Saeed, “Islam and Human Rights”

This October, Edward Elgar Publishing will publish Islam and Human Rights edited by Abdullah Saeed (University of Melbourne). The publisher’s description follows.

In this topical collection, Professor Abdullah Saeed brings together seminal articles encompassing key issues in the debates surrounding Islam and human rights. Topics covered in this comprehensive two-volume set include approaches to international human rights, freedom of expression, the right to equality under Islamic law and Islamic human rights schemes. The editor has also included a number of case studies which, along with an original introduction, greatly enhance the depth of the collection. This authoritative and timely book will be of great interest to both academics and practitioners and will serve as an excellent reference tool for anyone with an interest in Islam and human rights.

Ferrari & Pastorelli, “Religion in Public Spaces: A European Perspective”

This September, Ashgate Publishing Company will publish Religion in Public Spaces: A European Perspective edited by Silvio Ferrari (University of Milan) and Sabrina Pastorelli (University of Milan). The publisher’s description follows.

This timely volume discusses the much debated and controversial subject of the presence of religion in the public sphere. The book is divided in three sections. In the first the public/private distinction is studied mainly from a theoretical point of view, through the contributions of lawyers, philosophers and sociologists. In the following sections their proposals are tested through the analysis of two case studies, religious dress codes and places of worship. These sections include discussions on some of the most controversial recent cases from around Europe with contributions from some of the leading experts in the area of law and religion.

Covering a range of very different European countries including Turkey, the UK, Italy and Bulgaria, the book uses comparative case studies to illustrate how practice varies significantly even within Europe. It reveals how familiarization with religious and philosophical diversity in Europe should lead to the modification of legal frameworks historically designed to accommodate majority religions. This in turn should give rise to recognition of new groups and communities and eventually, a more adequate response to the plurality of religions and beliefs in European society.

Day & Diaz on The Affordable Care Act and Religious Freedom

Terri Day & Leticia M. Diaz (Barry U. Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law) have posted The Affordable Care Act and Religious Freedom: The Next Battleground. The abstract follows.

This article presents a comprehensive analysis of the Health and Human Services (HHS) Mandate, which is the controversial required insurance coverage for preventative and wellness services, which include all FDA approved contraceptives, sterilizations, and related patient education and counseling. Failure to provide this coverage will result in an employer penalty. Non-exempt religious employers/insurers contend that this Mandate requires them to violate their freedom of conscience or suffer a penalty. The article discusses the religious reaction to the Mandate and provides a thorough legal analysis of the constitutional issues. Based on the recent health care decision and the likelihood that the Supreme Court will apply strict scrutiny review as required by the Religious Freedom Reformation Act, the authors conclude that the HHS Mandate will not likely pass constitutional muster.

Viroli, “As If God Existed: Religion and Liberty in the History of Italy”

This September, Princeton University Press will publish As If God Existed: Religion and Liberty in the History of Italy by Maurizio Viroli (Princeton University). The publisher’s description follows.

Religion and liberty are often thought to be mutual enemies: if religion has a natural ally, it is authoritarianism–not republicanism or democracy. But in this book, Maurizio Viroli, a leading historian of republican political thought, challenges this conventional wisdom. He argues that political emancipation and the defense of political liberty have always required the self-sacrifice of people with religious sentiments and a religious devotion to liberty. This is particularly the case when liberty is threatened by authoritarianism: the staunchest defenders of liberty are those who feel a deeply religious commitment to it.

Viroli makes his case by reconstructing, for the first time, the history of the Italian “religion of liberty,” covering its entire span but focusing on three key examples of political emancipation: the free republics of the late Middle Ages, the Risorgimento of the nineteenth century, and the antifascist Resistenza of the twentieth century. In each example, Viroli shows, a religious spirit that regarded moral and political liberty as the highest goods of human life was fundamental to establishing and preserving liberty. He also shows that when this religious sentiment has been corrupted or suffocated, Italians have lost their liberty.

This book makes a powerful and provocative contribution to today’s debates about the compatibility of religion and republicanism.