Trademarking Churches’ Names and Logos

Further evidence for the free-market model in American religious life: churches increasingly trademark their names and logos to avoid consumer confusion. The practice is especially useful for megachurches, lawyers say. As one explains:

When a church registers its trademark, it’s a simple and low-cost way to protect against ‘identity theft’ by preventing others from misusing its good name and reputation while protecting its investment in branding and name recognition.  It makes all the sense in the world, and is good stewardship of a church’s assets. It allows the church to secure their marketing and secure the usage of that trademark, and to make it clear to the community who they are. It’s useful in the environment that we live in today with the Internet and the amount of resources that get dedicated to marketing.

There is some dispute whether churches can trademark names only, since so many church names incorporate common Biblical phrases. Trademarking both names and logos seems the way to go.

Westreich on Annulment in Jewish Marriage Law

Avishalom Westreich (Ramat Gan) has posted The “Gatekeepers” of Jewish Marriage Law: Marriage Annulment as a Test Case, on SSRN. The abstract follows.

From early classic commentators to modern Jewish Law scholars, the character of marriage annulment in Jewish Law has been much debated. These debates revolve around the appropriate reading of Talmudic sources. Nevertheless, textual analysis of the main passages reveals support for almost all the competing opinions.

Normally, as the paper argues, Jewish Law is characterized by a pluralist discourse and, despite acrimonious controversies, the merits of competitive arguments are recognized, receiving some legitimacy – at least on a post factum level. Nevertheless, Jewish family law, and especially the case of marriage annulment, is characterized quite differently. In the last few decades some proposals of marriage annulment were raised as a solution to the problem of chained wives (agunot). On the basis of the Read more

Military Allows Chaplain to Keep Beard

This morning, Rabbi Menachem Stern, a Chabad Lubavitch rabbi, will join the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps. It wasn’t always clear he could. Like other Hasidic Jews, Rabbi Stern interprets a passage from Leviticus to require men to wear beards. Army regulations generally forbid beards. Rabbi Stern sued, arguing that the no-beards rule, as applied to a Hasidic Jew like him, violated the Free Exercise Clause. The Army settled the case and granted Stern a waiver, as it has done for Sikh and Muslim soldiers whose religious beliefs also require them to wear beards.

I haven’t seen Rabbi Stern’s complaint, but I imagine he relied heavily on then-Judge Alito’s famous decision in Fraternal Order of Police v. City of Newark (3d Cir. 1999), which struck down a police department’s no-beards rule. The rule exempted police officers who grew beards for medical reasons, but not those who grew beards for religious reasons. Alito concluded that denying an exemption for religious reasons, while allowing an exemption for secular reasons, violated the Free Exercise Clause. Like the police department regulations in Fraternal Order of Police, Army regulations appear to allow soldiers to wear beards if a medical condition requires it.

Koritansky ed., “The Philosophy of Punishment and the History of Political Thought”

Another superb-looking book about the intellectual history of punishment edited by Peter Karl Koritansky.  The book is The Philosophy of Punishment and the History of Political Thought (U. Missouri Press 2011).  Professor Koritansky’s fine volume on Aquinas’s thought about punishment is noted here.  The publisher’s description follows.

What does the institution of punishment look like in an ideal political system? Is punishment merely an exercise of violence of the strong against the weak? And what does the phenomenon of revealed religion add to the understanding of punishment? These are some of the many questions contemplated in The Philosophy of Punishment and the History of Political Thought, which provides a provocative exploration of the contributions of nine major thinkers and traditions regarding the question of punitive justice.
For the last half century, the philosophical debates over punishment have been deadlocked at two schools of thought: Utilitarianism and Retributivism. In his introduction, Koritansky provides an overview of the stymied debate by analyzing H. L. A. Hart’s argument for a philosophy unifying the theories of Utilitarianism and Retributivism. While Koritansky allows that both theories have contributed substantially to the contemporary understanding of punishment, he points out that Hart’s lack of success in combining these theories proves that both are less than ideal. From this starting point, Koritansky urges transcendence from these two theories in order to respond to new developments and circumstances surrounding the enactment of punishment today.
Conveniently divided into three sections, the book explores pagan and Christian premodern thought; early modern thought, culminating in chapters on Kant and classic Utilitarianism; and postmodern thought as exemplified in the theories of Nietzsche and Foucault. In all, the essays probe the work of Plato, Saint Augustine, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Thomas Hobbes, Immanuel Kant, Cesere Beccaria, Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Michel Foucault.
These essays devoted to the philosophy of punishment from the perspective of political thought delve deep into key contributions from thinkers of all eras to help further debates on punishment, provide the history of political thought in order to trace changes and effects on future theories, as well as expose the roots of the two prevailing schools of thought. This collection will engage all social scientists interested in the issue of punishment and energize the ongoing debate surrounding this complex issue.

Egyptian Military Forces the Issue

This is a disconcerting development.  The conflict seems to be one between democracy and liberalism.  If the democratically elected majority is not permitted to assume power because the military forces an unwanted diversity of representation down the throats of the electorate, one possible outcome is backlash and further polarization.