I’m pleased to announce this year’s AALS Law and Religion section panel, “Religious Responses to Same-Sex Marriage,” to be held this Thursday, January 7, from 10:15 AM to noon (Nassau West, Second Floor, NY Hilton). The panel will be moderated by Michael Helfand (Pepperdine) (after a short introduction from me) and will include the following panelists: Erik Eckholm (New York Times), Katherine Franke (Columbia Law School), Rusty Reno (First Things), Kevin Walsh (University of Richmond Law School), and Robin Wilson (University of Illinois College of Law). The panel description is below.
Over the past 15 years, the United States has seen a rapid change in attitudes toward same-sex marriage. That change has raised significant questions and challenges for various religious communities in the United States. Religious communities have responded in different ways—from endorsement to ambivalence to rejection. This year’s panel will explore these various reactions, including theological changes within religious communities, legal challenges advanced by religious communities, and legislative initiatives pursued by religious communities, as well as a host of other social, political, and legal responses to same-sex marriage in the United States. It will discuss how religious communities might, or might not, adapt to continuing social changes in the United States and how the United States will maintain its constitutional and cultural commitment to the religious freedom of these different communities.
In March, the Oxford University Press will release “Pastors and Public Life: The Changing Face of American Protestant Clergy,” by Corwin E. Smidt (Calvin College). The publisher’s description follows:
America’s clergy are not just religious leaders. Their influence extends far beyond church doors. Houses of worship stand at the center of American civic life-one of the few spheres in which relatively diverse individuals gather together regularly. And the moral authority granted to pastors means that they are uniquely positioned to play a role in public debates.
Based on data gathered through national surveys of clergy across four mainline Protestant (the Disciples of Christ; the Presbyterian Church, USA; the Reformed Church in America; and the United Methodist Church) and three evangelical Protestant denominations (the Assemblies of God; the Christian Reformed Church; and, the Southern Baptist Convention), Pastors and Public Life examines the changing sociological, theological, and political characteristics of American Protestant clergy over the past twenty-plus years. Smidt focuses on the relationship between clergy and politics-clergy positions on issues of American public policy, norms on what is appropriate for clergy to do politically, as well as the clergy’s political cue-giving, their pronouncements on public policy, and political activism-and the impact these changes have on congregations and on American society as a whole.
Pastors and Public Life is the first book to systematically examine such changes and continuity over time. It will be invaluable to scholars, students, pastors, and churchgoers.
In March, the Oxford University Press will release “Islam and the State in Myanmar: Muslim-Buddhist Relations and the Politics of Belonging,” edited by Melissa Crouch (University of New South Wales). The publisher’s description follows:
This volume explores the relation between Islam, Buddhism, and the state in Myanmar from both an empirical and a comparative perspective. It provides an informed response to contemporary issues facing the Muslim communities of Myanmar furthering knowledge of the interaction between state institutions, government policies and Muslim communities of the past and the present.
This volume aims to provide scholarly insights into Islam and Buddhism in Myanmar, to emphasize the inherent diversity within and among Muslim communities, and to bring a scholarly perspective and insight into the complex issues raised by the position of Muslims in Myanmar. It brings together experts in the field from a diverse array of disciplinesareligious studies, international relations, political science, history, Islamic studies, law and anthropology. The volume is focused around the themes of colonialism and the state; the everyday experiences of Muslims; and the challenges of violence and security.