Around the Web

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

  • In Dykes-Bey v. Schroeder, the Sixth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a suit brought under the First Amendment and RLUIPA by a Michigan inmate, concluding that the Michigan prison system had not imposed a “substantial burden” on the inmate’s free exercise of religion. 
  • In Sisters for Life, Inc. v. Louisville-Jefferson County, KY Metro Government, the Sixth Circuit held that an ordinance imposing a 10-foot buffer zone around the entrance of any healthcare facility abridges the free speech rights of pro-life groups who wish to hand out leaflets and speak with women entering abortion clinics. 
  • An English teacher filed suit in an Arizona federal district court after he was fired for urging the school’s principal to show acceptance and understanding of a student who identifies as pansexual. The complaint in McDorman v. Valley Christian Schools alleges that McDorman’s firing amounted to religious discrimination and retaliation for opposing discriminatory practices in violation of Title VII and Title IX. 
  • In Kingston v. Kingston, the plaintiff is challenging a trial court’s order in a divorce proceeding that barred him from encouraging his children to adopt the teachings of any religion without the consent of his former wife. In a 3-2 decision, the Court remanded the case to the trial court for it to “craft a more narrowly tailored remedy.” 
  • The EEOC has announced that it filed a Title VII religious discrimination suit against a Williamsburg, Kentucky IGA grocery store. The suit, filed in a Kentucky federal district court, alleges that the grocery refused to hire Spiritualist Rastafarian Matthew Barnett as an assistant manager after he refused to cut his dreadlocks which he wears for religious reasons. The EEOC says that employers must consider reasonable accommodations for religious beliefs. 
  • In Hordyk v. Wansiea Family Services, Inc., the State Administrative Tribunal of Western Australia held that a non-profit family services agency that contracts with the state to arrange foster care for children placed in the custody of the state violated Section 62 of the Western Australia Equal Opportunity Act 1984 when it rejected a couple who are members of the Free Reformed Church of Australia as foster parents.

Around the Web

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

“Christianity, Conflict, and Renewal in Australia and the Pacific” (Magowan & Schwarz, eds.)

Next month, Brill will release “Christianity, Conflict, and Renewal in Australia and the Pacific,” edited by Fiona Magowan (Queen’s University Belfast) and Carolyn Schwarz (Goucher College). The publisher’s description follows:

Cultural expressions of Christianity show great diversity around the globe. While scholarship has tended to consider charismatic practices in distinct geographicalcontexts, this volume advances the anthropology of Christianity through ethnographically rich, comparative insights from across the Australia-Pacific region. Christianity, Conflict, and Renewal in Australia and the Pacificpresents new perspectives on the performative dynamics of Christian belief, conflict, and renewal. Addressing experiences of cultural and spiritual renewal, contributors reveal how tensions can arise between spiritual and political expressions of culture and identity, opening up alternative spaces for spiritual realization and religious change. These local processes further mobilize responses of individuals and groups to state forces and political reforms, in turn, influencing the shape of translocal and transnational Christian practices.

Law and Religion Australia

Professor Neil Foster at the University of Newcastle (Australia) has launched a new blog, Law and Religion Australia. The blog will cover mostly Australian issues — but which law and religion issues are purely domestic, now? — and will promote the cause of religious freedom. Looks very worthwhile. Welcome to the Blogosphere!

Babie & Rochow, “Freedom of Religion under Bills of Rights”

Earlier this year, University of Adelaide Press published Freedom of Religion under Bills of Rights (UAP Jan. 2012) edited by Paul Babie (U. of Adelaide)  and Neville Rochow. The description follows.

How can a nation protect fundamental rights and freedoms, including religious freedom, within a liberal democratic context? The objective of the essays presented in this volume, taken as a whole, is to provide an overview of the principal models used to protect fundamental freedoms, and especially the right to freedom of belief, expression and practice of one’s religion, in major liberal democratic systems. While there is no effort made to be comprehensive about this, the book is clearly not simply about Australia — the chapters cover the range of methods typically used to protectsuch freedoms. This represents the significance of the volume: it prioritises no one approach. Rather, a range of viewpoints are presented in a comparative way in order to obtain insights, reveal strengths, weaknesses and differences of opinion, and to learn from the lessons of others, how religion might be and has been protected.

Ahdar & Leigh, “Religious Freedom in the Liberal State”

This December, Oxford University Press will publish the second edition of Religious Freedom in the Liberal State by Rex Ahdar (University of Otago Faculty of Law) and Ian Leigh (University of Durham, Durham Law School). The publisher’s description follows.

Examining the law and public policy relating to religious liberty in Western liberal democracies, this book contains a detailed analysis of the history, rationale, scope, and limits of religious freedom from (but not restricted to) an evangelical Christian perspective. Focussing on United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and EU, it studies the interaction between law and religion at several different levels, looking at the key debates that have arisen.

Divided into three parts, the book begins by contrasting the liberal and Christian rationales for and understandings of religious freedom. It then explores central thematic issues: the types of constitutional frameworks within which any right to religious exercise must operate; the varieties of paradigmatic relationships between organized religion and the state; the meaning of ‘religion’; the limitations upon individual and institutional religious behaviour; and the domestic and international legal mechanisms that have evolved to address religious conduct. The final part explores key subject areas where current religious freedom controversies have arisen: employment; education; parental rights and childrearing; controls on pro-religious and anti-religious expression; medical treatment; and religious group (church) autonomy.

This new edition is fully updated with the growing case law in the area, and features increased coverage of Islam and the flashpoint debates surrounding the accommodation of Muslim beliefs and practices in Anglophone nations.

“Law and Religion in Public Life” (Hosen & Mohr eds.)

This collection of essays, Law and Religion in Public Life: The Contemporary Debate (Routledge 2011), edited by Nadirsyah Hosen and Richard Mohr (both of Wollongong) focuses specially on Australian issues and also contains a number of interesting looking discussions on matters of more general relevance.  The publisher’s description follows.  — MOD

With religion at centre stage in conflicts worldwide, and in social, ethical and geo-political debates, this book takes a timely look at relations between law and religion. To what extent can religion play a role in secular legal systems? How do peoples of various faiths live successfully by both secular laws as well as their religious laws? Are there limits to freedom of religion? These questions are related to legal deliberations and broader discussions around secularism, multiculturalism, immigration, settlement and security.

The book is unique in bringing together leading scholars and respected religious leaders to examine legal, theoretical, historical and religious aspects of the most pressing social issues of our time. In addressing each other’s concerns, the authors ensure accessibility to interdisciplinary and non-specialist audiences: scholars and students in social sciences, human rights, theology and law, as well as a broader audience engaged in social, political and religious affairs. Five of the book’s thirteen chapters address specific contemporary issues in Australia, one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world and a pioneer of multicultural policies. Australia is a revealing site for contemporary studies in a world afraid of immigration and terrorism. The other chapters deal with political, legal and ethical issues of global significance. In conclusion, the editors propose increasing dialogue with and between religions. Law may intervene in or guide such dialogue by defending the free exchange of religious ideas, by adjudicating disputes over them, or by promoting a civil society that negotiates, rather than litigates.