Liberation, Autonomy, and Self-Determination are concepts which exist within a context of institutional factors which create their necessity. Often, religious institutions contribute to these factors, yet they also provide perspectives and resources for subverting power structures and privilege. This essay will examine the role of religious institutions within models of social change, and then consider the appropriate philosophical structure for maintaining the diversity of religious expressions, before discussing the potential for realized justice through participation in any specific religious tradition.

The consistent pattern of institutionalization of religion provides adequate reasons for suspicion for activists to consider them allies. Within the United States, Christian theology and scriptures have been used to support policies and social structures which run counter to the goals of Liberation, Autonomy, and Self-Determination. In countries where another religion possesses the majority, similar forms of fundamentalism and tacit (or overt) theocracy exist as well. If, in our quest for realized justice, we are addressing elements ingrained in the fabric of society, institutional partners must also be included and changed.

Read full paper: Spiritualities of Resistance (pdf)

Originally prepared for the 2017 Ethnic Studies Summit at Fullerton College (Fullerton, CA, USA).

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