Iran Releases Pastor Accused of Apostasy

Good news from Iran this weekend: the government has released Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani from prison. The Iranian government initially had sentenced Nadarkhani, who converted to Christianity from Islam, to death for the crime of apostasy, but later switched the charges to rape and extortion – charges most people dismissed. In response to pressure from religious-freedom advocates in the West, including the White House, Iran now says the conviction was only for “evangelizing Muslims,” not apostasy, and that Nadarkhani can be released for time served. (H/t: First Things).

Koppelman and Paulsen at St. John’s on September 27

On September 27, CLR will host a debate, “Religious Liberty in the 2012 Election,” at the St. John’s University Law School campus in Queens, New York. Our two debaters will be Andy Koppelman (Northwestern) and Mike Paulsen (St. Thomas). Both are known to have strong opinions, so the event promises to be a lively and provocative one. If you’re in the neighborhood, please stop by. Details are here.

Ferrari on a European Perspective of Law and Religion in a Secular Society

Silvio Ferrari (U. of Milan) has posted Law and Religion in a Secular World: A European Perspective. The abstract follows.

This article examines two interpretations of the process of secularisation that can be traced back through European legal and political thought, and a more recent trend that challenges both of them. It does this through the prism of the public sphere, because in today’s Europe one of the most debated issues is the place and role of religion in this sphere, understood as the space where decisions concerning questions of general interest are discussed. The article concludes, first, that the paradigm through which relations between the secular and the religious have been interpreted is shifting and, second, that this change is going to have an impact on the notion of religious freedom and, consequently, on the recognised position of religions in the public sphere.

Augustine on Environmental Justice and Eschatology in Revelation

Jonathan C. Augustine (Southern U. Law Center) has posted Environmental Justice and Eschatology in Revelation. The abstract follows.

The concept of environmental justice is not new. While some scholars and activists trace its origins as part of the ongoing American Civil Rights Movement—a movement which emerged within the interdisciplinary connection of law and religion—this Essay argues that the concept of environmental justice has deep origins in the Holy Bible. With a foundation in the Old Testament Hebrew scriptures, this Essay combines the disciplines of law and religion by arguing that the Book of Revelation should be read ecologically, as a clarion call to protect the environment in anticipation of the time the triune God will return to live on the planet earth, which will exist as a new heaven.

To support the thesis that the Book of Revelation calls members of Judeo-Christian faith traditions to be protective stewards of planet earth, this Essay is organized into five interconnected parts, undergirded by religious views on the environment and the concept of environmental justice. Part I is an introductory overview, which lays a foundation for the matters related to law, religion, and ecological eschatology detailed herein. Part II builds upon Part I by transitioning into a substantive analysis of environmental justice, as detailed by John in Revelation. Part III then moves in chronology from a time when Judeo-Christian morals influenced ecological eschatology, millennia before antiquity, by exploring the same influences on environmental justice in the post-modern era. Part IV outlines policy considerations related to the continuing environmental justice movement from a Judeo-Christian thought perspective. Finally, Part V of this Essay is a synthesis and conclusion, where the author attempts to harmonize the themes and theories detailed herein, all at the proverbial intersection of law and religion.