Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:
- The U.S. Supreme Court denied review in F.F. v. New York, in which the New York Court of Appeals rejected a constitutional challenge to the state’s repeal of a religious exemption from mandatory vaccination rules for school children.
- In America’s Frontline Doctors v. Wilcox, a California federal district court rejected a free exercise challenge to the University of California Riverside’s COVID vaccine mandate.
- In Snyder v. Arconic, Inc., a former employee of a metal engineering and manufacturing company brought suit against the company, claiming he was fired for expressing his Christian beliefs.
- In JLF v. Tennessee State Board of Education, a Tennessee federal district court rejected an Establishment Clause challenge to Tennessee’s requirement that all public schools post the national motto, “In God We Trust,” in a prominent location.
- In T.C. v. Italy, the European Court of Human Rights, in a 5-2 Chamber Judgment, upheld an Italian court’s order in a custody case. An eight-year-old’s mother, who was a nominal Catholic and had enrolled daughter in catechism classes, objected to the girl’s father involving her in his Jehovah’s Witness religion.
- The U.S. House of Representatives, by a vote of 420-1, passed House Resolution 1125, condemning rising antisemitism.
Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:
- In Keil v. City of New York, Justice Sotomayor refused to enjoin the dismissal of a suit filed by a group of New York City teachers who did not comply with the City’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate due to religious objections. The teachers then invoked Supreme Court Rule 22.4 and requested that their petition be resubmitted to Justice Gorsuch.
- In Sambrano v. United Airlines, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a Texas federal district court’s decision that held no “irreparable injury” had been suffered by United Airlines employees who were placed on unpaid leave after they refused to comply with the company’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for religious reasons.
- In Bishop of Charleston v. Adams, a South Carolina federal district court rejected free exercise and equal protection challenges to Art. XII, Sec 4. of the South Carolina Constitution, which bars the use of public funds to directly benefit religious educational institutions.
- In Asher v. Clay County Board of Education, a Kentucky federal district court refused to enjoin a school district from relocating the graves of members of the White Top Band of Native Indians. The court found that the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act does not apply because the land the school purchased was not on federal or tribal lands.
- In Mays v. Cabell County Board of Education, suit was filed by students at Huntington High School and their parents alleging that a school assembly featuring Nik Walker, a Christian evangelical minister, violated the Establishment Clause.
- In Air Force Officer v. Austin, a Georgia federal district court invoking RFRA and the First Amendment granted a preliminary injunction to an Air Force officer who sought a religious exemption from the Air Force’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
- The U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, issued a determination letter dismissing a complaint filed by LGBTQ students at Brigham Young University. The letter affirms that the University’s policy that bans same-sex relationships among its students is exempt from the non-discrimination provisions of Title IX.
In May, Oxford University Press will release The Pope and the Professor: Pius IX, Ignaz von Dollinger, and the Quandary of the Modern Age by Thomas Albert Howard (Valparaiso University). The publisher’s description follows:
The Pope and the Professor tells the captivating story of the German Catholic theologian and historian Ignaz von Dollinger (1799-1890), who fiercely opposed the teaching of Papal Infallibility at the time of the First Vatican Council (1869-70), convened by Pope Pius IX (r. 1846-1878), among the most controversial popes in the history of the papacy. Dollinger’s thought, his opposition to the Council, his high-profile excommunication in 1871, and the international sensation that this action caused offer a fascinating window into the intellectual and religious history of the nineteenth century. Thomas Albert Howard examines Dollinger’s post-conciliar activities, including pioneering work in ecumenism and inspiring the”Old Catholic” movement in Central Europe. Set against the backdrop of Italian and German national unification, and the rise of anticlericalism and ultramontanism after the French Revolution, The Pope and the Professor is at once an endeavor of historical and theological inquiry. It provides nuanced historical contextualization of the events, topics, and personalities, while also raising abiding questions about the often fraught relationship between individual conscience and scholarly credentials, on the one hand, and church authority and tradition, on the other.
In June, the Cornell University Press will release “Where Three World Met: Sicily in the Early Medieval Mediterranean,” by Sarah Davis-Secord (University of New Mexico). The publisher’s description follows:
Sicily is a lush and culturally rich island at the center of the Mediterranean Sea. Throughout its history, the island has been conquered and colonized by successive waves of peoples from across the Mediterranean region. In the early and central Middle Ages, the island was ruled and occupied in turn by Greek Christians, Muslims, and Latin Christians.
In Where Three Worlds Met, Sarah Davis-Secord investigates Sicily’s place within the religious, diplomatic, military, commercial, and intellectual networks of the Mediterranean by tracing the patterns of travel, trade, and communication among Christians (Latin and Greek), Muslims, and Jews. By looking at the island across this long expanse of time and during the periods of transition from one dominant culture to another, Davis-Secord uncovers the patterns that defined and redefined the broader Muslim-Christian encounter in the Middle Ages.
