Tag Archives: religion

Upcoming Speaking Engagement: The Spirit of Populism. Political Theologies in Polarized Times

Looking forward to participating in the above international and interdisciplinary conference, School of Divinity, New College, Edinburgh, 2-3 September 2019.

The description of the conference theme reads as follows:

‘Is populism on the rise? Across the political spectrum, populism is considered a catch-all category to be critiqued: describing something as populist and dismissing something as populist go hand in hand. But theological justifications of populism, such as the identification of Christianity with Europe, resonate with mainstream political positions that are articulated and accepted in the public square.

The critique of populism parallels and points to a critique of the role of theology in politics. This critique can come either as a rejection of the politicization of theology (presupposing that genuine theology ought to be non-political) or as a rejection of the theologization of politics (presupposing that genuine politics ought to be non-theological). What runs through these critiques is the assumption that claims to theology cause the populist polarization of the public square. Is populism yet another resurrection of Carl Schmitt? Whether populism is interpreted as an authentic account of religion or as an inauthentic appropriation of religion for political ends, it needs to be carefully examined and critically explored. Does theology in politics automatically lead to populism? Does populism automatically lead to theology in politics? What indeed is the role of political theologies in polarized times?

See for more information: https://www.ed.ac.uk/divinity/news-events/events/spirit-of-populism-conference.

See also:

Blogpost ‘The Political Theology of Thierry Baudet’

Forthcoming review essay of James K.A. Smith’s Cultural Liturgies

Book review: ‘The Political Theology of European Integration,’ by Mark R. Royce


Upcoming Speaking Engagement: Annual Conference of the European Academy of Religion, Bologna, March 4-7, 2019

From 4-7 March, I will be chairing two panels on philosopher James K.A. Smith’s trilogy during the Annual Conference of the European Academy of Religion in Bologna. Read more about the panels here:

‘This panel considers James K.A. Smith’s Cultural Liturgies (Desiring the King, Imagining the King, Awaiting the King) and discusses the potential for scholars in Law and Religion to engage with his public theology along the lines of the legal-theological approach as recently suggested by Stefanus Hendrianto in the journal Law and Method. The panel examines Smith’s reservations concerning natural law doctrine as can be found in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, among other traditions. It explores the potential to use perspectives from Smith’s public theology – in connection with other Christians thinkers such as Augustine – as a legal-theoretical alternative to ideas advanced by Ronald Dworkin and Jürgen Habermas. It will further consider the relevance of Smith’s work in the more general context of public administration. The organizers welcome paper proposals engaging other public theologies than Smith’s, as long as the focus remains on their potential for law and religion scholarship.

• Hans-Martien ten Napel (University of Leiden)


• Leonard Taylor (Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway) – Christian Poiesis: A Reading of Awaiting the King. Imagining with the Cultivation of a Posture the New Political Community through the Prism of Catholic Political and Liturgical Thought’ 
• Neville Rochow (Notre Dame Law School) – Australia – A ReImagining of Rawls’ Veil of Unknowing and Original Position 
• Michael Borowski (Independent Researcher) – Mining “the Kingdom” – Appropriating James K.A. Smith’s Trilogy for an Ethical Foundation of (German) Public Administration 
• Mariëtta D.C. van der Tol (University of Cambridge) – Conceptions of National Belonging in Protestant Political Thought 
• Hans-Martien ten Napel (Leiden University) – What’s Wrong with James K.A. Smith’s Criticism of Natural Law?’ 
• Yaron Catane (Bar Ilan University) – The New Dimensions of Public Religion in the Public Sphere’

The panels will be held on Tuesday, March 5, from 14:30 onwards, in
Sala Rubicone – Aemilia Hotel, Via Zaccherini Alvisi, 16. Please stop by if you’re around.

For more information, see https://www.europeanacademyofreligion.org.

