Ben-Johanan, “Jacob’s Younger Brother”

I’m delighted to join Marc in re-starting our Scholarship Roundup feature here on the Forum. The feature highlights new books and articles on law and religion (generally speaking) that we think will interest our followers. A few of you have told us you miss the feature–so now it’s back!

Here’s a new book from Harvard, out this month, on Jewish-Catholic relations after Vatican II: Jacob’s Younger Brother: Christian-Jewish Relations after Vatican II, by Karma Ben-Johanan (Humboldt). The author suggests that, behind the scenes, each side of the relationship has continued to have reservations about exactly what the 20th-century rapprochement between these two great religions means. Here’s the publisher’s description:

A revealing account of contemporary tensions between Jews and Christians, playing out beneath the surface of conciliatory interfaith dialogue.

A new chapter in Jewish–Christian relations opened in the second half of the twentieth century when the Second Vatican Council exonerated Jews from the accusation of deicide and declared that the Jewish people had never been rejected by God. In a few carefully phrased statements, two millennia of deep hostility were swept into the trash heap of history.

But old animosities die hard. While Catholic and Jewish leaders publicly promoted interfaith dialogue, doubts remained behind closed doors. Catholic officials and theologians soon found that changing their attitude toward Jews could threaten the foundations of Christian tradition. For their part, many Jews perceived the new Catholic line as a Church effort to shore up support amid atheist and secular advances. Drawing on extensive research in contemporary rabbinical literature, Karma Ben-Johanan shows that Jewish leaders welcomed the Catholic condemnation of antisemitism but were less enthusiastic about the Church’s sudden urge to claim their friendship. Catholic theologians hoped Vatican II would turn the page on an embarrassing history, hence the assertion that the Church had not reformed but rather had always loved Jews, or at least should have. Orthodox rabbis, in contrast, believed they were finally free to say what they thought of Christianity.

Jacob’s Younger Brother pulls back the veil of interfaith dialogue to reveal how Orthodox rabbis and Catholic leaders spoke about each other when outsiders were not in the room. There Ben-Johanan finds Jews reluctant to accept the latest whims of a Church that had unilaterally dictated the terms of Jewish–Christian relations for centuries.

“Christianity and Constitutionalism” (Aroney & Leigh, eds.)

We are delighted to announce that the Forum will bring back the tradition of occasional posts on interesting looking new books in law and religion and related areas.

And here is a fascinating new volume to kick us off: Christianity and Constitutionalism, edited by constitutional scholars Nicholas Aroney and Ian Leigh (OUP 2022). The book contains contributions (by an impressive group) on historical influences; political concepts including sovereignty, rule of law, democracy, conscience, and many others; and theologically informed ideas relevant to constitutionalism (e.g. natural law and subsidiarity).

Collegium Institute Event on Catholics in America with Breidenbach, Bruenig, and Maier

Just a quick announcement for what looks like a very worthwhile Collegium Institute event at the Penn Club in New York: “How Catholics Became American,” discussing Professor Michael Breidenbach’s recent book, Our Dear-Bought Liberty: Catholics and Religious Toleration in Early America (HUP 2021). The event features Elizabeth Bruenig of the Atlantic, Francis Maier of the University of Notre Dame, and Prof. Breidenbach. The date is March 16 and further details are at the link.

On the Leak in Dobbs

In First Things today, I argue that the leak of the Dobbs draft opinion this week differs from past SCOTUS leaks and poses a real danger for the Court. Here’s an excerpt:

Past leaks from law clerks typically have come after the Court has issued a decision. They often seem explained by desires to set the record straight for history or, perhaps, to demonstrate the leaker’s own significance (which, as a former clerk, I can attest to be typically little). If they come before a decision, leaks are usually spare and vague, hints at a likely vote tally or outcome. Such leaks do little to change the day-to-day workings of the Court.

But the leak of an entire draft opinion in the middle of deliberations in a vitally important case suggests something very different, a desire either to bully or destroy the Court as an effective institution. After this episode, justices will feel less secure about the confidentiality of their deliberations and think twice about what they put in drafts. The work of the Court will inevitably suffer. That is what makes this leak so damaging, however one feels about the ultimate issue at stake.

You can read the full essay here.

