1. Do you think that religions do in fact agree on basic ethical principles?
Even within the same religion people may disagree about whether the use of force is ever permissible or they may adopt different attitudes to homosexuality.You may like to look at the teaching of particular religions on some specific topics. See.Ethical Issues in Six Religious Traditions, Eds. Clive Lawton and Peggy Morgan; Testing the Global Ethic, Eds. Peggy Morgan and Marcus Braybrooke; Leonard Swidler’s For All Life, White Cloud Press, Ashland, Oregon, 1999, pp. 67-227.
2. Do you think there are there universal moral principles and human rights or are they culturally conditioned?
Some people felt that the Declaration was an attempt to imposeWestern values on the rest of the world and a form of ‘cultural imperialism.’ Soon after the Declaration Towards a Global Ethic was issued, the distinguished Indian Catholic scholar John B Chethimattam, said, ‘the very label of a “Global Ethic” smacks of an imperialist plot to continue imperialism’s domination on the majority of humanity through specious moral preaching.’ He complained that the formulation of a set of core values amounted to the imposition of a Western ideology. It ignored the differences between religions and mistakenly separated moral teaching from its context in a religion’s total world vision, it failed to recognise that many past atrocities were perpetrated in the name of religion, and it did not address many of the most urgent social evils in Asia. Similarly, the Rastafarian contribution to the book Testing the Global Ethic, complained that the emphasis on sexual discrimination ignored Western discrimination against Black people and that in any case Rastifarians would have preferred the concept of ‘gender equity’ to ‘gender equality’.
3. Do you think that the moral teaching of a religion can be separated from the beliefs of the religion of which it is a part?
Defenders of the Declaration argue that it is essential to articulate values which are shared if people of different races, cultures and religions, are to live together. The Declaration merely identifies an underlying consensus and does not replace the ethical teaching of particular faith traditions.
4. How do you establish a moral consensus in a democratic society?
You may like to reflect on the statement quoted above that in a democratic society, it is not the task of the state to determine moral values, but many decisions reflect moral judgements – for instance the use of capital punishment or issues raised by genetic engineering. Are decisions merely decided by the wishes of the majority?
5. It is also said in the statement quoted above that no one religious community can impose its teaching.
Does this mean that religious states are an anachronism in the modern world? What are the relations of the state to religious communities in the country where you live? In England, the Church of England is the ‘Established Church.’
In some Muslim countries, the legal system is based on Shari’a or religious law. Israel is sometimes described as a ‘Jewish state.’
Should there be a separation of religion and the state as in the USA – although religious language is more often used by American politicians than is common in Europe – or should the state be secular in the sense that it is in India, (despite communal tensions) where, according to the constitution, no religion should be given a favoured status, although that does not mean the state is against religion as it was in Communist countries?
6. Are religions in any position to lecture others?
Religions have colluded in many social abuses. Perhaps they should concentrate on internal reform. This is recognised in many statements and the Global Ethic particularly condems ‘aggression and hatred in the name of religion.’
7. Do religious people have any monopoly of morality? What about good humanists?
Hans Küng recognises this and says, ‘The religions have contributed a great deal to the spiritual and moral progress of human society; it is also clear that non-religious people can have a basic ethical orientation nad lead a moral life. Indeed in history non-religious people have often pioneered a new sense of human dignity and done more for human emancipation, freedom of conscience, freedom of religion and other human rights that their religious counterparts… In our own time many religious and secular people around the world are working together to develop a moral vision that takes its bearings from the human dignity of all men and women.’