The reader should take away from this special issue the sense that the basic dichotomy of “the West” versus “China” needs to be reformulated. While the West has much to learn from listening to non-Western voices, the work of actually listening reveals that such sharp distinctions do more harm than good.
This special issue on “Human Dignity, Religion, and Rights in Contemporary China” features debates over religion and politics in China today. Political theology in China raises many questions that western readers will find familiar, but the Chinese context often requires different answers, so that gaining familiarity with the Chinese discussion can broaden our view of the available options at the intersection of religion and politics.
The Middle East has erupted in series of violent protests, with one in Libya killing four U.S. nationals, including the American ambassador. The media as well as some the protesters claim that the protests were precipitated by an anti-Muslim film that was originally attributed to the US (or the west more generally), but has been revealed to be produced by a Coptic Christian from Egypt. The video depicts the prophet Muhammad participating in sexual activities and announcing that he is a homosexual. The media claims that the video was created to incite Muslims and now the protesters are mistreating the US, who aided in the liberation of the Arab spring. The erroneousness of the US paternalistic narrative aside, the video is being used by the media as a tool to mythologize US imperialism in the Middle East. The video contains an allegory that disguises true forms of power and domination, cloaking it within the narrative of religious conflict….