Public Lecture by Professor Brett Scharffs on ‘Why Religious Freedom’, April 7, 15.00h, Free University, Amsterdam

UPDATE: For location, and registration, see here: http://centre-religion-law.org/nl/actueel/50-lezing-why-religous-freedom-7-april.

The full title of the paper which Professor Brett Scharffs will present, is: ‘Why Religious Freedom? Why the Religiously Committed, the Religiously Indifferent and Those Hostile to Religion Should Care’.

The abstract of the paper reads as follows:

‘Religious freedom: Is it the grandparent of human rights, or the neglected stepchild? As with most false dichotomies, the answer is both. But it is also the underappreciated core, or tap root, of human rights. Why should we care about religious freedom? For the seeker of religious truth, the answer may be obvious: Religious freedom creates the conditions, the “constitutional space,” for investigation and the pursuit of truth. But what about those who fall into other groups? What about the religiously committed – who are confident they are in possession of religious truth. Or the religiously indifferent – who are not much interested in religion or spirituality. Or those who are affirmatively hostile to religion – those who believe religion does more harm than good. Should they – should we – care about religious freedom? There are three reasons why we should all care deeply about freedom of religion (and belief). First, is the role of religious freedom as a historical foundation for constitutional, political, civil and human rights. Without freedom of religion and belief (FORB), the entire human rights project may collapse from its own weight. Second, FORB is necessary if we are to resist statism and other monistic views of state power. And third, we may not have the intellectual, political or rhetorical resources to defend conscience if we do not respect and protect FORB.’

You can read the full paper here: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2911086##.

Brett G. Scharffs is Francis R. Kirkham Professor of Law at Brigham Young University Law School, and was appointed Director of the Law School’s International Center for Law and Religion Studies effective May 1, 2016.

The lecture is organized by the Centre for Religion and Law, a collaboration between the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Theology of the VU University Amsterdam, and the newly formed Netherlands Law and Religion Scholars Network.

For more information (in Dutch) on the Centre for Religion and Law and the Netherlands Law and Religion Scholars Network, see http://centre-religion-law.org/nl/.

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

‘The most popular Reformed preacher and author in America today is not eligible to receive Princeton Theological Seminary’s annual award in Reformed theology and public witness.

The mainline seminary reversed its decision to honor Tim Keller with a prize named for neo-Calvinist theologian Abraham Kuyper following outcry over the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA) pastor’s conservative positions.

Princeton president Craig Barnes announced the news in a letter released Wednesday morning.’

Read the whole article in Christianity Today here: http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2017/march/princeton-rescinds-tim-keller-kuyper-prize-women-ordination.html.

In my forthcoming book on Constitutionalism, Democracy and Religious Freedom. To Be Fully Human, I write that there is an increasing academic fascination with cities, both in theology and law and political science, and rightly so. The reason for this lies without doubt in part in the prognosis that during the 21st century globally ever more people will be living in cities. As a result, the urge is felt to develop a theology for the city, with the help of which urban populations can be reached.

An example is provided by the ministry of Tim Keller in New York City. His Redeemer Presbyterian Church, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2014 and can already in many ways be regarded as a success story, recently adopted an even more ambitious plan to reach a still larger part of the population of Manhattan. Also more in general, New York City can, contrary to what many people would expect, best be characterised as a religiously vibrant place.

This is the eleventh post in a new series introducing my new book.

For the first ten posts, please see:

Yale Law Professor: ‘American courts are tackling Islamophobia – why won’t Europeans?’

Waarom de PVV niet het initiatief in de kabinetsformatie moet krijgen

New Book: ‘The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation’ (2017)

R.R. Reno on ‘Islam and America’

Michael Wear’s Reclaiming Hope (2017): ‘Learn How the Seeds of the Trump Presidency Were Sown in the Obama White House’

Major New Report by the National Secular Society: Rethinking Religion and Belief in Public Life

Symposium on Christian Democracy and America: ‘Can Christian Democracy Be America’s Next European Import?’

Journalist Ben Judah, Author of This is London (2016): ‘I Found Faith Everywhere’

The Washington Post on Why Religious Freedom Could Become the Major Religion Story of 2017

Book on Constitutionalism, Democracy and Religious Freedom. To Be Fully Human (Routledge) now available for pre-order.

