Around the Web This Week

Here is a look at some law and religion news stories from around the web this week:

“Religious Liberty” (Robinson & Williams, eds.)

This month, Cambridge University Press releases “Religious Liberty: Essays on First Amendment Law,” edited by Daniel Robinson (University of Oxford) and Richard Williams (Brigham Young University).  The publisher’s description follows:

The principal aim of the establishment and free exercise clauses of the First Amendment was to preclude congressional imposition of a national church. A balance was sought between states’ rights and the rights of individuals to exercise their 9781107147607.jpgreligious conscience. While the founding fathers were debating such issues, the potential for serious conflict was confined chiefly to variations among the dominant Christian sects. Today, issues of marriage, child bearing, cultural diversity, and corporate personhood, among others, suffuse constitutional jurisprudence, raising difficult questions regarding the nature of beliefs that qualify as ‘religious’, and the reach of law into the realm in which those beliefs are held. The essays collected in this volume explore in a selective and instructive way the intellectual and philosophical roots of religious liberty and contemporary confrontations between this liberty and the authority of secular law.

Heale, “The Abbots and Priors of Late Medieval and Reformation England”

In November, Oxford University Press will release The Abbots and Priors of Late Medieval and Reformation England by Martin Heale (University of Liverpool). The publisher’s description follows:

The importance of the medieval abbot needs no particular emphasis. The monastic superiors of late medieval England ruled over thousands of monks and canons, who swore to them vows of obedience; they were prominent figures in royal and church governThe Abbots and Priorsment; and collectively they controlled properties worth around double the Crown’s annual ordinary income. Moreover, as guardians of regular observance and the primary interface between their monastery and the wider world, abbots and priors were pivotal to the effective functioning and well-being of the monastic order. The Abbots and Priors of Late Medieval and Reformation England provides the first detailed study of English male monastic superiors, exploring their evolving role and reputation between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries.

Individual chapters examine the election and selection of late medieval monastic heads; the internal functions of the superior as the father of the community; the head of house as administrator; abbatial living standards and modes of display; monastic superiors’ public role in service of the Church and Crown; their external relations and reputation; the interaction between monastic heads and the government in Henry VIII’s England; the Dissolution of the monasteries; and the afterlives of abbots and priors following the suppression of their houses.

This study of monastic leadership sheds much valuable light on the religious houses of late medieval and early Tudor England, including their spiritual life, administration, spending priorities, and their multi-faceted relations with the outside world. The Abbots and Priors of Late Medieval and Reformation England also elucidates the crucial part played by monastic superiors in the dramatic events of the 1530s, when many heads surrendered their monasteries into the hands of Henry VIII.

Fried, “Charlemagne”

In October, the Harvard University Press will release “Charlemagne,” by Johannes Fried (University of Frankfurt). The publisher’s description follows:

When Charlemagne died in 814 CE, he left behind a dominion and a legacy unlike anything seen in Western Europe since the fall of Rome. Distinguished historian and 9780674737396-lgauthor of The Middle Ages Johannes Fried presents a new biographical study of the legendary Frankish king and emperor, illuminating the life and reign of a ruler who shaped Europe’s destiny in ways few figures, before or since, have equaled.

Living in an age of faith, Charlemagne was above all a Christian king, Fried says. He made his court in Aix-la-Chapelle the center of a religious and intellectual renaissance, enlisting the Anglo-Saxon scholar Alcuin of York to be his personal tutor, and insisting that monks be literate and versed in rhetoric and logic. He erected a magnificent cathedral in his capital, decorating it lavishly while also dutifully attending Mass every morning and evening. And to an extent greater than any ruler before him, Charlemagne enhanced the papacy’s influence, becoming the first king to enact the legal principle that the pope was beyond the reach of temporal justice—a decision with fateful consequences for European politics for centuries afterward.

Though devout, Charlemagne was not saintly. He was a warrior-king, intimately familiar with violence and bloodshed. And he enjoyed worldly pleasures, including physical love. Though there are aspects of his personality we can never know with certainty, Fried paints a compelling portrait of a ruler, a time, and a kingdom that deepens our understanding of the man often called “the father of Europe.”

Regent to Host the 2016 Conference of Religiously Affiliated Law Schools

On September 29-30, Regent University School of Law will host the annual Religiously Affiliated Law Schools conference. Speakers include Professors Robert Cochran (Pepperdine), Robin Fretwell Wilson (University of Illinois), and Linda McClain (Boston University) and State Senator Stuart Adams (Utah). For the conference schedule and further information, click here.

“Religion and the Exercise of Public Authority” (Berger & Moon, eds.)

