In this episode, we discuss Augustine’s City of God and its meaning for American politics today. What does Augustine’s famous metaphor of the two cities–the City of God and the City of Man–suggest about Christians’ place in 21st Century America? And what about his definition of a people as a group united by common loves? Is it correct, as President Biden argued in his inaugural address, that Americans fit this definition of a people? What common loves unite Americans today? Listen in!
Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:
- The U.S. Supreme Court, in Tandon v. Newsom, enjoined for now California’s COVID-19 order limiting religious gatherings in homes.
- Suit was filed in a South Carolina federal district court by a Catholic diocese that operates 33 schools and private colleges challenging South Carolina’s Blaine Amendment as a violation of the Equal Protection and Free Exercise Clauses.
- Suit was filed in an Oregon federal district court by the Oregon-based Religious Exemption Accountability Project against a group of Christian universities challenging the use of the Title IX religious exemption.
- The Idaho Supreme Court held in State of Idaho v. Heath that the state’s ban on marijuana does not violate the defendant’s right to religious liberty.
- Minnesota’s Governor announced that a mandatory curfew in place during ongoing protests contains an exemption for those traveling to and from religious services.
- Stirling Free Church filed a lawsuit against Robertson Trust, Scotland’s largest charitable trust, alleging religious discrimination because the trust terminated their rental agreement after learning the church’s views on same-sex marriage.
- The U.S. Supreme Court today denied review in two Title VII religious discrimination cases in which petitioners sought to overturn the court’s decision in Trans World Airlines v. Hardison which allows an employer to refuse to accommodate an employee’s religious requirements if doing so would impose anything more than a de minimis cost.
- The U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a Seventh Day Adventist’s claim that Walmart wrongfully refused to accommodate his inability to work on Saturdays.
- Suit was filed in a New York federal district court by a couple who claim that the city’s public housing rules, which effectively limit the size of families that are eligible for apartments through the affordable housing lottery, operate to discriminate against Orthodox Jewish families.
- Suit was filed in a New York federal district court challenging the application of New York’s public accommodation law to a Christian wedding photographer on First Amendment grounds.
- A Michigan federal district court held that Wayne State University violated the free exercise, free speech, association and assembly rights of a Christian student organization (InterVarsity Christian Fellowship) when the University suspended the group’s status as a Recognized Student Organization because the group mandated that its leaders agree with InterVarsity’s “Doctrine and Purpose Statements,” “exemplify Christ-like character, conduct and leadership,” and describe their Christian beliefs.
- A British trial court held that the Equality Act 2010 and the European Convention on Human Rights were violated when banner ads for the Lancaster Festival of Hope were removed from public buses.
For all who celebrate today, a very Happy Easter. Qom mašiḥo! Šariro’ith qom!
Mark and I were very pleased last night to host the second session of our Reading Society, an occasion for students and alumni to gather in the evening to discuss a classic work. Our choice for this session was a selection of books from Augustine’s City of God, together with associated materials drawn from the Letter to the Hebrews and elsewhere. As with our first session on Antigone, this one was a huge success. Our discussion centered around two main issues: Augustine’s two-cities theme; and the idea of a people having common “loves.” Our students were thoughtful and brought fresh insights to the material. They clearly had prepared for the discussion!
We will try to organize at least one new session next fall and are already thinking of possibilities.