Next month, I’ll give the annual Constitution Day Address at The King’s College in New York, on Masterpiece Cakeshop and the future of religious freedom in the United States. Details about the event, to take place on September 19, are here. Forum readers in New York, please stop by to say hello!
Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:
- The leaders of the Catholic Church in New York anticipate hundreds of lawsuits to be filed against the church within the next year because of the state’s Child Victims Act, which allows alleged victims of child sexual abuse to file civil lawsuits against offenders despite an expired statute of limitations.
- A federal district court judge ruled that the Georgia Department of Corrections must adopt a policy that allows inmates qualifying for a religious exemption to grow beards up to three inches long.
- The Labor Department Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs proposed a new rule allowing religious organizations to “make employment decisions consistent with their sincerely held religious tenets and beliefs without fear of sanction by the federal government.”
- Victoria joins other Australian states in moving to introduce laws that would make religious ministers mandatory reporters of abuse suspicions, including if the abuse is revealed under the seal of confession.
- On behalf of more than four dozen families, attorneys argued on Wednesday in Albany County Supreme Court, requesting a preliminary injunction against New York’s new state law that eliminated nonmedical exemptions to vaccines for children to attend school or daycare.
The Islamic State (or ISIL, ISIS, or Daesh) had a meteoric rise in 2014 and at one point controlled a sizable territory in Iraq, in which it attempted to reimpose classical Islamic law, including dhimmi restrictions on Christians and other non-Muslims. The group has lost its territory since then, but no doubt plans a comeback. A new book from Stanford University Press, Islamic State: The Digital Caliphate, assesses the group. The author is journalist Abdel Bari Atwan. The publisher’s description follows.
Islamic State (also known as ISIS, ISIL, and Daesh) stunned the world when it overran an area the size of Great Britain on both sides of the Iraq-Syria border in a matter of weeks and proclaimed the birth of a new Caliphate. In this timely and important book, Abdel Bari Atwan draws on his unrivaled knowledge of the global jihadi movement and Middle Eastern geopolitics to reveal the origins and modus operandi of Islamic State.
Based on extensive field research and exclusive interviews with IS insiders, Islamic State outlines the group’s leadership structure, as well as its strategies, tactics, and diverse methods of recruitment. Atwan traces the Salafi-jihadi lineage of IS, its ideological differences with al Qaeda and the deadly rivalry that has emerged between their leaders. He also shows how the group’s rapid growth has been facilitated by its masterful command of social media platforms, the “dark web,” Hollywood blockbuster-style videos, and even jihadi computer games, producing a powerful paradox where the ambitions of the Middle Ages have reemerged in cyberspace.
As Islamic State continues to dominate the world’s media headlines with horrific acts of ruthless violence, Atwan considers the movement’s chances of survival and expansion and offers indispensable insights on potential government responses to contain the IS threat.