Just a note to thank Princeton’s James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions for hosting a faculty workshop yesterday on my current draft, “The Future of Religious Freedom.” I gained a lot from the discussion. Looking forward to dinner with the undergraduate fellows this evening!
Around the Web
Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:
- Three anti-Muslim extremists have been convicted of plotting to detonate explosives outside a Kansas apartment building with many Muslim residents.
- The Council on American-Islamic Relations has alleged in two separate suits that the Michigan Department of Corrections is violating the Free Exercise rights of an incarcerated Muslim woman.
- Only a small number of state legislative proposals to expand rights to refuse services based on religious objections have been passed into law this year, although the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision will likely be rendered in June.
- The governor of Arizona has signed into law a bill requiring physicians to ask women specific questions about why they wish to terminate their pregnancies, although they may refuse to answer.
- President Trump has stated his support for an American Christian pastor currently being detained in Turkey for allegedly supporting groups involved in the unsuccessful 2016 coup attempt.
- A conservative advocacy group is being subpoenaed in suits by LGBT advocacy groups challenging the Trump Administration’s proposed ban on transgender people serving in the military.
Catlos, “Kingdoms of Faith”
It’s often impossible to know whether religious conflicts are a cause or a symptom of wider social dysfunction. A new history of Muslim Spain from Basic Books, Kingdoms of Faith: A New History of Muslim Spain, by Brian Catlos, maintains that disputes among Christians, Jews, and Muslims during the centuries of Islamic rule were typically not about religion. It also offers a corrective to the many popular histories that assert that Al-Andalus was a sort of tolerant religious paradise. Readers can assess the arguments for themselves:
A magisterial, myth-dispelling history of Islamic Spain spanning the millennium between the founding of Islam in the seventh century and the final expulsion of Spain’s Muslims in the seventeenth.
In Kingdoms of Faith, award-winning historian Brian A. Catlos rewrites the history of Islamic Spain from the ground up, evoking the cultural splendor of al-Andalus, while offering an authoritative new interpretation of the forces that shaped it.
Prior accounts have portrayed Islamic Spain as a paradise of enlightened tolerance or the site where civilizations clashed. Catlos taps a wide array of primary sources to paint a more complex portrait, showing how Muslims, Christians, and Jews together built a sophisticated civilization that transformed the Western world, even as they waged relentless war against each other and their coreligionists. Religion was often the language of conflict, but seldom its cause–a lesson we would do well to learn in our own time.