Upcoming Speaking Engagement, Journal of Law, Religion & State International Conference: Rule of Law – Religious Perspectives, Bar-Ilan University School of Law, Ramat-Gan, Israel

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‘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.

TOPICS: 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.’

Source: http://www.ssrn.com/update/lsn/lsnann/ann16021.html. More information will follow.

Paper presentation during conference on ‘Christianity and the Future of our Societies’, 15-19 August 2016, Leuven, Belgium

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The conference was organized by the Association of Reformational Philosophy (ARP) in cooperation with the Evangelische Theologische Faculteit of Leuven (ETF): ‘ARP and ETF welcome contributions from philosophers and theologians as well as from scholars in other disciplines who are seriously engaged in dialogue between Christianity and key figures (or central insights or paradigms) within their own discipline and context, wherever in the world this may be.

The Association of Reformational Philosophy (ARP) has its roots in the 16th century Reformation and its direct origin in the 19th neo-Calvinist revival (in which Abraham Kuyper was a pivotal figure). One of the goals of the ARP is ‘to contribute to the deepening of philosophical insight in created reality, and to make these insights fruitful for academic studies and for society’. Key founding fathers of the movement were the Dutch philosophers Herman Dooyeweerd and Dirk Vollenhoven. The movement has grown, and is today globally engaged in academic dialogue between Christianity and the contemporary world, and its animating intellectual, political and economic ideas and leaders. It does so in the expectation that Christianity has important and timely insights to offer.

The Evangelische Theologische Faculteit (ETF) in Leuven, Belgium, has developed into an important European education and research center for Christian theology that seeks relevance to the contemporary world and its concerns. In ETF’s international master’s and doctoral program, students and professors from a wide variety of cultural and denominational backgrounds come from all over the world to engage in stimulating dialogue.

This conference is co-organized with the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies (WMCES); the political foundation and official think tank of the European People’s Party. And the Christian Political Foundation for Europe (CPFE); the political foundation for the European Christian Political Movement (ECPM).’

For information on the program, see: http://www.cfs2016.org/program/.

My own contribution was entitled: ‘Christianity and the Future of Religious Freedom’. The abstract reads as follows:

The central point a forthcoming dissertation on the legal conception of ‘religion’ aims to make, is that the concept of religion employed by courts in the West is not as ‘transhistorical and transcultural’ as is sometimes tacitly assumed but instead is heavily influenced by Christianity in general and Protestantism in particular. As a result, the protection the right to freedom of religion or belief currently provides to, for example, Islam and Judaism is too limited.

I do not consider the thesis that the right to freedom of religion or belief may have a strong relationship to in particular the Christian heritage in itself to be very surprising. It would, to the contrary, be quite a sensation to somehow discover that the legal conception of religion in the West had not been influenced by Christianity.Whether the arguably more particularly Protestant influence is as strong as the author assumes, is a different matter. It could well be argued that definitions employed in this manuscript and other recent literature on the topic, such as ‘the view that religion denotes a sphere of life separate and distinct from all others, and that this sphere is largely private and not public, voluntary and not compulsory’, represent the very opposite of what Protestantism has historically stood for.

The proposed paper will argue that, to the contrary, Christianity in general, and Protestantism in particular, have eventually given rise to a generous interpretation of the right to freedom of religion or belief. Such a generous interpretation suggests first of all that, because spirituality is the keystone of human identity, this right occupies a special place in the universe of rights. Secondly, it implies that religious belief cannot be separated from religious practice. Thirdly, the right to freedom of religion or belief applies to all religions and also to people who do not adhere to a particular religion. Fourthly, the associational and institutional dimensions of the right are important, not just with respect to religious organizations, but also with respect to civil society organizations more generally. A fifth element of a generous religious freedom conception holds that, although not sacred or inviolable, the bar to interference regarding the family as the fundamental social unit is relatively high. The sixth element is that human dignity can well serve as the underlying foundation of the right, as it can be subscribed to by different religious and other traditions. A seventh and final element is that equality does not necessarily imply identical treatment.

A generous approach to the right to freedom of religion or belief does not so much imply maximal but rather optimal religious freedom. Although the limits to the right can to a certain extent differ from place to place, and from time to time, they have historically by and large been determined by the same universal, transcendent truths which also sustain constitutional democracy more generally. This can be regarded as a major – though not exclusive – potential contribution of Christianity also to the future of Western and indeed world civilization.

