Tradition and Traditionalisms Compared: A Joint Program of the Tradition Project and the Post-Secular Conflicts Project

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I’m very pleased to announce this conference, to be held in Trento, Italy, on June 12-13, which my colleague, Mark Movsesian, and I are putting on jointly with Professor Kristina Stoeckl of the University of Innsbruck, Professor Pasquale Annicchino of the European University Institute, and Professor Marco Ventura, the Head of the Religious Studies Program at the Fondazione Bruno Kessler.

The conference will compare tradition and traditionalism in the Anglo-American and Russian historical experience (for those who do not know Professor Stoeckl’s very fine book on Russian Orthodoxy and human rights, allow me to recommend it). Mark and I will have more by and by with the meeting’s proceedings.

There is something fitting about American and Russian scholars descending on the Dolomites and the locus of the Concilium Tridentinum to discuss and reflect on the respective traditions that they study.

Symposium: “Religious Freedom and the Common Good” (Washington D.C., Nov. 15)

On November 15, Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs is hosting a symposium titled “Religious Freedom and the Common Good: A Capstone Symposium of the Religious Freedom Project.” The keynote address of the symposium will be delivered by United States Senator Ben Sasse. A brief description of the event follows:

Religious Freedom and the Common Good.jpgAs the culminating symposium of the Religious Freedom Project’s three-year grant from the John Templeton Foundation, this conference will explore the wide-ranging political, economic, and social dimensions of religious freedom and their enduring impact on the global common good. The RFP’s 13 associate scholars and other experts from across the academy will address a range of key questions about the broader implications of religious freedom.

Our symposium will explore the following: To what extent is religious liberty critical for human flourishing? When and how does it contribute to economic prosperity, democratization, and peace? What challenges face religious communities living under repressive governments or hostile social forces? How is the persecution of religion related to other infringements of basic human rights? What is the relationship between religious freedom and violent religious extremism, and is there a role for religious freedom in efforts to undermine radicalization and counter violent religious extremism and terrorism over the long term?

Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) will deliver a keynote address on the promotion of international religious freedom as an urgent global imperative.

Call for Papers: “Religious Critiques of Law”

Pepperdine University School of Law’s Nootbaar Institute  is soliciting papers for its upcoming conference, Religious Critiques of Law. The conference will be held on March 9-10, 2017. Here’s a description, from the conference organizers:Religious Critiques of Law.jpg

In his book, American Lawyers and Their Communities, Tom Shaffer envisions a downtown street. On one side of the street is a house of worship; on the other is a courthouse. According to Shaffer, law schools train lawyers to look at the religious congregation from the courthouse—that is to analyze the problems the religious congregation creates for the law. Shaffer contends that too often, law schools ignore the possibility that there might be a view of the courthouse from the house of worship.

Prophetic witness is discounted in law teaching. Our part of the academy, more than any other, has systematically discouraged and disapproved of invoking the religious tradition as important Continue reading

Event at the Newseum, “Islamophobia in Focus” (Sept. 22)

On September 22, the Newseum’s Religious Freedom Center will host a conference entitled “Islamophobia in Focus: Muslims & the Media.” Panelists at the conference will include Dr. John Esposito (Georgetown University), Ayman Mohyeldin (NBC News), and Dalia Mogahed (Institute for Social Policy and Understanding). The Religious Freedom Center’s description of the event follows:

Research shows that 9 in 10 of all news reports about Muslims, Islam, and Islamic organizations are related to violence – war or terrorism. In fact, most Muslim newsmakers are warlords or terrorists. Alarmingly, media representations of Islam were worse in 2015 than any other time since 9/11. Are such portrayals representative of today’s global realities? Are Muslims simply over-sensitive? Are concerns with media depictions of Muslims and Islam in the West reflective of a liberal culture obsessed with political correctness? If not, are there opportunities for change?

