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Abstract

The question addressed in this article is whether existing systems for processing religious land use claims are well-suited to the task. The conclusion is that they are not, and that local officials and others involved in religious land use disputes ought to consider employing mediation at an early stage. The main virtue of mediation in this context is the opportunity it provides for disputants to meet face-to-face in an effort to understand the views of others, even if they do not agree with them. Facilitated dialogues among persons with differing perspectives is precisely what is missing from the traditional systems of land use decision making, which, like the litigation process, is adversarial in nature and designed to keep separate, rather than bring together, those who disagree. Significant byproducts of using mediation are the potential for increasing social capital in the community, and developing additional capacity within the community for problem-solving and healthy dispute resolution practices. These outcomes are likely to produce stronger and more vibrant communities

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