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As its title indicates, Johannes Morsink’s new book takes stock of the grounding and prospects of human rights ideals in the face of what people often call “the return of religion.” He starts by claiming that, given its Holocaust origins, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 reflected secular assumptions—a common agreement transcending all faith commitments and requiring none in particular and, in fact, no faith of any kind. I think he proves his case, but scants the reasons why human rights were compatible with so many religions at the time and sidesteps the considerable recent debate about whether “secular” ideals are ever that distant from religious and especially Christian ones.

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