In a world torn by religious conflict, threats to human dignity and freedom are terrifyingly real. Some societies face harsh government repression, some experience brutal sectarian violence, while others in the West are divided by bitter controversies over religion’s place in public life. How then are we to live with our deepest religious and ideological differences?
In this new book The Global Public Square, Os Guinness calls for a bold reaffirmation of the priority of religious freedom for people of all faiths and none, and calls on the U.S. to transcend its endless and wasteful culture warring, and to regain its historic leadership of this issue.
Building on the acclaimed “Global Charter of Conscience,” which has been published in the European Union, Guinness argues that the way forward for the world lies in promoting freedom of religion and belief for people of all faiths and of none, and in creating a civil public square that empowers such freedom. But he warns that the window of opportunity for doing this is closing quickly.
The Global Public Square sets out a constructive, applicable vision for a civil and cosmopolitan public forum for debating worldwide issues and ideas that champion what he calls, “soul freedom” —the inviolable freedom of thought, conscience and religion. In particular, he calls for leadership that has the courage to act on behalf of the common good (and he provides equal criticism of past failures by the left and right to do so).
“Soul freedom is not only a shining ideal, but also a dire necessity and an eminently practical solution to the predicaments of our time,” he says. “For a world desperate for hope at a critical juncture of human history, here is a way forward, for the good of all.”
Throughout The Global Public Square, Guinness presents the need to protect, globally and publicly, our individual soul freedom. Writing to people of all faiths, he takes a step outside current analyses and reports on religious conflicts, oppressions and persecutions, and calls for partnership between religious and secularist leaders to lead the world forward. There is no more timely and constructive contribution to the current debates over the future of humankind.
“Drawing on a breadth of insights from history, philosophy, sociology and theology, Guinness makes a compelling case for the primacy of ‘soul freedom’ as the only enduring foundation for securing peace and human flourishing in our fractious era of unprecedented pluralism. And he does so in his inimitable way, with passion, eloquence and civility. It is a challenging yet ultimately hopeful message that demands to be heard, and to be acted upon.”
– William Inboden, University of Texas-Austin, former senior director, National Security Council, The White House
“This is a book that should be read by everyone concerned with freedom of conscience, not only in the face of murderous persecution as still exists in many places, but also with the more subtle threats by political orthodoxies in Western democracies.”
– Peter L. Berger, professor emeritus, Boston University
“One of the foremost religious-liberty thinkers of our time, Os Guinness sets a soaring goal for this book: establishing a vision of religious freedom (‘soul freedom’) that accommodates competing truth claims about who man is and why he exists, guarantees freedom and justice, and builds stability amidst a fragile world order. ”
– Thomas F. Farr, director, The Religious Freedom Project, Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs
“Contemporary problems of diversity and religious freedom are massive, urgent and growing, but our deep differences are seldom addressed in other than a shallow way. This short but wide-ranging and eloquent defense of freedom of religion and conscience, and civility and plurality–which the author summarizes as ‘soul freedom���–provides much needed insight and guidance in our common future.” ”
– Paul Marshall, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and coauthor of Silenced: How Apostasy and Blasphemy Codes are Choking Freedom Worldwide
The Global Public Square, published by InterVarsity Press, will be available in stores and online in September 2013