The Weekly Five

This week’s selections include a pair of reviews of two recent books, a piece on implementing religious law, an overview of the law of religious freedom in China, and a discussion of European anti-ritual-slaughtering laws.

1. Frederick Schauer (UVA Law), On the Utility of Religious Toleration: This review of Brian Leiter’s Why Tolerate Religion? accepts Professor Leiter’s deontically-grounded claims for religion’s non-specialness but challenges the claims grounded in utilitarianism, arguing that a stronger version of utilitarianism would accept unprincipled and even irrational distinctions as potentially welfare-maximizing.

2. Paul Horwitz (Alabama Law), ‘A Troublesome Right’: The ‘Law’ in Dworkin’s Treatment of Religion: A review of the late Ronald Dworkin’s Religion Without God, in which Professor Horwitz takes special aim at Professor Dworkin’s legal demotion of the right of religious freedom. He writes that the “gloss of abstraction” in Dworkin’s arguments results in substantial overstatements of the problems that Dworkin identifies.

3. Patrick McKinley Brennan (Villanova Law), Implementing Religious Law in Modern Nation-States: Reflections from the Catholic Tradition: Professor Brennan describes the Catholic natural law view of law, religion, and justice, and explores some of the incompatibilities of that view with the American constitutional framework.

4. Ping Xiong (University of South Australia), Freedom of Religion in China Under the Current Legal Framework and Foreign Religious Bodies: A very helpful introduction to the landscape of religious freedom in China. The regime of religious freedom is explored from the perspective of the major religions practiced in China–Taoism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, and Confucianism–as well as smaller religious groups.

5. Robert J. Delahunty (University of St. Thomas School of Law), Does Animal Welfare Trump Religious Liberty? The Danish Ban on Kosher and Halal Butchering: Professor Delahunty explores the history of European “hygienic” and “humane” laws that ban ritual slaughtering practices. He concludes that these laws do little or nothing to promote animal welfare and probably are motivated by European unease with the growing Muslim population.

Dumper, “Jerusalem Unbound”

Next month, Columbia University Press will publish Jerusalem Unbound: Geography, History, and the Future of the Holy Citby Michael Dumper jerusalem unbound(University of Exeter).  The publisher’s description follows.

Jerusalem’s formal political borders reveal neither the dynamics of power in the city nor the underlying factors that make an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians so difficult. The lines delineating Israeli authority are frequently different from those delineating segregated housing or areas of uneven service provision or parallel national electoral districts of competing educational jurisdictions. In particular, the city’s large number of holy sites and restricted religious compounds create enclaves that continually threaten to undermine the Israeli state’s authority and control over the city. This lack of congruity between political control and the actual spatial organization and everyday use of the city leaves many areas of occupied East Jerusalem in a kind of twilight zone where citizenship, property rights, and the enforcement of the rule of law are ambiguously applied.

Michael Dumper plots a history of Jerusalem that examines this intersecting and multileveled matrix and in so doing is able to portray the constraints on Israeli control over the city and the resilience of Palestinian enclaves after forty-five years of Israeli occupation. Adding to this complex mix is the role of numerous external influences—religious, political, financial, and cultural—so that the city is also a crucible for broader contestation. While the Palestinians may not return to their previous preeminence in the city, neither will Israel be able to assert a total and irreversible dominance. His conclusion is that the city will not only have to be shared, but that the sharing will be based upon these many borders and the interplay between history, geography, and religion.

Espinosa, “Latino Pentecostals in America”

Next month, Harvard University Press will publish Latino Pentecostals in America: Faith and Politics in Action by Gastón Espinosa (Claremont McKenna Latino PentecostalsCollege).  The publisher’s description follows.

Every year an estimated 600,000 U.S. Latinos convert from Catholicism to Protestantism. Today, 12.5 million Latinos self-identify as Protestant—a population larger than all U.S. Jews and Muslims combined. Spearheading this spiritual transformation is the Pentecostal movement and Assemblies of God, which is the destination for one out of four converts. In a deeply researched social and cultural history, Gastón Espinosa uncovers the roots of this remarkable turn and the Latino AG’s growing leadership nationwide.

Latino Pentecostals in America traces the Latino AG back to the Azusa Street Revivals in Los Angeles and Apostolic Faith Revivals in Houston from 1906 to 1909. Espinosa describes the uphill struggles for indigenous leadership, racial equality, women in the ministry, social and political activism, and immigration reform. His analysis of their independent political views and voting patterns from 1996 to 2012 challenges the stereotypes that they are all apolitical, right-wing, or politically marginal. Their outspoken commitment to an active faith has led a new generation of leaders to blend righteousness and justice, by which they mean the reconciling message of Billy Graham and the social transformation of Martin Luther King, Jr. Latino AG leaders and their 2,400 churches across the nation represent a new and growing force in denominational, Evangelical, and presidential politics.

This eye-opening study explains why this group of working-class Latinos once called “The Silent Pentecostals” is silent no more. By giving voice to their untold story, Espinosa enriches our understanding of the diversity of Latino religion, Evangelicalism, and American culture.