Inclusive Development: Beyond Need, Not Creed
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This paper explores the extent to which development, in its frames of reference, policy and practice, is sensitive and responsive to religious inequalities. The research enquiry is guided by the question “to what extent does international development thinking, and policy-making engage with freedom of religion or belief?”. This paper is largely focused on Western development thinking and programming, while recognising that there is a plethora of actors who are also increasingly engaged in international development, notwithstanding BRICS and the Gulf. The relationship between freedom of religion or belief and development continues to be severely under-explored in the literature, despite the copious body of scholarship that distinctively deals with each separately. The relevance of exploring the nexus between freedom of religion or belief and development is particularly significant in view of the increasing visibility of multilateral, bilateral and non-governmental action aimed towards advancing freedom of religion or belief through development or humanitarian aid. Western development thinking, policy and practice has always struggled with how to engage with religion. In this critical enquiry we interrogate how far international development has become religion-aware, where conceptual strides have been made in engendering religion in development, and whether this has incorporated questions of freedom of religion or belief. In order to support freedom of religion or belief and a full understanding of religious inequalities within international development we need a distinct agenda that goes beyond ‘add religion and stir’.