Here’s something that makes me wish I had a research leave coming up. The Center for Theological Inquiry in Princeton, New Jersey, has announced a year-long project on law and religious freedom, which it will host in cooperation with Princeton University’s program in law and public affairs:
From the beginnings of human society, religion has shaped lives, formed identities, and held communities together. In the modern world, religious freedom is both a demand of individual conscience and a requirement of social peace. Religious diversity and religious conflict force governments and societies to ask, “How much religious freedom can we allow?” New inquiries in history, anthropology, psychology, and sociology suggest that religion remains essential to human identity and social cohesion, even in a modern, pluralistic society. Perhaps, then, the question is also, “How much religious freedom do we require?” Answering those questions invites critical thinking about how a rule of law that preserves religious freedom can be reconciled with the requirements of many different religions. This calls for a series of interrelated theological inquiries in an interdisciplinary context:
• Do religious traditions sustain their own distinctive ideas of religious freedom?
• What internal limits do religious traditions impose on religious constraint?
• What forms of public activity (worship, education, charity, etc.) are essential to religious life?
• Is there a general understanding of religious freedom that can be formulated as a universal human right? Or does religious freedom necessarily take different forms in different contexts?
• How does the right to religious freedom relate to other rights?
The Center is soliciting applications for resident research fellowships, funded by the John Templeton Foundation. Details are here.
On October 24-25 in New York, the Centro Primo Levi, the NYU Casa Italiana Zerilli Marim, and the Museum of Tolerance will co-sponsor a conference, “The Lateran Pacts, the Rights of Jews and Other Religious Minorities”:
In view of the upcoming 85th anniversary of the Lateran Pacts and the current debates on the position of the Church toward the Jews during Fascism and World War II, Centro Primo Levi has invited an interdisciplinary group of scholars to closely examine and discuss the legal, social, political and economic aspects of this redefinition of the relations between Church and State in Italy and in totalitarian Europe.
The conference will offer an overview of the Lateran Pacts, the background of negotiations between Mussolini and Pius XI as well as an analysis of the ways the Pacts affected Italian society, the rights of minorities vis-à-vis family law, education, public moral, protection of minority rights, with a particular focus on the subsequent re-organization of the Jewish communities. Scholars will present new research on the changes to the civil and penal codes brought about by the Pacts, as well as the reforms of key public institution that became necessary in order to make them compatible with a state religion.
Looks interesting. Details are here.
Next month, Cambridge University Press will publish Jewish Bioethics: Rabbinic Law and Theology in their Social and Historical Contexts by Dr. Yechiel Michael Barilan (Tel Aviv University). The publisher’s description follows.
This book presents the discourse in Jewish law and rabbinic literature on bioethical issues, highlighting practical problems in their socio-historical contexts. Yechiel Michael Barilan discusses end-of-life care, abortion, infertility treatments, the brain death debate, and the organ market. Barilan also presents the theology and spirituality of Jewish medical law, the communal responsibility for healthcare, and the charitable sick-care societies that flourished in the Jewish communities until the beginning of the twentieth century.
Next month, Oxford University Press will publish The Limits of Tolerance: Indian Secularism and the Politics of Religious Freedom by C.S. Adcock (Washington University). The publisher’s description follows.
This book provides a critical history of the distinctive tradition of Indian secularism known as Tolerance. Since it was first advanced by Mohandas Gandhi, the Tolerance ideal has measured secularism and civil religiosity by contrast with proselytizing religion. In India today, it informs debates over how the right to religious freedom should be interpreted on the subcontinent. Not only has Tolerance been an important political ideal in India since the early twentieth century; the framing assumptions of Tolerance permeate historical understandings among scholars of South Asian religion and politics.
In conventional accounts, the emergence of Tolerance during the 1920s is described as a victory of Indian secularism over the intolerant practice of shuddhi “proselytizing”, pursued by reformist Hindus of the Arya Samaj, that was threatening harmonious Hindu-Muslim relations. This study shows that the designation of shuddhi as religious proselytizing was not fixed; it was the product of decades of political struggle. The book traces the conditions for the emergence of Tolerance, and the circumstances of its first deployment, by examining the history of debates surrounding Arya Samaj activities in north India between 1880 and 1930. It asks what political considerations governed Indian actors’ efforts to represent shuddhi as religious on different occasions; and it asks what was lost in translation when they did. It reveals that by framing shuddhi decisively as a religious matter, Tolerance functioned to disengage Indian secularism from the politics of caste.
Check out the full video of this very interesting conference, which was put on by the Berkley Center down at Georgetown. One interesting part of the video is Professor Tom Farr’s statement that the Berkley Center will be focusing in the next several years on the relationship of economic and religious freedom, on the one hand, and political and religious freedom, on the other. (h/t Pasquale Annicchino)