Interesting Comments from Chip Lupu on Hosanna-Tabor

The Washington Post has a balanced article on the ministerial exemption and the upcoming Hosanna-Tabor case with some interesting comments from Professor Chip Lupu.  One thing Chip mentions that I had not thought about was that he expects the three female justices, Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan, to vote for a narrow ministerial exemption (assuming that they vote for an exemption) for the reason that they will want to protect teachers in religious schools who are likely to be women.  I am not sure how these Justices would vote, but I think I agree with Chip that some or perhaps even all three of them are likely to vote for a narrow exemption.  For example, I think Justice Kagan’s dissent in Arizona v. Winn was some indication of her views of religion clause questions, though that case implicated EC issues, and these Justices’ views of the FEC is largely a mystery.  But I had not considered the particular reason that Chip offers.  But if this is a reason to vote against the ME, I don’t think it’s one which would apply to a variety of (perhaps even many) situations in which the ministerial exemption would otherwise apply.  Do others disagree with me?  — MOD [x-posted MOJ]

White House Issues Statement on Iran Apostasy Trial

The White House issued a statement this afternoon condemning the conviction of Evangelical Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani for apostasy by an Iranian court. Having refused three times to recant his adult conversion to Christianity, Nadarkhani is now subject to execution. Some reports suggest that the authorities will commute the death-penalty sentence, but that is unclear at this writing. The White House’s statement follows. — MLM

The United States condemns the conviction of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani.  Pastor Nadarkhani has done nothing more than maintain his devout faith, which is a universal right for all people.  That the Iranian authorities would try to force him to renounce that faith violates the religious values they claim to defend, crosses all bounds of decency, and breaches Iran’s own international obligations.   A decision to impose the death penalty would further demonstrate the Iranian authorities’ utter disregard for religious freedom, and highlight Iran’s continuing violation of the universal rights of its citizens.  We call upon the Iranian authorities to release Pastor Nadarkhani, and demonstrate a commitment to basic, universal human rights, including freedom of religion.

Calo on Catholicism, Liberalism and Human Rights

Zachary Calo (Valparaiso) has posted Catholicism, Liberalism and Human Rights, on SSRN.  The abstract follows. — MLM

Human rights is the dominant moral category of modernity. As both a theoretical concept and the basis of legal norms, human rights shapes the way we think and talk about personhood, social justice, and political obligation. Yet, it is also the case that there is no one account of human rights, but rather competing traditions of human rights that strive for primacy. Human rights, in short, is a deeply contested category through which different moral visions aim to shape institutions and policies. In spite of the label, human rights claims are not universal, either methodologically or substantively. Rather, under the umbrella of human rights is located a constant struggle between the universal and the particular. How this tension unfolds, and whether it does so in a constructive or disruptive manner, is one of the foundational questions that must be engaged in coming years.

In the past, the tension between universality and particularity was considered most commonly in the context of cultural relativism, with particular attention given to the ways in which human rights was a western construct that could not adequately account for different forms of communal values. This issue remains important, though this paper advances the claim that the most significant point of tension is not between human rights values and non-human rights values, but rather a tension within the idea human rights. More specifically, the primary fault line concerns the role of religion and religious traditions as they relate to human Read more

Lectures at Kellogg College (Oxford)

The Centre for the Study of Religion and Public Life at Kellogg College (Oxford) has announced two upcoming lectures.  On October 12, the Rev. Canon Dr. Vincent Strudwick will speak on “God and the Big Society,” and on November 7, Prof. Joseph Prudhomme (Washington College) will speak on “Teaching the Bible in State-Supported Schools.”  For details, please contact Kellogg College.  — MLM

Swiss Strife

This is a fascinating story detailing the recent history of conflict in Switzerland between various Muslim and state/non-Muslim interests.  The newest controversy is the result of Muslim agitation to remove the white cross from the Swiss flag, ostensibly in order both to reflect the “separation of church and state” and Switzerland’s increasing “cultural diversity.”  The group prefers a flag with colors and patterns resembling the flags of Bolivia and Ghana.

Switzerland has been the site of increasing strife stimulated by the dramatic increase in its Muslim immigrant population, which the story reports has quintupled since 1980.  Among the many interesting conflicts reported in the story (including the minaret controversy) is the successful lawsuit by Muslim parents demanding the right to dress their children in full-body bathing suits (“burkinis”) during co-ed swimming lessons.  — MOD

Horwitz on the Ministerial Exception

Paul Horwitz (University of Alabama School of Law) has posted Act III of the Ministerial Exception. The abstract follows. –JKH

On October 5, 2011, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church & School v. EEOC, a case in which the Court will consider the existence and nature of the so-called “ministerial exception”: the judicial doctrine that gives churches legal immunity in employment discrimination cases brought by “ministerial” employees. The case promises to be one of the more important church-state decisions in recent years. In conjunction with the second Annual Law and Religion Roundtable, the Northwestern University Law Review Colloquy will be publishing several pieces on the case.