Menchik on Religious Intolerance in Islamic Institutions

Jeremy M. Menchik (Stanford University; University of Wisconsin-Madison) has posted Missionaries, Modernists and the Origins of Intolerance in Islamic Institutions. The abstract follows. –JKH

 Why are some Islamic institutions more tolerant than others? This basic question has far-reaching implications. Islamic movements have considerable sway in the policies of newly democratic Egypt, Tunisia and most other Muslim-majority states. Islamic movements are likewise important for the formation of social trust; recent scholarship suggests that democratization in Muslim counties is more likely to occur when Islamic institutions are able to build networks of cooperation across religious differences, while scapegoating and sectarian polemics between religious groups increases the likelihood of violence. I answer this basic question by focusing on Islamic institutions in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country and one of the most diverse. Using archival material and newly collected survey data, I argue against the notion that theology or ideology shape interethnic relations and show that local politics during the late colonial period explains the policies of contemporary Islamic institutions.

Waltman on Religious Liberty and Employment

Jerold Waltman (Baylor) has posted a paper on recent British legislation affecting religion in the workplace, Religious Liberty and the Employment Sections of the Equality Act 2010. The abstract follows. — MLM

Religious liberty is rightly called the “first freedom.” This is not only because it was the first to develop historically, but also because it involves human beings’ most fundamental identity. When peoples’ beliefs are imposed on them, they cannot be free in any meaningful sense of the term. But the individual’s freedom to believe carries two vital corollaries. One is that she must be able to put those beliefs into practice. The other is that religious liberty has a collective as well as an individual dimension. Many religions require that people form groups in order to worship and engage in other religious activities. Thus, in a polity committed to religious liberty, religious organizations must be able to claim rights alongside individuals.

Laborde on Religious Dress

More on banning religious attire: Cecile Laborde (University College London) has posted State Paternalism and Religious Dress. The abstract follows. — MLM

This paper criticises the paternalist argument for bans on gender-specific restrictive religious dress. This posits that the prohibition on the wearing of hijab in schools assists the emancipation and autonomy of young girls. In the first section, I briefly summarize the republican paternalist position against the hijab, and explain why it is flawed, in light of a critical republican ideal of non-domination. In the second section of the paper, I expand the argument, and apply it to recent controversies about the wearing of the niqab (full face covering). I argue that the so-called ‘burqa ban’ in France (13 July 2010) suffers from even graver flaws than the 2004 hijab ban, to the extent that it extends paternalistic coercion from children to adults. More generally I explore the question as to whether, if there are relevant differences between hijab and niqab, they have a bearing on the normative case against legal regulation.


Sandberg on Religious Freedom and Discrimination in the UK

Russell Sandberg (Cardiff Law School) has posted The Right to Discriminate. The abstract follows. –JKH

The first decade of the 21st century has witnessed a number of controversies surrounding the interaction between law and religion in the United Kingdom. In particular, tensions have emerged between laws protecting religious freedom and those which prohibit discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. In particular, Parliament has repeatedly examined the scope and ambit of exceptions afforded to religious groups which allow them to discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation when specific conditions are met.  And these exceptions have reportedly led to tensions within both the Blair and Brown cabinets and rebukes from the Vatican and the European Commission, criticising the exceptions for being too narrow and too broad respectively. The exceptions have also been challenged by way of judicial review, have been applied or commented upon in a number of high-profile cases and have attracted comment in the print and broadcast media. A number of employees have brought claims asserting that new legal requirements promoting equality on grounds of sexual orientation are incompatible with their religious beliefs. This article seeks to explore the legal changes that have occurred in the first decade of the 21st century affecting religion and sexual orientation with particular reference to how courts and tribunals have dealt with clashes between the two. It discusses the extent to which English law allows religious groups and individuals to follow their own beliefs regarding human sexuality.

French Veil Ban Provokes Resistance

Here is an interesting story about resistance to the ban on veils instituted in France.  The story reminds me of the line in the novel, Snow, by Orhan Pamuk, where one of the female characters says, “To play the rebel heroine in Turkey, you don’t pull off your scarf, you put it on.”

CLR to Co-host Talk by Secretary General of the International Movement of Catholic Studies

CLR will co-host a talk by Christopher Derige Malano, Secretary General of the International Movement of Catholic Studies – Pax Romana (IMCS), at St. John’s Law School on Tuesday, September 27, 2011.  IMCS is a UN-accredited NGO concerned with human rights, the eradication of poverty, the empowerment of women, and much more. Mr. Malano will discuss his experiences working at ICMS and the UN.  All students are encouraged to attend, particularly those with an interest in careers in international or public interest law. The event, co-hosted with the Center for International and Comparative Law, will be held in the Mattone Family Atrium from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM.

Religious Belief and Economic Attitudes – A Surprising New Survey

From Baylor University, an interesting new study of how religion and attitudes toward economic regulation interact in today’s America: The Values and Beliefs of the American Public.  According to the study, most Americans believe that God has a plan for their lives; that’s not too surprising, given levels of religious faith in America. Americans who believe most strongly that God has a plan for their lives earn less and have less education; I suppose some people would not find that surprising, either. What is surprising is this: even though they are relatively poor and lack the education that would lead to higher-paying jobs, Americans who believe most strongly that God has a plan for their lives “are the most likely to believe that the United States’ economic system is fair without government intervention.” For example, they are much more likely to believe that “anything is possible through hard work” and that “healthy people don’t deserve unemployment benefits. “  The bottom line, according to the study’s authors, is this: “In today’s United States, with high levels of unemployment and vastly expanding wealth inequality, belief in God’s plan sustains belief in the fairness of our economic system and our ability to eschew government assistance to stem the tide of our economic woes.” Worth a look.  — MLM

On Earth as in Heaven: Eastern Orthodoxy and Environmental Stewardship in Law and Policy

This month, Oxford University Press publishes On Earth as in Heaven: Ecological Vision and Initiatives of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, collecting the theological-environmental works of His All Holiness, Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome, and Ecumenical Patriarch.  In this position, Patriarch Bartholomew is the spiritual leader of an estimated 300-million Orthodox Christians worldwide.  The Patriarch is also geographically situated to promote understanding and tolerance between Western Christianity, Eastern Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.

Moreover, the Patriarch has championed an approach to environmental issues that combines spiritual command, scientific research, and political action.  For more on the Patriarch’s work in this area and specific undertakings, please follow the jump. Read more