Some interesting law & religion stories from around the web this week:
- On Thursday evening, the GOP-led Arizona house gave final approval to a bill that allows business owners asserting their religious beliefs to refuse service to gays, drawing backlash from Democrats who called the bill “state-sanctioned discrimination”
- U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for the rapid deployment of at least 3,000 additional troops and police to the Central African Republic to prevent further religious killings that are partitioning the country into Muslim and Christian areas
- Amidst ongoing peace negotiations, a broad-based group of Israelis plans to lobby the Knesset to declare the country, for the first time, a Jewish state by law
- Islamist rebels in eastern Syria have ordered women to don the Islamic veil, warning that punishment would befall women who fail to comply
- A North Carolina high school will allow the formation of a club for nonreligious students after a four-month standoff
- A Pentecostal couple who believes in faith healing has been sentenced to 3 1/2 to 7 years in prison for the death of their 8-month old son
- An Australian missionary who carried Christian pamphlets was detained in North Korea on Thursday
- Church of England priests will not be allowed to bless gay and lesbian weddings, according to new guidelines issued by the church
- Cardinals gather in Rome to discuss Catholic teachings on marriage, divorce, and other family issues
- A group of politicians and academics have called for the release of a British man sentenced to death in Pakistan for blasphemy
- Denmark’s ban on kosher and halal slaughter comes into effect as Minister says “animal rights come before religion”
- For CLR Forum’s coverage on this issue, see here
This April, Oxford University Press will publish Faith and the Founders of the American Republic edited by Daniel L. Dreisbach (American University) and Mark David Hall (George Fox University). The publisher’s description follows.
The role of religion in the founding of America has long been a hotly debated question. Some historians have regarded the views of a few famous founders, such as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Thomas Paine, as evidence that the founders were deists who advocated the strict separation of church and state. Popular Christian polemicists, on the other hand, have attempted to show that virtually all of the founders were pious Christians in favor of public support for religion.
As the essays in this volume demonstrate, a diverse array of religious traditions informed the political culture of the American founding. Faith and the Founders of the American Republic includes studies both of minority faiths, such as Islam and Judaism, and of major traditions like Calvinism. It also includes nuanced analysis of specific founders-Quaker John Dickinson, prominent Baptists Isaac Backus and John Leland, and Theistic Rationalist Gouverneur Morris, among others-with attention to their personal histories, faiths, constitutional philosophies, and views on the relationship between religion and the state.
This volume will be a crucial resource for anyone interested in the place of faith in the founding of the American constitutional republic, from political, religious, historical, and legal perspectives.
This March, Princeton University Press will publish The Moral Background: An Inquiry into the History of Business Ethics by Gabriel Abend (New York University). The publisher’s description follows.
In recent years, many disciplines have become interested in the scientific study of morality. However, a conceptual framework for this work is still lacking. In The Moral Background, Gabriel Abend develops just such a framework and uses it to investigate the history of business ethics in the United States from the 1850s to the 1930s.
According to Abend, morality consists of three levels: moral and immoral behavior, or the behavioral level; moral understandings and norms, or the normative level; and the moral background, which includes what moral concepts exist in a society, what moral methods can be used, what reasons can be given, and what objects can be morally evaluated at all. This background underlies the behavioral and normative levels; it supports, facilitates, and enables them.
Through this perspective, Abend historically examines the work of numerous business ethicists and organizations–such as Protestant ministers, business associations, and business schools–and identifies two types of moral background. “Standards of Practice” is characterized by its scientific worldview, moral relativism, and emphasis on individuals’ actions and decisions. The “Christian Merchant” type is characterized by its Christian worldview, moral objectivism, and conception of a person’s life as a unity.
The Moral Background offers both an original account of the history of business ethics and a novel framework for understanding and investigating morality in general.