See also:

Call for Papers, Panel on Public Theology and its potential for Law and Religion scholarship

Panel Chair and Presenter, First Annual Conference, European Academy of Religion, Bologna, 5-8 March, 2018

Upcoming Speaking Engagement: Annual Conference of the European Academy of Religion, Bologna, March 5-8, 2018


Winner of the International Award for Excellence for The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society, Volume 8

‘Champaign, Ill., USA – 16 November 2018 – The Religion in Society Research Network is pleased to announce the selection of “The Significance of Communal Religious Freedom for Liberal Democracy,” Hans-Martien ten Napel, as the winner of the International Award for Excellence for Volume 8 of The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society. This article was selected for the award from among the highest-ranked articles emerging from the peer-review process and according to the selection criteria outlined in the peer-review guidelines.

About The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society: The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society aims to create an intellectual frame of reference for the academic study of religion and spirituality and to create an interdisciplinary conversation on the role of religion and spirituality in society. The journal addresses the need for critical discussion on religious issues—specifically as they are situated in the present-day contexts of ethics, warfare, politics, anthropology, sociology, education, leadership, artistic engagement, and the dissonance or resonance between religious tradition and modern trends.’

About the awarded article:

The main argument of my recent book Constitutionalism, Democracy and Religious Freedom. To Be Fully Human (Routledge, 2017) is that the so-called ‘New Critics of Religious Freedom’ in fact, consciously or unconsciously, criticize liberal democracy as such. Now, it has become quite common for liberal democracy to be criticized not just outside the West, but also from within the West. My book constitutes an exception to this rule in that it is written in defense of liberal democracy and, consequently, also in defense of the so-called liberal conception of the right to religious freedom. The awarded article reflects the same argument that the book aims to make. Earlier versions of the article were presented during the XXI World Congress of the International Association for the History of Religions, Erfurt, Germany, 23-29 August 2015; the Cardiff Festival for Law and Religion, Cardiff, Wales, 5-6 May 2017; and the Annual Conference of the International Society of Public Law, Copenhagen, Denmark, 5-7 July 2017. In its emphasis on the role of anthropology, among other things, the article also reflects the Acton University Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan, that I attended from 20-23 June 2017. If I remember correctly, I wrote its final draft during the flight home from that occasion. I am grateful to the two anonymous referees from whose comments on that draft the article benefited greatly. Hopefully, the publication of this article and the current award will help to open the eyes of scholars outside my discipline to what I consider to be the beauty of liberal democracy in general and the right to religious freedom in particular as it was initially conceived during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Read the awarded article here: https://religioninsociety.com/journal/awards#block-2.

See also:

Article on ‘The Significance of Communal Religious Freedom for Liberal Democracy’ in the International Journal of Religion & Spirituality in Society

Artikel ‘Geloof in de liberale democratie’ in Tijdschrift voor Religie, Recht en Beleid

Paper presentation during XXI World Congress of the International Association for the History of Religions


Article on ‘The Significance of Communal Religious Freedom for Liberal Democracy’ in the International Journal of Religion & Spirituality in Society

The abstract of the article reads as follows:

‘Leading US scholar of constitutional interpretation Michael Paulsen has developed an interesting theory of religious freedom called “The Priority of God.” Paulsen distinguishes, first of all, a liberal conception of religious freedom, according to which it is widely assumed that religious truth exists in a society and the state is tolerant towards various faiths and other traditions. The US, however, has developed in the direction of a modern conception of religious freedom, which no longer recognizes religious truth although the state remains tolerant. Moreover, still according to Paulsen, several European countries have adopted a postmodern conception of religious freedom. This conception does not only no longer recognize religious truth, but also implies a considerably less tolerant state, as secularism becomes the established “religion.” This view paradoxically resembles the preliberal stance of religious intolerance out of the conviction that religious truth exists. In response to such developments, the current article makes a case for the classical liberal position with respect to religious freedom. A liberal religious freedom conception forms the best guarantee that societal institutions will be able to fulfill their constitutional functions of a check on the government and as “seedbeds of virtue.”’

See https://cgscholar.com/bookstore/works/the-significance-of-communal-religious-freedom-for-liberal-democracy?category_id=common-ground-publishing.

