Some interesting law and religion stories from this week:
- In Raqqa, Syria, and with brute force, ISIS imposes its vision of a state that blends its fundamentalist interpretation of Islam with the practicalities of governance.
- Meriam Ibrahim, a Sudanese Christian woman who was sentenced to death for converting to Christianity, was released and met with Pope Francis in Rome, where she and her family will stay until they depart for New York.
- Despite rockets, Taglit-Birthright Israel is still sending thousands of young Jews to Israel.
- Turkey’s top cleric calls new Islamic “caliphate” declared by Islamic militants illegitimate.
- Muslim families driven from their homes by the fierce fighting between Israel and Hamas are observing Ramadan in Gaza City’s Greek Orthodox church.
- An evangelical Christian group plans to try to convert children as young as 5 in Portland, Oregon this summer.
- A day after most of Mosul’s Christians fled, Islamic State fighters stormed the fourth-century Mar Behnam Monastery near the city, expelling the Christians taking refuge there.
- Teams of lay evangelists target senior citizens in nursing homes offering “one last chance in this life for glory in the next.”
- Church of England selection boards are reported to have been encouraged to use a form of “positive discrimination” to appoint woman bishops.
- A group Roman Catholic monks in Massachusetts has embraced beer making, a centuries-old tradition it hopes can sustain the group’s aging members in a world of rapidly rising health costs.
This past June Ashgate publishing released Family, Religion and Law: Cultural Encounters in Europe, edited by Prakash Shah (Queen Mary University of London), Marie-Claire Foblets (Max Plank Institute for Social Anthropology) and Mathias Rohe (Erlangen-Nurnburg University). The publisher’s description follows:
This collection discusses how official legal systems do and should respond to the reality of a plurality of family types and origins within their jurisdictions. It further examines the challenges that arise for practitioners, including lawyers and judges, when faced with such plurality. Focussing on empirical research, the volume presents legal and sociological data of unprecedented comparative depth. It also includes a discussion of how members of minority families respond to the need to organise their legal relationships, and to resolve their disputes in the shadow of official legal systems which differ from those of their familial and communal traditions. The work invites reflection, and demonstrates the urgency and complexity of the questions regarding the search for justice in the field of family life in Europe today.
This month, Baylor University Press released “Converts to Civil Society: Christianity and Political Culture in Contemporary Hong Kong” by Lida V. Nedilsky (North Park University). The publisher’s description follows:
Lida V. Nedilsky captures the public ramifications of a personal, Christian faith at the time of Hong Kong’s pivotal political turmoil. From 1997 to 2008, in the much-anticipated reintegration of Hong Kong into Chinese sovereignty, she conducted detailed interviews of more than fifty Hong Kong people and then followed their daily lives, documenting their involvement at the intersection of church and state.
Citizens of Hong Kong enjoy abundant membership options, both social and religious, under Hong Kong’s free market culture. Whether identifying as Catholic or Protestant, or growing up in religious or secular households, Nedilsky’s interviewees share an important characteristic: a story of choosing faith. Across the spheres of family and church, as well as civic organizations and workplaces, Nedilsky shows how individuals break and forge bonds, enter and exit commitments, and transform the public ends of choice itself. From this intimate, firsthand vantage point, Converts to Civil Society reveals that people’s independent movements not only invigorate and shape religious community but also enliven a wider public life.
At The Week, columnist Michael Brandon Dougherty has a hard-hitting piece on America’s responsibility to Iraq’s Christians. In light of the fact that America’s invasion, occupation, and withdrawal created a situation of great and continuing peril for Christians, America should be doing much more to help them. For example, he writes:
Although I’m generally inclined toward a more restrictive position on immigration, the U.S. should, as a matter of practice, be especially generous in granting refugee status to the collateral victims of the war we started in Iraq. It should even offer some refugees of ISIS persecution the material resources to emigrate to America if they so desire.
The dream of transforming Iraq into an incubator of Arab liberalism has turned into a nightmare for religious minorities. America’s intervention in Iraq, and its support of Syrian and Libyan rebels, have created a disastrous disorder in which Islamist threats thrive.
Mosul was a home for Christians for as long as Christianity existed. Not anymore. Now, the U.S. cannot restore these people to their homes, or reverse the desecration of Christian shrines. But our diplomatic, financial, and moral energies should be used to protect them from any further harm.
Read the whole thing.