Call for Papers: “Regulating Religion: Normativity and Change at the Intersection of Law and Religion”

NUSThe Faculty of Law at the National University of Singapore is soliciting papers for its upcoming conference, “Regulating Religion: Normativity and Change at the Intersection of Law and Religion.”   The conference will be held December 14-15, 2015.  A description of the conference follows:

In most eras and cultures, law and religion relate dialectically. Every major religious tradition strives to come to terms with law by striking a balance between the worldly and the spiritual, the structural and the mystical, the rational and the sacred. Every major legal tradition struggles to align its formal structures and processes with the beliefs and values of its people. Thus, while law and religion can be conceptualized as distinct spheres of human life, they do not exist independently but are constantly interacting with and influencing each other.

This workshop will engage emerging scholarship on the influence of religion on legal systems, both historically and currently, and vice versa. Regulation is our key focus. In simplest terms, we will consider how law regulates religion, and how religion responds to such regulations. The more complex question we ask is how the normativity becomes diversified and drives the regulatory dialectics between law and religion after the institutional development of the latter two. The workshop seeks to approach this question in three streams:

  1. Socio-political norms regulating religion. What social and political assumptions are we making when we make claims about the legitimate role of religion in public debate? What overarching social and political goals underlie how the law deals with issues of freedom of religion and freedom of religious expression? With the resurgence of religion into issues of public debate, how might religious considerations influence the formulation of contemporary legal norms, if at all?
  2. Constitutional and legal norms regulating religion. What can we learn from the different constitutional legal experiences and contexts of Asia and other parts of the world, given the importance of constitutional structures in framing, defining and governing the interactions of religion and law? What alternative models of arranging state and religion exist vis-à-vis the dominant constitutional model separating state from religion? How has the resurgence of public religion opened up the area of constitutional thinking?
  3. Religious norms regulating religion. What type of legal structures do religions have? How do religious traditions and communities perceive their interaction with religious laws? What demands do such internal rules make upon their religious faith and worship? Are all traditions ‘religio-legal’, i.e., as having claims that take the form of law over their adherents and others? What varying forms do they take? How do believers negotiate these internal rules and how can religious traditions change within this legal framework?

Information on the conference and paper submission guidelines can be found here.

Crabtree, “Holy Nation”

This May, University of Chicago Press will release “Holy Nation: The Transatlantic Quaker Ministry in an Age of Revolution” by Sarah Crabtree (San Francisco State University).  The publisher’s description follows:

Early American Quakers have long been perceived as retiring separatists, but in Holy Nation Sarah Crabtree transforms our historical understanding of the sect by drawing on the sermons, diaries, and correspondence of Quakers themselves. Situating Quakerism within the larger intellectual and religious undercurrents of the Atlantic World, Crabtree shows how Quakers forged a paradoxical sense of their place in the world as militant warriors fighting for peace. She argues that during the turbulent Age of Revolution and Reaction, the Religious Society of Friends forged a “holy nation,” a transnational community of like-minded believers committed first and foremost to divine law and to one another. Declaring themselves citizens of their own nation served to underscore the decidedly unholy nature of the nation-state, worldly governments, and profane laws. As a result, campaigns of persecution against the Friends escalated as those in power moved to declare Quakers aliens and traitors to their home countries.

Holy Nation convincingly shows that ideals and actions were inseparable for the Society of Friends, yielding an account of Quakerism that is simultaneously a history of the faith and its adherents and a history of its confrontations with the wider world. Ultimately, Crabtree argues, the conflicts experienced between obligations of church and state that Quakers faced can illuminate similar contemporary struggles.

“Judaism, Christianity, and Islam” (Gilman, ed.)

This past February, Columbia University Press released “Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: Collaboration and Conflict in the Age of Diaspora” edited by Sander L. Gilman (Emory University).  The publisher’s description follows:

Judaism, Christianity, and IslamIslam, Christianity, and Judaism share several common features, including their historical origins in the prophet Abraham, their belief in a single divine being, and their modern global expanse. Yet it is the seeming closeness of these “Abrahamic” religions that draws attention to the real or imagined differences between them. This volume examines Abrahamic cultures as minority groups in societies which may be majority Muslim, Christian or Jewish, or self-consciously secular. The focus is on the relationships between these religious identities in global Diaspora, where all of them are confronted with claims about national and individual difference. The case studies range from colonial Hong Kong and Victorian London to today’s San Francisco and rural India. Each study shows how complex such relationships can be and how important it is to situate them in the cultural, ethnic, and historical context of their world. The chapters explore ritual practice, conversion, colonization, immigration, and cultural representations of the differences between the Abrahamic religions. An important theme is how the complex patterns of interaction among these religions embrace collaboration as well as conflict–even in the modern Middle East. This work by authors from several academic disciplines on a topic of crucial importance will be of interest to scholars of history, theology, sociology, and cultural studies, as well as to the general reader interested in how minority groups have interacted and coexisted.

