Crouch on Criminal Trials of Religious Minorities

Melissa Crouch (Melbourne Law School) has posted Criminal (In)Justice in Indonesia: The Cikeusik Trials. The abstract follows.

This article examines the recent court trials of the twelve men who were implicated in the brutal killing of three Ahmadis, and of injuring several others, in a demonstration against Ahmadiyah in Cikeusik in 2011. It calls into question the integrity of the criminal justice system, and argues that the government must take a firm stance against the perpetrators of vigilante violence by ensuring fair and impartial trials in criminal cases concerning religious intolerance, rather than criminalising the activities of religious minorities.

Hungarian Church Registration Law Criticized by Council of Europe SG

This story reports the critical comments of Thorbjorn Jagland, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, with respect to Hungary’s comparatively restrictive policies on official recognition of religious organizations.  According to the story, official status grants the religious institution certain benefits, including various subsidies and tax advantages.  The new law reduced the number of officially recognized religions from 350 to 32, and there have been criticisms that it is insufficiently accommodating of religious liberty.  Something headed to the ECtHR.?

Fitzpatrick-Behrens: Socio-Theological Transformation in Peru

This year, the University of Notre Dame Press will publish, The Maryknoll Catholic Mission in Peru: 1943–1989, by Susan Fitzpatrick-Behrens, associate professor in history at California State University, Northridge.  Fitzpatrick-Behrens’ text explores Maryknoll Catholic missionaries’ combined religious and political efforts in Peru—particularly, efforts guided by the Vatican’s  preferential option for the poor.  This same movement gave rise to the incomparable and seminal work, A Theology of Liberation, by Peruvian priest and theologian Gustavo Gutiérrez—the foundational text of Catholic liberation theology and its non-Catholic offshoots (for example, the work of Rev. Dr. James H. Cone in the United States).  Please see the publisher’s description after the jump. Read more

Heise and Sisk on Extra-Judicial Factors Influencing Free Exercise Claims

Michael Heise (Cornell Law School) and Gregory C. Sisk (University of St. Thomas School of Law) have posted Free Exercise of Religion Before the Bench: Empirical Evidence from the Federal Courts. The abstract follows.

We analyze various factors that influence judicial decisions in cases involving Free Exercise Clause or religious accommodation claims and decided by lower federal courts. Religious liberty claims, including those moored in the Free Exercise Clause, typically generate particularly difficult questions about how best to structure the sometimes contentious relation between the religious faithful and the sovereign government. Such difficult questions arise frequently in and are often framed by litigation. Our analyses include all digested Free Exercise and religious accommodation claim decisions by federal court of appeals and district court judges from 1996 through 2005. As it relates to one key extra-judicial factor — judicial ideology — our main finding is that judicial ideology did not correlate with case outcomes. While judicial ideology did not emerge as a significant influence in the Free Exercise context, however, other variables did. Notably, Muslim claimants fared poorly, cases involving exemption from anti-discrimination laws were significantly more likely to result in pro-accommodation rulings, and Asian and Latino judges as well as judges who were former law professors were particularly amenable to Free Exercise and accommodation claims. On balance, our results paint a more complex and nuanced picture of how extra-judicial factors inform Free Exercise and accommodation litigation outcomes as well as judicial decision making more generally.