Law, Religion, and the Covid Crisis

I have a new draft on SSRN, “Law, Religion, and the Covid Crisis,” comparing how courts across the globe have approached restrictions on public worship and exploring what the cases reveal about social divisions, especially in the United States. Here’s the abstract:

This essay explores judicial responses to legal restrictions on worship during the COVID pandemic and draws two lessons, one comparative and one relating specifically to US law. As a comparative matter, courts across the globe have approached the problem in essentially the same way, through intuition and balancing. This has been the case regardless of what formal test applies, the proportionality test outside the US, which expressly calls for judges to weigh the relative costs and benefits of a restriction, or the Employment Division v. Smith test inside the US, which rejects judicial line-drawing and balancing in favor of predictable results. Judges have reached different conclusions about the legality of restrictions, of course, but doctrinal nuances have made little apparent difference. With respect to the US, specifically, the pandemic has revealed deep divisions about religion and religious freedom, among other things—divisions that have inevitably influenced judicial attitudes toward restrictions on worship. The COVID crisis has revealed a cultural and political rift that makes consensual resolution of conflicts over religious freedom problematic, and perhaps impossible, even during a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic.

The essay will appear in the forthcoming volume of the Journal of Law and Religion. Comments welcome!

Webinar: “Churches: An Existence of their Own or Creatures of the Sovereign?”

Tomorrow, the James Wilson Institute and First Liberty Institute’s Center for Religion, Culture & Democracy will host a webinar analyzing the practical applications of moral reasoning in our legal system.

The event will be moderated by Hadley Arkes, Founder and Director of the James Wilson Institute and Edward N. Ney Professor of Jurisprudence Emeritus at Amherst College. The event will feature Adam MacLeod, Professor of Law at Faulkner University, Thomas Goode Jones School of Law and Research Fellow at the Center for Religion, Culture & Democracy and Robert Miller, Professor of Law at the University of Iowa, Affiliated Scholar of the James Wilson Institute, and a Fellow and Program Affiliated Scholar at the Classical Liberal Institute at New York University Law School.

The webinar will take place on October 14, 2021, from 2:00-4:00 pm EST. To register visit this link.

Call for Papers: Australian Journal of Law & Religion

The Australian Journal of Law and Religion, a new publication, is requesting submissions for its inaugural issue:

  • Articles should be 6,000 to 8,000 words in length and can involve any area of law. For example, articles may involve the sub-disciplines of public law (constitutional claims of freedom of religion or church-state neutrality), employment law (religious discrimination claims), private law (the corporate structures, taxation and charity law obligations, and property interests of religious entities), and international law (human rights guarantees).
  • Book review submissions should be no more than 1,000 words in length and must be on a book published in the past eighteen months.
  • Special topic forum submissions should be 800-1000 words in length. The topic for the inaugural special forum is “The Future of Law and Religion in Australia.”

Submissions for the inaugural issue must be submitted to editorsAJLR@gmail.com by March 1, 2022.

Webinar Next Week: Cultural Property in Law and Diplomacy

Next week, along with the Fletcher Initiative on Religion, Law, and Diplomacy at Tufts, the Centre for Religion and Culture at Oxford, and the Armenian Studies Program at Fresno State, the Center will co-sponsor a webinar on cultural property in law and diplomacy. The event will bring together a cross-disciplinary group of scholar-practitioners to discuss the challenges of and opportunities for preserving the rights of access to places of worship for religious groups in cases of contested spaces and in diverse conditions of active and non-active conflict. Speakers will include Narine Ghazaryan (Nottingham), Evanghelos Kyriakides (Kent), Peter Petkoff (Oxford), and Michalyn Steele (BYU). Center Co-Director Mark Movsesian will moderate, along with Sergio La Porta (Cal State-Fresno) and Elizabeth Prodromou (Tufts).

The webinar will take place on Thursday, October 14 at 12 pm EST. Posts from the participants will appear subsequently here on the Forum. Hope you can join us! For further information and a link to join the event, please see below:

Call for Papers: “Governments’ Legal Responses and Judicial Reactions during a Global Pandemic: Litigating Religious Freedom in the Time of COVID-19”

The Journal of Church and State has announced a call for papers on the following topic:
“Governments’ Legal Responses and Judicial Reactions during a Global Pandemic: Litigating Religious Freedom in the Time of COVID-19.”

Scholars are invited to submit paper proposals that articulate, examine, and analyze judicial reactions to governments’ responses to the pandemic in different jurisdictions. Papers are expected to use state restrictive measures, international and domestic case law and church documents to support arguments.

Proposals must be submitted by November 20th, 2021. For more information and to submit a proposal, visit this link.

Call for Papers: “Religiously Motivated and Religion-Based Discrimination: Prohibition, Regulation, Exemption”

Bar Ilan University has announced a call for papers that address issues concerning “Religiously Motivated and Religion-Based Discrimination.” Selected papers will be presented at an international conference held in person, conditions permitting, on January 11-12, 2022. In addition, a select number of accepted papers will be published in a special theme-issue of the Journal of Law, Religion and State.

Abstract submissions are due by September 1st, 2021. For more information and to submit an abstract, visit this link.

Call for Papers: “I Have Called You by Name: Human Dignity in a Secular World”

The de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture at Notre Dame has issued a call for papers for its 21st annual Fall Conference, “I Have Called You by Name: Human Dignity in a Secular World.” The conference will be held on November 11–13, 2021, in person at Notre Dame. The de Nicola Center welcomes abstracts that engage the theme of human dignity from a variety of points of departure, including theology, philosophy, political theory, law, history, economics, and the social sciences, as well as the natural sciences, literature, and the arts.

Abstract submissions due by July 30, 2021. For more information and to submit an abstract, visit this link.

Virtual Conference: “Race and Justice in America”

A note to our readers: A web conference, “Race and Justice in America,”will take place on June 23 at 7:00 pm on Zoom or YouTube live-stream. This event is part of the Lumen Christi Institute’s Catholic Criminal Justice Reform Network. Participants include Brandon Vaidyanathan (Catholic University of America), Herschella Conyers (University of Chicago Law School), and Darren Davis (Notre Dame). See the link for additional information on how to register.

Virtual Conference: “The Crisis of Religious Freedom in the Age of COVID-19 Pandemic”

The University of Messina and LAWS-MDPI are co-sponsoring a seminar on “The Crisis of Religious Freedom in the Age of COVID-19 Pandemic.” The seminar will be held on May 28th, at 4:00 pm Rome time on Microsoft Teams.

Please see the attached conference flyer below for the Microsoft Teams information and a list of speakers.

Call for Papers — Journal of Law, Religion and State

The Journal of Law, Religion and State extends the submission deadline for an issue on conversion, proselytization, and secularization to March 1st, 2021. Interested scholars can submit either full papers (between 8,000-10,000 words) or short case studies (up to 4000 words). The Issue will be published in 2021.

More detailed information and additional instructions for authors are available in the attached file.