This volume of the Occasional Papers on Democratic Development looks at the term “social justice” from the perspectives of Buddhist, Muslim and Christian faiths. We have asked outstanding proponents of the Buddhist, Muslim, Catholic and Protestant religious groups in Cambodia to elaborate on the term “social justice”. In addition, a Catholic German parliamentarian has added a European point of view. The Konrad Adenauer Foundation has a mandate to promote democratic political institutions and policies. Why should we address a concept from religious perspectives rather than from a primarily political one? The answer is easy. We would like to emphasise that there is certainly no wish to interfere in the affairs of any religious community in Cambodia. Nor does this volume deal with the relationship between the state and religious organizations as institutions, independent of each other. Our intention here is to deal with issues raised by the links between religion and politics. “Religion and politics” is concerned with two spheres of activity in the life of the same person. Citizens who belong to religious groups are also members of secular society. This dual association generates a close relationship between the religious and the secular spheres. The relationship we intend to look into is the influence of religious belief on secular political preference and decision-making. Religious beliefs have moral, social and political implications. It is inevitable for people of faith to express these through their activities as citizens in the political order. Religious beliefs have secular political validity. As they are thought by their exponents to possess high religious authority, politicians and the state are well advised to take account of these convictions when formulating policies. The concept of social justice is paramount in the policies of a state. During rapid economic growth in Cambodia the gap between rich and poor has widened, as it has in many other countries. How far this trend is to be accepted will influence the policies of the state. In that regard this volume is political in nature. I express my appreciation to all the contributing authors. Heng Monychenda, Director of the independent NGO Buddhism for Development (BfD) deserves particular gratitude for having edited this volume and for having taken great care that difficult religious and philosophical terms were appropriately translated. The KAF has had the great privilege to work with Heng Monychenda for more than two decades. We have always agreed that moral, ethical and religious values are vital for secular economic and political decision-making. Mr. Yi Thon, Secretary General of the Cambodian Inter Religious Council was of great help in organizing a conference in Phnom Penh in August 2007 during which drafts of the papers compiled were presented and discussed. Wolfgang Meyer Country Representative Konrad Adenauer Foundation
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