Key bibliographical sources:
Cohen, Jean L. & Cécile Laborde (eds.) (2015) Religion, Secularism, and Constitutional Democracy (New York: Columbia University Press).

DeGirolami, Marc O. (2013), The Tragedy of Religious Freedom (Cambridge: Harvard University Press).

Petty, Aaron R. (forthcoming, 2016), The Legal Conception of ‘Religion’.

Spencer, Nick (2014), How to Think about Religious Freedom (London: Theos).

Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, Saba Mahmood, Peter G. Danchin (eds.) (2015), Politics of Religious Freedom (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press).

Introduction to volume ‘The Powers That Be. Rethinking the Separation of Powers’ now available online

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Abstract:

‘The idea of the separation of powers has been subjected to criticism and competition ever since it first came to be during the upheaval of the English Civil War. In recent years the case has once again been stated that the idea of the separation of powers has lost its significance in a globalised world, with a power constellation in which the distinctions between different types of “powers” have blurred and even so-called constituted power holders have become more and more diffuse. Yet even its fiercest opponents cannot deny that the idea of the separation of powers as a theory of government has, in the words of M.J.C. Vile, “in modern times, been the most significant, both intellectually and in terms of its influence upon institutional structures”.

The idea of the separation of powers reached its zenith in the United States and France in the late 19th century. In the two centuries that separate us from this zenith, the doctrine has suffered almost endless criticism, but endured nonetheless. The tenacity of the idea of the separation of powers is partly due to the fact that it is still widely held to be a procedural and institutional prerequisite for providing the state and its laws with legitimacy. It was, and is, considered by many a guarantor of liberty, in the absence of which power cannot be legitimately exercised.

However, both democratic legitimacy and the separation of powers as concepts have very much evolved alongside the state and over the last decades the state has been giving up ground to other power holders. This brings up the question of whether the combination of these concepts is still viable outside a traditional state context, and if so, in what form? This is the central question the current volume seeks to answer.’

See for the full text:

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2194851.

See for order information:

http://www.lup.nl/product/the-powers-that-be/;

http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/distributed/P/bo25134025.html.

Lid, promotiecommissie, D. van der Blom, ‘De verhouding van staat en religie in een veranderende Nederlandse samenleving’, 6 juli 2016

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‘Door sterk gewijzigde maatschappelijke ontwikkelingen is voor de verhouding van staat en religie in Nederland de laatste decennia meer publieke belangstelling ontstaan dan ooit kon worden voorzien. Daarnaast is deze belangstelling langzamerhand een vraagstuk geworden die belangrijk is voor zowel de Nederlandse samenleving als andere Europese natiestaten.’

Lees hier meer: https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/onderzoek/onderzoeksoutput/rechtsgeleerdheid/de-verhouding-van-staat-en-religie-in-een-veranderende-nederlandse-samenleving.

Ph.D. Thesis Committee Member For: D. van der Blom, The Relationship between State and Religion in a Changing Dutch Society

In recent decades, the Netherlands’ struggle with multiculturalism has caused an upsurge in public interest in the relationship between state and religion. In this, the Dutch address a subject relevant not just to them, but to all of Europe.’

Read more here: https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/research/research-output/law/the-relationship-between-state-and-religion-in-a-changing-dutch-society.

 

Upcoming Speaking Engagement, Seventh International Conference on Religion & Spirituality in Society, 17-18 April 2017, Imperial College London, London, UK

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‘The Religion and Spirituality in Society knowledge community sets out in its conference, journal, book series and online community, to describe, analyze and interpret the role of religion in society. The community’s intellectual project is neutral with respect to the agendas of particular religions or explicit counterpoints to religion such as agnosticism or atheism.’

‘The Seventh International Conference on Religion & Spirituality in Society features research addressing the following annual themes and the 2017 Special Focus.

THEME 1: RELIGIOUS FOUNDATIONS THEME 2: RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY AND SOCIALIZATION THEME 3: RELIGIOUS COMMONALITIES AND DIFFERENCES THEME 4: THE POLITICS OF RELIGION​ 2017 Special Focus: Respecting Difference, Understanding Globalism’

Source, and more information: http://religioninsociety.com/2017-conference.

