Bonino, “Muslims in Scotland”

In November, Edinburgh University Press will release Muslims in Scotland: The Making of Community in a Post-9/11 World by Stefano Bonino (Northumbria University). The publisher’s description follows:

muslims-in-scotlandThe experience of being a Muslim in Scotland today is shaped by the global and national post-9/11 shift in public attitudes towards Muslims, and is infused by the particular social, cultural and political Scottish ways of dealing with minorities, diversity and integration. This book explores the settlement and development of Muslim communities in Scotland, highlighting the ongoing changes in their structure and the move towards a Scottish experience of being Muslim. This experience combines a sense of civic and social belonging to Scotland with a strong religious and ideological commitment to Islam.

Sims, “Lynched”

In October, Baylor University Press will release Lynched: the Power of Memory in a Culture of Terror by Angela Sims (Saint Paul School of Theology). The publisher’s description follows:

lynchedLynched chronicles the history and aftermath of lynching in America. By rooting her work in oral histories, Angela D. Sims gives voice to the memories of African American elders who remember lynching not only as individual acts but as a culture of violence, domination, and fear.

Lynched preserves memory even while it provides an analysis of the meaning of those memories. Sims examines the relationship between lynching and the interconnected realities of race, gender, class, and other social fragmentations that ultimately shape a person’s—and a community’s—religious self-understanding. Through this understanding, she explores how the narrators reconcile their personal and communal memory of lynching with their lived Christian experience. Moreover, Sims unearths the community’s truth that this is sometimes a story of words and at other times a story of silence.

Revealing the bond between memory and moral formation, Sims discovers the courage and hope inherent in the power of recall. By tending to the words of these witnesses, Lynched exposes not only a culture of fear and violence but the practice of story and memory, as well as the narrative of hope within a renewed possibility for justice.

Around the Web This Week

Here is a look at some law and religion news stories from around the web this week:

“Hidden in Plain Sight” (Abrams, ed.)

In August, Northwestern University Press released Hidden in Plain Sight: Jews and Jewishness in British Film, Television, and Popular Culture edited by Nathan Abrams (Bangor University, Wales). The publisher’s description follows:

hidden-in-plain-sightHidden in Plain Sight: Jews and Jewishness in British Film, Television, and Popular Culture is the first collection of its kind on this subject. The volume brings together a range of original essays that address different aspects of the role and presence of Jews and Jewishness in British film and television from the interwar period to the present. It constructs a historical overview of the Jewish contribution to British film and television, which has not always been sufficiently acknowledged. Each chapter presents a case study reflective of the specific Jewish experience as well as its particularly British context, with cultural representations of how Jews responded to events from the 1930s and ’40s, including World War II, the Holocaust, and a legacy of antisemitism, through to the new millennium.

 

Powers, “The Buddha Party”

In October, Oxford University Press will release The Buddha Party: How the People’s Republic of China Works to Define and Control Tibetan Buddhism by John Powers (Australian National University). The publisher’s description follows:

the-buddha-partyThe Buddha Party tells the story of how the People’s Republic of China employs propaganda to define Tibetan Buddhist belief and sway opinion within the country and abroad. The narrative they create is at odds with historical facts and deliberately misleading but, John Powers argues, it is widely believed by Han Chinese. Most of China’s leaders appear to deeply believe the official line regarding Tibet, which resonates with Han notions of themselves as China’s most advanced nationality and as a benevolent race that liberates and culturally uplifts minority peoples. This in turn profoundly affects how the leadership interacts with their counterparts in other countries. Powers’s study focuses in particular on the government’s “patriotic education” campaign-an initiative that forces monks and nuns to participate in propaganda sessions and repeat official dogma. Powers contextualizes this within a larger campaign to transform China’s religions into “patriotic” systems that endorse Communist Party policies. This book offers a powerful, comprehensive examination of this ongoing phenomenon, how it works and how Tibetans resist it.

Rakove: Free Exercise and Interior Belief

All this month, we are hosting an online symposium on Vincent Phillip Muñoz‘s new article, “Two Concepts of Religious Liberty.” In today’s post, Jack Rakove (Stanford) responds to Muñoz. For other posts in this series, please click here

I agree substantially with the arguments that Professor Muñoz presents in his post and the essay from which it is drawn—so much, in fact, that I believe some of his points deserve further elaboration.

The first and arguably most important of these relates to the rationale for identifying the exercise of religious conscience as a natural right over which the state can claim no plausible jurisdiction. Why is this a legitimate claim? In my view, the founding era’s understanding of this claim rests on a fundamentally (but not fundamentalist) Protestant view of the essential nature of religious activity. The essence of religious conscience is a matter of interior conviction and persuasion, pivoting on conceptions of soteriology and ecclesiology that each of us—male and female the deity created them both, and parents and children, too—must come to individually. The exercise of religious conscience is is a natural right in the proper sense of the term, because it depends primarily on the interior nature of human belief, properly understood. The right to exercise that power can never be sacrificed to another person or institution, nor do the state or religious institutions possess any authority superior to the moral capacity each of us retains as individuals. Of course, applying the doctrine of compelle intrare might force willful individuals to consider religious beliefs they would otherwise ignore or renounce; but compulsion alone can never secure belief.

The corollary of this is that the dominant religious experiences of eighteenth-century Americans were neither legalistic nor liturgical in nature; they thus varied, in significant ways, from the religious experiences of adherents of the Church of Rome, as well of course from those of Jews and Moslems. This is not to deny the extent to which religious values infused significant chunks of American law. It only suggests that the experience of religiosity was primarily about the inculcation of faith. When founding era Americans thought about the essential nature of religious experience, this was their dominant concern. And the conviction that the right to make decisions of conscience belonged solely to individual, free from the regulatory power of the state, was (as Chris Beneke argues, I think persuasively, in his book Beyond Toleration) widely accepted before the Revolution. Advanced thinkers like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison—drawing on John Locke but also consciously going beyond him—provided a powerful constitutional rationale for this belief in the 1770s and 1780s, but they were providing an enlightened justification for a common attitude.

