Upcoming Speaking Engagement: The Cardiff Festival of Law and Religion 2016

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‘Registration is now open for the Cardiff Festival of Law and Religion on May 5th and 6th at Cardiff University. This 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).’

The paper I will be presenting is entitled: ‘The “New Critics of Religious Freedom” and the Inspiration they Unintentionally Provide’:

The ‘New Critics of Religious Freedom’ have become increasingly vocal of late. The first part of the proposed 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 the central tenets of liberal democracy as it has developed in recent decades.

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

For registration, and other information, see: http://www.law.cf.ac.uk/clr/.

Chapter in volume on Religion, Politics and Law. Philosophical Reflections on the Sources of Normative Order in Society (2009)


‘Modern, liberal democracies in the West living under the rule of law and protection of human rights cannot articulate the very values from which they derive their legitimacy. These pre-political and pre-legal preconditions cannot be guaranteed, let alone be enforced by the state, but constitute nevertheless its moral and spiritual infrastructure. Until recently, a common background and horizon consisted in Christianity, but due to secularisation and globalisation, society has become increasingly multicultural and multireligious. The question can and should be raised how religion relates to these sources of normative order in society, how religion, politics and law relate to each other, and how social cohesion can be attained in society, given the growing varieties of religious experiences. In this book, a philosophical account of this question is carried out, on the one hand historically from Plato to the Enlightenment, on the other hand systematically and practically.’

My own chapter, co-authored with Florian H. Karim Theissen, is entitled ‘Taking Pluralism Seriously: The US and the EU as Multicultural Democracies’.

See https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228283908_Taking_Pluralism_Seriously_The_US_and_the_EU_as_Multicultural_Democracies.

For order information, visit http://www.brill.com/religion-politics-and-law;

or http://www.amazon.com/Religion-Politics-Law-Bart-Labuschagne/dp/9004172076/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1452689366&sr=8-1&keywords=religion%2C+politics%2C+law+labuschagne.

Paper presentation ‘Creed or Structure? Christian Democratic Vision and Attitudes towards Liberal Democracy’

Participating in a workshop on ‘Christian Democratic Ideology and Programmatic Development, 1945-2000’ at the KU Leuven. The workshop is organized by Civitas, a newly formed Forum of Archives and Research on Christian Democracy.

My own paper is entitled ‘Creed or Structure? Christian Democratic Vision and Attitudes towards Liberal Democracy’.

The abstract of the paper reads as follows:

‘The current paper asks the question to what extent one can (still) speak of a Christian Democratic ideology and identity and a distinct political programme, also with respect to liberal democracy. It defines liberal democracy for this purpose as comprising the basic principles of individual rights and government by consent of the people.

In so far as it will conclude that Christian Democracy has come to accept modern liberal democracy wholeheartedly, the paper will critically reflect on this ideological and programmatic development. It will be argued that the pressing question is whether, and to what extent, Christian Democracy and modern liberal democracy are indeed as compatible as the ideological and programmatic developments in Christian Democratic parties between 1945 and 2000 seem to suggest.

For this purpose, the paper  considers Confucian constitutionalism, the book Christian Faith and Modern Democracy and finally the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church as contrasts.’

For more information on Civitas, and the workshop, see http://civitas-farcd.eu/events/upcoming.

For reports on the workshop, see http://civitas-farcd.eu/events/reports/report_ws_2013_11https://kadoc.kuleuven.be/pdf/nieuwsbrief/nb_2014/nb_2014_01.pdf.