socially, we are always dealing with someone's understanding of the Koran.  That makes me nervous about calling the state Islamic.  I don't believe that the state was ever Islamic.  Not a single day.  The state is a political institution.  It is incapable of having a religion.

Whenever we give the adjective of a religious state to any state, what we are saying is that, as you said rightly, it is the religion of the ruling elite.  So once you see it is not the religion of the state as such, but the religion of the ruling elite, you see how dangerous it is to permit the elite to attribute their religious belief to the state which we all share.

I would rather have it for me to negotiate what role Shari'a has in society and in the state in a framework that ensures a degree of equality of human rights, of freedom of religion and other freedoms.  And the proscription, as Professor Feldman describes, is to say the state can't have a religion, but at the same ensure freedom of religion for everybody, is a contradiction. 

The very fact that the state identifies with a religion is, by definition, a violation of freedom of religion.  And for that reason, I will try to strive to keep the state neutral, realizing it is not easy.  It's a constant struggle.  And where in the realm of politics to enable people to identify religiously as also as citizens in a variety of ways.

FELDMAN:  It would be very boring for the audience if we all agreed on everything, so I'm glad that we're hitting -- the rubber's meeting the road here a little bit. 

So I'm going to disagree, first with Abdullahi and then with Philip, if I might, and the framework for my disagreement is the same in both cases.  And it's the observation that when we use words that are big, grand words -- which I usually --

I have a 2-year-old son, and I know I'm dealing with a big, grand word when I can't point to the thing when I define it.  Right?  If he wants to know what a chair is, I can point to the chair.  If he wants to know what religion is, I can't point to anything in particular.  The same is true of the state.  I can't point to anyone; there's nothing I -- these are true abstractions, right?

When we talk about abstractions, which we have to do because much of our world is shaped out of these abstractions, we're never defining them in some way that is objectively correct.  We're always injecting into what we say the way we think they should be.

When we say, "religion is," what we mean is religion is and should be.  The same is true when we talk about the state.  They're just two, the two that happen to be in play in this conversation.

Now, when we talk about can there be such a thing as an Islamic state, I understand that argument, the political and religious argument that says no, there can be no such thing as an Islamic state because Islam is a faith and the state is not a faith.  There can be the religion of the people who run the state.

But if all of the people who run the state and organize the institutions of the state say that their state is religious -- right? -- if they assert this and if they have institutions that exist in the real world that they administer according to these ideas, if there are certain people who are in charge of deciding on this aspect of the expenditure of funds with regard to religion, and this group of people who are in charge of that aspect of making sure that -- I don't know -- as in Saudi Arabia, that people attend the mosque.  You know, if you're in the marketplace and prayer time comes in Saudi Arabia, someone comes along and urges you to attend the mosque.  And if notice that you're not a Muslim, then they say oh, sorry -- you know? -- not you.

But if you have people these sorts of things, then it's practically useful to be able to say that you're speaking in the context of an Islamic state, and that's all I need, I think, for me to be able to say that people may speak of themselves as having an Islamic state.

Now, is there a certain contradiction between that and the idea that some citizens would nevertheless be free to exercise their religious rights? And here I'm going to turn to Philip.  So this is the point that Abdullahi made.  There is a contradiction here.

I agree that there's some tension, because if all the people who run the state are saying this is an Islamic state, the person who's a non-Muslim may feel marginal, may have the experience of feeling like, well, wait a minute.  It's not my state.  I don't fully participate in that state.  Right?  And I agree that that can be a subjective experience that the person will have -- will be likely to have.

If, however, they have that feeling, I don't think it follows from that that they are not free to act in the realm of their own religion.  They might not be free.  You might have a great tendency to take away their rights, but it doesn't necessarily follow, I don't think, that they are not free to act in the realm of their own religion. 

And let me just give a practical example of why this so, and here I'll turn to -- my disagreement -- this is apart of where Philip and I disagree.  Although I think Philip and I often agree on the bottom line, we almost always disagree completely about how to get there.  (Laughter.)

So if you look at the Protestant tradition of the separation of church and state, which Philip has done so much to elucidate, it begins with the idea that the state does have a religion, but that that religion demands equal liberty and free choice of religion for each of its citizens.  Right?  Now, not everyone in the Protestant tradition says this, but let's just take Locke, whom Philip mentioned, who for Americans, at least, is the most influential thinker about the relationship between religion and government, I would argue.  

Locke, in his famous letter on toleration, does say that there's no such thing under the gospels as a Christian commonwealth.  He thinks there was a Jewish commonwealth under the Hebrew Bible, but that because of Christian liberty, there's no such thing as a truly Christian commonwealth.  So actually he agrees with Abdullahi on that point.

But he's imagining that the Church of England will remain the established church, and he is imagining that government money and church money will be fully intertwined.  But he thinks that his own religion, which is the religion of the state, in effect, itself demands -- and he makes a religious argument for this -- itself demands that each person be left free to choose his own religion, because the religion wants free choice of faith, and not coerced choice of faith.

Now, does that make separation of church and state a Protestant idea?  In some sense, yeah.  Yes, it does, in America.  And once you see that it's a Protestant idea, it's impossible to disentangle it from a long strain of anti-Catholicism in English-speaking Protestantism.  And so when you look at the historical materials, as Philip does very well in his very important book on this subject, you see, and what do you know -- the same people who were advocating religious liberty are also not in favor of the Catholic Church -- which, they note, as late as the 1860s and '70s says that, quote, "Liberty of conscience is a delirimentum."  Walter's Latin is better than mine, but it's nothing good to say that something is -- it's a, you know, a false imagining.  Something that you ought not to believe.  Right? 

So there's an actual disagreement there on whether the liberty of conscience is in fact an important value -- and, of course, the Catholic Church has changed its view on this radically since that time, and that's wonderful.  But the fact is that once you acknowledge in a historical sense that there is something distinctively Protestant about this development of separation of church and state, you find all the nasty stuff, too.  But that's okay -- and this is where Philip and I disagree.

You find the nasty stuff -- and he's right that it's there, but that doesn't trouble me very much, because all traditions of thought, whether they're religious, secular, or otherwise, have this nasty stuff caught up in it.  So when I read the new atheists, as they are -- they're sometimes called, you know, these writers who get so much attention these days who are, in fact, amazingly similar to the atheists of the 1870s and '80s. 

I mean, in fact, almost all of the arguments, with only a few exceptions, can already be found in those earlier texts.  So once a century they get their chance to really, you know -- (laughter) -- flex and stretch their muscles, and that's probably a good thing.  They're focusing on nasty things that religion has done, and it's almost never the case that they're wrong.  The nasty things they say religion has done, it has done.  But so has every other ideology. 

I'll leave it there.

AN-NA'IM:  Can I --

MEAD:  Sure.

AN-NA'IM:  I'm saying just about the -- because when you say when all the Muslims of a country say that we want our -- or say to me -- Muslims never agree on anything -- never agree.  But the day the prophet died, and before he was buried, Muslims disagreed about how to succeed and who to succeed.  So disagreements have been -- (inaudible) -- you will never agree and you will always disagree, and it's only God in the next life who will adjudicate your differences among you; several verses to this extent.

So the point is that my problem with a -- Islamic state is that what does Islamic mean?  When we cannot agree on what Islamic means, using the term is confusing; in fact, dangerous, because it hides all the nasty stuff that he was talking about behind this veneer of Islamic, so that it becomes harder to challenge it.

He gives an example of Saudi Arabia.  In Saudi Arabia, there is a significant minority of Shi'a in eastern Arabia.  I don't like to say Saudi Arabia.  I like to say Arabia.  How can you name a country after a family?  In Arabia, there is significant Shi'a in the east to whom the Wahhabi doctrine of the state is a heresy, and they are obliged to live under this heresy as the law of the state.

And when you see that Iran is an Islamic state and Saudi Arabia is an Islamic state, what will it mean when, to each of them, the other is a heresy?  So the term Islamic becomes totally incoherent.  You know, as you travel in the region, you will find that people call Islamic law -- Islamic sort of -- (inaudible) -- the term is overused that there is no thought as to exactly what we mean by it.  And when we look closely to what we mean by it, we see that no Muslims of any country will agree on what their state is when they call it an Islamic state.

All of this is to be in the realm of politics.  And that's why I will say let people affirm their Islamic identity and values through politics, but not through a state institutions, which is what I need to have for it to be possible for me to negotiate Shari'a in politics.

MEAD:  Philip.

PHILIP HAMBURGER:  I'm not learned enough to take a position on Islamic law such as Professor An-Na'im just did, but in defense of -- of his position against Professor Feldman's, I must say I fear that Professor Feldman, in defense of his view that there should be possibly should admit there to be an Islamic state, looks to Europe to say, "Well, there are Christian states there."  And it strikes me that, at least in the Anglo-American tradition, which is the freer part of the European tradition, that's not so clear.

So, yes, there would have been a social establishment of Christianity, particularly Anglicanism in England.  And, yes, the monarch is the head of the English church, but if one looks at the theological and political writings of the late 17th century and early 18th century, defending Anglican establishments, the writings that Americans look to and understand, the argument isn't the state is religious, let alone that it's Protestant, let alone that it's Anglican, but rather that there's an alliance between church and state.

So even in the English church's own writings, it's not asserted that there's an Anglican church -- I'm sorry -- an Anglican state, except in the strongest -- (inaudible) -- Tory writings.  In the mainstream English writings, for example, by Bishop Warburton is about an alliance of church and state, in which he does very interesting Madisonian-style reasons.  And so it's really, I think, much more cautious.  So I don't think we can look to Europe and say, "Well, that's what the Europeans did.  Therefore, we should be comfortable with a religious state elsewhere."

I'd also like to disagree, much as I appreciate Professor Feldman's views on this, with his casual use of separation of church and state, as if that is what we're talking about when we talk about disestablishment.  Disestablishment and separation are very different metaphors.  Establishment is about one object elevating another, and therefore it's about a restraint on the government elevating the church.  Separation of church and state, which we think of horizontally, it's about keeping apart two institutions, and necessarily it limits both.  And instead of talking about religion generally, it focuses on organized religion rather than individual spirituality.

So it seems to me, yes, a lot of violence has been pursued in this country even in the name of separation of church and state, as well as in the name of religion.  But that's not our ideal.  Our ideal is actually quite carefully drafted in the Constitution.  It's about disestablishment.

And then, finally, I can't help talking about violence, since that's what lies behind so much of this, right?  We're not talking about violence -- "Let's have some fun" -- because violence has its fun aspect, unfortunately; we're human, and we indulge in it occasionally.  So if it looks back, as the Supreme Court likes to do, they'll say, "Oh, we have to be careful of divisiveness and religious violence," and they allude to Europe, particularly the happy years of the 16th and 17th century when there was a lot of violence.

It's by no means clear that religion has a monopoly on this.  In fact, religion turned out to be rather inefficient.  The Inquisition only killed a few thousand people.  What were they up to?  Their mind was on God, not on the efficiency of killing.  And it strikes me that the secular state in the past century has really done a much better job of it, if you're into that sort of thing, which gets to the larger set of issues, I think, here that we haven't yet discussed, the relationship, as it were, social structures, if we include religion amongst these.

So let's not talk about religion.  I agree with Professor Feldman about this.  It's an amorphous concept.  Let's think just for a minute; not say this is what religion really is, but about unrealistic aspirations for purity and transcendence.

Now, if that is part of the human condition, how should it be pursued, with unrealistic aspirations for purity and transcendence in this world or another world?  And which is more dangerous?  I don't know that I know the answer.  But it's by no means clear to me that pursuing those unrealistic aspirations in another world is more dangerous than in this world.  And I think, sadly, the comparisons to the Soviet Union and the proceedings of the 16th Century illustrate that.

MEAD:  All right.  Boy, well, you certainly know how to bring the fun into a gathering.  (Laughter.)

HAMBURGER:  I don't like violence myself, but it's fun to talk about.

MEAD:  All right.  Well, I think, speaking of fun, maybe it's time to give the audience some and open this up for questions.  Again, I'd like to remind you that a question is a statement which can be grammatically ended with a question mark.  (Laughter.)  One can usually tell one's being asked a question by sort of a rising inflection that comes at the end of the sentence.  And questions are, generally speaking, rather short.

So if anybody has questions, please raise your hand.  We'll bring a microphone to you.  State your name and your affiliation for the sake of those watching by video.

QUESTIONER:  Charles Harper, John Templeton Foundation.

I want to state a thesis as a question for all of you.  Do you think that strategically, for the Council on Foreign Relations and the United States generally, that this issue for intellectuals of clarifying the difference in religion between a situation before and after an American-style politic -- constitutionally of the separation of state power from religious culture, do you see that as something that's vital for American intellectuals to engage with in the world to clarify what the American experiment and experience has been?

MEAD:  So if I rephrase that, gentlemen, does your life's work have any meaning or purpose?  (Laughter.)  Anybody want to jump in there?

FELDMAN:  One think that I think is fair to say is that, though it's obviously crucially important in the American realm for us to understand what we're doing ourselves domestically, we shouldn't draw the conclusion from that that once we've figured it out, then we'll have something we can hold their hands and export.

I mean, one of the weirdest experiences of my life was sitting in the Green Zone and hearing U.S. government officials, who were aligned with the political movement of deeply skeptical of, for example, the idea of a secular state -- we don't have a secular state here -- saying things like, "The most important thing we have to keep in mind for the new Iraq is that there must be a strictly secular state."

First of all, it bespoke a willingness to sort of imagine something on the U.S. side that they themselves denied exists on the U.S. side.  But second of all, it bespoke this idea that they knew exactly what we had in the United States and we should export that.

So I want to (exploit ?) all of that -- (inaudible).  I think the other panelists do too.  We do want to understand what we have here.  We want to understand the fights that we still have in the United States, the lack of clarity that we have.  And then we want to realize that whatever the lack of -- (inaudible) -- that we have is, that's probably not the suitable thing to impose on anybody else.  At least that's my own view.

MEAD:  They should have their own lack of clarity.

FELDMAN:  Exactly.  They should have their own version of confusion.

And this is the last thing I would say.  I mean, a constitutional tradition that works is one that is in a constant state of dynamic evolution.  You have a written constitution that says "x," but no constitutional system works if it just follows what's in that written constitution and never changes.  Interpretation gives it the freedom to change.  And if it doesn't even have a text, so much the better, often, because then you have a little bit more freedom for the dynamism.

So everyone's going to have some complex dynamic unresolved form of the relationship between religion and government, but they shouldn't all have the same confusion.

MEAD:   Abdullahi, do you want to --

AN-NA'IM:  I was going to -- I am from Sudan.  At this point I am an American citizen, but I am from Sudan and am formed by being from Sudan.  And one term or concept, idea that has not really been raised much is colonialism.  Much of what we see is post-colonialism, that it is more informed by colonialism than it is by anything else about Muslim societies and their history.

The Islamic state discourse is a post-colonial discourse, because one position that we have not clarified, what do we mean by the state?  The form of state -- the type of state that we now live with is a European model of the state.  And the idea of law that Muslims -- when Muslims talk about an Islamic state before Shari'a, they think of it as Shari'a as positive law; European idea of law, European idea of the state.

So it's a contradiction, I think, to claim to affirm Islamic identity through two European institutions, the state and law.  The type of state that Muslims lived with historically is a very different type of state than the state they are living with now in the post-colonial.

Now, coming to the American, also one question.  Iraq was mentioned a couple of times.  But the fact is that Iraq has been a colonial experience; that is, the United States has colonized and is still colonizing Iraq.  Iraq is not a sovereign state now, as we speak.  And probably in my book, the biggest moral failure of the United States since the Second World War has been the invasion, occupation and colonization of Iraq.

And this event, if we can call it an event, has done sort of horrendous consequences for decades to come and outraged, completely outraged, that we can talk about it as if it is something that happened and, okay, we'll just now deal with the consequences.  No, it has to be condemned for having happened in the first place.  And thus, having had to be condemned for having done it, now the impulse is the Americans go out in the world to engage in conversation about the American experience -- absolutely fine, wonderful.  In fact, we do this all the time.

I studied constitutional law with an American professor in the 1960s in Sudan, and I learned a lot from him.  And I continue to learn from my American experience.  But if you send your armies to missionize for your view of what freedom of religion is and what church and state is, that's completely unacceptable and utterly counterproductive.

FELDMAN:  Just for the record, I mean, we did invade Iraq; there's no question.  And there's no question, further, that our presence there has features that are in common with colonialism, or with imperialism maybe more precisely.  But if you look at the constitutional structure that emerged in Iraq, it has nothing to do with the U.S. constitutional structure.  I mean, for better or worse, it makes Iraq an Islamic state and says that no law passed may violate the judgments of Islam.  I mean, it says that when it comes to family law -- I mean, you can say these are terrible things.  I think you do think they're terrible things.  But whatever they are, they're not American things.

AN-NA'IM:  No, but the fact is that it was drafted during an American occupation, that the people of Iraq -- I mean, the question is also Britain colonized Sudan and Uganda and Kenya; I mean, most of African states.  And it was -- and the French did it too.  At the end of the colonial period, they drafted a constitution in Lancaster House in England for the new state to just go on and become independent and sovereign as of today, because we have made you sovereign.

When our secretary of State sends a letter to the government of Iraq to say that "We have your sovereignty for a year.  Here, have it back.  But we will keep 150,000 troops heavily armed under foreign command who will protect you from your own population, but you are a sovereign state."  The constitution of Iraq has not happened.  And the fact that you have a document called the constitution of Iraq is not and does not make it the constitution of Iraq.

You know, constitutions are not made in documents.  Constitutions are hearts and minds of people.  And until the people of Iraq have the freedom and the stability and the ability to draft their own constitution completely free, without any foreign advisers, without technocrats telling them how to draft this or how to work it out or not work it out, it is not a constitution.

MEAD:  Well, I think -- let's try to -- points taken, but let's try to keep this on the broader agenda of responding, I think, to the question of, you know, the validity -- sort of the importance for American foreign policy of trying to understand this issue of religious --

HAMBURGER:  I do want to get back to the original question.  I just cannot help engaging a little bit on this point.

