Acton University is organized by the Acton Institute, ‘a think-tank whose mission is to promote a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles’. See https://acton.org.
‘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.’
About the book:
‘The purpose of this volume is to compare the experiences of state efforts to control moral behavior in two countries (The Netherlands and the United States of America) by exploring the historical developments in regulating morality and the contemporary efforts to implement moral policies. The volume opens with an overview of the theoretical and historical setting of the debate about moral developments in the Netherlands and the United States. Various hypotheses are then tested by comparing the histories of prostitution and abortion policies in both countries in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the jurisprudence and legislation with respect to euthanasia, and the course and contents of family law (divorce, adoption, homo marriage). Apart from the comparative aspect, these case studies are highly informative and fascinating to read in and by themselves.’
Table of contents:
‘Preface (Paul Cliteur) On Common Patterns and Compelling Differences: Introduction to Regulating Morality (Hans Krabbendam and Hans-Martien ten Napel) Part I Historical and Theoretical Framework The Moral State: How Much Do the Americans and the Dutch Differ? (James Kennedy) Legal Moralism, Liberal Legalism, and the Tangled Web of Law and Morality (Paul C.M. van Seters) Dutch Democracy: The Burden of the Sixties (Paul Cliteur and René van Wissen) The Ancients, the Moderns, and Morality (Andreas Kinneging) Part II Prostitution A Short History of American Prostitution and Prostitution Policy (David J. Langum) The History of Policing Prostitution in Amsterdam (Lotte van de Pol) Part III Abortion Cultural Individualism, Marginalized Policy, and Abortion in the United States (Raymond Tatalovich) Abortion in the Netherlands: The Successful Pacification of a Controversial Issue (Joyce Outshoorn) Part IV Euthanasia The Euthanasia Debate in the United States: Conflicting Claims about the Netherlands (Margaret P. Battin) Self-Regulation by the Dutch Medical Profession of Medical Behavior that Potentially Shortens Life (John Griffiths) Part V Family Law A Rendez-Vous in the Marketplace?: Transformations in Family Law in the United States (Janet L. Dolgin) The Influence of the 1960s on Developments in Family Law in the United States and the Netherlands (Gerda A. Kleijkamp) Notes on Contributors.’