See also:

Upcoming Speaking Engagement: Conference on ‘Public Spirit and Public Virtue’, December 6, 2017, Washington, DC

Upcoming Speaking Engagement: 2017 ICON∙S Conference on ‘Courts, Power, and Public Law’, Copenhagen, July 5-7

Paper presentation during XXI World Congress of the International Association for the History of Religions


Chapter in forthcoming volume on Religion, Pluralism, and Reconciling Difference

The description of the volume, edited by W. Cole Durham Jr. and Donlu Thayer, reads as follows:

‘We live in an increasingly pluralized world. This sociological reality has become the irreversible destiny of humankind. Even once religiously homogeneous societies are becoming increasingly diverse. Religious freedom is modernity’s most profound if sometimes forgotten answer to the resulting social pressures, but the tide of pluralization threatens to overwhelm that freedom’s stabilizing force.

Religion, Pluralism, and Reconciling Difference is aimed at exploring differing ways of grappling with the resulting tensions, and then asking, will the tensions ultimately yield poisonous polarization that erodes all hope of meaningful community? Or can the tradition and the institutions protecting freedom of religion or belief be developed and applied in ways that (still) foster productive interactions, stability, and peace?

This volume brings together vital and thoughtful contributions treating aspects of these mounting worldwide tensions concerning the relationship between religious diversity and social harmony. The first section explores controversies surrounding religious pluralism from different starting points, including religious, political, and legal standpoints. The second section examines different geographical perspectives on pluralism. Experts from North and South America, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East address these issues and suggest not only how social institutions can reduce tensions, but also how religious pluralism itself can bolster needed civil society.’

For the table of contents of the volume, see: https://www.routledge.com/Religion-Pluralism-and-Reconciling-Difference/Jr-Thayer/p/book/9781472464071.

My chapter is titled: ‘Western “Civic Totalism”, Sovereignty of the People, and the Need for Limited Government’.

For more information, and to order, see: https://www.routledge.com/Religion-Pluralism-and-Reconciling-Difference/Jr-Thayer/p/book/9781472464071.

See also:

Paper presentation during third bi-annual ICLARS conference in Virginia, United States

Blogpost ‘Religious Freedom, Eastern Ethical Monism, and Western “Civic Totalism”‘

International Conference on “The Rule of Law with Chinese Characteristics in Transition”

Advanced Certificate Program on Religion and the Rule of Law at Oxford

Honored to be serving on the International Academic Advisory Board of this exciting new Program.

‘The need for a global program to identify and educate the rising generation of scholars and leaders in the field of law and religion: Legal restrictions on religious individuals and groups remain high or very high in many countries of the world, and these official obstacles are often combined with social hostilities regarding religion that are increasing around the world. Sometimes these problems rise to the level of persecution of religious minorities, or even genocide, but more frequent are problems that arise from discrimination, social marginalization, and the ordinary problems of lawmaking, enforcement, adjudication, and regulation.’

Source, and more information about the Program:


Apply here:


See also:

Redactioneel ‘Religie en de rule of law’

Paper Presentation during Journal of Law, Religion & State International Conference on ‘The Rule of Law – Religious Perspectives’, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel, 20-22 November 2016

International Conference on “The Rule of Law with Chinese Characteristics in Transition”

On Islam (Volume six of the Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology series)

At the beginning of the twentieth century, famed theologian Abraham Kuyper toured the Mediterranean world and encountered Islam for the first time.

Part travelogue, part cultural critique, On Islam presents a European imperialist seeing firsthand the damage colonialism had caused and the value of a religion he had never truly understood. Here, Kuyper’s doctrine of common grace shines as he displays a nuanced and respectful understanding of the Muslim world. Though an ardent Calvinist, Kuyper still knew that God’s grace is expressed to unbelievers. Kuyper saw Islam as a culture and religion with much to offer the West, but also as a threat to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Here he expresses a balanced view of early twentieth-century Islam that demands attention from the majority world today as well. Essays by prominent scholars bookend the volume, showing the relevance of these teachings in our time.’

Source, and (order) information:



Abraham Kuyper’s conviction that religion constitutes the ‘marrow’ of each culture, motivated him to pay frequent attention to the role of Islam, among other things, in the different countries he visited on his journey around the Mediterranean Sea. Similarly, comparative scholars of law and religion should be willing also to investigate the way transcendent perspectives have potentially shaped, and in many cases may well continue to influence, the particular legal systems they study. Public theology of the kind contained in this book can inspire and inform them on their way.

