The Duty of Care to Refugees, Christian Cosmopolitanism, and the Hallowing of Bare Life

Studies in Christian Ethics 19 (1):39-61 (2006)
Abstract
There is a surprising absence of systematic theological reflection on what the church’s response to refugees should be and how its response relates to wider debates on the duty of care to refugees. This article situates theological concerns within wider philosophical debate on what the duty of care to refugees consists of. The first section critically reviews the debate on how liberal democracies should respond to refugees. The second section, following Georgio Agamben’s characterisation of refugees as ‘bare life’, argues that refugees unveil a deep contradiction in contemporary patterns of political sovereignty. It closes by arguing that while a theological account of political authority points to some roads beyond the crisis, the first task of the church is to properly order its own duty of care to refugees. The last section consists of an exegesis of the second clause of the Lord’s Prayer as a way of giving an account of what such care involves
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