First Things Intellectual Retreat in Los Angeles – “The Search for Happiness”

Fordham University’s Orthodox Christian Studies Center will hold a conference entitled “2016: Tradition, Secularization, Fundamentalism” from Thursday, June 23rd through Saturday, June 25th.   The event’s description follows:

While the very meaning of the “secular” remains contested, Christians globally are self-identifying in different ways in relation to an imagined secularization, all the while discerning how to live as a tradition.  This intersection between tradition, secularization and fundamentalism is especially evident in both post-Communist Catholic/Orthodox countries and the American context, where fundamentalist-like responses have emerged against the perceived threat of the secular.

Additional information and the event schedule can be found here.

Conference: Endangered: Religious Minorities in the Middle East and Their Struggle for Survival

On Tuesday, May 10th, the Fordham Center on Religion and Culture will host a conference about the struggles of religious minorities in the Middle East.  The conference will take place at the Corrigan Conference Center at the Fordham University Lincoln Center Campus, in New York, NY.  There is no cost for attendance.  The event’s description follows:

Persecution, fear of genocide, and even cultural extinction threaten minority faith communities in the Middle East as never before. In a region once rich in religious and cultural diversity, Christians, Yazidis, and other marginalized communities now face surging intolerance.

What are their prospects amid ongoing conflict and the rise of ISIS? Can imperiled faith traditions preserve their heritage into the future?

Find out more, here.

Conference: The Syriac Christian Churches (April 20)

On April 20, the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion will hold a conference on the Syriac Christian Churches. The conference will be held at the Armstrong Browning Library in Waco, TX and there is no cost for attendance. The event’s description follows:

For over a thousand years, the churches of the Middle East and Asia were central to the story of Christianity. Many of the greatest Christian saints and scholars thought and wrote in the ancient language of Syriac, which historically was a critical vehicle of Christian literature. Those Syriac Christian believers were authentic heirs of the earliest apostolic church. When we tell the story of Christianity only through a Western and European lens, we are missing vital parts of the picture. At a time when Middle Eastern churches face such dreadful suffering and persecution, it is all the more necessary for Western Christians to know and understand this often-forgotten part of their common heritage. This one-day seminar on “The Syriac Christian Churches” brings together leading scholars on Syriac history, literature, theology and culture.

Register and find more details here.

ICLARS Conference: “Freedom of/for/from/in Religion: Differing Dimensions of a Common Right?” (Oxford, Sept. 8-11)

The International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies has announced the Fourth ICLARS Conference, to take place in Oxford from September 8-11, 2016. The theme is “Freedom of/for/from/in Religion: Differing Dimensions of a Common Right?” ICLARS has also issued a call for papers:

CONCEPT
Freedom of religion or belief (FoRB), once considered to be the “first” freedom, has ICLARSbecome a controversial right. In particular, the practical possibility of implementing FoRB in impartial ways are increasingly questioned. Critics argue that FoRB cannot deliver what it promises: an equal share of freedom for people of different or no religion. Further, it is claimed that the right of FoRB, as it is regulated in international and constitutional law, is intrinsically biased because it reflects its Western and Christian origins.

Part of the problem is due to the fact that FoRB is a complex notion, including different dimensions that require careful consideration. Freedom of religion or belief, as a right recognized for every human being, is the first dimension, but not the only one. Freedom from religion, that is the right to live one’s life without being compelled to perform religious acts, is another and freedom for religion, which concerns the institutional side of this right (what was once called “libertas ecclesiae”) is a third dimension that demands consideration. Finally, freedom in religion concerns the rights that the faithful (and sometimes not so faithful) are entitled to enjoy within their religious communities.

These four dimensions of FoRB are the focus of the fourth conference of the International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies. A plenary session will be devoted to each of them and a number of parallel sessions will explore the implications of these four dimensions (see the attached provisional program). A session devoted to young scholars will help launch the conference and two final sessions addressed by representatives of law and religion centers and journals will complete the program.