MEAD:  Please don't.  (Laughter.)

HAMBURGER:  One sentence.  It's simply that if one takes everything that Professor An-Na'im just said as true, it just does strike me that we won't have to worry that the colonial discourse tends to lead us only to look at some tragedies and not others.  And I think if one's really to be concerned about the people of any nation in this world, as a human being, one has to recognize disasters can happen from any direction, including from within, and that's certainly been the case with Iraq.

Now, getting back to the question, though, it strikes me that, yes, we do need to be engaging.  I almost agreed with Noah there until he went on about the living constitution, and then I had to back -- can't win 'em all.  It strikes me that we have had a remarkable experience here, perhaps just by accident.  None of us in this room, I think, can take credit for it, but we have lived in a genuinely blessed country in a blessed period of time where it is just not normal in human experience to have what we have in the United States.

And by whatever grace that is, I think it is worth talking about.  It's worth talking about with all the caution that my colleagues have mentioned, because we don't know which elements are essential, and there's a danger we will misstate it, so we need to be very modest about it.  And it may be that we should not impose this; that's surely true.  And yet, at the same time, just to show the model of living, a Lutheran pastor once explained to me how he reached his congregation, and he said to me, "I don't have a congregation; I just try to live right, and people notice that."

And we can take the same approach.  But I think, at the same time, one can't just live right.  One has to talk about it.  And, yes, we need to be engaged with a sense of prudence, with a sense of the diversity of the world, but sharing at least the model so that people can adapt from it what I think they will undoubtedly find deeply attractive.  And frankly, people across the world do.

MEAD:  And I would probably add, from the standpoint of the Council on Foreign Relations, or at least some of us here, we think that certainly since September 11th, but a lot of events before that, have raised the importance of trying to get a clearer understanding in the U.S. of how our own traditions have evolved in this respect and then trying to understand better where those do and don't intersect with the experiences of other societies and what usefully can we do to try to advance some of the universal values that Noah was talking about in these very different contexts.

Sir.

QUESTIONER:  Jim Dingman, INN World Report.

When one travels to Europe, one's constantly confronted with the question of "What are you Americans doing letting these fundamentalist Christians dominate your foreign policy?"  All the time last fall, I got that continually.  And we know that operationally that influence has been realized in the HIV-AIDS policy of Bush's administration in Africa.

And I wanted to get your take on that and also how people in Europe are perceiving how religion is in the election process.  For example, we've had three weeks of Jeremiah Wright being thrown at us, and that has, of course, been perceived differently in Europe than in the United States.  I wanted to know how you see those things.

FELDMAN:  We're on the record, right?

MEAD:  No, go right ahead; sounds like you're itching to go.

FELDMAN:  Well, I mean, look, on the first point I would say welcome to participatory democracy.  There are all these foreign policy elites; some of them may be in this room.  Some of the people who helped create this room, who think that it might not be such a good idea for the general democratic population -- here I mean democratic, not a small "r" republican -- to be involved in foreign policymaking, right, because they think, "Wow, what happens when that happens is that all those people out there have these views that we elites don't agree with will impact our foreign policy -- yuk."

Now, you know, one of the costs of the democratization of foreign policy in the last 115 years, which is itself in part of a very complicated story that Walter has told part of very brilliantly of post-Cold War changes in the way foreign policy is shaped, one of the consequences of this democratization of foreign policy debates is that constituencies that historically didn't do that much or weren't able to do that much to affect our foreign policy now can and do.

I think that in many particular cases -- the one you mentioned is a good one -- I don't agree with what that particular constituency wants our foreign policy to be.  But I completely disagree that it somehow follows from that that public voices should be excluded from our foreign policy judgments.  I think if you're serious about being a democracy, you need to acknowledge that.

And when you make your foreign policy, you have to think seriously about the fact that that foreign policy is now going to be shaped in the long run by what the general public believes.  I think that's got to be now part of the foreign policy calculus.  When you decide to do something, you can't think, for example, that the next administration, even if it's of a different party, will do just what you expect it to do.  That's a mistake, I think, now in foreign policy, where then maybe it wasn't the case in certain aspects of the Cold War.  So that's on the first half of the question, and I'll leave Jeremiah Wright to my colleagues.

HAMBURGER:  I just want to comment on the notion of fundamentalists anywhere.  Who are the fundamentalists, right?  Fundamentalists are a small group that are more generally known as evangelicals.  The number of fundamentalists in this country who were actually traditional fundamentalists are tiny.  I mean, how many premillenarian literalists are there in this country?  That's not most evangelicals.

And so when people criticize fundamentalists, they're revealing a certain theological ignorance, I fear.  And what particularly worries me is that this is a theologically (inflected ?) term.  This is saying some people believe in fundamentals.  In other words, they believe in orthodoxies.  We are theologically liberal.  The implication is, "And we don't have orthodoxies."  And somehow this gets into class distinctions, too -- the educated versus uneducated and the rest.  And so I think we have to be very careful with labels.  Most evangelicals are highly individualistic.  Most of them are not fundamentalist in the traditional term.

And just a final thought here.  Since I am interested so much in the bullying of religious minorities, we would not ordinarily take the label for a small minority and treat that as a label for some sort of social ill or theological ill.  You know, if you're worried about some sort of habit that you associate with a particular religion, you wouldn't say, "How Protestant of you.  How Catholic of you.  How Islamic of you.  How Jewish of you."  We think how prejudiced that would be.  But we don't hesitate to say, "Gee, that's very fundamentalist," and we're not even talking about fundamentalists.  We're using minority label.

And so I just feel a lot of these criticisms don't even understand the theologies involved.  Now, it may be right, as Noah points out.  Perhaps we might disagree with the policies.  But that's a different issue altogether.

MEAD:  Yes.

QUESTIONER:  (Inaudible.)

MEAD:  I have a feeling we'll come back to Jeremiah Wright.

QUESTIONER:  I'm definitely not Jeremiah --

MEAD:  He'll take care of himself.

QUESTIONER:  Thank you.

I'd like to ask you to express an opinion.  Mr. Ratzinger, who has chosen the name of Pope Benedict XVI --

MEAD:  Are you a Protestant, by any chance?

QUESTIONER:  There's a chance.  There's a chance.  I'd like to ask you to comment on this too.  And I know you're the fair-minded moderator here.  I will not try to quote him, because he did it in Latin and my Latin is not that good.  But he said at one point here three or four months something to the effect that he would support the building of mosques in Rome when the Saudi government permitted the building of churches in Riyadh.  Would you comment on that?

AN-NA'IM:  There is so much more to the Muslim world than Saudi Arabia.

QUESTIONER:  (Off mike.)

AN-NA'IM:  (Laughs.)  Because he said Riyadh, so -- at least to be clear.  I made my point about the family and the country.  But now what I'm saying is this.  I noticed also this morning already that there is so much focus on the Middle East as if it is representative of the Muslim world at large.

The Arab Muslim region is about 10 (percent) to 12 percent of the total Muslim population -- 10 (percent) to 12 percent.  There are more Muslims in sub-Saharan Africa than there are Muslims in the Middle East.  There are -- India is the second-largest Muslim country in the world, or third, probably, when you compare it to Pakistan.

The point is that so much Muslims and Islam historically, as well as currently, are not anything to do with the Middle East; in fact, quite different, very much different, that -- so that I think for the pope's remark, I think it is unfair to sort of prejudge Muslims' attitudes about churches and Christian-Muslim relations and so on by what goes on in Arabia or Saudi Arabia, as your choice.

In that sense, the point is that also, I would say, I would hope that a pope would be more visionary and more leading the Christians than this tit-for-tat attitude.  He should say that "I would support building a mosque in Rome regardless of what" -- because he should be driven by his own religious conviction as a Christian, not by what -- and this is exactly what Muslims are doing now when they are (ranting ?) against the United States and condemning everything that's good about this country because they hate some aspects of the foreign policy of this country.

What the United States does or does not do should not define what I do or not do and my right as a Muslim.  And I would hope that the pope would think "What does my religious conviction as a Christian leader lead me to do about mosques in Rome?" rather than being defined by what Muslim leaders do or prefer to do in other countries.

MEAD:  I suppose the king of Saudi Arabia might also reply, "We'll separate mosque from state in Saudi Arabia when you do it in the Vatican, your holiness," and see what he gets.

QUESTIONER:  Hi.  Assam Rehman (sp), Muslim Bar Association of New York.

Just to take advantage of the fact that we have three law professors, I wanted to ask your opinion on the role of religious judicial bodies.  This is something that was discussed earlier this morning, but perhaps each of you can comment, because, for example, Professor An-Na'im, you talked about keeping religion out of the institutions.  How does that concept inform the existence of a judicial body or even a scholar who is empowered by the state to adjudicate matters?  Professor Feldman, you wrote about this recently.  I'd like to get your views as legal experts on that matter.

(Off mike commentary.) 

AN-NA'IM:  Okay.  You might be surprised, but I am opposed to what the archbishop has proposed.  I think it is bad for the state institutions to enforce religious adjudication.  Religious adjudication and other types of adjudication happen all the time.  And we can never stop it, and, in fact, we can encourage it.

My objection comes when you involve a state institution in enforcing the outcome of -- (inaudible) -- our situation.  If it is freely chosen by the parties, you can have types of issues where that happens outside the state institutions, and it will happen outside the state institutions, and it is good that it happens.

But implicating the state institutions into enforcing religious adjudication is dangerous for the state and for the religion.  Now, one point is that when -- say, if you have a Shari'a-based arbitrational family dispute in Britain go before English courts to enforce, is the court going to review only the procedural aspects, or is it going to review the substantive aspects?  Or is it going to enforce based on the authority of those who adjudicate it without questioning looking into what really went on and what are the issues?

Now, is an English court competent in Shari'a to be able to review adjudication outcomes?  If it is not, is it going to enforce an adjudication that it has no way of evaluating in terms of its good or bad nature, and so on?  Now, the point is that the realm of community life are very much -- I think my sense of separation of church and state, as you said, is protecting the state from religion and religion from the state.  And in that light, I would be opposed to enforcement of religious education.

Now, another point to add; I don't know how much time -- time, of course, is short.  The thing is, what is the Shari'a authorization for this selectivity, because if what you are doing is enforcing Shari'a, Shari'a has a lot to say on everything.  How come that you choose this particular limited issue and exclude all other issues on which Shari'a is as authoritative as it is on this issue?

In the sort of Ontario case, the same proposal was made in Ontario.  And the proposal was made excluding custody-of-children issues.  Because custody of children is a federal jurisdiction, so they were saying in Ontario, "Let us do it in other issues, not with custody of children."  How can you deal with a family dispute without including custody-of-children issues as a factor simply because the state structure is such that this is outside the realm of the provincial?  That is the sort of confusion that is bound to come through if you try to do this sort of thing.

HAMBURGER:  If I could just add a word here, for 480 years the law of the land has had complete obligation, within the jurisdiction of the common-law nations.  There is no room for a distinct jurisdiction independent of it.  And although in England church courts can be authorized by the state, it's always under their complete authority of the law of the land.  And that's just fundamental.  That's why our constitution refers to the supreme law of the land. 

And I agree with Professor An-Na'im.  It's very, very dangerous to start breaking that down.  That can go in a lot of different directions.  This was the split between the Catholic Church in England in the 1530s, and there's just nothing as fundamental as the complete force of the law of the land in jurisdiction.  And we're familiar with this in many areas, in questions of race, questions of religion and so forth.

There is some room for contractual arrangements by which individuals put themselves into someone else's judgment, be it religious or commercial, right?  But the secular courts must always have competence to decide the matter ultimately.  And to inquire, which is genuinely voluntary, there's potential for this to go in a very dangerous direction, and not, incidentally, to the advantage of Muslims.

FELDMAN:  Here I disagree with my colleagues.  To me, this question comes under the general category of things you could do differently in different countries, provided that basic human rights are respected.  And I would note that in his pretty tentative speech, if you actually read it, which obviously very few people have done -- in this room I'm sure many have, but in the world, very few people have done -- the archbishop of Canterbury spoke of, first of all -- the background assumption of the talk was that, of course, the laws of the state would ultimately be the ones that authorized the local court -- the arbitral body, and that the state law would be the supreme law of the land.  He was very explicit in this respect, and he also said very explicitly that equality of men and women would have to be respected, that that would trump any particular Islamic principles, and so forth and so on.

Now, I think it's worth noting the difference in approach -- and this goes back to the previous question -- between Pope Benedict and the archbishop of Canterbury because they both lead -- once much larger, but they both lead big Christian denominations -- when it comes to dealing with the question of Islam.  Pope Benedict's verbal practice thus far and his experience have been to be, let's say, on occasion sharply negative about aspects of Islam.  That has brought him a lot of opposition in the Muslim world, but it's been pretty good for him as a sort of political move within Europe.  I think it's fair to say that he has strengthened himself within Europe as a result.  An interesting strategy on his part, especially given that he has said explicitly when he became pope that one of the dangers for the church is becoming irrelevant in Europe.  So it turns out that being sharply negative about Islam is a very effective technique for making yourself a player in the contemporary European environment.

The archbishop of Canterbury --

(Cross talk.)

MEAD:  -- could maybe take a lead --

FELDMAN:  -- yeah, it's interesting.  Yeah.

The archbishop of Canterbury, by contrast, gave this very tentative and scholarly lecture in a pretty academic environment and all hell broke loose.  You know?  I mean, they were calling for his resignation.  And you know, he's been handling some pretty sensitive matters over the last couple of years that -- the Anglican community is not without its difficulties, as we know -- but nobody, as far as I know, has made as open, as loud, as angry a set of calls for his resignation as came over this one speech.  So there's an important lesson there about the political climate in Europe right now.  Say anything that might be construed as in some way -- and the archbishop was very explicit -- he was trying to experimentally think of ways to reach out to the Muslim community in England to make it feel fully a part, and you can think that that's a mistake; you can think it's wrong -- but the spirit of the speech I think is pretty clear, and look at the consequences. 

MEAD:  Okay.  We have a question from one of our very patient webcast viewers that I'd like to interject here.  This is from Rene Lape (sp) at Friends Academy, who asked, "Regarding the relationship between Christian believers in the United States and the state, when it comes to issue such as the prohibition we have always had on men having more than one wife, a rule strictly related, it seems, to our identity as a Christian nation, how do you see the role of the state in defining the nature of marriage -- whether we're speaking of same-sex marriage or monogamous marriages?" 

So, I guess behind that is the notion that religious presuppositions inform the approach of the state to such basic matters of family life -- is this appropriate? 

MR.     :  (Off mike.)  (Laughter.)

AN-NA'IM:  I'll try briefly.  I think it is legitimate that every society's legal order -- codes of family law included -- would reflect its values, its culture, its religious beliefs included in that.  But the point is that certain -- as it is enacted as law by virtue of the will of the state and not by virtue religious authority.  So monogamous marriage is now part of the -- of course we are clear, all of us, that the origin or the underpinnings of this are Christian or particularly at least some interpretation of Christian dogma, but the point is that it is family law by virtue of the will of the state, not by virtue of divine command.

If that is the case, then it can be changed, too.  Not that we are going to have polygamous marriages, but the point is that we are dealing with the secular world.  My view is that in Islamic-majority countries, family law also should be secular law and should be seen as such; that you have a family court.  If the peoples are Muslims, their values will be reflected in that court, but there is no confusion that what the law is is the rule of the state and not the religious commands according to some interpretations of it. 

So, in that sense, we can have polygamous marriage or not have this divorce or that divorce -- all of it as secular law so we can change it.  But once we say, "This is Shari'a," then what can we do about it?

MEAD:  So in some countries one can have multiple wives; in this country we have multiple conceptions of marriage.  But these come from the democratic system of politics.  And underlying this and the prior question really is the matter of women's rights.  Right?  To what -- whether we're talking about polygamy or we're talking about Shari'a is introduced as a set of -- a subpart of the legal system as to family matters, the concern that I think many people rightfully will have is what will happen to the woman as an individual?  Will her rights be fully respected?  And to what extent will her freedom remain under such a system?  And given the role of the equality of women generally one might say in the development of the set of political systems and freedoms that we appreciate -- and it's been a central part, frankly -- women's rights have been a central part of the movement against slavery in this country and in changing our polity I think in ways that are on the whole rather wholesome.  We ought to be very, very careful about inviting what might become instruments of undermining this.  In fact, if there's anything we can do for the rest of the world, it will be to remind the rest of the world that in fact half the population -- many parts -- are excluded from full participation as citizens.  And, to put it mildly, that's a shame.

Yes, in the back?

QUESTIONER:  Yes.  Eric Gregory from Princeton University.  I'm an academic, so you'll forgive me if I worry this is getting to concrete.  I'm going to ask an abstract question, and it was provoked by Professor Hamburger.  I think as a matter of intellectual history, the concept of the secular and even human rights and even the separation of church and state have their soil in theological and religious sources.  And you said that we would be impoverished today without those religious motivations to regard people as equal, et cetera.  Do you want to go further and say they're actually necessary and required?  And I wasn't sure if you meant that as a philosophical argument, as a sociological argument or as a historical argument.  Can we tick away the God talk as long as we have the constitutional practices and democratic republican institutions, or is religion necessary for the defense of human rights?  It's the question about Locke, really. 

HAMBURGER:  Yeah.  It's a good question.  It's an -- I don't know the answer, and I fear that we're living through an interesting experiment.  We won't know probably for a little while -- I hope not to live long enough to find out.  But this is the division between America and Europe, right?  And if we think -- I don't think America has ever really been the same as Europe, but there are some commonalities.  And if one looks at the fate of Europe and the fate of the United States, we each have our problems, but their problems may turn out to be more fundamental precisely because they place such a burden on their mere humanity, and that is more than most societies have survived.