Around the Web

Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:

  • By a 6-3 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to grant an injunction pending appeal in Dunn v. Austin. At issue was a suit by an Air Force Reserve officer who was denied a religious exemption from the military’s vaccine mandate.
  • In Gallo v. Washington Nationals Baseball Club, LLC, suit was filed in a D.C. federal district court by a scout for the Washington Nationals baseball team who was denied an accommodation for his religious objections to the baseball club’s COVID vaccine mandate.
  • In Smith v. Li, an inmate on death row brought a RLUIPA suit in a Tennessee federal district court seeking to stop the medical examiner from performing an autopsy after his death because it would violate his religious beliefs. The court enjoined the autopsy and held that the government could not show that conducting an autopsy in this case is necessary to fulfill a compelling government interest.
  • In Ciraci v. J.M. Smucker Co., an Ohio federal district court dismissed a suit by employees of a food manufacturer who claimed that their First Amendment free exercise rights were infringed when their employer denied them religious exemptions and required them to comply with the Presidential Executive Order mandating COVID vaccinations for employees of federal contractors. The court found the company is not a “state actor” when it complies with a federal vaccine mandate.
  • The Arizona legislature has passed HB 2507, a bill primarily aimed at preventing state and local governments from closing religious organizations in future states of emergency.
  • In Ali v. Heathrow Express Operating Company Ltd., the United Kingdom Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld an Employment Tribunal’s dismissal of an Equality Act religious harassment complaint. The complaint was brought by a Muslim employee of the Heathrow Express train service after a paper with a religious phrase in Arabic was placed in a test bag, by another employee, during a suspicious-objects training test.

Call for Papers: “The Challenges of Law, Religion and State in Health Care and Mental Health”

The Journal of Law, Religion and State invites contributions for its upcoming online workshop, “The Challenges of Law, Religion and State in Health Care and Mental Health.” The workshop will take place on July 26 & 27, 2022, and will focus on examining the different interactions between health-related state law and policy and the regulation of medical treatment and care by religious laws and norms.

Researchers are invited to submit abstracts on topics including, but not limited to, (1) organ transplant; (2) abortion; (3) IVF and other reproductive procedures; (4) end-of-life care; (5) the use of drugs; (6) capacity to consent to treatment; (7) patient rights; and (8) deontology. 

Additionally, the Journal of Law, Religion and State encourages contributions that focus more specifically on mental health. These submissions can deal with questions such as: (1) Can religious clerics provide mental health care? (2) What is the appropriate regulation of such care? (3) Can professionals offer religiously-guided and/or religiously-adapted mental health care? and (4) What is the normative status of mental health definitions and professionally accepted norms and standards of care, which may be disrupted by some religious patients or staff? 

Abstracts submissions (between 250-500 words) are due before April 30, 2022, and should be sent to Amos Israel (aisrael@mail.sapir.ac.il). Acceptance decisions will be relayed to authors no later than May 5, 2022.  

Authors whose proposals are accepted must provide a rough first draft of their paper (8000-10,000 words) no later than July 5, 2022

Papers presented at the workshop will be peer-reviewed, and a selection of those accepted will be published in a special theme-issue of the Journal of Law, Religion and State (planned for December 2022).  

Around the Web

Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:

  • In Toor v. Berger, four Sikh recruits filed suit against the Marine Corps seeking an accommodation that would allow them to wear religious beards and turbans while serving.
  • In Riley v. Hamilton County Government, a Tennessee federal district court refused to dismiss an Establishment Clause claim brought against a Deputy Sheriff who failed to intervene when another Deputy Sheriff coerced the plaintiff into participating in a Christian baptism during a traffic stop.
  • A Virginia school board prohibited a group of student-athletes at Blacksburg High School from wearing “Pray for Peace” shirts in support of Ukraine during pre-game warm-ups on the ground that the shirts are “political” and “religious.”
  • Shawnee State University has agreed to pay $400,000 in damages plus attorney’s fees after the Sixth Circuit held that the University violated the free exercise rights of a philosophy professor by mandating that the Professor use students’ preferred gender pronouns.
  • The Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem has denounced restrictions that would limit the annual Holy Fire ceremony to 1,000 people inside the church, with 500 allowed on the church’s grounds. The Patriarchate claims that the restrictions imposed by Israeli officials infringe on their religious liberty.
  • A 76-year-old woman is seeking to overturn a fine she received for taking a “solitary prayer walk” during a COVID-19 lockdown in England.

Happy Easter

The Resurrection (Ethiopian)

To all who celebrate today, a very Happy Easter. Christ is Risen.

Legal Spirits Episode 041: Learning in War-Time

In this episode of Legal Spirits, Center Co-Directors Mark Movsesian and Marc DeGirolami explore C.S. Lewis’s great essay on the calling of the Christian scholar, “Learning in War-Time.” Lewis wrote the essay at the start of World War II, but it continues to speak to students and faculty today–Christian and non-Christian. As Lewis observes, “human life is always lived on the edge of a precipice,” and the question why people should devote what little time they have on earth to academic pursuits when so many other things call for our attention is a perennial one. Lewis’s message is one of humility, courage, and controlled hope, even in the worst of times. Listen in!

Thanks to the Loyola University Chicago Law Journal

Just a note to thank the organizers of last week’s conference on religious liberty at the Loyola University Chicago Law Journal for hosting me. The event brought together a diverse group of scholars with truly differing points of view–something for which the organizers deserve a lot of praise. I presented a paper on the 50th anniversary this year of Wisconsin v. Yoder and received some very helpful comments. I look forward to seeing my essay in print in a forthcoming symposium edition of the Law Journal, and to reading the other participants’ papers!