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Freedom or Respect?: Public Theology and the Debate over the Danish Cartoons

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As a way to consider an appropriate methodology for public theology, this article examines the recent controversy over the Danish cartoons. The focus of the article is the debate for and against the cartoons and the two apparently competing values of 'freedom of expression' and 'respect for faith'. The article argues that these two concepts of freedom and respect are entwined with each other and need to be understood in the light of one another, because they are not necessarily in opposition; in fact, in the course of the debate, these two areas of concern overlap. The article then investigates further to find a common place of mutual acceptance of both secular and religious values, by discussing the development of the concept of tolerance in the west and in India. It is suggested that, in the west, this common space needs to be formulated in a secular setting. This article concludes that a suitable method for public theology is to examine critically both sides of a dispute and to suggest an alternative perspective by employing theological insights from other contexts.


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