Yale Law Professor: ‘American courts are tackling Islamophobia – why won’t Europeans?’

‘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:

Waarom de PVV niet het initiatief in de kabinetsformatie moet krijgen

New Book: ‘The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation’ (2017)

R.R. Reno on ‘Islam and America’

Michael Wear’s Reclaiming Hope (2017): ‘Learn How the Seeds of the Trump Presidency Were Sown in the Obama White House’

Major New Report by the National Secular Society: Rethinking Religion and Belief in Public Life

Symposium on Christian Democracy and America: ‘Can Christian Democracy Be America’s Next European Import?’

Journalist Ben Judah, Author of This is London (2016): ‘I Found Faith Everywhere’

The Washington Post on Why Religious Freedom Could Become the Major Religion Story of 2017

Book on Constitutionalism, Democracy and Religious Freedom. To Be Fully Human (Routledge) now available for pre-order

Lezing: ‘Why Religous Freedom?’ op 7 april a.s.

UPDATE: Professor Neville Rochow SC is helaas verhinderd, de lezing van Prof. Scharffs gaat gewoon door.

‘Het Centrum voor Religie en Recht en het onderzoekersnetwerk Religie en Recht nodigen u graag uit voor een vrijdagmiddaglezing op 7 april 2017 met als spreker professor Brett Gilbert Scharffs, Francis R. Kirkham Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Research and Academic Affairs at the J. Reuben Clark Law School of Brigham Young University (BYU), daar is hij ook Associate Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies.

Het onderwerp van de lezing van professor Scharffs zal zijn: ‘Why Religious Freedom? Why the Religiously Committed and the Religiously Indifferent Should Care’. Voorafgaand aan de lezing zal professor Neville Rochow SC een korte inleiding geven over het werk van eerdergenoemd centrum waaraan hij als Senior International Fellow verbonden is. Professor Rochow is European Union Government Relations Representative van The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Brussel, en daarnaast onder meer lid van het bestuur van de Research Unit for the Study of Society, Law and Religion aan Adelaide Law School, Australië. De bijeenkomst begint om 15.00 uur (14.30 uur inloop). Op de website van het Centrum voor Religie en Recht (www.religie-recht.nl) treft u de exacte locatie en routebeschrijving aan. De bijeenkomst wordt om 16.30 uur afgesloten met een netwerkborrel.

De voertaal van de lezing is Engels.’

Voor de bron, en meer informatie (waaronder een flyer), zie: http://centre-religion-law.org/en/actueel/50-lezing-why-religous-freedom-9-april.

Waarom de PVV niet het initiatief in de kabinetsformatie moet krijgen

In mijn bijdrage ‘Onthoud de PVV het initiatief in de kabinetsformatie’ in het Nederlands Juristenblad van deze week schrijf ik onder meer dat er, naast politieke, ook rechtsstatelijke aanknopingspunten te vinden zijn voor de beantwoording van de vraag of de PVV al dan niet het initiatief in de kabinetsformatie moet krijgen.

In een recent interview met de ARD stelde Wilders dat zijn partij van oordeel is ‘dass man den Islam nicht mit anderen Religionen vergleichen kann, sondern nur mit totalitären Ideologien, die wir in der Vergangenheit gesehen haben, etwa dem Kommunismus oder dem Faschismus’. Een dergelijke stellingname opent de weg voor onder meer vergaande en eenzijdige beperkingen van de vrijheid van godsdienst van moslims, zoals ook blijkt uit het concept-verkiezingsprogramma PVV 2017-2021.

Zie voor de bijdrage in het Nederlands Juristenbladhttp://njb.nl/Uploads/Magazine/PDF/NJB-1710-eerste-deel.pdf.

Bovenstaande argumentatie vloeit in belangrijke mate voort uit hetgeen ik opmerk in een binnenkort te verschijnen boek over de betekenis van de vrijheid van godsdienst en levensovertuiging voor de liberale democratie in het algemeen:

‘A reorientation of liberal democracy towards the common good is one main contribution that world religions such as Christianity, Islam and Judaism can help achieve in an otherwise religiously violent world. The constitutional significance of in particular the associational and institutional dimensions of the right to freedom of religion or belief is that they facilitate this contribution. To put into question the possibility to realise this right, is to doubt whether liberal democracy itself is possible.’

