Kabala, “Church-State Relations in the Early American Republic”

This month, Pickering and Chatto Publishers will publish Church-State Relations in the Early American Republic, 1787-1846 by James S. Kabala (Rhode Island College). The renowned historian Gordon Wood has this to say about Kabala’s superb looking book: “This superb account of church-state relations during the most tumultuous years of American Christendom reveals that our present disputes over the separation of church and state are nothing new. Kabala’s deeply researched book contains the fullest and clearest summary that we have of the bitter struggles during the six decades following 1780 that led to the Protestant non-sectarian consensus of the 1840s.”  The publisher’s description follows.Church-State Relations in the Early American Republic

Americans of the Early Republic devoted close attention to the question of what should be the proper relationship between church and state. This issue engaged participants from all religions, denominations and party affiliations. Kabala examines this debate across six decades and shows that an understanding of this period is not possible without appreciating the key role religion played in the formation of the nation.

Hamoudi on Religious Minorities and Shari’a in Iraqi Courts

Haider Ala Hamoudi (University of Pittsburgh Law) has posted Religious Minorities and Shari’a in Iraqi Courts. The abstract follows.

There is a rising interest in our academy in the study of constitutional states, particularly in the Islamic world, whose legal and constitutional structure is at least as a formal matter both founded on and subject to religious doctrine. For those of us interested in the Arab spring, and indeed in constitutionalism in much of the Islamic world, this work is not only valuable, but positively vital. Without it, we are unable to discuss most emerging Arab democracies in constitutional terms. In Iraq, and in Egypt after it, two of the premier Arab states which have recently seen constitutions approved through popular referendum, Islam is described as state religion, as source of legislation and as constraint upon law as well. Nobody reasonably aware of the region imagines that Libya and Syria (were the latter to develop into a democratic state) would reach a different conclusion respecting the role of Islam in the public order. While the details may well differ from one state to another, the principle of “constitutional theocracy” holds fast throughout much of the Arab world. The effect of this on religious minorities that are not Muslim is the subject of this essay, with particular reference to the one Arab state with which I am most familiar, that of Iraq.

In assessing how rising constitutional theocracies like Iraq happen to balance the priorities they afford Islam in foundational text with religious freedom, a value also invariably enshrined in the constitutions of emerging democracies in the Middle East, it is important to note that the going opinion is very much in favor of some form of protection for and tolerance of non-Muslim minorities. It is also important to note that in assessing any conflicts with shari’a, there is a great deal of nuance, indeed near Read more