Free Exercise by Moonlight

I have a new article in draft called Free Exercise by Moonlight. It is about the current condition of permissive religious accommodation. It is pervasively lugubrious. Here is the abstract:

How is the current condition of religious free exercise, and religious accommodation in specific, best understood? What is the relationship of the two most important free exercise cases of the past half-century, Employment Division v. Smith and Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC? This essay explores four possible answers to these questions.

  1. Smith and Hosanna-Tabor are the twin suns of religious accommodation under the Constitution. They are distinctively powerful approaches.
  2. Hosanna-Tabor’s approach to constitutional free exercise is now more powerful than Smith’s. Smith has been eclipsed.
  3. Hosanna-Tabor has shown itself to be feeble. It has been eclipsed by Smith.
  4. Smith augured the waning of religious accommodation, which proceeds apace. Hosanna-Tabor does little to change that.

In describing these possibilities, the essay considers the cases themselves, various doctrinal developments (focusing on subsequent Supreme Court cases as well as lower court decisions interpreting Hosanna-Tabor), and the broader political and social context in which claims for religious accommodation are now received. It concludes that though each possibility has persuasive points (perhaps with the exception of the second), the last is most accurate.

Smith’s approach to free exercise continues to control for constitutional purposes and is, for more general political purposes, more entrenched than ever. Its admonition about fabulously remote threats of anarchy in a world where each “conscience is a law unto itself” has ironically become more apt as a warning against the multiplying number of secular interests argued to be legally cognizable than against religious accommodation run amok. There is no clearer manifestation of these developments than the recent emergence of theories maintaining that new dignitary and other third party harms resulting from religious accommodation ought to defeat religious freedom claims. These theories reflect the swollen ambit of state authority and defend surprising understandings of the limits of religious accommodation—understandings that pose grave threats to the American political tradition of providing generous religious exemptions from general laws. The ministerial exception simply represents the refracted glow of constitutional protection in the gathering gloom. It is free exercise by moonlight.

Canada’s Hobby Lobby Moment?

Supreme Court justicesIn a landmark decision on March 19, the Supreme Court of Canada decided Loyola High School v. Quebec.  At issue in the case was whether Loyola High School, a private Catholic school, should be required to teach Quebec’s “Ethics and Religious Culture” curriculum in a “neutral” manner.  Loyola sought an exemption from the neutrality requirement when teaching the Catholic faith and the ethics portion of the course.  Although the Supreme Court divided 4-3 with respect to the rationale, it unanimously held that Loyola should be granted an exemption.

As Barry Bussey explains below, this case is significant because the Court came very near to granting corporations religious freedom rights (read Bussey’s full article here).  The extent to which corporations enjoy religious freedom protections was, of course, a controversial issue decided last year by the American Supreme Court in Hobby Lobby v. Burwell.  In that case, the American Court held that RFRA grants religious exercise rights to certain for-profit corporations.  It seems that the Canadian Supreme Court may be following the American lead, albeit incrementally. Here is Bussey (footnotes omitted):

While all seven members of the Court were of the view that Loyola’s freedom of religion was infringed, the Court split in its reasoning 4-3 over the issues of religious corporate rights and the remedy in the case. Both opinions held that religious freedom is not only an individual right but also includes communal dimensions. This is significant. Justice Abella recognized that “individuals may sometimes require a legal entity in order to give effect to the constitutionally protected communal aspects of their religious beliefs and practice, such as the transmission of their faith.” But she did not think it was necessary to decide whether corporations enjoy religious freedom in their own right under s. 2(a) of the Charter to decide the case. Religious freedom, she maintained, must “account for the socially embedded nature of religious belief, and the deep linkages between this belief and its manifestation through communal institutions and traditions.”

Justices McLachlin and Moldaver were unequivocal in their acceptance of the Charter’s protection of the “communal character of religion”:

The individual and collective aspects of freedom of religion are indissolubly intertwined. The freedom of religion of individuals cannot flourish without freedom of religion for the organizations through which those individuals express their religious practices and through which they transmit their faith.

MacLachlin and Moldaver held that a corporation was entitled to religious freedom protection as long as it was constituted primarily for religious purposes and operated in accordance with those religious purposes.

