In class we discussed the example of the Liberation Theologists who are used as an example of how religious groups can sometimes help create social change. There are many other examples of religious leaders having a massive influence on social change such as Martin Luther King and Desmond Tutu. Harry kindly emailed me the example of the Vladimir Petrek – here is his email:
The assassination of Reinhard Heydrich was called Operation Anthropoid and is an extremely moving tale of courage and selflessness. I highly recommend the movie ‘Anthropoid’.
Vladimír Petřek, priest of the Czech Orthodox Church, was executed in 1942 for sheltering the Czechoslovakian resistance fighters who assassinated Reinhard Heydrich, ‘the butcher of Prague’. Heydrich was the highest ranking Nazi official ever to be assassinated and is considered to be the leading architect of ‘the Final Solution to the Jewish Question’, having set in motion the extermination of all European Jews. Unfortunately, the SS found out the rebels were hiding in the church and stormed the building. The rebels held the church and fought back for over 6 hours before finally being defeated.
Like with most topics, when you are evaluating these examples you need to consider the extent of social change religions create.