My own contribution is entitled ‘The Significance of Institutional Religious Freedom for Liberal Democracy’:

Questions surrounding the institutional dimension of religious freedom are among the most fundamental of our time. The reason for this is that they raise important issues regarding liberal democracy as such. As Jean L. Cohen pointed out, one of the reasons for this is because institutional religious freedom puts the sovereignty of the state, which has already eroded externally, also under pressure internally. As a result, the topic of institutional religious freedom is not just relevant to specialists in the right to freedom of religion or belief, or even human rights for that matter, but also from a more general religious studies point of view. Cohen considers it problematic that state sovereignty comes under pressure from communal religious freedom, because this constitutes a return to Medieval times. According to her, the idea of liberal democracy rests upon a monistic sovereignty conception. Although this is certainly a legitimate proposition, and probably the current dominant one, the proposed paper will argue in favour of a more inclusive conception of liberal democracy. According to this conception, within liberal democracy there is also room for those who adhere to a jurisdictional approach to religious freedom, i.e. recognise multiple sovereignties in a liberal democracy.

See: http://cgpublisher.com/conferences/384/proposals/50/index_html.

Participant, 2016 ICON∙S Conference on ‘Borders, Otherness and Public Law’

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This weekend I am attending the annual conference of the International Society of Public Law in Berlin, Germany.

You can check out the program here: https://icon-society.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/160616-ICON-S-PROGRAMME-DIGITAL.pdf.

The first panel was entitled ‘The Rule of Law in Europe: Structural Weaknesses in the European Legal Order’:

‘Among europe’s many crises, the “rule of law” crisis is perhaps the most destructive of europe’s common values. some Member states that met the copenhagen criteria to enter the EU would now not be admitted to the EU under those same criteria. what can european institutions do to renew commitments on the part of the Member states to these values?

The above picture was taken during the presentation by Kim Lane Scheppele (Princeton).

See for blogposts on earlier ICON-S conferences:

https://hmtennapel.weblog.leidenuniv.nl/2015/12/21/paper-presentation-on-the-modern-challenges-of-democracy/; and

https://hmtennapel.weblog.leidenuniv.nl/2014/07/06/paper-presentation-imaginations-from-the-other-side-assessing-the-juncture-between-law-history-and-sociology-in-the-study-of-state-religion-interlocutions/.

Blogpost ‘On the Close Connection between Religious Freedom and Liberal Democracy’

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The individual dimension of religious freedom constitutes a foundation for the institutional dimension of the same right. Institutional religious autonomy is, in turn, foundational for the notion of limited government and as such for liberal democracy.

Read more here: http://leidenlawblog.nl/articles/on-the-close-connection-between-religious-freedom-and-liberal-democracy.

Masterprofileringsvak Vergelijkend Constitutioneel Recht / Master Elective Course on Comparative Constitutional Law

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Momenteel loopt er weer een nieuwe editie van mijn masterprofileringsvak Vergelijkend Constitutioneel Recht. Uit de vakbeschrijving:

‘Beschrijving
Aan de hand van een recent internationaal handboek dat is aangeduid als ‘a landmark scholarly accomplishment in many respects’, wordt in dit vak allereerst een introductie gegeven in de voornaamste methoden, kansen en beperkingen van de (publiekrechtelijke) rechtsvergelijking. Vervolgens wordt ingegaan op de grote uitdagingen waarvoor de nationale staat zich in de 21ste eeuw gesteld ziet in termen van het zogeheten transnationale constitutionalisme. Hierbij wordt het constitutionalisme in ‘illiberal polities’ als spiegel gebruikt om de problematiek waarmee de Westerse liberale democratie zich momenteel geconfronteerd ziet meer reliëf te geven. Nationale staten staan niet alleen onder druk van buitenaf (de reeds genoemde transnationalisering), maar ook van binnenuit. Terwijl vanouds kon worden uitgegaan van een zekere mate van homogeniteit van hun bevolkingen, lijken in de 21e eeuw de centrifugale krachten definitief aan de winnende hand. Tijdens de laatste twee bijeenkomsten zal daarom mede aan de hand van nog weer andere staatsrechtelijke kernbegrippen als burgerschap, constitutionele identiteit en federalisme onder meer de blik worden gericht op de problematiek van het constitutionalisme in verdeelde samenlevingen.

Leerdoelen
Doel van het vak
De behandeling, op rechtsvergelijkende basis, van een vijftal nauw met elkaar samenhangende constitutioneelrechtelijke thema’s, die van fundamenteel belang zijn voor iedere bestuursjurist.