Sicily was a nexus for cross-cultural communication not because of its geographical placement at the center of the Mediterranean but because of the specific roles the island played in a variety of travel and trade networks in the Mediterranean region. Complex combinations of political, cultural, and economic need transformed Sicily’s patterns of connection to other nearby regions—transformations that were representative of the fundamental shifts that took place in the larger Mediterranean system during the Middle Ages. The meanings and functions of Sicily’s positioning within these larger Mediterranean communications networks depended on the purposes to which the island was being put and how it functioned at the boundaries of the Greek, Latin, and Muslim worlds.
In December, Palgrave Macmillan released “Faith and Fascism: Catholic Intellectuals in Italy, 1925–43,” by Jorge Dagnino (Universidad de los Andes). The publisher’s description follows:
This is a study of the Federazione Universitaria Cattolica Italiana (FUCI) between 1925 and 1943, the organisation of Catholic Action for the university sector. The FUCI is highly significant to the study of Catholic politics and intellectual ideas, as a large proportion of the future Christian Democrats who ruled the country after World War II were formed within the ranks of the federation.
In broader terms, this is a contribution to the historiography of Fascist Italy and of Catholic politics and mentalities in Europe in the mid- twentieth century. It sets out to prove the fundamental ideological, political, social and cultural influences of Catholicism on the making of modern Italy and how it was inextricably linked to more secular forces in the shaping of the nation and the challenges faced by an emerging mass society. Furthermore, the book explores the influence exercised by Catholicism on European attitudes towards modernisation and modernity, and how Catholicism has often led the way in the search for a religious alternative modernity that could countervail the perceived deleterious effects of the Western liberal version of modernity.
In January, Brill Publishers will release “Pouring Jewish Water into Fascist Wine”. Volume II: Untold Stories of (Catholic) Jews from the Archive of Mussolini’s Jesuit Pietro Tacchi Venturi edited and translated by Robert Aleksander Maryks (Boston College). The publisher’s description follows:
The aim of the second part of the project on the impact of the racial laws under the Mussolini regime is to offer the reader a critical edition and an English translation of 139 letters that were exchanged between the victims of those laws (and their relatives and friends) and the Jesuit Pietro Tacchi Venturi (1861–1956) who interceded with the Fascist government in order to circumvent or alleviate various provisions of the 1938 anti-Jewish legislation.
In October, Brill Publishers will release The Vatican and Mussolini’s Italy by Lucia Ceci (University of Rome). The publisher’s description follows:
Lucia Ceci reconstructs the relationship between the Catholic Church and Fascism. New sources from the Vatican Archives throw fresh light on individual aspects of this complex relationship: the accession of Mussolini to power, the war in Ethiopia, the racial laws, the comparison between Pius XI and Pius XII. This book offers a comprehensive reconstruction of this encounter, explaining the criteria that led Catholics to support a dictatorial, warmongering and racist regime. In contrast to the traditional periodization, the history begins with the childhood of Mussolini in the final years of the nineteenth century, and ends with the sudden collapse of his puppet regime, in 1945. This means to some extent placing in a different light the exceptional nature of the ventennio. The Italian original L’interesse superiore, Il Vaticano e l’Italia di Mussolini has won the “Friuli Storia” Prize for Studies of Contemporary History.
In April, the Harvard University Press will release “African Pentecostals in Catholic Europe: The Politics of Presence in the Twenty-First Century,” by Annalisa Butticci (Harvard Divinity School and Utrecht University). The publisher’s description follows:
Over the past thirty years, Italy—the historic home of Catholicism—has become a significant destination for migrants from Nigeria and Ghana. Along with suitcases and dreams of a brighter future, these Africans bring their own form of Christianity, Pentecostalism, shaped by their various cultures and religious worlds. At the heart of Annalisa Butticci’s beautifully sculpted ethnography of African Pentecostalism in Italy is a paradox. Pentecostalism, traditionally one of the most Protestant of Christian faiths, is driven by the same concern as Catholicism: real presence.
In Italy, Pentecostals face harsh anti-immigrant sentiment and limited access to economic and social resources. At times, they find safe spaces to worship in Catholic churches, where a fascinating encounter unfolds that is equal parts conflict and communion. When Pentecostals watch Catholics engage with sacramental objects—relics, statues, works of art—they recognize the signs of what they consider the idolatrous religions of their ancestors. Catholics, in turn, view Pentecostal practices as a mix of African religions and Christian traditions. Yet despite their apparently irreconcilable differences and conflicts, they both share a deeply sensuous and material way to make the divine visible and tangible. In this sense, Pentecostalism appears much closer to Catholicism than to mainstream Protestantism.
African Pentecostals in Catholic Europe offers an intimate glimpse at what happens when the world’s two fastest growing Christian faiths come into contact, share worship space, and use analogous sacramental objects and images. And it explains how their seemingly antithetical practices and beliefs undergird a profound commonality.