"Rights in Conflict" luncheon presentation - "Conflicting religious freedoms? Catholics and Muslims in secular Belgium"
With Laurie Johnston, Associate Professor of Theology and Religious Studies, Director of Fellowships and Scholarships, Emmanuel College; and Professor, International Studies, Boston College.
Particularly since the Brussels terrorist attacks in 2016, Belgium has been criticized for failing to successfully integrate its Muslim populations, which constitute about 6% of the country’s population. Given that nearly 70% of Belgium children attend Catholic schools, these institutions play an important role in inter-religious and intercultural relations. Respect for religious liberty in society depends not only upon the behavior of the state, but also upon how private institutions demonstrate it – particularly if those private institutions are serving a diverse population.
Drawing upon six months of interview research with the directors and faculty at Catholic schools throughout Belgium, this presentation will examine some of the ethical issues that arise at Catholic schools with significant Muslim student populations. For some schools, the presence of Muslims is seen as a threat to their Catholic identity. Other Catholic schools embrace the opportunity to serve populations that are marginalized by the broader society, even boasting that more than 90% of their students are Muslim. Overall, the research shows that despite the declining number of practicing Catholics, Catholic institutions nevertheless have an important role to play in Belgian society, as they attempt to mediate between religiously observant Muslims and a society that is often hostile to religious practice of any kind.
Laurie Johnston, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Theology and Religious Studies and Director of Fellowships and Scholarships at Emmanuel College. A social ethicist, she holds degrees from Boston College, Harvard Divinity School, and the University of Virginia. She has recently been a Fulbright Scholar at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium, and a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Human Rights and International Justice at Boston College. She is editor of several books, including Can War be Just in the 21st Century (Orbis Press 2015), and The Surprise of Reconciliation in the Catholic Tradition (Paulist Press, 2018).
Lunch to be served. RSVP at https://tinyurl.com/johnston0214 or at the Register button above.
Thursday, February 14 at 12:00pm
Campion Hall, 139
Boston College, 2599 Beacon Street, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467, USA