Justice Story (and Montesquieu) on “The People of the North and the People of the South”

On another errand, I came across this wonderful tract from Justice Story’s Commentaries on the Constitution  (section 1867) concerning religion and the First Amendment, and in particular religion’s relationship to republican government. I wonder (as, of course, a person of the south ostensibly living among people of the north): are we, as a nation today, more like the people of the north or of the south?

Indeed, in a republic, there would seem to be a peculiar propriety in viewing the Christian religion, as the great basis, on which it must rest for its support and permanence, if it be, what it has ever been deemed by its truest friends to be, the religion of liberty. Montesquieu has remarked, that the Christian religion is a stranger to mere despotic power. The mildness so frequently recommended in the gospel is incompatible with the despotic rage, with which a prince punishes his subjects, and exercises himself in cruelty. He has gone even further, and affirmed, that the Protestant religion is far more congenial with the spirit of political freedom, than the Catholic. “When,” says he, “the Christian religion, two centuries ago, became unhappily, divided into Catholic and Protestant, the people of the north embraced the Protestant, and those of the south still adhered to the Catholic. The reason is plain. The people of the north have, and will ever have, a spirit of liberty and independence, which the people of the south have not. And, therefore, a religion, which has no visible head, is more agreeable to the independency of climate, than that, which has one.” Without stopping to inquire, whether this remark be well founded, it is certainly true, that the parent country has acted upon it with a severe and vigilant zeal; and in most of the colonies the same rigid jealousy has been maintained almost down to our own times.

“Democracy, Culture, Catholicism” (Schuck and Crowley-Buck eds.)

In November, the Fordham University Press will release “Democracy, Culture, Catholicism: Voices from Four Continents,” edited by Michael J. Schuck (Loyola University of Chicago) and John Crowley-Buck (Loyola University of Chicago).  The publisher’s description follows:

Compiling scholarly essays from a unique three-year Democracy, Culture and Catholicism International Research Project, Democracy, Culture, Catholicism richly articulates the diverse and dynamic interplay of democracy, culture, and Catholicism in the contemporary world. The twenty-five essays from four extremely diverse cultures—those of Indonesia, Lithuania, Peru, and the United States—explore the relationship between democracy and Catholicism from several perspectives, including historical and cultural analysis, political theory and conflict resolution, social movements and Catholic social thought.

“Religious Citizenships and Islamophobia” (eds. Andre and Pratt)

In November, Routledge will release “Religious Citizenships and Islamophobia,” edited by Virginie Andre (Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation at Deakin University, Burwood, Australia) and Douglas Pratt (University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand).  The publisher’s description follows:

The attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris in January 2015 once again brought to the fore the place of Islam in Western secular democracies, and the questioning of Muslim citizenship. The hyper-mediatisation of jihadist terrorism and its subsequent conflation with Muslim communities in general, has led to both an increase in widespread popular fear of Islam and its followers, and the further marginalization and stigmatization of Muslim communities living in Western societies.

This book brings together a range of studies and reflections pertinent to the contemporary issues surrounding religious citizenship and Islamophobia. Sentiments of insecurity and uncertainty, which far-right populist movements focus on, are increasingly finding resonance among ordinary citizens. Some traditional political parties are now flirting with demagogic discourse with respect to matters Islamic to the point where there is a hardening within Western democracies, manifested in the adoption of illiberal policies, the narrowing of the conception of secularity, and the alienation of a younger generation of Muslims. Yet there can still be found both glimmers of hope and slivers of sanity. This book was originally published as a special issue of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations.