Dreisbach, “Reading the Bible With the Founding Fathers”

I’m very pleased to give this notice of Professor Daniel L. Dreisbach’s new book, Reading the Bible With the Founding Fathers, which will be published by Oxford University Press in dreisbach-bookDecember. Professor Dreisbach is one of the most important scholars of religion in the founding generation. His earlier book, Thomas Jefferson and the Wall of Separation Between Church and State, as well as his edited volumes, Religion and Politics in the Early Republic: Jasper Adams and the Church-State Debate, and The Forgotten Founders on Religion and Public Life, offer vital and erudite insight about the relationship of church and state in the early republic. This volume looks to be essential reading for anyone interested in this area. The publisher’s description follows.

No book was more accessible or familiar to the American founders than the Bible, and no book was more frequently alluded to or quoted from in the political discourse of the age. How and for what purposes did the founding generation use the Bible? How did the Bible influence their political culture?

Shedding new light on some of the most familiar rhetoric of the founding era, Daniel Dreisbach analyzes the founders’ diverse use of scripture, ranging from the literary to the theological. He shows that they looked to the Bible for insights on human nature, civic virtue, political authority, and the rights and duties of citizens, as well as for political and legal models to emulate. They quoted scripture to authorize civil resistance, to invoke divine blessings for righteous nations, and to provide the language of liberty that would be appropriated by patriotic Americans.

Reading the Bible with the Founding Fathers broaches the perennial question of whether the American founding was, to some extent, informed by religious-specifically Christian-ideas. In the sense that the founding generation were members of a biblically literate society that placed the Bible at the center of culture and discourse, the answer to that question is clearly “yes.” Ignoring the Bible’s influence on the founders, Dreisbach warns, produces a distorted image of the American political experiment, and of the concept of self-government on which America is built.

Around The Web This Week

Some interesting law and religion news stories from around the web this week:

“Churches in the Ukrainian Crisis” (Krawchuk & Bremer, eds.)

Next month, Palgrave Macmillan will release “Churches in the Ukrainian Crisis,” edited by Andrii Krawchuk (University of Sudbury) and Thomas Bremer (University of Münster).  The publisher’s description follows:

This volume explores the churches of Ukraine and their involvement in the recent movement for social justice and dignity within the country. In November of 2013, 9783319341439citizens of Ukraine gathered on Kyiv’s central square (Maidan) to protest against a government that had reneged on its promise to sign a trade agreement with Europe. The Euromaidan protest included members of various Christian churches in Ukraine, who stood together and demanded government accountability and closer ties with Europe. In response, state forces massacred over one hundred unarmed civilians. The atrocity precipitated a rapid sequence of events: the president fled the country, a provisional government was put in place, and Russia annexed Crimea and intervened militarily in eastern Ukraine. An examination of Ukrainian churches’ involvement in this protest and the fall-out that it inspired opens up other questions and discussions about the churches’ identity and role in the country’s culture and its social and political history. Volume contributors examine Ukrainian churches’ historical development and singularity; their quest for autonomy; their active involvement in identity formation; their interpretations of the war and its causes; and the paths they have charted toward peace and unity.

“The Public Funding of Religious Groups in Switzerland” (Pacillo, ed.)

Last month, Libellula University Press released “The Public Funding of Religious Groups in Switzerland: Problems and Issues in the European Context,” edited by Vincenzo Pacillo (Modena University).  The publisher’s description follows:

In Switzerland, the public funding of religious groups is actually under discussion. Itcover-bb supports only the groups which have the legal status of public law corporations, while, in a secular state, it seems that any privilege for some Churches should be abolished, or at least reduced so as not to hinder the equality in the freedom of all religions.

The book focuses on this discussion, with a comparative outlook to the Europe as a whole. It covers in particular the public funding of the religious groups in the Republic of Ticino, in which the system is very complex and the tool of the Church Tax is only a residual financing instrument.

Michael McConnell, “Tradition and the Constitution”

Here is a story with some details of the Center’s Tradition Project conference last week-end, which also links to pictures of the event and various recent reflections by conference participants.

And here is Professor Michael McConnell’s lecture, “Tradition and the Constitution”:

Dunn, “The Catholic Church and Soviet Russia, 1917-39”

In November, Routledge will release “The Catholic Church and Soviet Russia, 1917-39,” by Dennis Dunn (Texas State University).  The publisher’s description follows:

This book, based on extensive research including in the Russian and Vatican archives, charts the development of relations between the Catholic Church and the Soviet Union routledge-logofrom the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 to the death of Pope Pius XI in 1939. It provides background information on the animosity between the Orthodox and Catholic churches and moves towards reconciliation between them, discusses Soviet initiatives to eradicate religion in the Soviet Union and spread atheist international communism throughout the world, and explores the Catholic Church’s attempts to survive in the face of persecution within the Soviet Union and extend itself. Throughout the book reveals much new detail on the complex interaction between these two opposing bodies and their respective ideologies.

