Radio Program on God and Government

Here is a radio program where I recently appeared as a guest called “Interfaith Voices.” The program is organizing a substantial series for the next several months on “God and Government” whose aim is to explore church-state relations in different countries.

This episode kicks the series off and considers the United States and Canada. There was a broad spectrum of views represented: the other guests are Professors Jacques Berlinerblau (Jewish Civilization, Georgetown) and Lori Beaman (Classics and Religious Studies, University of Ottawa). The editing process cut out some of the more interesting disagreements, but what remains gives a strong flavor of the discussion.

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 remains at #3, Richard Garnett remains at #4, and Patrick McKinley Brennan remains at #5.

1. Religious Liberty and the Culture Wars  by Douglas Laycock (U. of Virginia, School of Law) [258 downloads]

2. Doctrine and Deep Structure in the Contraception Mandate Debate by Perry Dane (Rutgers, School of Law) [232 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)  [135 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) [78 downloads]

Abu-Lughod, “Do Muslim Women Need Saving?”

do muslimNext month, Harvard University Press will publish Do Muslim Women Need Saving by Lila Abu-Lughod (Columbia University).  The publisher’s description follows.

Frequent reports of honor killings, disfigurement, and sensational abuse have given rise to a consensus in the West, a message propagated by human rights groups and the media: Muslim women need to be rescued. Lila Abu-Lughod boldly challenges this conclusion. An anthropologist who has been writing about Arab women for thirty years, she delves into the predicaments of Muslim women today, questioning whether generalizations about Islamic culture can explain the hardships these women face and asking what motivates particular individuals and institutions to promote their rights.

In recent years Abu-Lughod has struggled to reconcile the popular image of women victimized by Islam with the complex women she has known through her research in various communities in the Muslim world. Here, she renders that divide vivid by presenting detailed vignettes of the lives of ordinary Muslim women, and showing that the problem of gender inequality cannot be laid at the feet of religion alone. Poverty and authoritarianism–conditions not unique to the Islamic world, and produced out of global interconnections that implicate the West–are often more decisive. The standard Western vocabulary of oppression, choice, and freedom is too blunt to describe these women’s lives.

Do Muslim Women Need Saving? is an indictment of a mindset that has justified all manner of foreign interference, including military invasion, in the name of rescuing women from Islam–as well as a moving portrait of women’s actual experiences, and of the contingencies with which they live.

“Religion and Regimes: Support, Separation, and Opposition” (Tamadonfar et al., eds.)

religion regimesNext month, Lexington Books will publish Religion and Regimes: Support, Separation, and Opposition, edited by Mehran Tamadonfar (U. of Nevada) and Ted G. Jelen (U. of Nevada).  The publisher’s description follows.

This work is a collection of essays that describe and analyze religion and regime relations in various nations in the contemporary world. The contributors examine patterns of interaction between religious actors and national governments that include separation, support, and opposition. In general, the contributors find that most countries have a majority or plurality religious tradition, which will seek a privileged position in public life. The nature of the relationship between such traditions and national policy is largely determined by the nature of opposition. A pattern of quasi-establishment is most common in settings in which opposition to a dominant religious tradition is explicitly religious. However, in some instances, the dominant tradition is associated with a discredited prior regime, in which a pattern of legal separation is most common. Conversely, in some nations, a dominant religion is, for historical reasons, strong associated with national identity. Such regimes are often characterized by a “lazy monopoly,” in which the public influence of religion is reduced.