On May 15, Fordham University’s Center on Religion and Culture will host a panel, “Saving the World: Does Faith-Based Humanitarian Aid Deliver Relief or Redemption?”–
Faith-based humanitarianism has become a growth industry in recent years, channeling the influence of privately-held religious commitments into the public sphere around the globe. Yet surprisingly little is known about these initiatives—and to what extent their religious inspiration might help or hinder their success, particularly in troubled regions marked by religious division and conflict.
Does the added dimension of faith contribute something unique to humanitarian work? Or is faith-based aid really just another form of religious proselytizing?
This forum will compare faith-based organizations to their secular counterparts and look at how they are transforming the landscape of humanitarian intervention today.
Details are here.
In August of this year, Oxford University Press will publish The Profits of Charity by Kerry O’Halloran (Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies at the Queensland U. of Tech.). The book will appeal to those with an interest in faith-based organizations. The publisher’s description follows.
The Profits of Charity examines the contemporary law governing the involvement of charity in commerce and explores the reasons why this involvement is dramatically changing. From a perspective familiar to charity lawyers, NGO managers, and scholars, Kerry O’Halloran identifies the concepts and the law underpinning charities and their profits by tracing legal developments in the field and identifying the resulting opportunities and challenges for the future. At a time when many leading nations are confronting economic recession, the threat of terrorism, and the retreat of the ‘welfare state,’ this book explores why governments are turning to charities in their quest to cultivate social capital, consolidate civil society, and promote civic engagement.
In The Profits of Charity, Professor O’Halloran undertakes a comparative analysis of the balance struck among government, charity, and commerce in five leading common law nations, including the United States, Canada, England and Wales, New Zealand, and Australia. He uses analysis of legislation, outcomes of charity law reviews, and recent case law to illustrate jurisdictional differences, and concludes with an assessment of the extent and significance of the recalibrated relationship and considers the overarching issues that arise between charity law and social policy.
Sahar F. Aziz (Tex. Wesleyan U. School of Law) has posted Countering Religion or Terrorism? Selective Enforcement of Material Support Laws Against Muslim Charities. The abstract follows.
The laws that prohibit providing material support to terrorism are the linchpin of the preventive counterterrorism paradigm. These laws are often the fall-back criminal provisions employed when the government cannot prove terrorism charges. But they are so broad and vaguely worded that they effectively criminalize a myriad of activities that would otherwise be constitutionally protected. Moreover, as the government is not statutorily required to prove that the defendant had a specific intent to support terrorism, it has carte blanche to prosecute a broad range of legitimate activities, such as charitable giving, peace building, and human rights advocacy. The Department of Justice, with the Supreme Court’s blessing, has consequently criminalized training and advocacy in support of nonviolence on the justification that such activities legitimize a designated group or individual. The government’s standards for what it deems as “legitimizing” are so broad that then- Solicitor General Elena Kagan went so far as to call for prosecuting lawyers for filing an amicus brief on behalf of a terrorist organization. Read more
A recent article in the NY Times reports on the effect of Illinois’ same-sex union law on Catholic Charities’ foster-care placement services. In particular, the article notes that non-discrimination provisions in the law, which require Catholic Charities to treat couples in same-sex unions the same as those in traditional marriages when placing children in foster care, has caused the organization to cease offering foster-care services altogether. Catholic Charities also ceased foster-care services in Massachusetts and Washington DC when same-sex marriage became law those jurisdictions. Focusing on these three jurisdictions, the Times article suggests that these non-discrimination provisions are a form of increasing government religious persecution aimed at excluding religious groups from the public sphere. However, the article ignores those legislatures which have worked hard to protect the freedom of religious organizations through religious exceptions.
New York, New Hampshire and Vermont all allow wide exceptions for religious organizations that oppose same-sex unions. These states provide that religious organizations do not violate non-discrimination provisions when they take actions that are calculated to promote the religious principles for which they are established or maintained. Such exceptions have been integral to the passing of the same-sex marriage laws. In New Hampshire, Governor John Lynch refused to sign a same-sex marriage bill into law until the legislature increased the protections for religious organizations. In New York, the Republican members of the Senate who ultimately provided the necessary votes for same-sex marriage said that they could vote for the bill only because it protected religious organizations. Indeed, far from persecuting religion, these states have extensively debated how to balance the rights of these religious organizations with the policy of non-discrimination.