Eindkwalificaties (eindtermen van het vak)
Eindtermen inhoud:
1. U heeft grondige kennis van en diepgaand inzicht in de voornaamste theoretische, historische en institutionele aspecten van hedendaagse staatsvormen en regeringsstelsels in rechtsvergelijkend perspectief.
2. U heeft kennis van en inzicht in de uitdagingen waarvoor deze staatsvormen en regeringsstelsels zich gesteld zien onder zowel externe (Europeanisering, internationalisering) als interne druk (centrifugale krachten) en de antwoorden zoals deze op deze tendensen (beginnen te) worden geformuleerd.

Eindtermen vaardigheden:

U heeft kennis over en inzicht in de methoden, mogelijkheden en beperkingen van de (publiekrechtelijke) rechtsvergelijking. (…)

Literatuur
Michel Rosenfeld & András Sajó (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Constitutional Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012) (paperback edition, 2013).’

Voor meer informatie, zie:

https://studiegids.leidenuniv.nl/courses/show/49147/profileringsvak-vergelijkend-constitutioneel-recht

Presentation during Cardiff Festival for Law and Religion

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‘The Cardiff Festival of Law and Religion on May 5th and 6th at Cardiff University celebrates the twenty-fifth anniversary of the LLM in Canon Law at Cardiff University, the first degree of its type in a British University since the Reformation.

A number of events are being held to reflect upon how the study of Law and Religion has developed over the last twenty-five years and the likely future trajectory. This includes the 2016 Law and Religion Scholars Network (LARSN) Conference, a keynote address by Professor David Little, a celebratory dinner and the launch of F Cranmer, M Hill, C Kenny and R Sandberg (ed) The Confluence of Law and Religion: Interdisciplinary Reflections on the Work of Norman Doe (Cambridge University Press, 2016).’

My own presentation was entitled: ‘The “New Critics of Religious Freedom” and the Inspiration they Unintentionally Provide’.

The summary of the paper reads as follows:

The ‘New Critics of Religious Freedom’ have become increasingly vocal of late. The first part of the paper will summarise their main criticisms, some of which contain a considerable amount of truth, such as that the right to freedom of religion or belief has historically been heavily influenced by Christianity in general and Protestantism in particular.

The second part of the paper will argue that at first sight there also appears to be one major downside to the criticisms. As it turns out to be hardly possible to isolate the right to freedom of religion or belief from the general idea of a democratic constitutional state, what the critics are really questioning is the current state of Western liberal democracy as a whole.

The third part of the paper will propose that the reason for this close connection between religious freedom and the democratic constitutional state lies in the fact that the latter has clearly been influenced by Christianity as well. Still, the new critics of religious freedom may on closer inspection also serve as a source of inspiration for a necessary, theologically driven reform of some of the central tenets of liberal democracy as it has developed in recent decades.

For more information, see: http://www.law.cf.ac.uk/clr/networks/The%20Cardiff%20Festival%20for%20Law%20and%20Religion%20Full%20Programme.pdf.

Secretary, Board of Trustees, Stichting De Honderd Gulden Reis (George Puchinger Foundation) (1999 – Present)

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‘Introduction
Stichting De Honderd Gulden Reis was founded by the Reformed historian dr. G. Puchinger on 23 September 1996. Since his death in 1999, this Foundation has been governed by a board of trustees.

What can you apply for?
Grants for studies abroad (travel, study and/or accomodation expenses) by students or graduates of (art) history, the arts, law, theology or philosophy at one of the Dutch universities, hogeschool or similar institution. The grants are intended for those who have an affinity with the Protestant-Christian tradition or with studies that relate to Protestant Christianity.

Conditions

The Stichting only deals with a request if it satisfies each of the following four conditions:
1. The applicant receives an education at a Dutch university, or has done so and wants to broaden his/her horizon.
2. The applicant is a student or a graduate in (art) history, the arts, law, theology or philosophy.
3. The applicant and/or study deals with Protestant Christianity.
4. The study in question is offered outside the regular Bachelor or Master curriculum.

Who can apply?
Students or graduates in (art) history, the arts, law, theology or philosophy at a Dutch university or similar institution, in particular they who have an affinity with the Protestant-Christian tradition.

How to submit a request.
We would like to receive your application through email. In addition to your email and this request form, please enclose a budget estimate and a curriculum vitae. The extent to which you want to study Protestant Christianity and/or have affinity with the Protestant-Christian tradition must appear from the written motivation as submitted in the application form.’

See for more information, and to download the application form, here:

http://www.hdc.vu.nl/nl/over-het-hdc/stichtingen/honderdgulden/Honderguldenengels.aspx.