Issel, “Church and State in the City”

In October, Temple University Press will publish Church and State in the City: Catholics and Politics in Twentieth-Century San Francisco by William Issel (San Francisco State University). The publisher’s description follows.

Church and State in the City provides the first comprehensive analysis of the city’s long debate about the public interest. Historian William Issel explores the complex ways that the San Francisco Catholic Church—and its lay men and women—developed relationships with the local businesses, unions, other community groups, and city government to shape debates about how to define and implement the common good. Issel’s deeply researched narrative also sheds new light on the city’s socialists, including Communist Party activists—the most important transnational challengers of both capitalism and Catholicism during the twentieth century.

Moreover, Church and State in the City is revisionist in challenging the notion that the history of urban politics and policy can best be understood as the unfolding of a progressive, secular modernization of urban political culture. Issel shows how tussles over the public interest in San Francisco were both distinctive to the city and shaped by its American character.

Alidadi, Foblets & Vrielink, “A Test of Faith?”

This August, Ashgate Publishing published A Test of Faith?: Religious Diversity and Accommodation in the European Workplace edited by Katayoun Alidadi, Marie-Claire Foblets, and Jogchum Vrielink (all at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium). The publisher’s description follows.

Issues of religious diversity in the workplace have become very topical and have been raised before domestic courts and the European Court of Human Rights. Examining the controversial and constantly evolving position of religion in the workplace, this collection brings together chapters by legal and social science scholars and provides a wealth of information on legal responses across Europe, Turkey and the United States to conflicts between professional and religious obligations involving employees and employers.

The contributors examine how case law from the European Court of Human Rights, domestic experiences and comparative analyses can indicate trends and reveal established and innovative approaches. This multi-perspective volume will be relevant for legal practitioners, researchers, academics and policy-makers interested in human rights law, discrimination law, labour law and the intersection of law and religion.

Helfand on the Hamptons Eruv

Pepperdine law professor and CLR Forum contributor Mike Helfand has an interesting piece in today’s LA Times on litigation over a propsed eruv, or Jewish ritual boundary, in Westhampton Beach, NY. Here’s a link.

Conference: “Islamic Law, Same-Sex Marriage, and the Affordable Care Act”

The Becket Fund will host a conference, “Islamic Law, Same-Sex Marriage, and the Affordable Care Act” in Washington, DC, on Thursday, September 13. For details, click here.

Alawites, Alevis, and Secularism in the Middle East

I’ve written before on CLR Forum about the plight of the Middle East’s Christians. As religious minorities, Christians favor state secularism; the revolutions of the Arab Spring, which have tended to bring Islamist parties to power, offer Christians as much to fear as to praise. But Christians are not the only religious minorities in the Middle East. As this very interesting essay by Baylor historian Philip Jenkins explains, Alawites in Syria and Alevis in Turkey — two different groups, despite the similar-sounding names — number in the tens of millions. Both groups consider themselves Muslim, but some of their beliefs and practices differ dramatically from both Sunni and Shia Islam. For example, Alawites and Alevis drink wine and celebrate some Christian and Zoroastrian holidays; they do not veil women. Most Muslims, and certainly most Islamists, dismiss them as heretical.

Like Christians, Alawites and Alevis have tended to support secular parties: the Ba’ath Party in Syria and Kemalist parties in Turkey. Jenkins explains:

[B]oth movements . . . represented powerful bastions against religious extremism in the region, as they had everything to lose from any enforcement of strict Sunni Muslim orthodoxy. Both sects were powerfully invested in secularism, which in a Middle Eastern context usually meant Read more