Dynamic Secularisms: Christianity and the Struggle for Human Rights in the Uruguayan Laïcité


abstract: From 1973 to 1984 the people of Uruguay lived under a repressive military dictatorship. During that time, the Uruguayan government violated the Human Rights of its opponents and critics through prolonged imprisonment in inhumane conditions without trial, physical and psychological torture, disappearance, and a negation of freedom of speech, thought and congregation. In this project, I argue that these violations of Human Rights committed by the military dictatorship added urgency to the rethinking by religious individuals of the Uruguayan model of secularism, the laïcité, and the role that their theology required them to play in the "secular" world. Influenced by the Liberation Theology movement, Catholic and Protestant leaders simultaneously made use of and challenged the secularization model in order to carve a space for themselves in the struggle for the protection of Human Rights. Furthermore, I will argue that due to the Uruguayan system of partitocracy, which privileges political parties as the main voices in public matters, Uruguay still carries this history of Human Rights violations on its back. Had alternative views been heard in the public sphere, this thorny history might have been dealt with in a fairer manner. Thus, I call for further exploration of the "intelligent laïcité" model, which might ensure true democratic participation in the public sphere.Dissertation/ThesisMasters Thesis Religious Studies 201

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