Dit is de negende post in een nieuwe serie ter introductie van mijn binnenkort te verschijnen boek Constitutionalism, Democracy and Religious Freedom. To Be Fully Human (Routledge, 2017).

Voor de eerste acht posten, zie:

New Book: ‘The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation’ (2017);

R.R. Reno on ‘Islam and America’;

Michael Wear’s Reclaiming Hope (2017): ‘Learn How the Seeds of the Trump Presidency Were Sown in the Obama White House’;

Major New Report by the National Secular Society: Rethinking Religion and Belief in Public Life;

Symposium on Christian Democracy and America: ‘Can Christian Democracy Be America’s Next European Import?’;

Journalist Ben Judah, Author of This is London (2016): ‘I Found Faith Everywhere’;

The Washington Post on Why Religious Freedom Could Become the Major Religion Story of 2017;

Book on Constitutionalism, Democracy and Religious Freedom. To Be Fully Human (Routledge) now available for pre-order.

New Book: ‘The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation’ (2017)

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‘In a radical new vision for the future of Christianity, NYT bestselling author and conservative columnist Rod Dreher calls on American Christians to prepare for the coming Dark Age by embracing an ancient Christian way of life. (…)

In The Benedict Option, Dreher calls on traditional Christians to learn from the example of St. Benedict of Nursia, a sixth-century monk who turned from the chaos and decadence of the collapsing Roman Empire, and found a new way to live out the faith in community. For five difficult centuries, Benedict’s monks kept the faith alive through the Dark Ages, and prepared the way for the rebirth of civilization. What do ordinary 21st century Christians — Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox — have to learn from the teaching and example of this great spiritual father? That they must read the signs of the times, abandon hope for a political solution to our civilization’s problems, and turn their attention to creating resilient spiritual centers that can survive the coming storm.’

See for Dreher’s forthcoming book: https://www.amazon.com/Benedict-Option-Strategy-Christians-Post-Christian/dp/0735213291

In my own forthcoming book, I write:

I should like to stress that, just like this book does not intend to polarise unnecessarily in the direction of the new critics of religious freedom, it does not want to suggest that authors subscribing to the idea of the benedict option do not have a point either.

On the other hand, it is also possible to discern a link between the new critics of religious freedom and theologians and others advocating the benedict option, in the sense that representatives of both groups sometimes appear to reject liberalism altogether. It is submitted here, however, that there remains reason for Christianity to continue its constructive, yet critical, engagement with liberalism. In fact, this is precisely what the current study aims to do.

This is the eigth post in a new series introducing my forthcoming book on Constitutionalism, Democracy and Religious Freedom. To Be Fully Human (Routledge, 2017).

For the first seven posts, please see:

R.R. Reno on ‘Islam and America’

Michael Wear’s Reclaiming Hope (2017): ‘Learn How the Seeds of the Trump Presidency Were Sown in the Obama White House’

Major New Report by the National Secular Society: Rethinking Religion and Belief in Public Life

Symposium on Christian Democracy and America: ‘Can Christian Democracy Be America’s Next European Import?’

Journalist Ben Judah, Author of This is London (2016): ‘I Found Faith Everywhere’

The Washington Post on Why Religious Freedom Could Become the Major Religion Story of 2017

Book on Constitutionalism, Democracy and Religious Freedom. To Be Fully Human (Routledge) now available for pre-order

 

 

R.R. Reno on ‘Islam and America’

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In a preview of The Public Square, forthcoming in the March issue of First Things, editor R.R. Reno refers to an argument by Sherman Jackson. Dr. Jackson is the King Faisal Chair of Islamic Thought and Culture, and Professor of Religion and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California (USC).

‘In his 2005 book, Islam and the Blackamerican, ­Jackson makes a case for Muslim endorsement of the American political system and its “liberal-pluralist vision.” (…) Needless to say, Islam is opposed to liberal pluralism as obligatory cultural ideal—as are orthodox Christianity and Judaism. But liberal pluralism can refer to something more modest, a political system and civic tradition that recognize the limits of law and accord room for dissent and deviance. (…)

Sherman Jackson is an influential voice in the Muslim American community, and his endorsement of liberal-­pluralist constitutionalism resists Islamic extremism that poses as religious integrity and helps Muslims in the United States to affirm our way of life, which their natural sympathies incline them to do. Which is why I do not regard Islam as a “problem” in the United States.’