See also:

Book Launch and Panel Discussion: Abraham Kuyper’s Perspective on Islam

Article ‘Princeton Seminary Reforms Its Views on Honoring Tim Keller’

Lemma on the Kuyper cabinet (1901-1905)

Upcoming Speaking Engagement: Annual Conference of the European Academy of Religion, Bologna, March 5-8, 2018

I will be speaking on the topic of ‘Comparative Constitutional Law and Natural Law.’

The abstract reads as follows:

During the last decade or so the discipline of comparative constitutional law has experienced phenomenal growth. Handbooks in the field have become truly global in outlook.

With the globalization of comparative constitutional law, the question arises which standards should be applied to evaluate different legal arrangements? Alternatively, the field would alter into an empirical discipline that merely registers how such mechanisms differ around the globe.

In a not so distant past, it would still have made sense to use religion as a source of inspiration to evaluate different constitutional arrangements. Using faith is not an option anymore, however, as most political orders are rooted in religious cultures. Within the West, moreover, constitutionalism is increasingly separated from religion.

In the proposed paper, following the work of Santiago Legarre among others, I will suggest that the idea of natural law is a serious candidate to serve as a normative framework.

For more information on the program of the conference, see: https://www.europeanacademyofreligion.org/program

‘The European Academy of Religion (EuARe) is a research initiative launched under the high patronage of the European Parliament which offers an exchange platform to academies and scientific societies; associations; research centers and institutions; university labs, clusters, and departments; journals, publishers, media and scholars coming from Europe and the surrounding regions.’

See also:

Podcast of the Law and Religious Freedom Book Panel at the Annual Meetings of the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature in Boston, MA

Press Release: ‘Twelve ILS seed money grants for frontier research at Leiden Law School’

Paper presentation during XXI World Congress of the International Association for the History of Religions

Video Recording of Panel ‘Religion and Pluralism in a Changing World’

‘The recordings of the 24th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium, Religion and Religious FreeDom in a Changing World, held in October of 2017 are now available to view here. (…)’

You can find the link to the video recording of the panel on ‘religion and pluralism in a changing world’ here:  https://www.iclrs.org/event.php/2017+Annual+Symposium/Media/English/3959

‘Religion and Pluralism in a Changing World

Full recording
Jane Wise – Moderator Associate Director, International Center for Law and Religion Studies, J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University
John Carpay President, Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms
Daniel Cere Professor, School of Religious Studies, McGill University
Hans-Martien ten Napel Professor, Leiden Law School, Institute of Public Law’

See also:

Paper presentation during panel on ‘Religion & Pluralism in a Changing World’, BYU Law School, Provo, Utah

Upcoming Speaking Engagement: 24th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, 1-4 October 2017

Nieuwsbericht ‘Hans-Martien ten Napel neemt deel aan boekpanel over recht en godsdienstvrijheid tijdens jaarvergadering van de American Academy of Religion in Boston, MA’

Paper presentation during panel on ‘Religion & Pluralism in a Changing World’, BYU Law School, Provo, Utah

From October 1-3, 2017, the 24th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium was held at Brigham Young University Law School in Provo, Utah, USA. The Symposium was attended by 100 participants, from 50 different countries, while interpretation at the venue was available in 11 languages (Arabic, French, Italian, Korean, Laotian, Mongolian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese).

During the Symposium I had the honor of presenting a paper during the panel on ‘Religion & Pluralism in a Changing World’, and to find my recent book on Constitutionalism, Democracy and Religious Freedom. To Be Fully Human exhibited on the book table.

During the final session of the Symposium my book was generously presented by Prof. Brett G. Scharffs, Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, as one of several new ‘Books of Note’.

Before the official start of the conference, delegates attended a session of the General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, and heard the Mormon Tabernacle Choir perform their weekly broadcast Music and the Spoken Word.

See for more information about the Symposium:

Upcoming Speaking Engagement: 24th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, 1-4 October 2017

See also:

Twelve posts introducing my new book on Constitutionalism, Democracy and Religious Freedom. To Be Fully Human

Press Release: ‘Hans-Martien ten Napel has book published “Constitutionalism, Democracy and Religious Freedom. To Be Fully Human”’

Visit Amazon’s Hans-Martien ten Napel Page