Lecture on Christians in the Middle East

This Thursday, November 29, I’ll be giving a lecture, “Equality for Christians in the Middle East, Yesterday and Today,” at the Armenian Orthodox seminary in New Rochelle, New York. My lecture will discuss the precarious state of Christian communities in the Middle East and the reasons why the goal of real legal equality has proved so elusive. Details are here. CLR Forum readers in the neighborhood, please stop by and say hello!

Domingo on the Dworkinian Approach to Religious Freedom

Rafael Domingo  (U. of Navarra) has posted Religion for Hedgehogs? An Argument against the Dworkinian Approach to Religious Freedom. The abstract follows.

According to Ronald Dworkin, the right to freedom of religion is a mere implication of a more general right of ethical independence in foundational matters. For Dworkin, just as a particular religion cannot be treated as special in politics, religion cannot be considered sui generis in the political arena. This article argues that the right of religious freedom should be regarded as sui generis. The epistemological and ethical theories that support a Dworkinian approach to religious freedom are reductive and misconceived. These theories close the door to transcendent meaning and revealed religion, to a conception of religion as a fact and a value. The Dworkinian paradigm does not sufficiently protect the principles of pluralism and self-determination that are at the heart of religious freedom. Finally, this article argues that, when properly understood, the right to religious freedom is based on ethical autonomy and the unity of the person rather than on Dworkin’s theories of ethical independence and the unity of value.

Kansas Municipality Changes City Seal After FFRF Complaint

The City Council of Buhler, Kansas, has decided not to fight the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which complained that Buhler’s City seal — which displays a very prominent Latin cross — violates the Establishment Clause.  You can see a story with the seal here; the seal was apparently created in 1988.  And here is an open letter from the Mayor of Buhler to its residents, indicating that the City did not have a taste for an expensive litigation with FFRF which it was very uncertain to win, and which might well deplete the City’s small budget.  Note some of the attachments to the letter as well, including a memorandum opinion from the ACLJ, suggesting that in light of Tenth Circuit case law, the City would be advised not to go to court.

Perhaps the problem was in the tension within Buhler’s own motto, “Traditional Values, Progressive Ideas.”  Sounds like a recipe for conflict.