Strategic Conversion

This is a rather odd news item about several al-Qaida records which have recently been discovered released.  Among the letters and other paraphernalia (including an exhortation to assassinate the President in order to profit from the asserted incompetence of the Vice President) is the speculation of one Adam Gadahn, “American al-Qaida spokesman” (I had not realized that there were national spokespeople for terrorist organizations), who said this about Catholicism in Ireland:

I noticed the sympathy of the Irish people to the Palestinian issue, and the soft treatment by the Irish Judicial system of Muslims accused of terrorism, and also not participating with its troops in [President George W.] Bush’s Crusade wars . . . . The other matter is the increasing anger in Ireland towards the Catholic Church after exposing a number of sex scandals . . . . The people there are moving towards secularism, after it was the most religious of atheist Europe, and why do not we face them with Islam?

Liveblogging the RALS Conference

I’m posting today from the biannual Conference of Religiously Affiliated Law Schools (RALS), hosted this year by Sam Levine at Touro. The first panel this morning, on which I participated, was titled “The Place of Law and Religion Institutes in the Law School and University.” The panel made clear how many such institutes exist in American law schools and how diverse are their interests. I spoke about our Center for Law and Religion here at St. John’s. Our center focuses on religion as a legal and sociological phenomenon and treats the subject from a broadly interfaith and comparative perspective. Elizabeth Schiltz, director of the Terrence J. Murphy Institute for Catholic Thought, Law and Public Policy at St. Thomas, described her center as having a slightly different focus, rooted more specifically in the Catholic intellectual and legal tradition. Elizabeth Clark, associate director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at BYU, described her center’s primary concern as promoting religious freedom around the world. Of course, there is a lot of overlap in the matters the centers cover. Yet the diversity of focus is a great sign that law and religion is a growth area in American law schools and that there is plenty of work to go around.