Global Institutions of Religion: Ancient Movers, Modern Shakers

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The new forms that religious institutions are taking, their fit with human rights and democratic ideals, their changing nature in plural societies, are a highly relevant part of the global institutional picture and this book is essential reading for all students and scholars of global institutions, international relations and religion.

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Katherine Marshall | Albright Institute

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Dr. Katherine Marshall

Free pickup Fri, Oct 4. But in London, as in previous years, national rivalries, commercial entanglements, and bureaucratic interests have impeded efforts to live up to those values in practice. Examples include thrown badminton matches, doping allegations, and sponsor-enforced restrictions on athletes' use of social media. This gap between rhetoric and reality is not a cause for resignation. It is a call to action. Each Olympic Games--especially this summer in London--is a challenge to revive the Olympic Charter's commitment to place "sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind.

International celebration is the critical starting point. In London, some 12, athletes from more than countries are competing in 50 events and living together in the Olympic Village. World leaders are in attendance.


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More than four billion people are following the Games on television or online. The opening and closing ceremonies are celebrations of values that unite humanity in an era of increasing globalization. The challenge is to sustain and nurture Olympic values in other contexts after the athletes leave London. The focus should be on three critical areas, inside and outside the world of sport.

Greater social inclusion is critical. Many Olympic sports -- equestrian competitions for example--are indelibly associated with wealth. Excellence in sports is increasingly associated with money. Talented and motivated young people in much of the world do not have the opportunity even to test how far they can go. The Paralympics offer paths toward including far more people but do not address the ongoing problems of unequal access and opportunity.

Outside the Games, sports and development programs advance the cause of greater inclusion, but do not address the problems of social inequality head on.

Brother Arnold Hadd - Shaker Heritage Society Lecture, February 23, 2013 at Siena College

Curbing commercialism is the second challenge. The success of the modern Olympic Movement has attracted tremendous public interest and corporate investment. The Olympics have become such a big business that even the name Olympics is bought and sold--more than 40 percent of revenue generated comes from commercial partnerships.

Of course the costly Games must be paid for and corporate support helps makes worldwide coverage possible. But commercialism can go too far, as in the case of allowing McDonalds, the official restaurant of the Olympic Games with a location inside the Olympic Village, to sponsor of a competition that encourages a healthy lifestyle. Careful vetting of sponsors and their business practices, including fair labor standards around the world, is necessary to counteract cynicism about Olympic values. Finally, world leaders should take up the long-neglected ideal of the Olympic Truce - a commitment to suspend violent conflict around the Games that has its roots in Ancient Greece.

Although countries endorsed the Olympic Truce in a United Nations General Assembly vote in October , no real efforts have been made to halt the conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria, Afghanistan, and other parts of the world with the spotlight of the Olympics as a nudge and genuine inspiration.

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