Religion & transitional justice

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Transitional justice refers to the process of dealing with human rights abuses committed during the course of ongoing conflict or repression, where such processes are established as a society aims to move toward a better state, and where a constitutive element of that better state includes democracy. A philosophical theory of transitional justice articulates what the moral criteria or standards are that processes of transitional justice must satisfy to qualify as just responses to past wrongdoing. This essay focuses on the roles of religion in transitional justice. I first consider the multiple and conflicting roles of religion during periods of conflict and repression. I then argue against conceptualizing transitional justice in a theologically grounded manner that emphasizes the importance of forgiveness. Finally, I discuss the prominent role that religious actors often play in processes of transitional justice. I close with the theoretical questions about authority and standing in transitional contexts that warrant further examination, questions that the roles of religious actors highlight. Thinking through the relationship between religion and democracy from the perspective of transitional justice is theoretically fruitful because it sheds more light on additional dimensions to the issue of authority than those scholars of liberal democracy have traditionally taken up.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-200
Number of pages16
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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