In June, Hart Publishing released “Religion and the Exercise of Public Authority,” edited by Benjamin Berger (York University) and Richard Moon (University of Windsor).  The publisher’s description follows:

In the burgeoning literature on law and religion, scholarly attention has tended to focus on broad questions concerning the scope of religious freedom, the nature of 9781849467155toleration and the meaning of secularism. An under-examined issue is how religion figures in the decisions, actions and experiences of those charged with performing public duties. This point of contact between religion and public authority has generated a range of legal and political controversies around issues such as the wearing of religious symbols by public officials, prayer at municipal government meetings, religious education and conscientious objection by public servants.

Authored by scholars from a variety of disciplines, the chapters in this volume provide insight into these and other issues. Yet the volume also provides an entry point into a deeper examination of the concepts that are often used to organise and manage religious diversity, notably state neutrality. By examining the exercise of public authority by individuals who are religiously committed – or who, in the discharge of their public responsibilities, must account for those who are – this volume exposes the assumptions about legal and political life that underlie the concept of state neutrality and reveals its limits as a governing ideal.

Norton, “The Freedom of Religious Organizations”

In October, Oxford University Press will release The Freedom of Religious Organizations by Jane Calderwood Norton (University of Auckland). The publisher’s description follows:The Freedom of Religious Organizations

Religious freedom is now widely accepted as fundamental to any liberal democracy. It is recognized in domestic, regional, and international human rights instruments and its importance is lauded by philosophers, lawyers, judges, clergy, and even politicians. While it is easy to support religious freedom in the abstract, tensions can arise between the activities of religious organizations and the law that challenge this general commitment to religious freedom. Should religious organizations be permitted to discriminate against women or gay people in their employment practices, when admitting members, or in providing goods and services? Should the courts interfere in these organizations to protect the interests of a disaffected member or to resolve internal property disputes? Should the state allow religious tribunals to determine or advise on family matters?

While much has been written about religious individuals and the law, there has been a discernible lack of literature on organizations and the law. Jane Norton fills this gap with The Freedom of Religious Organizations. By exploring potential conflicts between the law and religious organizations, and examining whether the current British response to such conflicts is justified, this book will consider when English law ought to apply to religious organizations and how these conflicts should be dealt with.


Fischer, “Schools and the politics of religion and diversity in the Republic of Ireland”

In September, the Manchester University Press will release “Schools and the Politics of Religion and Diversity in the Republic of Ireland: Separate but Equal?” by Karin Fischer (University of Orléans).  The publisher’s description follows:

This book focuses on the historical and current place of religion in the Irish education system from the perspective of children’s rights and citizenship. It offers a critical 9780719091964analysis of the political, cultural and social forces that have shaped the system, looking at how the denominational model has been adapted to increased religious and cultural diversity in Irish society and showing that recent changes have failed to address persistent discrimination and the absence of respect for freedom of conscience. It relates current debates on the denominational system and the role of the State in education to competing narratives of national identity that reflect nationalist-communitarian or republican political outlooks.

This book will be essential reading for students and researchers in the fields of education policy and Church/State relations in Ireland and will also engage non-academic audiences with an interest or involvement in Irish education.

“Religion, Authority, and the State” (Lefebure, ed.)

Last month, Palgrave Macmillan released “Religion, Authority, and the State: From Constantine to the Contemporary World,” edited by Leo D. Lefebure (Georgetown University).  The publisher’s description follows:

 In commemoration of Constantine’s grant of freedom of religion to Christians, this wide-ranging volume examines the ambiguous legacy of this emperor in relation to 617f9a12bjdl-_sx352_bo1204203200_the present world, discussing the perennial challenges of relations between religions and governments. The authors examine the new global ecumenical movement inspired by Pentecostals, the role of religion in the Irish Easter rebellion against the British, and the relation between religious freedom and government in the United States. Other essays debate the relation of Islam to the violence in Nigeria, the place of the family in church-state relations in the Philippines, the role of confessional identity in the political struggles in the Balkans, and the construction of Slavophile identity in nineteenth-century Russian Orthodox political theology. The volume also investigates the contrast between written constitutions and actual practice in the relations between governments and religions in Australia, Indonesia, and Egypt.  The case studies and surveys illuminate both specific contexts and also widespread currents in religion-state relations across the world.

McGarvie, “Law and Religion in American History”

In July, Cambridge University Press released “Law and Religion in American History: Public Values and Private Conscience,” by Mark Douglas McGarvie (College of William and Mary).  The publisher’s description follows: 

This book furthers dialogue on the separation of church and state with an approach that emphasizes intellectual history and the constitutional theory that underlies 9781107150935American society. Mark Douglas McGarvie explains that the founding fathers of America considered the right of conscience to be an individual right, to be protected against governmental interference. While the religion clauses enunciated this right, its true protection occurred in the creation of separate public and private spheres. Religion and the churches were placed in the private sector. Yet, politically active Christians have intermittently mounted challenges to this bifurcation in calling for a greater public role for Christian faith and morality in American society. Both students and scholars will learn much from this intellectual history of law and religion that contextualizes a four-hundred-year-old ideological struggle.

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