Since a corporate organization does not demonstrate a sincere belief as an individual, it must show that its belief or practice is consistent with its purpose and its operation. Such beliefs and practises are more static and less fluid than those of an individual, which makes the inquiry into past practises and consistency of positions more relevant than it would be if the claimant were an individual. In this case, the beliefs and practises of Loyola were consistent and ought to be protected. The Minister’s refusal to accommodate those beliefs was in violation of the Charter right.

McLachlin and Moldaver’s decision forms a great foundation for a future case to clearly outline the boundaries of the religious freedom for religious corporate bodies. It is an incremental development in the right direction.

Miah, “Muslims, Schooling and the Question of Self-Segregation”

Next month, Palgrave Macmillan will release “Muslims, Schooling and the Question of Self-Segregation” by Shamim Miah (University of Huddersfield, UK). The publisher’s description follows:

‘Integration’ or the supposed lack of it by British Muslims has been a 9781137347756ubiquitous feature in political, media and policy discourses over the past decades, often with little or no evidence base. This book is particularly timely as it draws on empirical research amongst both Muslim school students and parents to examine the question of ‘self-segregation’ in the light of key policy developments around ‘race’, faith and citizenship. It aims to contribute towards a national debate on segregation, schooling and Muslims in Britain through deconstructing the received wisdom of ‘Muslim separateness’.

“Cultural, Religious and Political Contestations” (Mansouri, ed.)

In May, Springer will release “Cultural, Religious and Political Contestations” edited by Fethi Mansouri (Deakin University). The publisher’s description follows:

This book examines the foundations of multiculturalism in the context of émigré societies and from a multi-dimensional perspective. The work considers the politics of multiculturalism and focuses on how the discourse of cultural rights and intercultural relations in western societies can and should be accounted for at a philosophical, as well as performative level. Theoretical perspectives on current debates about cultural diversity, religious minorities and minority rights emerge in this volume.

The book draws our attention to the polarised nature of contemporary multicultural debates through a well-synthesised series of empirical case studies that are grounded in solid epistemological foundations and contributed by leading experts from around the world. Readers will discover a fresh re-examination of prominent multicultural settings such as Canada and Australia but also an emphasis on less examined case studies among multicultural societies, as with New Zealand and Italy.

Authors engage critically and innovatively with the various ethical challenges and policy dilemmas surrounding the management of cultural and religious diversity in our contemporary societies. Comparative perspectives and a focus on core questions related to multiculturalism, not only at the level of practice but also from historical and philosophical perspectives, tie these chapters from different disciplines together. This work will appeal to a multi-disciplinary audience, including scholars of political philosophy, sociology, religious studies and those with an interest in migration, culture and religion in contemporary societies.

Around the Web This Week

Some interesting law and religion news stories from around the web this week:

“Funding Religious Heritage” (Fornerod, ed.)

This May, Ashgate Publishing will release “Funding Religious Heritage” edited by Anne Fornerod (University of Strasbourg).  The publisher’s description follows:

PPCspine22mmThis collection brings together a group of highly respected law and religion scholars to explore the funding of religious heritage in the context of state support for religions. The importance of this state support is that on the one hand it illustrates the potential tensions between secular and religious values, whilst on the other it constitutes a relevant tool for investigating the question of the legitimacy of such financial support. The funding logically varies according to the national system of state-religion relationships and this is reflected in the range of countries studied, including: Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.

The book provides clarity in the assignment of funds to religious heritage, as well as seeking to define the limit of what relates to the exercise of worship and what belongs to cultural policy. It is clear that the main challenge for the future lies not only in managing the dual purpose of religious monuments, but also in re-using these buildings which have lost their original purpose. This collection will appeal to those interested in cultural heritage management, as well as law and religion scholars.

“Dissent on Core Beliefs” (Chambers & Nosco, eds.)

This May, Cambridge University Press will release “Dissent on Core Beliefs: Religious and Secular Perspectives” edited by Simone Chambers (University of Toronto) and Peter Nosco (University of British Columbia).  The publisher’s description follows:

Dissent on Core BeliefsDifference, diversity and disagreement are inevitable features of our ethical, social and political landscape. This collection of new essays investigates the ways that various ethical and religious traditions have dealt with intramural dissent; the volume covers nine separate traditions: Confucianism, Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, liberalism, Marxism, South Asian religions and natural law. Each chapter lays out the distinctive features, history and challenges of intramural dissent within each tradition, enabling readers to identify similarities and differences between traditions. The book concludes with an Afterword by Michael Walzer, offering a synoptic overview of the challenge of intramural dissent and the responses to that challenge. Committed to dialogue across cultures and traditions, the collection begins that dialogue with the common challenges facing all traditions: how to maintain cohesion and core values in the face of pluralism, and how to do this in a way that is consistent with the internal ethical principles of the traditions.