“Religion as Empowerment” (Topidi & Fielder, eds.)

In May, Routledge will release “Religion as Empowerment: Global Legal Perspectives,” edited by Kyriaki Topidi (University of Lucerne) and Lauren Fielder (University of Texas).  The publisher’s description follows:

This volume shows how and why legal empowerment is important for those exercising their religious rights under various jurisdictions, in conditions of legal pluralism. At routlogothe same time, it also questions the thesis that as societies become more modern, they also become less religious.

The authors look beyond the rule of law orthodoxy in their consideration of the freedom of religion as a human right and place this discussion in a more plurality-sensitive context. The book sheds more light on the informal and/or customary mechanisms that explain the limited impact of law on individuals and groups, especially in non-Western societies. The focus is on discussing how religion and the exercise of religious rights may or may not empower individuals and social groups and improve access to human rights in general.

This book is important reading for academics and practitioners of law and religion, religious rights, religious diversity and cultural difference, as well as NGOs, policy makers, lawyers and advocates at multicultural jurisdictions. It offers a contemporary take on comparative legal studies, with a distinct focus on religion as an identity marker.

Galenkamp on Locke and Bayle on Religious Toleration

Marlies Galenkamp (Erasmus University Rotterdam) has posted Locke and Bayle on Religious Toleration.  The abstract follows.

In Western-European societies, two questions are currently at the centre of political debate. What is the scope and what are the limits of religious toleration? What is the proper role of the state with regard to religious issues? By addressing these two topics, Dutch constitutional law scholars commonly start from two presumptions. First of all, the presumption in favour of liberty (leading to a quite absolute interpretation of fundamental rights) and secondly, the doctrine of interpretative restraint by civil authorities with regard to religious matters. These presumptions are generally considered as uncontested axioms. It seems to me that both presumptions may be qualified, however. This will be done by elaborating on the views of two 17th-century scholars on religious toleration, the Englishman John Locke and the Frenchman Pierre Bayle. Interestingly, both formulated their insights during their exile in the Dutch Republic. It will turn out that the dominant interpretation of the presumptions rests on a too superficial reading of Locke and on a disregard of Bayle’s insights, respectively.

Cumper & Lewis (eds.), “Religion, Rights and Secular Society”

This December, Edward Elgar Publishing will publish Religion, Rights and Secular Society: European Perspectives edited by Peter Cumper (University of Leicester, UK) and Tom Lewis (Nottingham Trent University, UK).   The publisher’s description follows.

This topical collection of chapters examines secular society and the legal protection of religion and belief across Europe, both in general and more nation-specific terms.

The expectations of many that religion in modern Europe would be swept away by the powerful current of secularization have not been realised, and today few topics generate more controversy than the complex relationship between religious and secular values. The ‘religious/secular’ relationship is examined in this book, which brings together scholars from different parts of Europe and beyond to provide insights into the methods by which religion and equivalent beliefs have been, and continue to be, protected in the legal systems and constitutions of European nations. The contributors’ chapters reveal that the oft-tumultuous legacy of Europe’s relationship with religion still resonates across a continent where legal, political and social contours have been powerfully shaped by faith and religious difference.

Covering recent controversies such as the Islamic headscarf, and the presence of the crucifix in school class-rooms, this book will appeal to academics and students in law, human rights and the social sciences, as well as law and policy makers and NGOs in the field of human rights.

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