I don't want to suggest that nothing -- you know, it isn't possible.  That would be going too far, right?  We have no evidence for that.  But if one looks across history -- and of course, we only have a few thousand years of detailed evidence -- but if one looks across history, it's difficult to find a society which really gets very far, survives very long without some outside source to define and give stability to what we loosely call -- politely call "values," right, but which actually have to be a little bit more magnetic than that.  So I don't really know, but I'm -- although personally an optimist, professionally I'm a pessimist.  (Laughter.)

MEAD:  Yes?  Wait for the microphone.

QUESTIONER:  Paul de Vries with New York Divinity School.  I'm also on the board of the National Association of Evangelicals.  It puzzles us that we've had such a giant influence on foreign policy.  We look at many of our attempts to affect foreign policy in terms of restricting sex trade, nonviolent conflict resolution, creation care, environmental issues to be part of foreign policy and so forth.  And perhaps the -- (inaudible) -- list several more, perhaps the only success was the AIDS program that Bush pushed in Africa. 

But I guess the question -- we represent directly 20 million evangelicals, and indirectly probably equal number.  What can we do to wake up Washington to what we see as the eternal values?

MEAD:  How can evangelicals get more political influence?  (Laughter.)  Who wants to answer that?

FELDMAN:  I'll say something about at least the first part of the question -- how it's a surprise.  It's sometimes a surprise where one has influence and where one doesn't have influence. 

I think one of the key rules of American foreign policy is that if you pick an issue that nobody really feels strongly on the other side of, or at least where the opposition to you is not well organized and where no really fundamental national security interest is on the other side, that's where you're likely, in the first instance, to have a lot of impact.  Right?  I mean, this is a key point in understanding the role of the pro-Israel lobby -- both the Jewish pro-Israel lobby and the evangelical pro-Israel lobby.  Walter has written recently in an interesting review of Mearsheimer and Walt's book about this phenomenon.  It helps if you're advocating for something and no one is very organized in advocating on the other side of that issue.

In terms of how, though, one has an effect or a group of concerned citizens have a big effect where the national security interest doesn't obviously align with what they're pushing for or where there are other strong interests -- especially corporate interests -- on the other side, there the thing about our republican democracy is that the push really has to happen at the level of individual congresspeople.  I mean, that really is the way it works.  And although, for example, we speak of the tremendous corporate impact on our politics, which is enormous, that is accomplished via the mechanism of targeted support for particular representatives and senators.  That's our version of what we don't consider to be corruption.  I mean, at the margins it can become corrupt, but the American approach for better or for worse is to say money has a huge impact, so let's create a legal channel for money to have its influence so that it doesn't have its influence through non-legal channels. 

That may be a terrible mistake -- and again here, the European example is an interesting contrast where there's at least in many places in Europe a serious attempt to avoid the influence of money in politics, and yet there doesn't seem to be the kind of corruption that one sees in some other places.  That's an interesting contrast, and especially whether we could achieve that is I think the central question and the question of campaign finance reform. 

But that's really my view:  You do it by identifying particular people who are vulnerable and trying to get them elected or not elected. 

MEAD:  Okay.  We have time I think for one more question.

QUESTIONER:  I'm Sayed (sp).  Once again, I just wanted to make a brief observation in terms of open societies.  If both religion and the secular-minded groups are so much strongly in favor of open society, what is it that makes this a difficult thing to be realized?  Are we not looking at the moral aspect of it, or is there something else?  Thank you.

HAMBURGER:  Well, if I may, I feel that too often both secular attitudes and religion are used, right?  In the particularly in the democratic style government, religion is used to mobilize passions -- sometimes for good; sometimes for evil -- and so too, fears of religion.  And so it may be that the civilized conversation we can have here is not easily replicated out there simply because of the nature of politics, getting people mobilized, the way that Noah suggested.  So it may be something we just have to live with, which would be sad, but I don't have a solution. 

FELDMAN:  I think part of it has to do with the way that in politics no one is ever satisfied with just winning a particular debate.  If you can win a debate, you then want to move the goalposts to increase your chances of winning the next debate.  And I think that's where the real potential for conflict actually happens.  It's not just -- I mean, there's of course conflict if two different groups see an issue differently and they argue about it and they're each trying to lobby their congressman to get certain results and one wins and the other loses -- yeah, that's ordinary political fighting.  But rarely do they stop there. 

So we have constitutional politics, for example, where secularists -- legal secularists, as I sometimes call them, argue that religion should not be allowed into public discourse and then try to create constitutional rules that will make it harder -- will raise the barrier for religious folks to participate in that debate. 

And on the other side, you might have situations where people you might call "values evangelicals" -- I don't mean literally just evangelicals but people who evangelize for values -- also want to change the constitutional rules so that for example, state funds can be used to sustain their institutions, which will enable them to do a better job and win more future political debates.  And that's where I think you get the really heavy fighting.  And I don't think there's any solution to that.  I mean, this is an answer to your -- to try to be a direct answer to your question of why don't we all just get along.  (Laughter.)  It's because we're all trying to harden our advantage for the next time out. 

But that's just what constitutional politics always looks like, in my view.  And the test of a successful constitutional polity is that you keep that fighting within some bounds, and usually the bounds are nonviolence.  (Laughs.)  That's a pretty good bound to aim for.

AN-NA'IM:  So, just to close by saying that I can agree with Professor Feldman.  On this one I do agree with him -- that the point is that if you're -- I mean, when, we say open or closed, these are relative terms because it is relatively closed or relatively open, and also a question of how open or how closed -- in what ways?  And those are issues on which people are going to disagree constantly and permanently. 

And disagreement is good.  Conflict is good.  And in fact conflict is creative.  That's what makes us human.  It's part of our humanness is to be in disagreement because we tend to be distinctive as who we are, and that is not going to be who he is or who the next person is.  The only point is not to be violent about it. 

So the challenge is how to create normative institutions and mechanisms whereby we can negotiate our difference without resorting to violence.  Whenever we have this, there is no end to how open and variety of ways in which you can be open. 

MEAD:  Well, we never did get back to Professor Wright, but I think you'll -- Pastor Wright, but I think you'll agree with me this was still a very successful session.  (Laughter.)  We have lunch now, and we reconvene -- (applause) -- thank you.  

AN-NA'IM:  Thank you.

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      THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.

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This event is part of the Religion and Foreign Policy Symposia Series, which is made possible by the generous support of the Henry Luce Foundation.


WALTER RUSSELL MEAD:  All right.  May I have your attention, please.  Would everyone please sit down?

All right.  I'd like to welcome you to the second session of our Council on Foreign Relations seminar today.  This is a symposium on Religion and the Open Society.  This is our second session, on Religion-State Relation.

I am Walter Russell Mead, senior fellow for U.S. foreign policy.  It is my honor to introduce to you Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im, professor of law, Emory University Law School; Noah Feldman, professor of law, Harvard Law School and adjunct senior fellow here at the Council; and Philip Hamburger, professor of law, Columbia University Law School.  Welcome.  Welcome, everyone here, and also welcome to all of those who are joining our symposium this morning on video.

I'd like to remind you all that this is an on-the-record session, so anything that you say may be taken down in evidence and used against you.  (Laughter.) 

In our second session this morning we're going to try to follow up some of the lines of conversation that were introduced in the first session and also introduce some new themes. 

As the discussion was proceeding this morning, I was rather forcefully reminded that Abrahamic religions in particular -- that is, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam -- and some of the secular ideologies that have historically derived from that mix of religious cultures are bodies of thought which believe that there is a way the world ought to work.  There's a right way to live.  And obviously, if there's a right way to live, there are wrong ways to live.

And there are universal standards of justice, of conduct, that at least in theory ought to apply to all people everywhere.  And in human societies, as a general rule, there are states -- that is, bodies of organized authority whose mandate it is to see that things are run properly.

And so in Abrahamic societies, the relationship between the religion, which teaches us how the world ought to be run, and the state, that group of people whose job it is to run the world or at least to run that portion of the world under the authority of a particular state, have a charged relationship. 

Religious authorities will often, in sermons or otherwise, tell political authorities and state authorities how they ought to work.  Religious authorities will try to shape the conscience of voters in democratic societies so that the voters will vote for politicians who espouse the values that -- by which the state ought to run.  Certainly in our society in the United States we see many efforts, particularly in an election year, in which religious leaders of various kinds are trying to shape political outcomes.

Now, our three panelists today who, I guess, represent at least a good percentage of the faiths of the family of Abraham, are scholars who have spent a lot of time investigating the relationship of religion and state -- how it actually operates and how it ought to operate.  And I think it might be useful for the audience if we proceeded maybe just right down the panel and each of you share a kind of an overview of your sense of how religion and the state ought to operate, from your own particular perspective, whether that's a faith-based perspective or a more secular approach. 

And if you would like to start, Professor?

ABDULLAHI AHMED AN-NA'IM:  Good morning, everybody, and thank you for being here. 

I speak as a Muslim, so my perspective is religious.  And it is my perspective that indicates for me that I need the state to be secular in order for me to be the Muslim I choose to be.  And the only possibility of being Muslim is by choice. 

So I stake the secular state as a prerequisite, as one of the conditions for the possibility of being Muslim.  I may not be a good Muslim -- I'm sure I'm not -- but whatever degree of being Muslim it is, it has to be within a framework of a secular state.

But I make a distinction between the state and politics.  And I think this is a point that often, in the American system, is not clear enough -- that often people assume that separating church and state takes care of religion and politics.  (Laughter.)  My claim is that we need to deal with the other issue separately; that is, the state and religion should be separate.  By a secular state, I mean a state that is neutral regarding religious doctrine, but religion and politics cannot and should not be separated.

So the paradox is how -- for me is how to regulate and organize the connectedness of religion and politics in a way that safeguards the separation of religion and the state.

MEAD:  Okay.  Noah.

NOAH FELDMAN:  Thanks, Walter.  Thank you, Abdullahi. 

I just want to say quickly that I'm really grateful to be asked to participate on the panel with such distinguished scholars whose views I have drawn on in my own work.  I guess -- let me start with a quick historical point that draws on Walter's. 

I think that in modern Europe, one solution that was proffered to the problem of how to arrange religious affairs and the affairs of state was to suggest that the religion of the sovereign of the state would be the religion of the state.  You see this already in the Treaty of Augsburg, and then it becomes hardened at Westphalia, and it becomes in some way a basis for all of our modern thinking about church and state.

And that's easy to do when the sovereign is one guy.  When there's one person who is the king or the queen and says I'm the sovereign, that person picks a religion and then the state religion is that religion.  Now, of course, in practice, if that person flips religions, that makes things very complicated.  If you don't know whether that person is born into one religion or another, it makes things complicated.  But it sounds like a pretty good sort of working solution to the problem.

I don't think we would have the same set of church-state problems we have today if it weren't for a weird quirk that happened about a hundred years after that solution, and that quirk was the idea of popular sovereignty.  The core idea that underlies all of our democratic states, the core political idea, is this idea that it's not that one person is the sovereign; it's that all of the people are sovereign. 

Then if all of the people belong to the same religion, it's still not so difficult to say that the religion of the sovereign is the religion of the state, because if all of the people think of themselves as Muslims, and let's say they're the same -- belong to the same school of Islam, then you could still say that the state religion is the religion of that group of people and nobody will make much of an argument about it.

But if the sovereign people are plural with respect to religion, if they belong to lots of different religions, now you have a very serious practical problem.  How can you have the religion of the sovereign be the religion of the state if the sovereign belongs to many religions?  And it's at that point, I think, historically, that you start to see people saying maybe the state should not associate itself with any religion.  Maybe there shouldn't be any official religion.

Now, I wanted to use that historical background because I think it helps for me to see why I think that not every country in the world needs to have the exact same arrangement with respect to religion and government.

To my mind, there are some principles that are universal and should apply everywhere -- this goes to Walter's first point about the Abrahamic religions and their universalism -- and others that could be different in different places.

The parts that seem to me to be universal are the ideas of a basic human right to choose your religion.  Not everyone in the world necessarily agrees with this, but almost all of the great world religious traditions claim at least that there's no coercion in their religion.  The Koran actually says this explicitly, which gives it one step up on the Hebrew Bible or the New Testament.  But all of the world's religious traditions talk this way, I think it's fair to say.  Not all -- in fact, none -- are very good at implementing this in practice. 

But I think that that is enough of a universal value to say that every state, no matter where it is, even if it has an official religion, ought to allow people the freedom to choose their own religion, and with that comes the right as well not to be discriminated against on the basis of your religion.  To me, that's a universal value.

What's not a universal value, to me, is the idea of a secular state.  To me, if the society wants to arrange itself because the vast majority of people, or even just a slight majority of people prefer there to be an official state religion, provided that they grant every individual the basic human right to religious liberty, I think that that's just fine.  I think England is a good example of this.  There the established church may not be very active today.  It may be very difficult to find people in Anglican churches -- (laughter) -- but it's nevertheless the case that the Archbishop of Canterbury is a politically significant figure, not just because he says things that get people riled up every so often, but because he is connected to the organization of the state in an important way.

Similarly, in many Muslim countries, I think it would be practically absurd and, in principle, unnecessary to demand that the state not identify itself as Islamic, because that is what many, many, many -- the great majority, in many cases, of the population wants.  What is not absurd, however, is to insist in those cases that such states respect the basic human right to freedom of religion. 

And in a country like the United States where we have tremendous religious diversity, it would equally be absurd to say that we should have an established religion.  And as a matter of fact, our Constitution recognizes that and makes it impossible, at least formally, for there to be an established religion.

So I'll stop there, without claiming to have resolved any of the complicated difficulties that analysis raises, but at least it gives a framework for thinking that there are some things that everyone should do in every state, some rights that everyone should respect, but that the arrangement of church and state could still differ very significantly from place to place.

HAMBURGER:  Well, I confess I largely agree with what's been said thus far and -- in pursuing the theme that perhaps there can be variety in the world that's perfectly wholesome and that need not trouble us.  I can't help, though, observing that it may be easier to figure out what should not be than what should.  And that leads us to the very sort of narrow range of objections to sort of bullying that we don't like, that can come in many forms.  But that still leaves open many, many possibilities.  And fortunately, England is just one of them, though amusing these days.

It strikes me that religion is often treated in this country as something distinct from the state, something to be kept apart from it, perhaps something even dangerous.  And I -- one of the things one has to worry about is that Americans tend to forget the degree to which the state is itself constituted by religion.

Now, politically we find this an anathema to a Christian nation, but in a more profound sense, this is inevitable, and any anthropologist would point out you can hardly discuss a society without getting into its religion.

The very notion of equal liberty has its foundations in religion.  Now, we can claim equal liberty, equal rights, as some sort of right.  But if it's any more than just a demand, if it's actually going to be a moral duty -- for example, if slavery is immoral, and you actually have a duty to resist it.  If suicide is immoral, you have a duty to resist that -- where are we draw these conclusions from? 

And Locke has a lot to say about this, for all of his failings as a serious philosopher.  Nonetheless, on this point, he comes as close to profound as he ever gets, I think.  And we are too quick to forget that without the religious basis for equal rights, we would be impoverished and we might still have slavery.  So religion is fundamental to the very liberty that we think we sometimes need to protect from religion.

Second, it strikes me that in all societies, and although I'm not an expert in the Middle East, I gather from scholars of the Ottoman Empire that there are a lot of sermons, even in the 14th century, that are very similar to Christian sermons being given at the same time about the role of religion as part of the social structure.  If you want a degree of freedom from severe laws, you'd better hope these moral constraints (is ?) a fairly successful sort.  And religion inevitably has its own way of accomplishing that.

And then finally, it was only recently that we have escaped the notion that we have a government ordained by God.  And in the West we may think we're above religion now -- almost, perhaps, above God.  But in most of the world, such heady thoughts haven't yet permeated quite so far.  And it strikes me that if we are going to talk about religious liberty, we have to keep in mind the fairly -- importance of religion, even to the secular state. 

But I'll stop there.  Thank you.

MEAD:  Very good.

Well, I'm taking away a couple of things here.  One is I've been reminded again of just the sheer diversity of relationships that exist between religion and the state, even in the so-called Christian, so-called West.  So we not only have England, where the queen can't marry a Catholic or become a Catholic.  In Argentina, the president of the Argentine Republic must be a Roman Catholic, something that caused Carlos Menem to get baptized. 

In Germany, the president of the republic can be any religion he chooses or doesn't choose, but if you do sign up for church membership, the state will take a percentage of your income in tax each year and give it to those the state chooses to recognize as the legitimate authorities of the religion which you profess. 

So we can find all kinds of varieties with -- and yet it's interesting that all -- that certainly Germany, Argentina, and Britain, if you asked most citizens of those states do you live in a secular country, they would answer probably yes.  And it's -- while Americans like to talk about how much more religious America is than, say, Germany, I've been reminded by a member of the German Bundestag there are actually more doctors of divinity in the German parliament than in the American Congress.  That may explain something; I'm not quite sure what.  (Laughter.)

But then also I'm reminded, listening to the panelists, that our visions of what is the proper relationship of religion and state are often profoundly shaped by our own religious views.  There's the story in Belfast of a guy who's whisked into an alley by masked gunmen who point a gun to his head and they say what are you, Catholic or Protestant?  He goes, I'm an atheist!  I'm an atheist!  The gunmen think for a second and they say well, are you a Catholic atheist or a Protestant atheist?  (Laughter.)

And there's a sense in which a society can be Protestant secular or Catholic secular or Muslim secular, and those are not always the same thing. 

And what I'd like to do is ask the panelists to explore -- I think this is building on something that Philip said, that in America, certainly, our idea of this separation of church and state, or the relationship, is profoundly based on the overwhelming sort of Protestant character -- and Noah's written about this as well -- of our people at the time of -- you know, in the early American republic.

To what extent is that experience -- you may have some thoughts here, too -- applicable to people of other religious traditions and backgrounds, or how do we have to reconsider what seems to us to be natural in terms of separation of church and state that would work differently in another culture with a different background? 

Would you like to start on that, Phil?

HAMBURGER:  Sure.  Something you may know, I have a certain distaste for the notion of separation of church and state because, by accident, I fell into studying it and, to my horror, found out more about American history than I wanted to know.  (Laughter.)

