Religions in global civil society

George Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


This paper explores the nature and place of religion in global civil society by analyzing emerging models of religions freedom. After briefly presenting the basis for inferring the emergence of a global civil society, I note the importance of individual and collective conversion in modem civil society envisioned as a moral project. I then identify contemporary world-cultural themes: the individual and ethno-cultural group are essential carriers of humanity, and religion is a relativistc human expression. Resulting cultural contradictions are played out in how religions constitute themselves and in conflicts over models of religious freedom, especially over converting and proselytizing. Conversion is an individual right but also is viewed as a threat to ethno-cultural groups. Proselytizing is stigmatized as cultural supremacy and for violating the principle that there is no need for other-worldly salvation. I conclude by noting contentious areas important for emerging models of religious freedom.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)515-533
Number of pages19
JournalSociology of Religion: A Quarterly Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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