Call for Papers: Religious Perspectives on the Rule of Law at Bar-Ilan

A call for papers for a conference dealing with a interesting topic, via my friend Professor Michael Helfand.

Journal of Law, Religion & State

International Conference

Rule of Law – Religious Perspectives

Call for Papers

The encounter of religion with the rule of law may generate tension but also mutual inspiration. The rule of law implies law’s supremacy over other normative systems and personal commitments. It also implies that law applies to everyone equally. Religion represents a normative system that may in some areas be different from—and stand in opposition to—state law. Religion may deny the supremacy of state law and pose divine law as supreme instead. It may, alternatively, seek exemptions from state law in those matters where the two conflict.

In this conference we seek to study this tension and discuss the following questions:

  • Does religion (in general or a specific religion) accept the rule of state law?
  • What are the boundaries (if any) of such acceptance?
  • In what cases would religion challenge state law and in what cases would it seek exemptions?
  • Can a policy of multiculturalism and of legal pluralism, which give more room to religious freedom, be reconciled with the rule of law or does it undermine it?
  • What other policies should states follow in response to these tensions?

Religion may not only compete with state law but also inspire it, which leads us to investigate religion’s various understandings of the rule of law. Here is just one example. The concept of law in the context of the rule of law is ambiguous and open to different interpretations. Some (positivists) understand law as a set of rules fixed by social institutions, and others (natural law advocates) understand law as if it includes fundamental principles of justice and morality. Religions may take a position in that debate and contribute not only to the abstract understanding of law, but also to the identification of those moral principles that are part of law. We therefore also plan to explore the following:

  • What is the position of religion with regard to the concept of law and the rule of law?
  • Many religions developed partial or comprehensive legal systems of their own. Did religions also develop a concept of rule of law? What is its scope and meaning?
  • The concept of rule of law also may be used in theological context as a metaphor to understand the boundaries of divine actions and intervention in the world. Is God constrained by law—and by what kind of law: law of nature, morality?

These and similar questions will be discussed in an international conference that will be held at Bar-Ilan University School of Law, Ramat-Gan, Israel, on November 20-22, 2016.

Submissions are invited on the themes outlined above. An abstract of 500 (max.) words should be sent to no later than­­­­­­ April 15, 2016. Please indicate academic affiliation and attach a short CV. The conference committee will notify applicants of papers acceptance by the beginning of June, 2016. The participants will be required to submit a first (full) draft of their papers three weeks before the conference. The final papers will be published in the Journal of Law Religion and State subject to review.

The organizing committee:

Dr. Haim Shapira, Faculty of Law, Bar-Ilan University, Israel

Prof. Michael Helfand, Faculty of Law, Pepperdine University, USA

Prof. Zvi Zohar, Faculty of Law, Bar-Ilan University, Israel

JLRS website:

Dreisziger, “Church and Society in Hungary and in the Hungarian Diaspora”

In April, the University of Toronto Press will release “Church and Society in Hungary and in the Hungarian Diaspora,” by Nándor Dreisziger (Royal Military College of Canada).  The publisher’s description follows:

In Church and Society in Hungary and in the Hungarian Diaspora, Nándor Dreisziger tells the story of Christianity in Hungary and the Hungarian 9781442637405diaspora from its earliest years until the present. Beginning with the arrival of Christianity in the middle Danube basin, Dreisziger follows the fortunes of the Hungarians’ churches through the troubled times of the Middle Ages, the years of Ottoman and Habsburg domination, and the turmoil of the twentieth century: wars, revolutions, foreign occupations, and totalitarian rule.

Complementing this detailed history of religious life in Hungary, Dreisziger describes the fate of the churches of Hungarian minorities in countries that received territories from the old Kingdom of Hungary after the First World War. He also tells the story of the rise, halcyon days, and decline of organized religious life among Hungarian immigrants to Western Europe, the Americas, and elsewhere.

The definitive guide to the dramatic history of Hungary’s churches, Church and Society in Hungary and in the Hungarian Diaspora chronicles their proud past and speculates about their uncertain future.

Palmeri, “State of Nature, Stages of Society”

In March, the Columbia University Press will release “State of Nature, Stages of Society: Enlightenment Conjectural History and Modern Social Discourse,” by Frank Palmeri (University of Miami).  The publisher’s description follows:

Frank Palmeri sees the conjectural histories of Rousseau, Hume, Herder, and other Enlightenment philosophers as a template for the development of the 9780231175166social sciences in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Without documents or memorials, these thinkers, he argues, employed conjecture to formulate a naturalistic account of society’s commercial and secular progression.

Palmeri finds evidence of speculative frameworks in the political economy of Malthus, Martineau, Mill, and Marx. He traces the influence of speculative thought in the development of anthropology and ethnography in the 1860s, the foundational sociology of Comte and Spencer, and the sociology of religion pioneered by Weber, Durkheim, and Freud. Conjectural histories reveal a surprising ambivalence toward progress, modernity, and secularization among leading thinkers of the time, an attitude that affected texts as varied as Darwin’s Descent of Man, Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morality, and the novels of Walter Scott, George Eliot, and H.G. Wells. Establishing the critical value of conjectural thinking in the study of modern forms of knowledge, Palmeri concludes his investigation with its return in the work of Foucault and in recent histories on early religion, political organization, and material life.