To put it very bluntly, it's attributed straight to Jefferson, but it's popular --because of theological prejudice, a distaste for Catholicism, particularly Irish Catholic immigrants, the goal was to separate the church from the state.  And it's far from being a minoritarian position; it's a majoritarian position.  It's about protecting the majority of free individuals and their direct relationship to the state from a church which would exert its influence upon the people and deprive them of their mental liberty, thus debilitating them from being good citizens.

And in fact, if you -- just think for a minute.  Which is the organization that most popularized this idea in the first half of the 20th century?  The ACLU?  No.  The Ku Klux Klan.  And once that settles in, you get the idea.

So this fits in with what Noah was saying earlier.  It strikes me that it's very dangerous for us Americans to go around the world talking in broad generalities that seem natural to us, but may be only because we haven't looked at ourselves too carefully.

Our most common generalizations are separation of church and state and democracy.  Well, God help us if that's what we're exporting, and God help the rest of the world.

Democracy isn't what we practice here and it's the last thing we should wish on anyone else.  Our Founders quite deliberately established a republic.  And when one talks about democracy in many parts of the world, it sounds like majority rule.  In fact, it could have an almost fascist implication in some parts of the world.  One has to be very, very careful about overgeneralization.

And by the same token, I think separation of church and state imposes, as Noah suggested, such a high burden on nations for which this is just incompatible, obviously incompatible with their history.  So the best thing we need -- and this fits in with the views of my colleague from Emory -- we need a little modesty, not only in contemplating religion, but also our own propaganda. 

There's an old line from World War I about propaganda: one will not quite persuade one's enemies, and almost defeat oneself.  And I fear separation leads us in that direction.

MEAD:  Abdullahi, would you like to --

AN-NA'IM:  Okay.  I think various ideas will determine that the secular state everywhere is distinctive, historic, and contextual.  I mean, there are no two identical secular states anywhere. 

So secularism, or secular states, and the question of the relationship between religion and the state and religion and politics, which I try to always emphasize are different propositions, this relationship is contextual and historical.  And therefore every society has to negotiate this for itself over time, and this negotiation can go one way or the other.

But I think the -- one point I would like to bring to our discussion is I think we tend to dichotomize too much the secular and the religious.  And the so-called secular-religious dichotomy I think is overstated because religion becomes relevant in the secular world.  It is not the abstract sort of sensuality.  It is -- the relevance of religion in guiding people live -- lies in this world.  And therefore there is an inherent connectedness between the two.

Just referring back to what this morning was being said about the Koran and about the possibility of reinterpretation and so on, Ali ibn Abi Talib, the fourth caliph and the prophets' cousin and -- for the Shi'a, he is the first imam.  He said the Koran does not speak.  It is people who speak for the Koran.

And the point is that the Koran is a revelation to me as a Muslim, is divine to me as a Muslim.  But as soon as it enters human comprehension, it become secular.  It enters into this world to tell me how to live my life in this world.  And because every comprehension of the Koran is a human comprehension -- of course the possibility that there is more to the Koran than what humans can comprehend remains in the realm of individual religious experience. 

But collectively, socially, we are always dealing with someone's understanding of the Koran.  That makes me nervous about calling the state Islamic.  I don't believe that the state was ever Islamic.  Not a single day.  The state is a political institution.  It is incapable of having a religion.

Whenever we give the adjective of a religious state to any state, what we are saying is that, as you said rightly, it is the religion of the ruling elite.  So once you see it is not the religion of the state as such, but the religion of the ruling elite, you see how dangerous it is to permit the elite to attribute their religious belief to the state which we all share.

I would rather have it for me to negotiate what role Shari'a has in society and in the state in a framework that ensures a degree of equality of human rights, of freedom of religion and other freedoms.  And the proscription, as Professor Feldman describes, is to say the state can't have a religion, but at the same ensure freedom of religion for everybody, is a contradiction. 

The very fact that the state identifies with a religion is, by definition, a violation of freedom of religion.  And for that reason, I will try to strive to keep the state neutral, realizing it is not easy.  It's a constant struggle.  And where in the realm of politics to enable people to identify religiously as also as citizens in a variety of ways.

FELDMAN:  It would be very boring for the audience if we all agreed on everything, so I'm glad that we're hitting -- the rubber's meeting the road here a little bit. 

So I'm going to disagree, first with Abdullahi and then with Philip, if I might, and the framework for my disagreement is the same in both cases.  And it's the observation that when we use words that are big, grand words -- which I usually --

I have a 2-year-old son, and I know I'm dealing with a big, grand word when I can't point to the thing when I define it.  Right?  If he wants to know what a chair is, I can point to the chair.  If he wants to know what religion is, I can't point to anything in particular.  The same is true of the state.  I can't point to anyone; there's nothing I -- these are true abstractions, right?

When we talk about abstractions, which we have to do because much of our world is shaped out of these abstractions, we're never defining them in some way that is objectively correct.  We're always injecting into what we say the way we think they should be.

When we say, "religion is," what we mean is religion is and should be.  The same is true when we talk about the state.  They're just two, the two that happen to be in play in this conversation.

Now, when we talk about can there be such a thing as an Islamic state, I understand that argument, the political and religious argument that says no, there can be no such thing as an Islamic state because Islam is a faith and the state is not a faith.  There can be the religion of the people who run the state.

But if all of the people who run the state and organize the institutions of the state say that their state is religious -- right? -- if they assert this and if they have institutions that exist in the real world that they administer according to these ideas, if there are certain people who are in charge of deciding on this aspect of the expenditure of funds with regard to religion, and this group of people who are in charge of that aspect of making sure that -- I don't know -- as in Saudi Arabia, that people attend the mosque.  You know, if you're in the marketplace and prayer time comes in Saudi Arabia, someone comes along and urges you to attend the mosque.  And if notice that you're not a Muslim, then they say oh, sorry -- you know? -- not you.

But if you have people these sorts of things, then it's practically useful to be able to say that you're speaking in the context of an Islamic state, and that's all I need, I think, for me to be able to say that people may speak of themselves as having an Islamic state.

Now, is there a certain contradiction between that and the idea that some citizens would nevertheless be free to exercise their religious rights? And here I'm going to turn to Philip.  So this is the point that Abdullahi made.  There is a contradiction here.

I agree that there's some tension, because if all the people who run the state are saying this is an Islamic state, the person who's a non-Muslim may feel marginal, may have the experience of feeling like, well, wait a minute.  It's not my state.  I don't fully participate in that state.  Right?  And I agree that that can be a subjective experience that the person will have -- will be likely to have.

If, however, they have that feeling, I don't think it follows from that that they are not free to act in the realm of their own religion.  They might not be free.  You might have a great tendency to take away their rights, but it doesn't necessarily follow, I don't think, that they are not free to act in the realm of their own religion. 

And let me just give a practical example of why this so, and here I'll turn to -- my disagreement -- this is apart of where Philip and I disagree.  Although I think Philip and I often agree on the bottom line, we almost always disagree completely about how to get there.  (Laughter.)

So if you look at the Protestant tradition of the separation of church and state, which Philip has done so much to elucidate, it begins with the idea that the state does have a religion, but that that religion demands equal liberty and free choice of religion for each of its citizens.  Right?  Now, not everyone in the Protestant tradition says this, but let's just take Locke, whom Philip mentioned, who for Americans, at least, is the most influential thinker about the relationship between religion and government, I would argue.  

Locke, in his famous letter on toleration, does say that there's no such thing under the gospels as a Christian commonwealth.  He thinks there was a Jewish commonwealth under the Hebrew Bible, but that because of Christian liberty, there's no such thing as a truly Christian commonwealth.  So actually he agrees with Abdullahi on that point.

But he's imagining that the Church of England will remain the established church, and he is imagining that government money and church money will be fully intertwined.  But he thinks that his own religion, which is the religion of the state, in effect, itself demands -- and he makes a religious argument for this -- itself demands that each person be left free to choose his own religion, because the religion wants free choice of faith, and not coerced choice of faith.

Now, does that make separation of church and state a Protestant idea?  In some sense, yeah.  Yes, it does, in America.  And once you see that it's a Protestant idea, it's impossible to disentangle it from a long strain of anti-Catholicism in English-speaking Protestantism.  And so when you look at the historical materials, as Philip does very well in his very important book on this subject, you see, and what do you know -- the same people who were advocating religious liberty are also not in favor of the Catholic Church -- which, they note, as late as the 1860s and '70s says that, quote, "Liberty of conscience is a delirimentum."  Walter's Latin is better than mine, but it's nothing good to say that something is -- it's a, you know, a false imagining.  Something that you ought not to believe.  Right? 

So there's an actual disagreement there on whether the liberty of conscience is in fact an important value -- and, of course, the Catholic Church has changed its view on this radically since that time, and that's wonderful.  But the fact is that once you acknowledge in a historical sense that there is something distinctively Protestant about this development of separation of church and state, you find all the nasty stuff, too.  But that's okay -- and this is where Philip and I disagree.

You find the nasty stuff -- and he's right that it's there, but that doesn't trouble me very much, because all traditions of thought, whether they're religious, secular, or otherwise, have this nasty stuff caught up in it.  So when I read the new atheists, as they are -- they're sometimes called, you know, these writers who get so much attention these days who are, in fact, amazingly similar to the atheists of the 1870s and '80s. 

I mean, in fact, almost all of the arguments, with only a few exceptions, can already be found in those earlier texts.  So once a century they get their chance to really, you know -- (laughter) -- flex and stretch their muscles, and that's probably a good thing.  They're focusing on nasty things that religion has done, and it's almost never the case that they're wrong.  The nasty things they say religion has done, it has done.  But so has every other ideology. 

I'll leave it there.

AN-NA'IM:  Can I --

MEAD:  Sure.

AN-NA'IM:  I'm saying just about the -- because when you say when all the Muslims of a country say that we want our -- or say to me -- Muslims never agree on anything -- never agree.  But the day the prophet died, and before he was buried, Muslims disagreed about how to succeed and who to succeed.  So disagreements have been -- (inaudible) -- you will never agree and you will always disagree, and it's only God in the next life who will adjudicate your differences among you; several verses to this extent.

So the point is that my problem with a -- Islamic state is that what does Islamic mean?  When we cannot agree on what Islamic means, using the term is confusing; in fact, dangerous, because it hides all the nasty stuff that he was talking about behind this veneer of Islamic, so that it becomes harder to challenge it.

He gives an example of Saudi Arabia.  In Saudi Arabia, there is a significant minority of Shi'a in eastern Arabia.  I don't like to say Saudi Arabia.  I like to say Arabia.  How can you name a country after a family?  In Arabia, there is significant Shi'a in the east to whom the Wahhabi doctrine of the state is a heresy, and they are obliged to live under this heresy as the law of the state.

And when you see that Iran is an Islamic state and Saudi Arabia is an Islamic state, what will it mean when, to each of them, the other is a heresy?  So the term Islamic becomes totally incoherent.  You know, as you travel in the region, you will find that people call Islamic law -- Islamic sort of -- (inaudible) -- the term is overused that there is no thought as to exactly what we mean by it.  And when we look closely to what we mean by it, we see that no Muslims of any country will agree on what their state is when they call it an Islamic state.

All of this is to be in the realm of politics.  And that's why I will say let people affirm their Islamic identity and values through politics, but not through a state institutions, which is what I need to have for it to be possible for me to negotiate Shari'a in politics.

MEAD:  Philip.

PHILIP HAMBURGER:  I'm not learned enough to take a position on Islamic law such as Professor An-Na'im just did, but in defense of -- of his position against Professor Feldman's, I must say I fear that Professor Feldman, in defense of his view that there should be possibly should admit there to be an Islamic state, looks to Europe to say, "Well, there are Christian states there."  And it strikes me that, at least in the Anglo-American tradition, which is the freer part of the European tradition, that's not so clear.

So, yes, there would have been a social establishment of Christianity, particularly Anglicanism in England.  And, yes, the monarch is the head of the English church, but if one looks at the theological and political writings of the late 17th century and early 18th century, defending Anglican establishments, the writings that Americans look to and understand, the argument isn't the state is religious, let alone that it's Protestant, let alone that it's Anglican, but rather that there's an alliance between church and state.

So even in the English church's own writings, it's not asserted that there's an Anglican church -- I'm sorry -- an Anglican state, except in the strongest -- (inaudible) -- Tory writings.  In the mainstream English writings, for example, by Bishop Warburton is about an alliance of church and state, in which he does very interesting Madisonian-style reasons.  And so it's really, I think, much more cautious.  So I don't think we can look to Europe and say, "Well, that's what the Europeans did.  Therefore, we should be comfortable with a religious state elsewhere."

I'd also like to disagree, much as I appreciate Professor Feldman's views on this, with his casual use of separation of church and state, as if that is what we're talking about when we talk about disestablishment.  Disestablishment and separation are very different metaphors.  Establishment is about one object elevating another, and therefore it's about a restraint on the government elevating the church.  Separation of church and state, which we think of horizontally, it's about keeping apart two institutions, and necessarily it limits both.  And instead of talking about religion generally, it focuses on organized religion rather than individual spirituality.

So it seems to me, yes, a lot of violence has been pursued in this country even in the name of separation of church and state, as well as in the name of religion.  But that's not our ideal.  Our ideal is actually quite carefully drafted in the Constitution.  It's about disestablishment.

And then, finally, I can't help talking about violence, since that's what lies behind so much of this, right?  We're not talking about violence -- "Let's have some fun" -- because violence has its fun aspect, unfortunately; we're human, and we indulge in it occasionally.  So if it looks back, as the Supreme Court likes to do, they'll say, "Oh, we have to be careful of divisiveness and religious violence," and they allude to Europe, particularly the happy years of the 16th and 17th century when there was a lot of violence.

It's by no means clear that religion has a monopoly on this.  In fact, religion turned out to be rather inefficient.  The Inquisition only killed a few thousand people.  What were they up to?  Their mind was on God, not on the efficiency of killing.  And it strikes me that the secular state in the past century has really done a much better job of it, if you're into that sort of thing, which gets to the larger set of issues, I think, here that we haven't yet discussed, the relationship, as it were, social structures, if we include religion amongst these.

So let's not talk about religion.  I agree with Professor Feldman about this.  It's an amorphous concept.  Let's think just for a minute; not say this is what religion really is, but about unrealistic aspirations for purity and transcendence.

Now, if that is part of the human condition, how should it be pursued, with unrealistic aspirations for purity and transcendence in this world or another world?  And which is more dangerous?  I don't know that I know the answer.  But it's by no means clear to me that pursuing those unrealistic aspirations in another world is more dangerous than in this world.  And I think, sadly, the comparisons to the Soviet Union and the proceedings of the 16th Century illustrate that.

MEAD:  All right.  Boy, well, you certainly know how to bring the fun into a gathering.  (Laughter.)

HAMBURGER:  I don't like violence myself, but it's fun to talk about.

MEAD:  All right.  Well, I think, speaking of fun, maybe it's time to give the audience some and open this up for questions.  Again, I'd like to remind you that a question is a statement which can be grammatically ended with a question mark.  (Laughter.)  One can usually tell one's being asked a question by sort of a rising inflection that comes at the end of the sentence.  And questions are, generally speaking, rather short.

So if anybody has questions, please raise your hand.  We'll bring a microphone to you.  State your name and your affiliation for the sake of those watching by video.

QUESTIONER:  Charles Harper, John Templeton Foundation.

I want to state a thesis as a question for all of you.  Do you think that strategically, for the Council on Foreign Relations and the United States generally, that this issue for intellectuals of clarifying the difference in religion between a situation before and after an American-style politic -- constitutionally of the separation of state power from religious culture, do you see that as something that's vital for American intellectuals to engage with in the world to clarify what the American experiment and experience has been?

MEAD:  So if I rephrase that, gentlemen, does your life's work have any meaning or purpose?  (Laughter.)  Anybody want to jump in there?

FELDMAN:  One think that I think is fair to say is that, though it's obviously crucially important in the American realm for us to understand what we're doing ourselves domestically, we shouldn't draw the conclusion from that that once we've figured it out, then we'll have something we can hold their hands and export.

I mean, one of the weirdest experiences of my life was sitting in the Green Zone and hearing U.S. government officials, who were aligned with the political movement of deeply skeptical of, for example, the idea of a secular state -- we don't have a secular state here -- saying things like, "The most important thing we have to keep in mind for the new Iraq is that there must be a strictly secular state."

First of all, it bespoke a willingness to sort of imagine something on the U.S. side that they themselves denied exists on the U.S. side.  But second of all, it bespoke this idea that they knew exactly what we had in the United States and we should export that.

So I want to (exploit ?) all of that -- (inaudible).  I think the other panelists do too.  We do want to understand what we have here.  We want to understand the fights that we still have in the United States, the lack of clarity that we have.  And then we want to realize that whatever the lack of -- (inaudible) -- that we have is, that's probably not the suitable thing to impose on anybody else.  At least that's my own view.

MEAD:  They should have their own lack of clarity.

FELDMAN:  Exactly.  They should have their own version of confusion.

And this is the last thing I would say.  I mean, a constitutional tradition that works is one that is in a constant state of dynamic evolution.  You have a written constitution that says "x," but no constitutional system works if it just follows what's in that written constitution and never changes.  Interpretation gives it the freedom to change.  And if it doesn't even have a text, so much the better, often, because then you have a little bit more freedom for the dynamism.

So everyone's going to have some complex dynamic unresolved form of the relationship between religion and government, but they shouldn't all have the same confusion.

MEAD:   Abdullahi, do you want to --

AN-NA'IM:  I was going to -- I am from Sudan.  At this point I am an American citizen, but I am from Sudan and am formed by being from Sudan.  And one term or concept, idea that has not really been raised much is colonialism.  Much of what we see is post-colonialism, that it is more informed by colonialism than it is by anything else about Muslim societies and their history.