It was this conception of the essential nature of religious activity that Madison had in mind when, in the opening item of his Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments, he argued that the duty we owe to God “is precedent, both in order of time and in degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society.” My colleague Michael McConnell, in his seminal article on “The Origins and Historical Understanding of Free Exercise of Religion,” gives this claim an expansive reading that I still find incredible I (103 Harvard Law Review at 1452-1455 [1990]). Issues of religiously-based exemptions from civil laws were not widely discussed in the founding era; the exemptions that mattered, the claims that make the free exercise of religion the most radically liberal right of all, were concerned with protecting the confessional authority of individuals and their freedom from any obligation to worship as someone else wanted them to or to pay for the support of churches.

So my historical position, then, is very close to that of Professor Muñoz. The one way in which I would extend his argument, in terms of its contemporary implications, relates to the problem of “third party” effects—that is, the way that claims for religious exemptions invoked under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act have significant consequences for the beneficiaries of employee-funded insurance plans. The principal realm of controversy involves benefits that can be described as supporting either contraception or abortion. Let us assume that moral and religious concerns of one kind or another enter into how a woman would think about either of these choices. Given the radical emphasis that eighteenth-century Americans placed on the individual right of conscience, how could they possibly alienate that right from the woman (the beneficiary) who has to exercise it to the party legally obliged to fund her insurance (the benefactor). Whatever religious scruples and qualms the benefactor may feel, how could he or she possibly exercise a moral choice than belongs to the beneficiary?

— Jack Rakove

“The Atheist Bus Campaign” (Tomlins & Bullivant, eds.)

In October, Brill Publishers will release The Atheist Bus Campaign: Global Manifestations and Responses edited by Steven Tomlins (University of Ottawa) and Spencer Culham Bullivant (University of Ottawa). The publisher’s description follows:

the-atheist-bus-campaignThe international “Atheist Bus Campaign” generated news coverage and controversy, and this volume is the first to systematically and thoroughly explore and analyze each manifestation of that campaign. It includes a chapter for each of the countries which enacted – or attempted to enact – localized versions of the original United Kingdom campaign which ran the slogan, “There’s Probably No God. Now Stop Worrying and Enjoy Your Life,” prominently on public buses. Its novel focus, using a singular micro-level event as a prism for analysis, allows for cross-country comparison of legal and social reactions to each campaign, as well as an understanding of issues pertaining to the historical and contemporary status of religion and the regulation of nonreligion in various national settings.

Chapman, “Theology at War and Peace”

In November, Routledge will release Theology at War and Peace: English Theology and Germany in the First World War by Mark D. Chapman (University of Oxford). The publisher’s description follows:

Multireligious SocietyThis book is the first detailed discussion of the impact of the First World War on English theology. Assessing the close relationships between English and German theologians before the First World War, Mark Chapman then explores developments throughout the war. A series of case studies make use of a large amount of unpublished material, showing how some theologians sought to maintain relationships with their German colleagues, while others, especially from a more Anglo-Catholic perspective, used the war as an opportunity to distance themselves from the liberal theology which was beginning to dominate the universities before the war. The increasing animosity between Britain and Germany meant that relations were never healed. English theology became increasingly insular, dividing between a more home-grown variety of liberalism and an ascendant Anglo-Catholicism.

Symposium: Religious Liberty and the Black Church (Washington D.C, November 10)

On November 10, the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty will present a symposium titled “Religious Liberty and the Black Church: A Baptist Joint Committee Symposium” at Howard University Divinity School and Law School. The featured speaker at the symposium will be Rev. Dr. Raphael G. Warnock. A brief description of the event follows:

baptist-joint-committe-for-religious-libertyThe Rev. Dr. Raphael G. Warnock will headline a lecture and panel discussion in Washington, D.C., focusing on religious liberty and the black church.

On Thursday, November 10, Warnock will speak on the campus of Howard University Divinity School and Law School. The symposium events are free and open to the public, and more information will be released in the future. Both presentations are also part of the Howard University School of Divinity Centennial Alumni Convocation.

Magocsi & Petrovsky-Shtern, “Jews and Ukrainians”

In November, the University of Toronto Press will release Jews and Ukrainians: A Millennium of Co-Existence by Paul Robert Magocsi (University of Toronto) and Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern (Northwestern University). The publisher’s description follows:

jews-and-ukraniansThere is much that ordinary Ukrainians do not know about Jews and that ordinary Jews do not know about Ukrainians. As a result, those Jews and Ukrainians who may care about their respective ancestral heritages usually view each other through distorted stereotypes, misperceptions, and biases. This book sheds new light on highly controversial moments of Ukrainian-Jewish relations and argues that the historical experience in Ukraine not only divided ethnic Ukrainians and Jews but also brought them together.

The story of Jews and Ukrainians is presented in an impartial manner through twelve thematic chapters. Among the themes discussed are geography, history, economic life, traditional culture, religion, language and publications, literature and theater, architecture and art, music, the diaspora, and contemporary Ukraine. The book’s easy-to-read narrative is enhanced by 335 full-color illustrations, 29 maps, and several text inserts that explain specific phenomena or address controversial issues. Jews and Ukrainians provides a wealth of information for anyone interested in learning more about the fascinating land of Ukraine and two of its most historically significant peoples.

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