Forum readers in the New York area should try to attend a fantastic-looking event here next month. Our friend at the University Bookman, Gerald Russello, is co-sponsoring a discussion between Patrick Deneen and Phillip Muñoz (both Notre Dame) on “The Crisis of Liberalism.” Patrick, Gerald, and Philip are all participants in our Tradition Project, and Phillip, whose work was the subject of a symposium here on the Forum last year, will also present a paper in our law-and-religion colloquium later in November. But we like to spread the wealth around. Details about the event, to take place on November 6, can be found at the link.
Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:
- The British Supreme Court found that a Christian-owned bakery did not discriminate against a gay customer by refusing to make a cake celebrating same-sex marriage.
- Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison claims religious schools are already allowed to reject LGBT students in light of a leaked report suggesting amendments to federal law that would allow discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
- Under new revisions to the laws, officials in China’s Xinjiang region can send those with “extreme” views, including “extreme” religious views, to re-education centers.
- The religious group Texas Values claims that the city of Austin’s non-discrimination ordinance, which provides no religious exemptions for employers including churches, violates the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
- The Island of Hawai’i’s ACLU filed a complaint alleging religious discrimination against the town of Hilo’s DMV, claiming a Muslim woman’s license renewal was delayed eighteen weeks because she was a practicing Muslim.
- An Alaska judge found that Kenai Borough’s invocation policy, which allowed only members of recognized congregations to give invocations, violated the Establishment Clause of the state’s Constitution.
- A referendum to change the Romanian constitution to ban same-sex marriage failed based on low voter turnout.
- The Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal of an Oregon state court judge who claims his free speech and free exercise rights were violated after he was suspended for three years for screening same-sex couples looking to get married in his court.
Why do we protect free speech? My colleague, Marc, argues in his current draft that Americans, historically, have protected free speech on one of two theories. On the first, we protect free speech in order to promote individual expression. On the other, we protect free speech in order to advance the public welfare. These two conceptions can lead to different results in particular cases. Take hate speech, for example. If one thinks free speech is about promoting individual expression, one would give speakers a great deal of leeway, even when their speech insults others–on the basis of religion, for example. On the other hand, if one thinks free speech exists to promote the public good, one would be less inclined to allow speech that injures the dignity of third parties, at least without some compelling reason.
A forthcoming book from Cambridge, Putting Faith in Hate: When Religion Is the Source or Target of Hate Speech, addresses the regulation of hate speech in liberal democracies today. The author is Canadian law professor Richard Moon (University of Windsor, Ontario). The publisher’s description follows:
To allow or restrict hate speech is a hotly debated issue in many societies. While the right to freedom of speech is fundamental to liberal democracies, most countries have accepted that hate speech causes significant harm and ought to be regulated. Richard Moon examines the application of hate speech laws when religion is either the source or target of such speech. Moon describes the various legal restrictions on hate speech, religious insult, and blasphemy in Canada, Europe and elsewhere, and uses cases from different jurisdictions to illustrate the particular challenges raised by religious hate speech. The issues addressed are highly topical: speech that attacks religious communities, specifically anti-Muslim rhetoric, and hateful speech that is based on religious doctrine or scripture, such as anti-gay speech. The book draws on a rich understanding of freedom of expression, the harms of hate speech, and the role of religion in public life.