The Islamic state discourse is a post-colonial discourse, because one position that we have not clarified, what do we mean by the state?  The form of state -- the type of state that we now live with is a European model of the state.  And the idea of law that Muslims -- when Muslims talk about an Islamic state before Shari'a, they think of it as Shari'a as positive law; European idea of law, European idea of the state.

So it's a contradiction, I think, to claim to affirm Islamic identity through two European institutions, the state and law.  The type of state that Muslims lived with historically is a very different type of state than the state they are living with now in the post-colonial.

Now, coming to the American, also one question.  Iraq was mentioned a couple of times.  But the fact is that Iraq has been a colonial experience; that is, the United States has colonized and is still colonizing Iraq.  Iraq is not a sovereign state now, as we speak.  And probably in my book, the biggest moral failure of the United States since the Second World War has been the invasion, occupation and colonization of Iraq.

And this event, if we can call it an event, has done sort of horrendous consequences for decades to come and outraged, completely outraged, that we can talk about it as if it is something that happened and, okay, we'll just now deal with the consequences.  No, it has to be condemned for having happened in the first place.  And thus, having had to be condemned for having done it, now the impulse is the Americans go out in the world to engage in conversation about the American experience -- absolutely fine, wonderful.  In fact, we do this all the time.

I studied constitutional law with an American professor in the 1960s in Sudan, and I learned a lot from him.  And I continue to learn from my American experience.  But if you send your armies to missionize for your view of what freedom of religion is and what church and state is, that's completely unacceptable and utterly counterproductive.

FELDMAN:  Just for the record, I mean, we did invade Iraq; there's no question.  And there's no question, further, that our presence there has features that are in common with colonialism, or with imperialism maybe more precisely.  But if you look at the constitutional structure that emerged in Iraq, it has nothing to do with the U.S. constitutional structure.  I mean, for better or worse, it makes Iraq an Islamic state and says that no law passed may violate the judgments of Islam.  I mean, it says that when it comes to family law -- I mean, you can say these are terrible things.  I think you do think they're terrible things.  But whatever they are, they're not American things.

AN-NA'IM:  No, but the fact is that it was drafted during an American occupation, that the people of Iraq -- I mean, the question is also Britain colonized Sudan and Uganda and Kenya; I mean, most of African states.  And it was -- and the French did it too.  At the end of the colonial period, they drafted a constitution in Lancaster House in England for the new state to just go on and become independent and sovereign as of today, because we have made you sovereign.

When our secretary of State sends a letter to the government of Iraq to say that "We have your sovereignty for a year.  Here, have it back.  But we will keep 150,000 troops heavily armed under foreign command who will protect you from your own population, but you are a sovereign state."  The constitution of Iraq has not happened.  And the fact that you have a document called the constitution of Iraq is not and does not make it the constitution of Iraq.

You know, constitutions are not made in documents.  Constitutions are hearts and minds of people.  And until the people of Iraq have the freedom and the stability and the ability to draft their own constitution completely free, without any foreign advisers, without technocrats telling them how to draft this or how to work it out or not work it out, it is not a constitution.

MEAD:  Well, I think -- let's try to -- points taken, but let's try to keep this on the broader agenda of responding, I think, to the question of, you know, the validity -- sort of the importance for American foreign policy of trying to understand this issue of religious --

HAMBURGER:  I do want to get back to the original question.  I just cannot help engaging a little bit on this point.

MEAD:  Please don't.  (Laughter.)

HAMBURGER:  One sentence.  It's simply that if one takes everything that Professor An-Na'im just said as true, it just does strike me that we won't have to worry that the colonial discourse tends to lead us only to look at some tragedies and not others.  And I think if one's really to be concerned about the people of any nation in this world, as a human being, one has to recognize disasters can happen from any direction, including from within, and that's certainly been the case with Iraq.

Now, getting back to the question, though, it strikes me that, yes, we do need to be engaging.  I almost agreed with Noah there until he went on about the living constitution, and then I had to back -- can't win 'em all.  It strikes me that we have had a remarkable experience here, perhaps just by accident.  None of us in this room, I think, can take credit for it, but we have lived in a genuinely blessed country in a blessed period of time where it is just not normal in human experience to have what we have in the United States.

And by whatever grace that is, I think it is worth talking about.  It's worth talking about with all the caution that my colleagues have mentioned, because we don't know which elements are essential, and there's a danger we will misstate it, so we need to be very modest about it.  And it may be that we should not impose this; that's surely true.  And yet, at the same time, just to show the model of living, a Lutheran pastor once explained to me how he reached his congregation, and he said to me, "I don't have a congregation; I just try to live right, and people notice that."

And we can take the same approach.  But I think, at the same time, one can't just live right.  One has to talk about it.  And, yes, we need to be engaged with a sense of prudence, with a sense of the diversity of the world, but sharing at least the model so that people can adapt from it what I think they will undoubtedly find deeply attractive.  And frankly, people across the world do.

MEAD:  And I would probably add, from the standpoint of the Council on Foreign Relations, or at least some of us here, we think that certainly since September 11th, but a lot of events before that, have raised the importance of trying to get a clearer understanding in the U.S. of how our own traditions have evolved in this respect and then trying to understand better where those do and don't intersect with the experiences of other societies and what usefully can we do to try to advance some of the universal values that Noah was talking about in these very different contexts.

Sir.

QUESTIONER:  Jim Dingman, INN World Report.

When one travels to Europe, one's constantly confronted with the question of "What are you Americans doing letting these fundamentalist Christians dominate your foreign policy?"  All the time last fall, I got that continually.  And we know that operationally that influence has been realized in the HIV-AIDS policy of Bush's administration in Africa.

And I wanted to get your take on that and also how people in Europe are perceiving how religion is in the election process.  For example, we've had three weeks of Jeremiah Wright being thrown at us, and that has, of course, been perceived differently in Europe than in the United States.  I wanted to know how you see those things.

FELDMAN:  We're on the record, right?

MEAD:  No, go right ahead; sounds like you're itching to go.

FELDMAN:  Well, I mean, look, on the first point I would say welcome to participatory democracy.  There are all these foreign policy elites; some of them may be in this room.  Some of the people who helped create this room, who think that it might not be such a good idea for the general democratic population -- here I mean democratic, not a small "r" republican -- to be involved in foreign policymaking, right, because they think, "Wow, what happens when that happens is that all those people out there have these views that we elites don't agree with will impact our foreign policy -- yuk."

Now, you know, one of the costs of the democratization of foreign policy in the last 115 years, which is itself in part of a very complicated story that Walter has told part of very brilliantly of post-Cold War changes in the way foreign policy is shaped, one of the consequences of this democratization of foreign policy debates is that constituencies that historically didn't do that much or weren't able to do that much to affect our foreign policy now can and do.

I think that in many particular cases -- the one you mentioned is a good one -- I don't agree with what that particular constituency wants our foreign policy to be.  But I completely disagree that it somehow follows from that that public voices should be excluded from our foreign policy judgments.  I think if you're serious about being a democracy, you need to acknowledge that.

And when you make your foreign policy, you have to think seriously about the fact that that foreign policy is now going to be shaped in the long run by what the general public believes.  I think that's got to be now part of the foreign policy calculus.  When you decide to do something, you can't think, for example, that the next administration, even if it's of a different party, will do just what you expect it to do.  That's a mistake, I think, now in foreign policy, where then maybe it wasn't the case in certain aspects of the Cold War.  So that's on the first half of the question, and I'll leave Jeremiah Wright to my colleagues.

HAMBURGER:  I just want to comment on the notion of fundamentalists anywhere.  Who are the fundamentalists, right?  Fundamentalists are a small group that are more generally known as evangelicals.  The number of fundamentalists in this country who were actually traditional fundamentalists are tiny.  I mean, how many premillenarian literalists are there in this country?  That's not most evangelicals.

And so when people criticize fundamentalists, they're revealing a certain theological ignorance, I fear.  And what particularly worries me is that this is a theologically (inflected ?) term.  This is saying some people believe in fundamentals.  In other words, they believe in orthodoxies.  We are theologically liberal.  The implication is, "And we don't have orthodoxies."  And somehow this gets into class distinctions, too -- the educated versus uneducated and the rest.  And so I think we have to be very careful with labels.  Most evangelicals are highly individualistic.  Most of them are not fundamentalist in the traditional term.

And just a final thought here.  Since I am interested so much in the bullying of religious minorities, we would not ordinarily take the label for a small minority and treat that as a label for some sort of social ill or theological ill.  You know, if you're worried about some sort of habit that you associate with a particular religion, you wouldn't say, "How Protestant of you.  How Catholic of you.  How Islamic of you.  How Jewish of you."  We think how prejudiced that would be.  But we don't hesitate to say, "Gee, that's very fundamentalist," and we're not even talking about fundamentalists.  We're using minority label.

And so I just feel a lot of these criticisms don't even understand the theologies involved.  Now, it may be right, as Noah points out.  Perhaps we might disagree with the policies.  But that's a different issue altogether.

MEAD:  Yes.

QUESTIONER:  (Inaudible.)

MEAD:  I have a feeling we'll come back to Jeremiah Wright.

QUESTIONER:  I'm definitely not Jeremiah --

MEAD:  He'll take care of himself.

QUESTIONER:  Thank you.

I'd like to ask you to express an opinion.  Mr. Ratzinger, who has chosen the name of Pope Benedict XVI --

MEAD:  Are you a Protestant, by any chance?

QUESTIONER:  There's a chance.  There's a chance.  I'd like to ask you to comment on this too.  And I know you're the fair-minded moderator here.  I will not try to quote him, because he did it in Latin and my Latin is not that good.  But he said at one point here three or four months something to the effect that he would support the building of mosques in Rome when the Saudi government permitted the building of churches in Riyadh.  Would you comment on that?

AN-NA'IM:  There is so much more to the Muslim world than Saudi Arabia.

QUESTIONER:  (Off mike.)

AN-NA'IM:  (Laughs.)  Because he said Riyadh, so -- at least to be clear.  I made my point about the family and the country.  But now what I'm saying is this.  I noticed also this morning already that there is so much focus on the Middle East as if it is representative of the Muslim world at large.

The Arab Muslim region is about 10 (percent) to 12 percent of the total Muslim population -- 10 (percent) to 12 percent.  There are more Muslims in sub-Saharan Africa than there are Muslims in the Middle East.  There are -- India is the second-largest Muslim country in the world, or third, probably, when you compare it to Pakistan.

The point is that so much Muslims and Islam historically, as well as currently, are not anything to do with the Middle East; in fact, quite different, very much different, that -- so that I think for the pope's remark, I think it is unfair to sort of prejudge Muslims' attitudes about churches and Christian-Muslim relations and so on by what goes on in Arabia or Saudi Arabia, as your choice.

In that sense, the point is that also, I would say, I would hope that a pope would be more visionary and more leading the Christians than this tit-for-tat attitude.  He should say that "I would support building a mosque in Rome regardless of what" -- because he should be driven by his own religious conviction as a Christian, not by what -- and this is exactly what Muslims are doing now when they are (ranting ?) against the United States and condemning everything that's good about this country because they hate some aspects of the foreign policy of this country.

What the United States does or does not do should not define what I do or not do and my right as a Muslim.  And I would hope that the pope would think "What does my religious conviction as a Christian leader lead me to do about mosques in Rome?" rather than being defined by what Muslim leaders do or prefer to do in other countries.

MEAD:  I suppose the king of Saudi Arabia might also reply, "We'll separate mosque from state in Saudi Arabia when you do it in the Vatican, your holiness," and see what he gets.

QUESTIONER:  Hi.  Assam Rehman (sp), Muslim Bar Association of New York.

Just to take advantage of the fact that we have three law professors, I wanted to ask your opinion on the role of religious judicial bodies.  This is something that was discussed earlier this morning, but perhaps each of you can comment, because, for example, Professor An-Na'im, you talked about keeping religion out of the institutions.  How does that concept inform the existence of a judicial body or even a scholar who is empowered by the state to adjudicate matters?  Professor Feldman, you wrote about this recently.  I'd like to get your views as legal experts on that matter.

(Off mike commentary.) 

AN-NA'IM:  Okay.  You might be surprised, but I am opposed to what the archbishop has proposed.  I think it is bad for the state institutions to enforce religious adjudication.  Religious adjudication and other types of adjudication happen all the time.  And we can never stop it, and, in fact, we can encourage it.

My objection comes when you involve a state institution in enforcing the outcome of -- (inaudible) -- our situation.  If it is freely chosen by the parties, you can have types of issues where that happens outside the state institutions, and it will happen outside the state institutions, and it is good that it happens.

But implicating the state institutions into enforcing religious adjudication is dangerous for the state and for the religion.  Now, one point is that when -- say, if you have a Shari'a-based arbitrational family dispute in Britain go before English courts to enforce, is the court going to review only the procedural aspects, or is it going to review the substantive aspects?  Or is it going to enforce based on the authority of those who adjudicate it without questioning looking into what really went on and what are the issues?

Now, is an English court competent in Shari'a to be able to review adjudication outcomes?  If it is not, is it going to enforce an adjudication that it has no way of evaluating in terms of its good or bad nature, and so on?  Now, the point is that the realm of community life are very much -- I think my sense of separation of church and state, as you said, is protecting the state from religion and religion from the state.  And in that light, I would be opposed to enforcement of religious education.

Now, another point to add; I don't know how much time -- time, of course, is short.  The thing is, what is the Shari'a authorization for this selectivity, because if what you are doing is enforcing Shari'a, Shari'a has a lot to say on everything.  How come that you choose this particular limited issue and exclude all other issues on which Shari'a is as authoritative as it is on this issue?

In the sort of Ontario case, the same proposal was made in Ontario.  And the proposal was made excluding custody-of-children issues.  Because custody of children is a federal jurisdiction, so they were saying in Ontario, "Let us do it in other issues, not with custody of children."  How can you deal with a family dispute without including custody-of-children issues as a factor simply because the state structure is such that this is outside the realm of the provincial?  That is the sort of confusion that is bound to come through if you try to do this sort of thing.

HAMBURGER:  If I could just add a word here, for 480 years the law of the land has had complete obligation, within the jurisdiction of the common-law nations.  There is no room for a distinct jurisdiction independent of it.  And although in England church courts can be authorized by the state, it's always under their complete authority of the law of the land.  And that's just fundamental.  That's why our constitution refers to the supreme law of the land. 

And I agree with Professor An-Na'im.  It's very, very dangerous to start breaking that down.  That can go in a lot of different directions.  This was the split between the Catholic Church in England in the 1530s, and there's just nothing as fundamental as the complete force of the law of the land in jurisdiction.  And we're familiar with this in many areas, in questions of race, questions of religion and so forth.

There is some room for contractual arrangements by which individuals put themselves into someone else's judgment, be it religious or commercial, right?  But the secular courts must always have competence to decide the matter ultimately.  And to inquire, which is genuinely voluntary, there's potential for this to go in a very dangerous direction, and not, incidentally, to the advantage of Muslims.

FELDMAN:  Here I disagree with my colleagues.  To me, this question comes under the general category of things you could do differently in different countries, provided that basic human rights are respected.  And I would note that in his pretty tentative speech, if you actually read it, which obviously very few people have done -- in this room I'm sure many have, but in the world, very few people have done -- the archbishop of Canterbury spoke of, first of all -- the background assumption of the talk was that, of course, the laws of the state would ultimately be the ones that authorized the local court -- the arbitral body, and that the state law would be the supreme law of the land.  He was very explicit in this respect, and he also said very explicitly that equality of men and women would have to be respected, that that would trump any particular Islamic principles, and so forth and so on.

Now, I think it's worth noting the difference in approach -- and this goes back to the previous question -- between Pope Benedict and the archbishop of Canterbury because they both lead -- once much larger, but they both lead big Christian denominations -- when it comes to dealing with the question of Islam.  Pope Benedict's verbal practice thus far and his experience have been to be, let's say, on occasion sharply negative about aspects of Islam.  That has brought him a lot of opposition in the Muslim world, but it's been pretty good for him as a sort of political move within Europe.  I think it's fair to say that he has strengthened himself within Europe as a result.  An interesting strategy on his part, especially given that he has said explicitly when he became pope that one of the dangers for the church is becoming irrelevant in Europe.  So it turns out that being sharply negative about Islam is a very effective technique for making yourself a player in the contemporary European environment.

The archbishop of Canterbury --

(Cross talk.)

MEAD:  -- could maybe take a lead --

FELDMAN:  -- yeah, it's interesting.  Yeah.

The archbishop of Canterbury, by contrast, gave this very tentative and scholarly lecture in a pretty academic environment and all hell broke loose.  You know?  I mean, they were calling for his resignation.  And you know, he's been handling some pretty sensitive matters over the last couple of years that -- the Anglican community is not without its difficulties, as we know -- but nobody, as far as I know, has made as open, as loud, as angry a set of calls for his resignation as came over this one speech.  So there's an important lesson there about the political climate in Europe right now.  Say anything that might be construed as in some way -- and the archbishop was very explicit -- he was trying to experimentally think of ways to reach out to the Muslim community in England to make it feel fully a part, and you can think that that's a mistake; you can think it's wrong -- but the spirit of the speech I think is pretty clear, and look at the consequences. 

MEAD:  Okay.  We have a question from one of our very patient webcast viewers that I'd like to interject here.  This is from Rene Lape (sp) at Friends Academy, who asked, "Regarding the relationship between Christian believers in the United States and the state, when it comes to issue such as the prohibition we have always had on men having more than one wife, a rule strictly related, it seems, to our identity as a Christian nation, how do you see the role of the state in defining the nature of marriage -- whether we're speaking of same-sex marriage or monogamous marriages?" 

So, I guess behind that is the notion that religious presuppositions inform the approach of the state to such basic matters of family life -- is this appropriate? 

MR.     :  (Off mike.)  (Laughter.)