CALL FOR PAPERS
Scholars are invited to submit papers for the conference, sending an abstract of no more than 300 words, in English, to cristiana.cianitto@unimi.it by March 31, 2016. A separate session is reserved for young scholars (35 years or younger) who may apply for a contribution to cover travel and accommodation expenses.

KEY DATES
Deadline for submitting paper proposals and opening of registration: March 31, 2016
Notification of paper acceptance: April 10, 2016
Deadline for being assured housing at conference venue, April 15, 2016
Deadline for registering: July 31, 2016
Publication of the final program: July 31, 2016

More details about the conference are available here.

Call for Papers: Religious Perspectives on the Rule of Law at Bar-Ilan

A call for papers for a conference dealing with a interesting topic, via my friend Professor Michael Helfand.

Journal of Law, Religion & State

International Conference

Rule of Law – Religious Perspectives

Call for Papers

The encounter of religion with the rule of law may generate tension but also mutual inspiration. The rule of law implies law’s supremacy over other normative systems and personal commitments. It also implies that law applies to everyone equally. Religion represents a normative system that may in some areas be different from—and stand in opposition to—state law. Religion may deny the supremacy of state law and pose divine law as supreme instead. It may, alternatively, seek exemptions from state law in those matters where the two conflict.

In this conference we seek to study this tension and discuss the following questions:

  • Does religion (in general or a specific religion) accept the rule of state law?
  • What are the boundaries (if any) of such acceptance?
  • In what cases would religion challenge state law and in what cases would it seek exemptions?
  • Can a policy of multiculturalism and of legal pluralism, which give more room to religious freedom, be reconciled with the rule of law or does it undermine it?
  • What other policies should states follow in response to these tensions?

Religion may not only compete with state law but also inspire it, which leads us to investigate religion’s various understandings of the rule of law. Here is just one example. The concept of law in the context of the rule of law is ambiguous and open to different interpretations. Some (positivists) understand law as a set of rules fixed by social institutions, and others (natural law advocates) understand law as if it includes fundamental principles of justice and morality. Religions may take a position in that debate and contribute not only to the abstract understanding of law, but also to the identification of those moral principles that are part of law. We therefore also plan to explore the following:

  • What is the position of religion with regard to the concept of law and the rule of law?
  • Many religions developed partial or comprehensive legal systems of their own. Did religions also develop a concept of rule of law? What is its scope and meaning?
  • The concept of rule of law also may be used in theological context as a metaphor to understand the boundaries of divine actions and intervention in the world. Is God constrained by law—and by what kind of law: law of nature, morality?

These and similar questions will be discussed in an international conference that will be held at Bar-Ilan University School of Law, Ramat-Gan, Israel, on November 20-22, 2016.

Submissions are invited on the themes outlined above. An abstract of 500 (max.) words should be sent to jlrs@biu.ac.il no later than­­­­­­ April 15, 2016. Please indicate academic affiliation and attach a short CV. The conference committee will notify applicants of papers acceptance by the beginning of June, 2016. The participants will be required to submit a first (full) draft of their papers three weeks before the conference. The final papers will be published in the Journal of Law Religion and State subject to review.

The organizing committee:

Dr. Haim Shapira, Faculty of Law, Bar-Ilan University, Israel

Prof. Michael Helfand, Faculty of Law, Pepperdine University, USA

Prof. Zvi Zohar, Faculty of Law, Bar-Ilan University, Israel

JLRS website:

http://www.brill.com/publications/journals/journal-law-religion-and-state

Brett Scharffs at Law and Religion Colloquium

 

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Professor Scharffs at the Law and Religion Colloquium

This week, the Center hosted BYU Law School Professor Brett Scharffs in our biannual Colloquium on Law and Religion (above). Brett, who is BYU’s associate dean and the associate director of its magnificent International Center for Law and Religion Studies, presented his draft, “Four Models of Public Discourse and their Implications for the Public Sphere.” Brett has been a great friend of the Center for several years and we were delighted to have him with us. Next up: the University of Illinois’s Robin Fretwell Wilson (February 16).

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