See for the full article: https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2017/02/islam-and-america.

My forthcoming book points to liberal pluralism as a plausible model to manage diversity in a postsecular society. It also raises the question in this context, if and to what extent Christian pluralist theory differs from liberal pluralism in a practical sense, although differences remain at the theoretical level. What is more, although grounded at least in part in Christian theology, liberal pluralism is in a sense also remarkably similar to constitutional lawyer Asifa Quraishi-Landes’s account of Islamic constitutionalism inspired by classical, premodern, Islamic regimes.

This is the seventh post in a new series introducing my forthcoming book on Constitutionalism, Democracy and Religious Freedom. To be Fully Human (Routledge, 2017).

For the first six posts, please see:

Michael Wear’s Reclaiming Hope (2017): ‘Learn How the Seeds of the Trump Presidency Were Sown in the Obama White House’

Major New Report by the National Secular Society: Rethinking Religion and Belief in Public Life

Symposium on Christian Democracy and America: ‘Can Christian Democracy Be America’s Next European Import?’

Journalist Ben Judah, Author of This is London (2016): ‘I Found Faith Everywhere’

The Washington Post on Why Religious Freedom Could Become the Major Religion Story of 2017

Book on Constitutionalism, Democracy and Religious Freedom. To Be Fully Human (Routledge) now available for pre-order

Michael Wear’s Reclaiming Hope (2017): ‘Learn How the Seeds of the Trump Presidency Were Sown in the Obama White House’

illustration-1116024_1280

‘In this unvarnished account of faith inside the world’s most powerful office, Michael Wear provides unprecedented insight into the highs and lows of working as a Christian in government. Reclaiming Hope is an insider’s view of the most controversial episodes of the Obama administration, from the president’s change of position on gay marriage and the transformation of religious freedom into a partisan idea, to the administration’s failure to find common ground on abortion and the bitter controversy over who would give the benediction at the 2012 inauguration.’

Source: https://www.amazon.com/Reclaiming-Hope-Lessons-Learned-America/dp/071808232X/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=.

See for more information on both author and book: http://michaelwear.com.

In my forthcoming book, I write:

The thing that without doubt has struck me most during my fellowship is how relatively fast and comprehensively the right to freedom of religion or belief has indeed already come under pressure across the West, at least in theory. It is difficult to give a single and clear-cut explanation for this. One important factor is without doubt the political polarisation that has come to be associated with religious freedom. Thus, Democrats blame Republicans for claiming a near-monopoly with respect to the right to freedom of religion or belief, thereby interpreting it in a conservative manner when it comes to topics such as same-sex marriage. On their part, as they themselves would be the first to admit, the Obama administration has not always dealt in a sensitive manner with issues regarding the inclusion of abortion and anticonception in the healthcare legislation it has introduced.

This is the sixth post in a new series introducing my forthcoming book on Constitutionalism, Democracy and Religious Freedom. To be Fully Human (Routledge, 2017).

For the first five posts, please see:

Major New Report by the National Secular Society: Rethinking Religion and Belief in Public Life

Symposium on Christian Democracy and America: ‘Can Christian Democracy Be America’s Next European Import?’

Journalist Ben Judah, Author of This is London (2016): ‘I Found Faith Everywhere’

The Washington Post on Why Religious Freedom Could Become the Major Religion Story of 2017

Book on Constitutionalism, Democracy and Religious Freedom. To Be Fully Human (Routledge) now available for pre-order

 

 

Major New Report by the National Secular Society: Rethinking Religion and Belief in Public Life

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‘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:

Symposium on Christian Democracy and America: ‘Can Christian Democracy Be America’s Next European Import?’

Journalist Ben Judah, Author of This is London (2016): ‘I Found Faith Everywhere’

The Washington Post on Why Religious Freedom Could Become the Major Religion Story of 2017

Book on Constitutionalism, Democracy and Religious Freedom. To Be Fully Human (Routledge) now available for pre-order