AN-NA'IM:  I'll try briefly.  I think it is legitimate that every society's legal order -- codes of family law included -- would reflect its values, its culture, its religious beliefs included in that.  But the point is that certain -- as it is enacted as law by virtue of the will of the state and not by virtue religious authority.  So monogamous marriage is now part of the -- of course we are clear, all of us, that the origin or the underpinnings of this are Christian or particularly at least some interpretation of Christian dogma, but the point is that it is family law by virtue of the will of the state, not by virtue of divine command.

If that is the case, then it can be changed, too.  Not that we are going to have polygamous marriages, but the point is that we are dealing with the secular world.  My view is that in Islamic-majority countries, family law also should be secular law and should be seen as such; that you have a family court.  If the peoples are Muslims, their values will be reflected in that court, but there is no confusion that what the law is is the rule of the state and not the religious commands according to some interpretations of it. 

So, in that sense, we can have polygamous marriage or not have this divorce or that divorce -- all of it as secular law so we can change it.  But once we say, "This is Shari'a," then what can we do about it?

MEAD:  So in some countries one can have multiple wives; in this country we have multiple conceptions of marriage.  But these come from the democratic system of politics.  And underlying this and the prior question really is the matter of women's rights.  Right?  To what -- whether we're talking about polygamy or we're talking about Shari'a is introduced as a set of -- a subpart of the legal system as to family matters, the concern that I think many people rightfully will have is what will happen to the woman as an individual?  Will her rights be fully respected?  And to what extent will her freedom remain under such a system?  And given the role of the equality of women generally one might say in the development of the set of political systems and freedoms that we appreciate -- and it's been a central part, frankly -- women's rights have been a central part of the movement against slavery in this country and in changing our polity I think in ways that are on the whole rather wholesome.  We ought to be very, very careful about inviting what might become instruments of undermining this.  In fact, if there's anything we can do for the rest of the world, it will be to remind the rest of the world that in fact half the population -- many parts -- are excluded from full participation as citizens.  And, to put it mildly, that's a shame.

Yes, in the back?

QUESTIONER:  Yes.  Eric Gregory from Princeton University.  I'm an academic, so you'll forgive me if I worry this is getting to concrete.  I'm going to ask an abstract question, and it was provoked by Professor Hamburger.  I think as a matter of intellectual history, the concept of the secular and even human rights and even the separation of church and state have their soil in theological and religious sources.  And you said that we would be impoverished today without those religious motivations to regard people as equal, et cetera.  Do you want to go further and say they're actually necessary and required?  And I wasn't sure if you meant that as a philosophical argument, as a sociological argument or as a historical argument.  Can we tick away the God talk as long as we have the constitutional practices and democratic republican institutions, or is religion necessary for the defense of human rights?  It's the question about Locke, really. 

HAMBURGER:  Yeah.  It's a good question.  It's an -- I don't know the answer, and I fear that we're living through an interesting experiment.  We won't know probably for a little while -- I hope not to live long enough to find out.  But this is the division between America and Europe, right?  And if we think -- I don't think America has ever really been the same as Europe, but there are some commonalities.  And if one looks at the fate of Europe and the fate of the United States, we each have our problems, but their problems may turn out to be more fundamental precisely because they place such a burden on their mere humanity, and that is more than most societies have survived.

I don't want to suggest that nothing -- you know, it isn't possible.  That would be going too far, right?  We have no evidence for that.  But if one looks across history -- and of course, we only have a few thousand years of detailed evidence -- but if one looks across history, it's difficult to find a society which really gets very far, survives very long without some outside source to define and give stability to what we loosely call -- politely call "values," right, but which actually have to be a little bit more magnetic than that.  So I don't really know, but I'm -- although personally an optimist, professionally I'm a pessimist.  (Laughter.)

MEAD:  Yes?  Wait for the microphone.

QUESTIONER:  Paul de Vries with New York Divinity School.  I'm also on the board of the National Association of Evangelicals.  It puzzles us that we've had such a giant influence on foreign policy.  We look at many of our attempts to affect foreign policy in terms of restricting sex trade, nonviolent conflict resolution, creation care, environmental issues to be part of foreign policy and so forth.  And perhaps the -- (inaudible) -- list several more, perhaps the only success was the AIDS program that Bush pushed in Africa. 

But I guess the question -- we represent directly 20 million evangelicals, and indirectly probably equal number.  What can we do to wake up Washington to what we see as the eternal values?

MEAD:  How can evangelicals get more political influence?  (Laughter.)  Who wants to answer that?

FELDMAN:  I'll say something about at least the first part of the question -- how it's a surprise.  It's sometimes a surprise where one has influence and where one doesn't have influence. 

I think one of the key rules of American foreign policy is that if you pick an issue that nobody really feels strongly on the other side of, or at least where the opposition to you is not well organized and where no really fundamental national security interest is on the other side, that's where you're likely, in the first instance, to have a lot of impact.  Right?  I mean, this is a key point in understanding the role of the pro-Israel lobby -- both the Jewish pro-Israel lobby and the evangelical pro-Israel lobby.  Walter has written recently in an interesting review of Mearsheimer and Walt's book about this phenomenon.  It helps if you're advocating for something and no one is very organized in advocating on the other side of that issue.

In terms of how, though, one has an effect or a group of concerned citizens have a big effect where the national security interest doesn't obviously align with what they're pushing for or where there are other strong interests -- especially corporate interests -- on the other side, there the thing about our republican democracy is that the push really has to happen at the level of individual congresspeople.  I mean, that really is the way it works.  And although, for example, we speak of the tremendous corporate impact on our politics, which is enormous, that is accomplished via the mechanism of targeted support for particular representatives and senators.  That's our version of what we don't consider to be corruption.  I mean, at the margins it can become corrupt, but the American approach for better or for worse is to say money has a huge impact, so let's create a legal channel for money to have its influence so that it doesn't have its influence through non-legal channels. 

That may be a terrible mistake -- and again here, the European example is an interesting contrast where there's at least in many places in Europe a serious attempt to avoid the influence of money in politics, and yet there doesn't seem to be the kind of corruption that one sees in some other places.  That's an interesting contrast, and especially whether we could achieve that is I think the central question and the question of campaign finance reform. 

But that's really my view:  You do it by identifying particular people who are vulnerable and trying to get them elected or not elected. 

MEAD:  Okay.  We have time I think for one more question.

QUESTIONER:  I'm Sayed (sp).  Once again, I just wanted to make a brief observation in terms of open societies.  If both religion and the secular-minded groups are so much strongly in favor of open society, what is it that makes this a difficult thing to be realized?  Are we not looking at the moral aspect of it, or is there something else?  Thank you.

HAMBURGER:  Well, if I may, I feel that too often both secular attitudes and religion are used, right?  In the particularly in the democratic style government, religion is used to mobilize passions -- sometimes for good; sometimes for evil -- and so too, fears of religion.  And so it may be that the civilized conversation we can have here is not easily replicated out there simply because of the nature of politics, getting people mobilized, the way that Noah suggested.  So it may be something we just have to live with, which would be sad, but I don't have a solution. 

FELDMAN:  I think part of it has to do with the way that in politics no one is ever satisfied with just winning a particular debate.  If you can win a debate, you then want to move the goalposts to increase your chances of winning the next debate.  And I think that's where the real potential for conflict actually happens.  It's not just -- I mean, there's of course conflict if two different groups see an issue differently and they argue about it and they're each trying to lobby their congressman to get certain results and one wins and the other loses -- yeah, that's ordinary political fighting.  But rarely do they stop there. 

So we have constitutional politics, for example, where secularists -- legal secularists, as I sometimes call them, argue that religion should not be allowed into public discourse and then try to create constitutional rules that will make it harder -- will raise the barrier for religious folks to participate in that debate. 

And on the other side, you might have situations where people you might call "values evangelicals" -- I don't mean literally just evangelicals but people who evangelize for values -- also want to change the constitutional rules so that for example, state funds can be used to sustain their institutions, which will enable them to do a better job and win more future political debates.  And that's where I think you get the really heavy fighting.  And I don't think there's any solution to that.  I mean, this is an answer to your -- to try to be a direct answer to your question of why don't we all just get along.  (Laughter.)  It's because we're all trying to harden our advantage for the next time out. 

But that's just what constitutional politics always looks like, in my view.  And the test of a successful constitutional polity is that you keep that fighting within some bounds, and usually the bounds are nonviolence.  (Laughs.)  That's a pretty good bound to aim for.

AN-NA'IM:  So, just to close by saying that I can agree with Professor Feldman.  On this one I do agree with him -- that the point is that if you're -- I mean, when, we say open or closed, these are relative terms because it is relatively closed or relatively open, and also a question of how open or how closed -- in what ways?  And those are issues on which people are going to disagree constantly and permanently. 

And disagreement is good.  Conflict is good.  And in fact conflict is creative.  That's what makes us human.  It's part of our humanness is to be in disagreement because we tend to be distinctive as who we are, and that is not going to be who he is or who the next person is.  The only point is not to be violent about it. 

So the challenge is how to create normative institutions and mechanisms whereby we can negotiate our difference without resorting to violence.  Whenever we have this, there is no end to how open and variety of ways in which you can be open. 

MEAD:  Well, we never did get back to Professor Wright, but I think you'll -- Pastor Wright, but I think you'll agree with me this was still a very successful session.  (Laughter.)  We have lunch now, and we reconvene -- (applause) -- thank you.  

AN-NA'IM:  Thank you.

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      THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.

-------------------------

This event is part of the Religion and Foreign Policy Symposia Series, which is made possible by the generous support of the Henry Luce Foundation.

 

PETER STEINFELS:  I am Peter Steinfels, and it's my pleasure and privilege to preside over this third session of a fascinating day -- this session being on religion, innovation and economic progress.

I'd just like to repeat the ritual request that all of you turn off cell phones, BlackBerrys, camcorders, whatever makes spontaneous and unwanted noises.

Secondly, again, I'll remind you that this session is on-the-record and it is being webcast live to a larger audience.  So you might want to keep that in mind.

We have three very distinguished panelists here today.  In the program you have there are much more extended biographies, which you really ought to look at.  They're very interesting.  But I'll give them very brief introductions here.

From right next to me is Timur Kuran, who's a professor of Economics, Political Science and of Islam and Social Sciences at Duke University.  Among his areas of study are Islamic teachings and economic innovation and the economic lag in the Middle East.

Next to him is Lawrence Harrison, who is director of the Cultural Change Institute at the Fletcher School.  He is well known to many of us for very extensive writings on the impact of culture and religious values on economic development.

And at the end is Robert Woodberry, who's a professor at the University of Texas in Austin.  And he has conducted studies of the role of missionaries as a way of analyzing and examining change and diffusion in both economic and political values.

I've asked each one of the panelists just to begin not with the larger theoretical picture or their larger conclusions, necessarily -- though they may want to refer to those -- but with a specific concrete example of the way in their work where they have seen the impact of religion and culture -- religion primarily -- these values on economic change or development.

I've said you can give a positive example or a negative example, but if each one of them would give a single or two anecdotes or cases, and then we'll move from there to the larger theoretical structure that they've been working with in their studies.

So, Professor Kuran.

TIMUR KURAN:  Thank you.

My answer will be both positive and negative and will come in -- the example will come in two parts, which may seem contradictory.

Muslim societies have always welcomed change.  If you look at the last two centuries, you can see this.  Two centuries ago nowhere in the Islamic world were there corporations, did banks exist, did stock markets exist, was there standardized accounting.  These institutions, these practices have been accepted -- widely accepted all across the Islamic world.  And in fact, even Islamists who -- radical Islamists who oppose various elements of modernity accept these.  They don't make an issue out of them.

In earlier times, tax systems repeatedly changed.  Military technologies were -- new military technologies were generated.  Military technologies were borrowed from abroad again and again.

The same token, certain elements of -- certain elements of the infrastructure of the private economy remained stagnant for almost a millennium across the Islamic world.  If someone -- if a merchant who had lived in the 10th century came alive in 1800, he would find the types of contracts in use quite familiar.  Credit markets would be quite familiar.  Economic relations would seem quite similar to those that he had experienced eight centuries earlier.

So the economic infrastructure of the economy had undergone a stagnation.  And it turns out that this -- even though changes had occurred in other areas, in this particular area the stagnation mattered dramatically to economic development.

STEINFELS:  Professor Harrison.

LAWRENCE HARRISON:  First of all, consistent with the ambiance of dissent that was established this morning, I would like to express my strong disagreement with Peter Berger.  Having spent the morning in the unpadded seats of the audience, being up on the stage in the lineup is a great blessing.  (Laughter.)

I'm going to read a sentence to you, which will summarize my case in a general sense.  And then I'm going to give you the most immediate example:  Religious relativism -- the notion that all religions are essentially equal -- is an illusion when it comes to progress.  Some religions or ethical codes -- for example, Protestantism, Judaism and Confucianism -- do better than others, in the extreme case, Haitian Voodoo.

The example that I want to cite is the example of our own Hemisphere.  Carlos Rangel, a very distinguished Venezuelan writer, wrote in a book that he published in the 1970s that in the year 1700, viewed from Europe, the Spanish colonies in the south of the New World looked to be much more successful, much more promising, much more affluent than the British colonies in the north.  Three hundred years later there's been an immense flip-flop.  How can it be explained, he goes on to say?

And he answers it in basically the answer that our analysis illuminates.  What you have is Ibero-Catholic culture, which is progress resistant in the sense not only of economics, but also in the sense of social justice and democracy -- democratic governance -- falling far behind Anglo-Protestant culture in terms of its ability to produce democratic societies.  Social justice certainly in a much greater degree than in Latin America and a greater degree of prosperity.

So that in the year 2008, Latin America, which may well have been ahead of the English colonies in the north in the year 1700, is now perhaps 50 or 75 years behind.  And while a number of other factors are involved, I believe that the contrast between Ibero-Catholic and Anglo-Protestant culture is a principal explanation.

STEINFELS:  Professor Woodberry.

ROBERT WOODBERRY:  There are lots of things that we think have a secular origin or origin due to technology, which actually have religious origins and then we forget.

One of the things you can you look at with that is, for example, the spread of printing and mass literacy.  We think that's a technological development, which inevitably leads to newspapers and mass literacy and other things like that.  It's not.  The early places to have mass printing -- or the early places to have significant printing -- were Germany, Italy, France and Spain.  The early places to have mass literacy were Scandinavia, Geneva, the Puritan areas of England, lowland Scotland, New England, Iceland, et cetera -- not the places with early printing.

The spread of printing internationally demonstrates this clearly as well.  Printing gets used for mass printing and newspapers and things like that in the religious debates with reformations and spreads internationally, primarily with the spread of Protestant missions.  You can show that most societies knew about printing and had examples of printing in their own language for 200 to 300 years before they ever used it.  The Chinese and the Koreans invented printing and they had moveable fonts, metal type, prior to Europe.  They didn't have newspapers until the 19th century until they were introduced by Protestant missionaries.  They didn't have literacy until the 19th century when it was introduced by Protestant missionaries.

Throughout Asia -- throughout Asia, the first people to print significantly were Catholic missionaries, but they mostly printed only 100 to 200 copies of their texts and it didn't overwhelm the copyists and no one ever copied them.  Foreign trade companies also printed treaties, but also in small numbers.  It didn't overwhelm the copyists.  No one copied them.

When protestant missionaries came, they printed so many copies it overwhelmed the ability of people to copy by hand.  So in India, the first three British missionaries -- who actually had to go to Danish colonies, because they were banned from British colonies -- printed over 200,000 copies -- over 200,000 books in 14 languages in 32 years.  Copyists could not keep up.  The first printers -- Indian printers -- were people who had worked with the missionaries.  And I can show that throughout Asia.  And the early people who printed newspapers, indigenous people, had also worked with missionaries -- (inaudible).

STEINFELS:  Thank you.

Now I think we'll give each of the panelists a chance to explain how the specific things they mentioned fit into a larger pattern.

Beginning with you, Professor Kuran, you talked about the contrast between the dynamism of Islamic societies in many respects and the stagnation in the economic area.  Would you like to expand on that a little bit more and are there differences in those Islamic societies that also shed light on the reasons?

KURAN:  I deliberately used the same examples in the last 200 years -- the dramatic change in commercial life in the Middle East and the rest of the Islamic world came about through transplants.  And the transplants occurred, institutions were borrowed from the West at a time of crisis when it appeared that unless major borrowings took place, unless merchants and investors were given ways to pool resources on a large scale to take advantage of modern technologies, that they would all be dominated -- that these societies would be dominated by outsiders.

Now, the big question is:  Why did these institutions, these modern institutions -- say, joint stock companies, the corporations, banks, large-scale organizations, stock markets, standardized accounting -- why did these develop organically in Europe and why didn't they develop organically within the Islamic civilization so they have to be borrowed in a period of crisis from abroad with all of the distortions that accompany it?  This is the question.

Now, here is where Islam and specific aspects of Islam come into play and that helps us explain why there was a long period of stagnation.  Certain institutions that are elements of Islamic law failed to create the incentives for organizational modernization.  And parallel institutions in Europe did create those incentives so you have cascading phases of the modernization.

Let me give you an example of an institution that made a difference:  Islam's inheritance system.  By medieval standards, Islam's inheritance system is highly egalitarian.  It mandates a share for all children, male and female -- and surviving parents, sometimes also members of the extended family.  It was much more egalitarian than the inheritance systems elsewhere in the world in the medieval period.

One problem that this creates -- that this inheritance system created is it made it very difficult to carry successful enterprises from one generation to the next.  And the problem was particularly acute with successful businessmen who left large estates.  Why?  Because they had -- they typically, as a sign of their success, as a result of their success, they had multiple wives and many children.  More surviving children than in the West.  They had huge numbers of heirs.  So the successful business -- all the assets got fragmented very quickly.

Europe was able to solve this problem, because unlike Islam, in Christianity the inheritance -- there is no inheritance system grounded in the Bible.  There's a great deal of flexibility.  In some places, and particularly the places that eventually gave us the industrial revolution, primogenitor -- leaving the assets, all the assets to the oldest son -- was adopted as a solution.  This enabled successful businesses to be passed to the son.

