The Top Five New Law & Religion Papers on SSRN

From SSRN’s list of most frequently downloaded law and religion papers posted in the last 60 days, here are the current top five.  Since last week, Douglas Laycock remains at #1, Perry Dane remains at #2, Elizabeth Sepper has moved up to #3 replacing Dwight Newman, Richard Garnett has moved up to #4, and Patrick McKinley Brennan has joined the list at #5.

1. Religious Liberty and the Culture Wars  by Douglas Laycock (U. of Virginia, School of Law) [254 downloads]

2. Doctrine and Deep Structure in the Contraception Mandate Debate by Perry Dane (Rutgers, School of Law) [231 downloads]

3. Contraception and the Birth of Corporate Conscience  by Elizabeth Sepper (Washington U., School of Law [148 downloads]

4. ‘The Freedom of the Church’: (Towards) an Exposition, Translation, and Defense by Richard W. Garnett (Notre Dame Law School)  [134 downloads]

5. ‘The Pursuit of Happiness’ Comes Home to Roost? Same-Sex Union, the Summum Bonum, and Equality by Patrick McKinley Brennan (Villanova U., School of Law) [76 downloads]

Sharpe & Nickelson (eds.), “Secularisations and Their Debates: Perspectives on the Return of Religion in the Contemporary West”

Next month, Springer will publish Secularisations and Their Debates: Perspectives on the Return of Religion in the Contemporary West, edited by Mathew Sharpe (Deakin University) and Dylan Nickelson (Deakin University). The publisher’s description follows.

Secularisations and Their Debates This volume explores timely topics in contemporary political and social debates, including: the new atheisms, the debate between Habermas and the Pope on the fate of modernity, and the impact of new scientific developments on traditional religions.

This book collects articles first presented at the Deakin University “World in Crisis” workshop, held November 2010 by leading Australasian philosophers and theologians. It addresses questions raised by the recent, much-touted return to religion, including possible reasons for the return and its practical, political, and intellectual prospects.

Secularisation and Their Debates is not afraid to provide answers to such questions as:

    • Is religion only ever a force of political reaction in modernity, or are there resources in it which progressive, even secular social movements, could engage with or adopt?
    • Are the new atheisms, or on the opposite side, the new fundamentalisms, really novel phenomena, or has religion only ever been artificially sidelined in the modern Western states?
    • Has modern liberalism only really been kidding itself about its non-doctrinal neutrality between different faiths, and if so, what should follow?

Justice Scalia Praises the Separation of Church and State

Justice Scalia recently gave some remarks at the Lanier Theological Library in Houston, Texas, remarks that have been reported and commented on in several places. Ostensibly the speech was about whether capitalism or socialism is more consistent with Christian virtue.

But I was there and heard the lecture in its entirety; and it sounded to me like Justice Scalia lavished praise on the separation of church and state. One consistent theme repeated several times by the Justice–at both the beginning and the end of the talk–was the patent unimportance of the titular subject. For the Christian, Justice Scalia said, the choice of one’s political ideology (the choice between capitalism and socialism, for example) is about as consequential as the choice of one’s toothpaste. One does not choose a political ideology either to become a better Christian or to inspire greater Christian virtue in others, and certainly not to inspire Christian virtue in government. Christ was not interested in government or its machinations. These are all issues that ought to be small beer for the Christian.

The lecture was cleverly keyed to sound pleasingly evangelical notes. When you’re in Texas, after all, you’d better swear you hate the Redskins, and Justice Scalia knew well enough to say so. The Justice emphasized a familiar and important set of ideas that has long supported one hoary strain of the American separation of church and state with deep Christian roots: that the cities of God and man are and forever will remain apart.

After which, in response to an audience question about the area of law done greatest disservice by the Supreme Court, he thought for a moment, and replied, “The Establishment Clause.” Christian law and politics watchers, take note.

Event on The Tragedy of Religious Freedom in NYC

For those of our readers in striking range of Manhattan, I hope you might consider joining me on the evening of September 25 at the Harvard Club of New York City (27 W. 44th Street) for a discussion of The Tragedy of Religious Freedom. The event begins at 8:00 pm. My friend and colleague, Mark Movsesian, will be the master of ceremonies.

Please stop by and say hello.