For the posts, please see:
‘Studium Generale explores whether there is such a thing as a “religiously neutral state”. When it comes to religion, how do states’ approaches to secularization shape where “private” and “public” realms begin?
Where does “private” end and “public” begin when it comes to religion? To explore this, we look at how states’ approaches to secularization have been shaped. Is there such a thing as a “religiously neutral state”? What tensions have been at the root of the way states position themselves in relation to religion in the public sphere? Dr. Hans-Martien ten Napel will draw on examples from Europe and elsewhere around the world. His accent will be on the case of Great Britain where frameworks were proposed for accommodating differences and diversity in the public realm. Taking political traditions into account, he will explore religion in the public realm from an interdisciplinary perspective.’
Source, and more information: https://www.wur.nl/nl/activiteit/SG-activity-Religion-and-the-Public-Realm-1.htm.
‘On both sides of the Atlantic, courts this week have addressed the relationship of Islam to the west, but with radically different approaches and outcomes. In the US, federal courts in Hawaii and Maryland have halted Donald Trump’s second attempt at a Muslim ban. Meanwhile, the European court of justice, Europe’s highest court, has upheld the right of private employers to ban Muslim women from wearing headscarves.
American and European law each embrace principles of religious neutrality and non-discrimination, but the divergent application of those laws reflects different levels of discomfort with religion generally and a demographic anxiety with Islam in particular.’
Read here the rest of this article by Muneer I Ahmad in the Guardian of 17th March 2017: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/mar/17/islamophobia-most-worrying-europe-not-trumps-america.
Muneer I Ahmad is Clinical Professor of Law at Yale Law School and co-director of the Worker & Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic, which was co-counsel on the first case to challenge the original Muslim Ban.
My forthcoming book on Constitutionalism, Democracy and Religious Freedom. To Be Fully Human (Routledge) is comparative, among other things, in the sense that it sometimes points towards differences and similarities between Europe and North America, be it not in a systematic manner. As such, it notes that in Europe respect for the fundamental right of freedom of religion or belief appears to have been eroding for quite some time, certainly in some of the courts.
This is the tenth post in a new series introducing this book.
For the first nine posts, please see:
Geert Wilders’ PVV Party believes that Islam is a totalitarian ideology and not a religion, and thus Muslims are not equally entitled to the same freedom of religion or belief as other believers. This view is incompatible with liberal democracy.
Read the whole blogpost here: http://leidenlawblog.nl/articles/something-fundamental-is-at-stake-in-the-dutch-parliamentary-elections.
‘The report says that Britain’s “drift away from Christianity” coupled with the rise in minority religions and increasing non-religiosity demands a “long term, sustainable settlement on the relationship between religion and the state”.
Rethinking religion and belief in public life: a manifesto for change has been sent to all MPs as part of a major drive by the Society to encourage policymakers and citizens of all faiths and none to find common cause in promoting principles of secularism.
It calls for Britain to evolve into a secular democracy with a clear separation between religion and state and criticises the prevailing multi-faithist approach as being “at odds with the increasing religious indifference” in Britain.
Terry Sanderson, National Secular Society president, said: “Vast swathes of the population are simply not interested in religion, it doesn’t play a part in their lives, but the state refuses to recognise this. Britain is now one of the most religiously diverse and, at the same time, non-religious nations in the world. Rather than burying its head in the sand, the state needs to respond to these fundamental cultural changes. Our report sets out constructive and specific proposals to fundamentally reform the role of religion in public life to ensure that every citizen can be treated fairly and valued equally, irrespective of their religious outlook.”‘
Source: http://www.secularism.org.uk/rethinking-religion-and-belief-i.html. Here you can also read, and endorse, the report.
In my forthcoming book I write that it is not just meant for readers who could be expected to sympathise with some or all of the theoretical starting points set out in the introduction, but also as a modest invitation precisely to dissenters to engage in a “respectful academic conversation” similar to what Founding Director of the Center for Christian Studies at Gordon College (now the Center for Faith and Inquiry) Harold Heie calls a “respectful political conversation”. Should this not, or no longer, be possible, then it will also prove difficult to uphold the ideal of a pluralistic public square as part of one’s democracy conception, as advocated in the book.
This is the fifth post in a new series introducing my forthcoming book on Constitutionalism, Democracy and Religious Freedom. To be Fully Human (Routledge, 2017).
For the first four posts, please see:
‘The new year could be turbulent for religion in America.
Several hot-button issues — including immigration, abortion, poverty, health care, gay rights and education — will put religion near the center of public life and debate.
But the issue that could especially flare up? In a Trump administration, “religious freedom” is expected to either flourish — or come under attack — depending on who defines religious freedom.’
You can read why religion reporter Sarah Pullman Bailey believes this to be the case, here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2017/01/03/heres-what-we-think-will-be-the-biggest-religion-stories-in-2017/?utm_term=.05bd61a37c30.
This is the second post in a new series introducing my forthcoming book on Constitutionalism, Democracy and Religious Freedom. To be Fully Human (Routledge, 2017).
For the first post, please see:
‘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.
‘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.’
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.’
‘The LERU Deans of Theology and Religious Studies have written a statement on the importance of research on religion for Europe’s societies. The event aims at translating this statement into practice by showcasing excellent examples. The event is also meant to discuss the statement with a wider public. Policy makers, research funders or anyone with an interest in SSH research in general or religion research in particular, is very welcome to participate.
10.30 am Registration
Welcome by Kurt Deketelaere, Secretary-General of LERU
Introduction by Johannes Zachhuber, Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology, University of Oxford
Religious recognition, presentation by Risto Saarinen, Professor of Ecumenics, University of Helsinki
Religion in crisis and Roman Catholic self-definition, presentation by Joris Geldhof, Professor Pastoral and Empirical Theology, Mathijs Lamberigts, Dean of the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies and Terrence Merrigan, Professor Systematic Theology and the Study of Religions, KU Leuven
Healthcare Values Partnership, presentation by Andrew Papanikitas, NIHR Clinical Lecturer in General Practice, University of Oxford
Muslim-Christian dialogue, presentation by Mona Siddiqui, Professor of Islamic and Inter-religious Studies and Assistant Principal Religion and Society, University of Edinburgh
Q&A followed by discussion
For the stement by the LERU Deans of Theology and Religious Studies, see: http://www.leru.org/files/general/Research%20on%20Religion%20crucial%20for%20Europe’s%20societies_statement_February%202016_docx1.pdf.
‘Since its founding in 2002, the League of European Research Universities (LERU) has emerged as a prominent advocate for the promotion of basic research at European universities. LERU strongly believes that basic research plays an essential role in the innovation process and significantly contributes to the progress of society.
LERU aims at furthering the understanding and knowledge of politicians, policy makers and opinion leaders about the role and activities of research-intensive universities. Drawing on the impressive academic potential and expertise of its network, LERU has a strong and significant impact on research policy in Europe.’
‘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/.