Now, why is this so important to economic development?  Because if you can pass on an enterprise to others, it can grow over -- as an industry grow over time.  That growth generates communication and coordination problems that then require the development of new organizational forms.  It developed --

for example, a need for standardized accounting develops, a need for stock market develops when people instead of forming short-lived enterprises, they form enterprises that are going to last more than a generation.

So this is a dynamic that was not -- did not take off in the Middle East.  And this is not because Islam was designed as an inflexible religion, that there was a certain, you know, rule in Islam that says enterprises have to be small and short-lived.  This was an unanticipated, unintended consequence of an inheritance system that served certain needs quite well.

STEINFELS:  Thank you.

Professor Harrison, you gave the example of the contrast between the Ibero-Catholic culture in Latin America and the protestant culture in North America.  You have a larger study in which these kinds of questions are extended globally.

HARRISON:  You all should have a copy of a table, which is probably very mystifying to you.  It is a table that appears and it is, actually, the basis of chapter four of my most recent book, "The Central Liberal Truth".  And what it does is take 117 countries, and based on predominant religion, assess each of them against 10 indicators of progress.

Those 10 indicators of progress include the U.N. human development index, which is a combination of health, education and prosperity; the literacy, which is self-explanatory -- female literacy both from U.N. data; fertility's also self-explanatory.  The freedom total is from Freedom House's annual surveys of the state of democracy in virtually all the countries of the world.  The democratization date is the date of the start of democratic continuity.  And you'll notice that there are several blanks -- there are some groups or countries that have yet to achieve this.  The per capital GDP is self-explanatory.  The Gini coefficient, of course, is the way to assess the equitability of income distribution.  Trust is from the World Values Survey.  Corruption from Transparency International's data -- their corruption perception's index.

It's obviously a highly generalized table, and there are a lot of other factors that are not presented in it.  Very importantly, the performance in several of these issues -- for literacy and quite possibly trust -- is a function of the degree of economic advance.  The more affluent countries are likely to do better than the less affluent.

We have tried to take into account some of the income effects on this table by breaking out first world countries in the Protestant, Catholic and Confucian groups from the others.  But weighted -- by the way, weighted averages are weighted by population.  And there are a whole host of other factors that could influence this.  So you've got to look for very, very gross discrepancies.

And what -- when you do find them, you're led to certain conclusions.  And the conclusions that we reached -- again, they're elaborated on in chapter four -- are that generally, Protestants have done better than Catholics.  But the Nordic countries are the champions of progress.  We could refer to them as Lutheran-agnostics now.  That in the vanguard of progress a millennium ago, Islam has fallen far behind and this obviously has contributed to the humiliation that I believe is at one of the roots of jihadism.

There are close parallels between Catholics and Orthodox Christians -- particularly discomfort with capitalism.  I might add that the most recent Catholic miracles -- economic miracles -- have taken place in countries -- Spain, Ireland, the Province of Quebec -- that are now referred to often as post-Catholic.  Buddhism and Hinduism are not progress prone.

Finally, there is the evidence in this analysis -- and the analysis that is contained through the book, "The Central Liberal Truth" that there is a universal progress culture that emphasizes education, merit, achievement, frugality and community.  And these are values that are largely shared among Protestants, Jews, Confucians, Sikhs and other groups.

STEINFELS:  Thank you.

Professor Woodberry, your example suggests a very strong connection between focus on the Bible, literacy, printing and so on.  Did you want to expand that further?

And I'm interested, also, in the question of -- since you were talking about missionaries -- of the interaction of the missionaries and the cultures in which they were operating, which could be very complicated, I think.

WOODBERRY:  Right.  I think an important thing to emphasize is that religious traditions are not static.  They change and they change through interaction and competition.  So there's nothing inherent about Islam that's anti-printing or anti-mass literacy.  But there were some restrictions on religious liberty that influenced the spread of missionaries and colonial powers enforced those, because they kept missionaries out of Muslim areas and not out of other areas, for the most part.  And in the Muslim world, they were allowed in areas with Christians -- Lebanon, Egypt, et cetera.  And you have early printing and newspapers and early education there.

But through competition, these things spread to other cultures.  And so if you compare Catholic education in Ireland or North America, it's really quite good.  They didn't want the Catholics to become Protestant, so they invested in education to fight the Protestant education and the Protestant state education.  And that happens everywhere.

If you want to reduce the impact of Protestantism on a lot of these outcomes, you need to control for the prevalence of Protestant missionaries per capita and the length of Protestant missionary activity, and you can remove or very strongly reduce the impact of Protestantism.

People don't have to be converted to be influenced by the idea that everyone should be educated or you should have mass printing or you should have organizations outside state control.  They spread, and people copy them.

So you get these Protestant-initiated social movements or organizational forums, like the YMCA, and then you get the Young Men's Muslim Association, the Young Men's Hebrew Association, and the Young Men's Buddhist Association.  You get movements to fight Sufi in India, and then you get the rise of Brahmo Samaj and Calcutta Darama Sabah (sp) and these other organizations that copy the same tactics and organizational forms to fight them and become the foundation for political parties and civil society prior to decolonization, et cetera.  So people don't have to convert in order to copy.

STEINFELS:  Professor Kuran?

KURAN:  I'd like to add something to what Bob has said.  It's certainly true that missionaries in the 19th century -- even earlier -- and the 20th century certainly have been at the forefront of transferring certain technologies.  They've set up schools, promoted literacy.  They've set up hospitals, certainly.  But I think we should recognize also that from -- transfers from the West to places like India that you mentioned, originate from other groups.

Merchants carried the institutions of the modern economy, modern commercial techniques, modern organizational forms, to India and to the Middle East.  Before the British arrived, Muslims India pooled resources thorough Islamic partnerships.  These were small and ephemeral, for the various reasons that I gave earlier.  Hindus used family firms, which enjoyed continuity.  The firm could -- a business could stay in the family for generations, but they were limited by the resources of the single family.

The British introduced modern organizational forms like the joint stock company and the corporation, and they established secular commercial courts where disputes involving these modern organizational forms could be adjudicated.  And Muslims and Hindus -- Hindus more rapidly than the Muslims -- started using these modern organizational forms, started doing -- using contracts that would be filed in the modern courts.  And this gave a big boost to the Indian economy.

STEINFELS:  (Off mike.)

HARRISON:  With respect to the ripple effect from innovation, there is still evidence, it seems to me, historic evidence, that a rigid culture can resist for an extended period of time these otherwise widely accepted innovations.  The printing press is the thing that comes to mind.

And if I remember correctly, the printing press was not made legal in the Ottoman Empire until the 18th century -- is that right, Timur?

KURAN:  Seventeen twenty-seven, yeah.

HARRISON:  Seventeen twenty-seven.  And of course it had become a commonplace artifact throughout the Western world for a couple of hundred years before that.

WOODBERRY:  Well, it was not made legal for Muslims.  It was used by Jews and Christians earlier than that.

HARRISON:  Okay.  Okay.

STEINFELS:  What --

KURAN:  On a small scale, though.  Very, very small scale.

WOODBERRY:  On a very small scale.  But also, the introduction was only basically one person, and when he died, you know --

STEINFELS:  What do you think is the key to resistance?  I shouldn't say "the" key; there's probably a number of different factors.  But why in the face of borrowing or transfers or so on, are some religious, cultural configurations more ready to accept and adapt, and others see the threat there?  Is this doctrinal, political?  What factors?

WOODBERRY:  I think it's a combination of a lot of things.  You have to look at elite interests.  Elites didn't want mass education and they didn't want mass access to books.  They wanted to reinforce their elite status.  You need a religious reason to get around that.  Once you have a particular class structure, as that develops in Latin American through the colonial policy, et cetera, that's very hard to overcome.  It doesn't -- it's not overcome instantly.

Religious groups undermine that because they're trying to convert -- well, at least some groups are trying to convert everyone.  They're trying to convert poor people and women, et cetera.  They transfer resources for them as part of this exchange, and sort of exposing themselves to witness and also because, for religious reasons, like they need to be able to read the Bible in their own language.

Eventually, that changes the class structure which changes political calculations.  But that does not change instantly.  Once a class structure is embedded, it's very hard to change and there's elite interests that block that change.

There's also -- not all cultural ideas are equally easy to change.  Some threaten the authority of a religious tradition more profoundly than others.  So if you have a law that's provided by Mohamed or provided by God and then you have the example of Mohamed and the caliph and the early righteous caliphs, et cetera, of establishing a state with a Shari'a law, you have to deal with that.  You can't just -- I mean, there's interpretation, but it's something you have to deal with.

With Christians, it was a hard enough process going to separation of church and state, but you didn't have a religious law.  And the example of Jesus and the early apostles was not setting up a state, which made the process easier, et cetera.

So, I mean, there are cultural reasons change is harder or easier in particular contexts because of the threat to a religious institution, but secular reasons are important, too.

STEINFELS:  Professor Kuran?

KURAN:  As Bob said, there were multiple factors or multiple mechanisms at play, and these reinforced each other.  I would add that in the case of the printing press and the Ottoman Empire, the key factor was lack of demand.

The conventional wisdom is that there was clerical resistance, but the people who say there was clerical resistance have great difficulty finding examples of clerical resistance.  And when the printing press was finally introduced, there wasn't much clerical resistance.  The issue was lack of demand.

So one has to ask why was there no demand for the printing press?  This technology was certainly known, as Bob has said.  Jews in the Ottoman Empire were allowed to print books in Hebrew.  Christians were allowed to print books.  Why was there -- was the demand limited, and why did Christians and Jews print so few books?  These are elements of the puzzle.

Now, the two issues -- one is stagnation of education, and there's another institution that if I have time I can get into, but education stagnated in the 18th century.  When the printing press was introduced in the madrassas, the colleges, of the Islamic world, people were learning the sciences from texts that go back many centuries.  So --

And the reason for that is that the madrassas were organized as trusts and the founder of the trusts, called the waqfs in Islamic law, would say exactly what would be taught in the madrassa and how many professors there would be and so on.  These were created as static institutions.  So there wasn't a need for new books to communicate new bits of knowledge.

The second factor is that -- is related to the points I made earlier.  Exchange was still personal, predominantly personal.  The transition -- the region had not yet made the transition, as Europe was already doing so, the transition from personal exchange to impersonal exchange.

When you move to impersonal exchange, you need forms, you need bylaws of companies.  These are not, in an economy where exchange is personal, contracts are oral, you don't have much need for forms and books.  So these two factors reduced the demand.

When, of course, the demand increased, or a demand emerged, the adoption of the printing press was quite rapid and spread of the printing press was quite rapid across the Islamic world.

HARRISON:  I think the question of the adoption goes beyond culture to personality and to the performance of the elites.  The case that comes to mind is the response of China and the response in Japan to the European incursions in the 19th century.

The Chinese leadership, basically the Mandarin mentality, said these guys are barbarians.  We of the Middle Kingdom know all and have all and we can't get anything from them.  The Japanese, particularly after the -- Meiji restoration, after the ouster of the Togogawa Dynasty, said these guys could have murdered us.  They're so far ahead of us in so many respects, we've got to learn from them.

And one of the first things that the young Meiji leaders did was to spend nine months in the United States, nine months in Western Europe studying the advanced institutions and technologies of the West and starting the adaptation process.

STEINFELS:  At this point, although I may reserve the right to slip in a question myself later on, if no one asks it from the audience, but I would like to invite questions from everyone.  The instructions, as before, are to please wait for the microphone, to speak into it, to identify yourself and your affiliation, and to keep your questions brief and clear.

There's one right here.

QUESTIONER:  Thank you.  Mustafa Akyol, from Turkish Daily News and from the first panel.  I'd just like to add also -- I mean, I very much agree with the Ottoman printing problem, and it was the scribes actually who opposed the coming of the printing press, because they clashed.  I mean, it was not in their interest.  Turkish secularists loved to put the blame on religion, but there was more of a kind of internal class problem there.

And just a question.  Protestant religion has been obviously successful in creating economy progress, and this is what Max Weber pointed out a century ago.  Could it be related to the fact that the geography in which the Protestant religion expanded and is dominant still today is also a geography which allows economic progress?  Because if it's -- Middle East is dry and North Europe is not, and you can have sea trade.

And we should also not forget that the world trade routes had changed from the Mediterranean to the oceans, which just dried up the whole Middle East.  And even the Mediterranean itself, which enriched Europe, and is the success of the Protestant religion can be related -- its theology definitely has a share, but is it also related to those kind of secular elements?  And also, would that explain the fall and the stagnation of the Middle East, and is it maybe because of not Islam's own texts, but because of the geography and how it's unfolded?  Does geography play also a role in all this?

STEINFELS:  Thank you very much.  This is a very basic question which I hope all of you address, which is what is the relationship of the kind of religious and cultural factors that you have examined to all those other factors that are often advanced to explain economic change and innovation, whether it be geography, whether it be natural resources?  Or recently, you know, botany and germs and all sorts of things have been --changes in the weather patterns have been advanced as important factors in that.

So if you would relate your -- why don't we start with you at the end -- to those other explanations which are --

WOODBERRY:  Okay.  Well, there's two issues.  One, the issue of demand and printing, I think the idea that every household should have access to God's word, with the Reformation, overcame that problem of the resistance of class.

But geography, I've spent a lot of time thinking and working about that and measuring it.  A lot of the arguments in Europe get bogged about the impact of religion on economic development, get bogged down on well, maybe it's the class structure, maybe it's the power of the state, maybe it's geography, et cetera.

What you can test, though, is with the spread of missions and colonialism and European settlers, et cetera, you have sort of a test case where their spread is not influenced necessarily by the same factors that happened in Europe, and then look at economic development, education, political democracy, et cetera.  And then control for -- I controlled for over 26 geographic factors -- percent swamp, access to a navigable river, distance from the coast, distance from Europe, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.  And you keep on.

It does not remove the impact of Protestant missions.  It does remove the impact of European settlers and who colonized you, et cetera.  The spread of Protestant missions is not just in Northeastern Europe.  They were trying to convert everyone.  They were restricted by regulations and they were restricted by disease, which I've done a lot of work to try and control for the factors that influenced where they went.  And it's still a very powerful effect.

So for example, to just name one case, you can explain about half the variation in post-colonial democracy with the number of Protestant missionaries per capital in 1923, the length of Protestant missionary activity, and estimates of the percent of the population evangelized by 1900.  It removed who colonized you, for how long, percent European -- all these geographic factors -- percent Muslim, all kinds of stuff.

It's a very powerful effect, and it's not just the geography in Northwest Europe.

STEINFELS:  Professor Harrison?

HARRISON:  I think that geography and climate are an indispensable first approximation to understanding why some societies move more rapidly than others.  It's clear that most of the poorer countries are in tropical zones and that most of the affluent countries are in temperate zones.

But then you run into the exceptions.  For example, roughly a third of Australia is in the tropical zones.  A third of Mexico is in the temperate zones.  In Latin America, populations tended to gravitate to the higher elevations where you have temperate climate.  That's true in the Andean countries and several of the Central American countries as well.

When you really start to disaggregate, you run into some real problems with taking the climate and geographical arguments to their logical extreme.  For example, how can one explain the difference between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, which share the island of Hispaniola?  How can one explain the striking difference between Nicaragua and Costa Rica?  How can one explain the striking differences between Australia and Argentina?

So at that point, the geographic and climate arguments break down and you've got to look with more finesse at cultural explanations, it seems to me.

KURAN:  I agree with the points that Bob and Larry made, so I'm going to, rather than repeating the points, I'm going to answer the question in relation to the Islamic world -- could it be climate or geography that explains why the Islamic world slipped into a state of economic underdevelopment?

The climatic conditions are not uniform across the Islamic world.  The proximity to the sea or proximity to the ocean is not uniform.  So if climate or proximity to the sea or elevation were key factors, we would expect the places that are more favorably situated in temperate climates, close to the sea, low elevation, et cetera, we would expect those places to have escaped this state of underdevelopment.  So I think that this is a second-order factor.  Institutions are more important.

People could also migrate from one place to another and, I would argue, that within the Middle East, even in places that have climates that are not ideal, there were periods of great progress.  Iraq is a good example.

Baghdad had a flourishing economy.  It had -- it was a place that attracted scholars, it was a place where innovations were made, technological innovations.  So it's -- despite the climate.

STEINFELS:  There's a question --

QUESTIONER:  To me?

STEINFELS:  Yeah.

QUESTIONER:  Walter Mead, Council on Foreign Relations.

I wonder if any of you would care to be predictive, looking at particularly some of the religious changes that have taken place in the last century, the rise of Christianity in sub-Saharan Africa, rise of evangelical Protestant Christianity in much of Latin America.  Should we be fastening our seat belts and getting ready for major booms in these areas, or do you think that some of the associations that you see in the past may not be as prevalent or as important in the future?

Also, do we have to continue to be so pessimistic about India which, according to some of this analysis, looks like it shouldn't be progressing, but seems to be?  How does the past project forward, in your minds?

STEINFELS:  Professor Harrison, do you want to take a shot at that, or --

(Cross talk.)

HARRISON:  Okay.  No, I'll take a shot at it.

With respect to India, we have to be mindful that what lies behind the Indian miracle is a fragment of India's population.  A geographic fragment, a cultural fragment, and a fragment that has been powerfully influenced by British values.  And, I might add, a native-speaking English fragment.  English is one of the valuable resources, national resources of some several countries that have developed very rapidly -- Ireland leaps to mind.

And so I believe that enough of the democratic tradition has taken root in India, and that I think the British can take some considerable claim to responsibility for.  Enough of the education systems that were installed by the British, coupled with some very deep-rooted Indian traditions of entrepreneurship that go back way before the Raj, to leave me quite hopeful, really, about India's prospects.

STEINFELS:  Anyone else want to offer a --

Professor Kuran?

KURAN:  It's been said that prediction is pretty risky, especially when it's about the future, and particularly risky when the person making the prediction has been immersed in economic and political history.

But on the basis of the work that I've done, I'm optimistic in the long run.  With respect to the Islamic world, I'm optimistic in the long run.  I think in the short run, there could be more trouble, more turbulence, and we shouldn't expect major economic breakthroughs any time soon.

