Legal Spirits Episode 009: The “Anti-Vaxx” Controversy

In this podcast, Center Director Mark Movsesian and Associate Director Marc DeGirolami discuss the anti-vaccination controversy. What are the sources of the objections to compulsory vaccination laws–religious, secular, or both? What power does the state have to compel vaccination by law, and what exceptions have states made historically? What is the state of play of such exemptions? May the state take away religious exemptions from mandatory vaccination without violating the Constitution or other laws? Need it take away all exemptions to pass legal muster, or can it do so selectively? Finally, what does the “anti-vaxx” issue say about American society’s capacity to agree about what are truly compelling social interests? Listen in!

Around the Web

Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:

“JuBu” Fusionism

I confess I had never heard of this phenomenon, but it is certainly in keeping with other trends including the rise of the “Nones” (see Mark’s work on this front) and a kind of do-it-yourself-ism and spiritual-seeker bricolage when it comes to religion in America today. From Princeton University Press, this book is American JuBu: Jews, Buddhists, and Religious Change, by Emily Sigalow.

“Today, many Jewish Americans are embracing a dual religious identity, practicing Buddhism while also staying connected to their Jewish roots. This book tells the story of Judaism’s encounter with Buddhism in the United States, showing how it has given rise to new contemplative forms within American Judaism—and shaped the way Americans understand and practice Buddhism.

Taking readers from the nineteenth century to today, Emily Sigalow traces the history of these two traditions in America and explains how they came together. She argues that the distinctive social position of American Jews led them to their unique engagement with Buddhism, and describes how people incorporate aspects of both into their everyday lives. Drawing on a wealth of original in-depth interviews conducted across the nation, Sigalow explores how Jewish American Buddhists experience their dual religious identities. She reveals how Jewish Buddhists confound prevailing expectations of minority religions in America. Rather than simply adapting to the majority religion, Jews and Buddhists have borrowed and integrated elements from each other, and in doing so they have left an enduring mark on the American consciousness.

American JuBu highlights the leading role that American Jews have played in the popularization of meditation and mindfulness in the United States, and the profound impact that these two venerable traditions have had on one another.”