Justice and Macleod, “Have a Little Faith”

In November, the University of Chicago Press will release “Have a Little Faith: Religion, Democracy, and the American Public School,” by Benjamin Justice (Rutgers Graduate School of Education) and Colin Macleod (University of Victoria). The publisher’s description follows:

It isn’t just in recent arguments over the teaching of intelligent design or reciting the pledge of allegiance that religion and education have butted heads: since their 9780226400457.jpgbeginnings nearly two centuries ago, public schools have been embroiled in heated controversies over religion’s place  in the education system of a pluralistic nation. In this book, Benjamin Justice and Colin Macleod take up this rich and significant history of conflict with renewed clarity and astonishing breadth. Moving from the American Revolution to the present—from the common schools of the nineteenth century to the charter schools of the twenty-first—they offer one of the most comprehensive assessments of religion and education in America that has ever been published.

From Bible readings and school prayer to teaching evolution and cultivating religious tolerance, Justice and Macleod consider the key issues and colorful characters that have shaped the way American schools have attempted to negotiate religious pluralism in a politically legitimate fashion. While schools and educational policies have not always advanced tolerance and understanding, Justice and Macleod point to the many efforts Americans have made to find a place for religion in public schools that both acknowledges the importance of faith to so many citizens and respects democratic ideals that insist upon a reasonable separation of church and state. Finally, they apply the lessons of history and political philosophy to an analysis of three critical areas of religious controversy in public education today: student-led religious observances in extracurricular activities, the tensions between freedom of expression and the need for inclusive environments, and the shift from democratic control of schools to loosely regulated charter and voucher programs.

Altogether Justice and Macleod show how the interpretation of educational history through the lens of contemporary democratic theory offers both a richer understanding of past disputes and new ways of addressing contemporary challenges.

Call for Papers – Conference on Public Life and Religious Diversity (Nov. 2016)

The Department of Politics and International Relations and Harris Manchester College, University of Oxford have issued a call for papers for an upcoming conference.  Proposals are due November 30, 2016.  The conference itself will be held on September 7-9, 2017.

From the conference organizers:

We invite proposals for presentations in the following panel sessions:

Andrew March, chair: Private and public ethics. Possible topics include: controversies about forms of establishment, the limits of legislation, exemptions for economic, cultural, and social institutions.

Stephen Macedo, chair: Religious diversity and education. Possible topics include: controversies about separation and integration in education, curriculum debates, the nature and limits of public authority, and student and parental freedom.

Lisa Fishbayn and Sylvia Neil, chair and discussant: Gender, sexuality and religion. Possible topics include: controversies over reproductive rights, marriage, sexual culture, religious feminisms, religious justifications of discrimination.

Jocelyn Maclure, chair: Accommodation of religious diversity in democratic polities. Possible topics include: religion as justification of legislation, exemptions, legal recognition; questions of democratic majoritarianism.

We also welcome proposals for papers that aim to explore new research avenues related to religious diversity and public life. Possible topics include: the ethics and politics of interfaith relations; concepts of religious moderation, extremism, fundamentalism, radicalization; public ethics in contexts of antagonism or separation.

Please send us:

A proposal of about 300 words including title, prepared for blind review

A separate document including your name, paper title, your institutional affiliation, and full contact details.

Further details are available here. (H/T: Rick Garnett)

Steen-Johnsen, “State and Politics in Religious Peacebuilding”

Next month, Palgrave Macmillan will release “State and Politics in Religious Peacebuilding,” by Tale Steen-Johnsen.  The publisher’s description follows:

In this book, Tale Steen-Johnsen explains how religious peacebuilders are limited by9781137593894 both formal and more subtle political strategies aimed at regulating civil society.  Political authorities have a vested interest in keeping social and religious movements under control, which limits the opportunities religious leaders have to diminish violent conflicts between religious groups. This volume offers empirical examples of these connections in Ethiopia, Kenya, Zanzibar and Tanzania. It is valuable resource for both scholars and development practitioners interested in how politics and religion become conflated when religious actors engage to build peace.

Henne, “Islamic Politics, Muslim States, and Counterterrorism Tensions”

This month, Cambridge University Press releases “Islamic Politics, Muslim States, and Counterterrorism Tensions,” by Peter Henne (University of Vermont).  The publisher’s description follows: 

The US Global War on Terror and earlier US counterterrorism efforts prompted a variety of responses from Muslim states despite widespread Islamic opposition. Some cup-colour-logo2.jpgcooperated extensively, some balked at US policy priorities, and others vacillated between these extremes. This book explains how differing religion-state relationships, regimes’ political calculations and Islamic politics combined to produce patterns of tensions and cooperation between the United States and Muslim states over counterterrorism, using rigorous quantitative analysis and case studies of Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey. The book combines recent advances in the study of political institutions with work on religion and politics to advance a novel theory of religion and international relations that will be of value to anyone studying religion, terrorism, or Islamic politics. It also provides numerous insights into current events in the Middle East by extending its analysis to the Arab Spring and rise of the Islamic State.

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