But why am I optimistic for the longer run?  Because the -- all of the institutional obstacles to development of the private economy and development of a strong civil society, these have already been put in place.  These exist now in all of the major countries.  You have corporations, you have -- it's possible to form NGOs that have flexibilities that they would have lacked two centuries or earlier.

Civil societies are still weak.  The private economies of the major countries are still weak, but they are developing.  What is holding the region back now, or the Islamic world as a whole back, is political systems that generate instability and that discourage innovation -- very repressive regimes.  But sooner or later, change is going to come from within.  When you have growing civil societies, increasing numbers of organizations that don't have direct ties to the state, increasing numbers of corporations that are privately controlled, sooner or later, they are going to put in place democratic freedoms.

WOODBERRY:  I think religious change takes time.  One thing, class structures are pretty much in place.  Changing them takes a lot of time.  You don't suddenly get a middle class; you don't suddenly change the calculations that elites make.  Elites try and keep in power and reinforce their distinction; that's hard to overcome.

Cultures also don't change instantly, because they're not just what you think.  It's what you think other people think.  It's expectations; it's how the system works.  Changing that doesn't happen instantly with the introduction of a new religious tradition.  It's something that takes time.

QUESTIONER:  So that would be relevant to sub-Saharan Africa?

WOODBERRY:  Sub-Saharan Africa.  It's not going to instantly become low-corruption, high-democratic, whatever, because you have a lot of spread of Protestantism and Catholicism as well as Islam.

Religious competition is important.  Religious liberty is important in terms of transferring some of these things and -- one -- in terms of transferring resources to the poor -- when the people who are more likely to defect or convert are the people who are not being serviced by any particular system.  So gays and lesbians in the United States or African Americans in the United States, et cetera, are more likely to convert to other religious traditions.

In other countries, poor people, whatever, the non-elite, and missionaries go and work with them.  When they do that, then whatever the dominant religion is starts to have to transfer resources towards them.  Eventually, that changes the class structure.  Eventually, that changes the calculations that people make.  But that takes a long time.  It's not an instant thing.

Another comment I want to make is I think the British get far too much credit for being a great colonizer.  They were as mean and selfish and violent as anyone else.  They lived in a different situation.  They were forced to allow religious liberty -- separation of church and state in the colonies after 1813, by political pressure.

Then -- and in that same process they were forced to establish the Grant-in-Aid System, the education system which then they get so much credit for doing.  They didn't do it voluntarily; they were forced to do it by religiously motivated activists who were doing this for religious reasons.  And then moderating -- (inaudible) -- this is also through that mechanism -- I can go into detail the rise of evolutionism, et cetera -- it's directly connected to non-state missionaries working directly with slaves and sending back information to England, et cetera.

So you can go on a -- the British were a selfish and vial as anyone else.  And before the rise of non-state missions, you could have plenty of evidence for it.

STEINFELS:  Other questions -- way in the back there.  And then up here.

QUESTIONER:  Jim Dingman, INM World Report.

How does the panel understand the whole question of synchrotism in the modern world, such as Solufism.

And in your discussion, while you talk about economic change, there's been a couple of references to the question of outright war and the effect of wars of imperial conquest and colonialism for several centuries because we've seen West Africa, East Africa, Southeast Asia, et cetera, manifestations of a political synchrotism rising to oppose these movements.  And I wonder how you see that factoring into the picture you talk about.

STEINFELS:  And war is certainly a factor both for and against in the economic change and development.

Anyone have any observations about -- yeah.

KURAN:  I might say a course that where religious movements advocate wars, advocate violence, which is just a source in instability and you're not going to have healthy economic growth in a place like Afghanistan or Iraq until law and order is established so these religious movements can do great harm.

At the same time I'd like to add that most of the Islamists are not pursuing a violent agenda.  They do want to -- they do have Islamization agendas, but often they're quite compatible with modern economic growth.  The Islamists in many countries have embraced modern economic institutions.  They quietly in fact incorporated them into their own traditions with forgetting conveniently that the foreign origins -- Islamic banking is a good example -- there was no bank in the Islamic tradition -- there was no such thing as an Islamic bank before the mid-20th century.

They've incorporated these things and they've shown that they can be quite good businessmen.  They can invest quite wisely.  But the radical fringes of the Islamists movement, or for that matter, other religious movements are a source of instability.

STEINFELS:  Question here.

QUESTIONER:  Sayid Yarazn (sp), Muslim Public Affairs Council.

I think one of the problems in innovation is that there seems to be natural resistance amongst humans to change -- I mean, period -- any kind of change.  We just resist change.

And also all the panelists seem to have focused, if you will, in the post reformation, you know, which is just the last 500 years of, what did this change?  There was this whole time, if you will -- it reminds me that I think it took the Catholic Church to adopt Arabic numerals after they had been -- it had been 300 years before they could realize that this is a far more efficient method than the Roman numerals.

So it seems to me that whether it -- I mean, if we were to study this over thousands of years, the process, the only -- I mean, what will would then the factors of change come from?  I mean it would seem to me it would come from what the process of globalization, so to speak, has gone on forever, gone on for thousands of years, it is the interactions of various cultures and peoples that causes change and you cannot really -- you can -- in a microcosm, you could say Protestantism and all that but that is like being conditioned by what you're trying to study in the first place rather than answering the bigger question.

MR. STEINFELS:  We'll take that as a question for comment or a -- if there is any about --

MR. WOODBERRY:  Yeah.  I think competition -- any religious tradition can contribute things.  So the zero comes from the Hindus and then it's used by the Muslims, the Arabs.  And it's -- really religious idea of nothing which became a very valuable concept which then through interaction and competition gets spread, first to the Muslims and then to Europe.

So any group can develop new ideas through interaction and competition.  The things that work get adapted and used and adopted as people's own and often forgotten the origin of them and they just use them.  So it doesn't have to be from Protestantism, it just -- the example -- that's what I've studied and so in the examples I'm using are from Protestantism, but could be from Islam; it could be from Hinduism; it could be from any tradition.

HARRISON:  But we have talked about how different traditions may have different factors that contribute in different ways.  For example, your original illustration about printing and literacy seem to me to be very tightly connected to a certain element of Protestant Christianity.  We were discussing earlier today the question of, why didn't the concern for the Koran play that same role?  And I think at lunchtime you pointed out that the Koran was used differently; it was a different kind of document than the text and the Bible; it was shorter; it was recited; it was memorized, et cetera, which is pretty hard to do with the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament.

WOODBERRY:  Yeah.  Well, I think it's --

HARRISON:  And so there may not have been that concern for literacy.

Now, I'm only giving that as one example and I'd be interested in picking out other examples from other religious traditions of elements that were more positive or negative toward our economic change.

STEINFELS:  I think we've got to look at the question of leadership.  In his book, "Guns, Germs, and Steel", Jared Diamond leaves open a very big parenthesis in his final chapter for leadership that is not necessarily related to environmental or historic antecedents.  The examples that come to mind include Ataturk in Turkey, the Meiji leadership in Japan, and in our own hemisphere, the young leaders of Quebec at the time of the Silent Revolution in the 1960s who had a different vision of what their society should be, to be sure they all operated in environments in which stimuli were applied to them.  In the case of Turkey, the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the almost disappearance of Turkey as an entity and the military leadership converting to a position of almost unprecedented political power.

In the case of Japan, you have young leaders who almost astonishingly sensed that their country was at a great disadvantage because it had not kept abreast of developments in the other parts of the world and seeking out every possible development they could find in the other parts in the world.

In the case of --

KURAN:  Oh, I'm sorry.

STEINFELS:  In the case of Quebec, you have the indignation of young leaders who saw their province falling far behind the provinces and wanting to show that they were as good as anybody else.

But in each case it was a leader with a vision that made a big difference.

KURAN:  You're absolutely right that Islamists -- that periods of great success and those periods had to be ones when Islam was open to borrowing.  Islamic civilization was a magnificent synthesis because it borrowed from many earlier traditions -- laws were borrowed from the Romans and the Persians and others, and they were then synthesized creatively; they were added to; technologies were borrowed.  And in other periods also -- I've given other examples of borrowings that have taken place more or less seamlessly without creating a major religious crisis.

I've also said that Islam has -- at least those of them who are pursuing their agendas peacefully have been quite open to technological change and institutional change.  I would like to add a footnote to that comment because it's appropriate here -- there are areas in which Islamists are resisting change.  And they all have to do with the overarching campaign of Islamism which is defined and put in practice on Islamic way of life, a distinctly Islamic way of life.

So a number of issues have been selected as pet issues, key issues that in the minds of Islamists, define the proper Muslim behavior.  You either accept those, you know, proper -- you're a good Muslim or you're not a good Muslim or you're not a Muslim at all.

In the economic sphere, interest is one of these.  Interest has always been given and taken in the Islamic world, more or less openly in some places as in Medieval Europe there various strategists that were used to get around it; the Islamic banks today give and take interest as a matter of course.

But this is one of those issues, being committed to the ratification of interests is one of those issues.  Gender issues, family issues -- these also are elements where Islamists are resisting change.  And in those areas I think they are keeping the Islamic world backwards.

STEINFELS:  This is the time I want to slip in a question because it follows from that, which is that in looking at possible sources of resistance to new developments, whether from within or borrowed from without, one that seems fairly on the surface is a fear of secularization, namely the eroding of any distinctive way of life.  And we have tended to see secularization as not necessarily inimical to carrying on a religious tradition.  Yet at the same time in Western Europe certainly, it meant the removal of the economy to a large extent from direct oversight or supervision by religious authorities.

And I'm also struck by Professor Harrison's mentions of the Nordic countries as at the high end of his list of successes in terms of the things we're talking about.

Is there in fact more grounds for resistance based on this fear of secularization than perhaps we have acknowledged?

Silence falls.

HARRISON:  Well, I tend to think with Peter Berger that modernization leads to pluralization.  There creates a space for secular people to voice their points of view and mobilize for their types of things as well as various types of religious groups.  That can be a fear unless we make Northwestern Europe sort of the example of what inevitably modernism leads to, then we do have secularization as a thing and that really will scare religious people.

I think an argument against, say the most radical forms of Islamism, have to be made on religious grounds.  And one of them could be, for example, seeing what's the effect of establishing Islamic state on Muslim religiousocity and belief.  If you can show that it undermines religiousocity and belief, there will be religious grounds to fight it.  But you can't just make an argument on secular grounds because you have religiously motivated people.

And people sometimes either if that evidence can be given or else people sometimes need to experience something in order for it to be undermined.  So as long as the U.S. is fighting this thing and trying to undermine all the Islamists groups and whatever, then it can be anti-Americanism and it can be glorified and we'd have perfection if the Americans just stopped us from, you know, didn't -- because it's the U.S. fault for stopping all this stuff.  Maybe people have to experience -- undermines the desire for an Islamic state in Iran and Afghanistan at least among the non-Pashtun people, et cetera.

STEINFELS:  Professor Kuran?

KURAN:  I can say something briefly.  I think among certain groups there is a fear of secularization, but it relates to areas outside of economics.  Turkey's of course the extreme case of trying to remove religion from public life in the guides of secularization.  And there are people who feel that religion should play a role in political life and in education among other areas, and in social life as well.

But they are not -- bringing religion into economic life has not been outside the few symbolic areas, has not been a big issue.  And I think people are, where experiments have occurred in Pakistan and Iran to reform the economy along Islamic lines, they've been failures and they're widely recognized as failures.  I don't think there's a fear of economic secularization that has much substance.

STEINFELS:  A question back over there?

QUESTIONER:  Paul Rauschenbush from Princeton University.

I'm curious about economic progress and whether -- how that's been identified with Protestantism and perhaps is identified with the United States, and if some fear of gross materialism might be at the basis of some of the resistance to what's viewed as, you know, American progress.

STEINFELS:  Yes?

HARRISON:  American progress is perhaps an extreme expression of democratic capitalism.  And it's perhaps underscored by the extreme inequality of income distribution in the United States which is the most inequitable of the advanced democracies.

But when you consider my champions of progress from Nordic countries are basically democratic capitalist countries and guided by highly Protestant ethic considerations even though the Protestant religion may not be as viable in the full sense of it as it was 30, 40, 50, 100 years ago.

It seems to me that really what you're talking about is a reaction to the American style of life and this is something which varies.  Our style there is to some extent with depending on who's --whether you have a Democratic or Republican administration.  I'm very troubled by the tendency of people outside the United States to generalize on the United States over history on the basis of the performance of the United States in the last eight years.  The reality is that there is going to be another administration; I will lay my cards on the table and say I hope it is a Democratic administration.  And the United States is probably -- even if it is not a Democratic administration -- is probably going to look a lot different to the rest of the world after 2008.

So it troubles me when American "greed" -- in quotation marks -- is -- becomes the focus of attention around the world as representative of the consequences of democratic capitalism when you have, as I said before, in the Nordic countries, the full interplay of democracy and capitalism.

STEINFELS:  Professor Kuran.

KURAN:  People everywhere including the very poorest countries -- they want to achieve prosperity; they want to enjoy many of the comforts that people in the advanced countries, the richest countries enjoy, including the United States.  What generates, I think, a reaction and an intensifying reaction is the crass materialism that people everywhere can now see on a daily basis on television and over the Internet -- Hollywood's version of the American lifestyle which is something that people resent partly because they can't attain it -- most people in the United States can't attain the type of lifestyle that is depicted in the Hollywood series -- and also because the lifestyles that are depicted in television series and over the Internet can be very destabilizing to communities.  So there is a reason for resenting it and objecting to it and expecting, hoping that the United States would rein it in.

STEINFELS:  There's a question here.

QUESTIONER:  Thank you.  Mona Aboelnaga with Proctor Investment Managers.

I'm curious about learning more about the core values or traditions that different religions may have that may impact economic development.

So, for example, Professor Kuran, you mentioned specifically organizational structures and the lack of those structures in the past in much of the Islamic world and how through borrowing and other mechanisms they are now there and, thus, you are more optimistic for the future.

And I guess -- I'm curious as to why there isn't a more fundamental issue at hand.  So as we talk about different traditions amongst religions, the Koran, for example, the tradition of memorization, of which has become something you can see in educational systems in terms of learning versus the way perhaps in the educational systems in the U.S. we think in essay form or more freely.

Why aren't you questioning more the basic issues of how a culture is encouraged to think and educate its citizens and that impact on economic development?

KURAN:  But this is -- you do make a good point, attitudes do matter but they also change.  And attitudes are -- attitudes co-evolve with institutions.  And institutions change, so do those attitudes.

Now today -- and this is something that I think Larry would be able to speak to much better than I can -- but if you ask, if you survey people in the Middle East and also, say in Western Europe or the United States, you're likely to find more people who will consider knowledge -- in the Middle East -- knowledge to be something that you acquire from the previous generation and then pass on to the next generation unchanged as opposed to something that you receive from the previous generation, add to, refine, perhaps change and then pass on to the next generation in a different form or in a more advanced form.

What this was -- these attitudes didn't develop differently independent of the educational institutions.  In the Middle East, I mentioned this briefly before, the schools were organized; schools were run by trust and they were set up with a particular mission, their educational mission, what they were to teach generally was what was specified.  They were committed to a static concept of knowledge.

In the West, schools were established, generally, certainly schools acquired learning were established as corporations which were -- could change.  They were meant to be self-renewing, self-governing organizations.  So the knowledge that they taught changed -- they expected it to change.

This is something these institutions have changed now.  Schools have, in many parts of the Islamic world, now have much more flexibility; they do change their curriculum much more easily than in the past.  The attitudes however don't -- the attitudes are the old attitudes; they are changing gradually and it will take time to change.  The point that Bob made, that they don't get changed immediately, but I'm optimistic that new institutions, those attitudes will gradually erode.

STEINFELS:  Professor Harrison and Professor Woodberry, I think we might wind up with any comments you have about this sort of question of fundamental things that we either attended to or didn't attend to sufficiently in our discussion.

HARRISON:  Well, taking off on your question -- well, the final sections of Chapter Four of the book that I mentioned that is a source of the table that I distributed, talks about the importance of cultural change through religious reform.  And this is a question of fundamental values that are enumerated in an earlier chapter -- such questions as, does the religion nurture rationality achievement?  Does it promote materials pursuits?  Does it focus on this world rather than the next world?  Is it pragmatic?  In contrast, does it -- to those religions that may nurture irrationality -- inhibit material pursuits and may focus on the other in a more Utopian way?  The view of a religion with respect to destiny, the extent to which a person can influence their own destiny is a very important factor.  Time orientation -- does the religion focus the eyes of its faithful unto the future or does it keep them in the present or focused on the past?

These are the kinds of issues that are very central to the role that religion plays in culture.  But there's one underlying factor in this discussion that we've, I think, ignored, and that is that religion is not the only source of values and attitudes.  And it does -- the culture changes.  There is so much compelling evidence of that which, of course, is why the institute that I direct is called The Cultural Change Institute.  And we believe that focusing on cultural change offers some really hopeful opportunities for a better world.

STEINFELS:  Professor Woodberry, if you'd spend a minute or so on --

WOODBERRY:  I would say the focus on memorization, et cetera, is not just an Islamic thing, that's a traditional thing that was in Confucion society and Buddhist society and Hindu society and probably Christian society, and Jewish society, et cetera.  It hasn't inhibited change over time in particular context.  Jews have been very successful economically -- a long tradition of memorization and recitation and looking backwards.  Same thing with rationality -- a lot of Islamic arguments, Jewish arguments, Christian arguments -- very, very rational but maybe not focused on, you know, scientific experimentation.

I don't think these are things are inherently inimical to progress.  They do change.  I think important factors are more contextual.  It's a combination of beliefs and the context and the amount of competition between traditions and class structure and things like that.  It's a more complex thing than just a particular belief shaping the outcome of a society.

STEINFELS:  I'm sure you all want to join me in thanking this panel for a superb discussion.  (Applause.)

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