Tag Archives: Judaism

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

UPDATE: see for the call:

I am currently putting together a panel for the 2019 conference of the European Academy of Religion on the question of what, if anything, law and religion scholarship can learn from public theology works such as James K.A. Smith’s Awaiting the King. Anyone interested in joining the panel, please let me know. The draft description of the panel reads as follows:

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.

For information on the conference, see: https://www.europeanacademyofreligion.org/general-information

See also:

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

Law and Religious Freedom Book Panel at the Annual Meetings of the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature, Boston, Friday, November 17, 2017, 4 PM – 6 PM EST (II)


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.

R.R. Reno on ‘Islam and America’


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

Paper presentation during conference on ‘Christianity and the Future of our Societies’, 15-19 August 2016, Leuven, Belgium


The conference was organized by the Association of Reformational Philosophy (ARP) in cooperation with the Evangelische Theologische Faculteit of Leuven (ETF): ‘ARP and ETF welcome contributions from philosophers and theologians as well as from scholars in other disciplines who are seriously engaged in dialogue between Christianity and key figures (or central insights or paradigms) within their own discipline and context, wherever in the world this may be.

The Association of Reformational Philosophy (ARP) has its roots in the 16th century Reformation and its direct origin in the 19th neo-Calvinist revival (in which Abraham Kuyper was a pivotal figure). One of the goals of the ARP is ‘to contribute to the deepening of philosophical insight in created reality, and to make these insights fruitful for academic studies and for society’. Key founding fathers of the movement were the Dutch philosophers Herman Dooyeweerd and Dirk Vollenhoven. The movement has grown, and is today globally engaged in academic dialogue between Christianity and the contemporary world, and its animating intellectual, political and economic ideas and leaders. It does so in the expectation that Christianity has important and timely insights to offer.

The Evangelische Theologische Faculteit (ETF) in Leuven, Belgium, has developed into an important European education and research center for Christian theology that seeks relevance to the contemporary world and its concerns. In ETF’s international master’s and doctoral program, students and professors from a wide variety of cultural and denominational backgrounds come from all over the world to engage in stimulating dialogue.

This conference is co-organized with the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies (WMCES); the political foundation and official think tank of the European People’s Party. And the Christian Political Foundation for Europe (CPFE); the political foundation for the European Christian Political Movement (ECPM).’

For information on the program, see: http://www.cfs2016.org/program/.

My own contribution was entitled: ‘Christianity and the Future of Religious Freedom’. The abstract reads as follows:

The central point a forthcoming dissertation on the legal conception of ‘religion’ aims to make, is that the concept of religion employed by courts in the West is not as ‘transhistorical and transcultural’ as is sometimes tacitly assumed but instead is heavily influenced by Christianity in general and Protestantism in particular. As a result, the protection the right to freedom of religion or belief currently provides to, for example, Islam and Judaism is too limited.

I do not consider the thesis that the right to freedom of religion or belief may have a strong relationship to in particular the Christian heritage in itself to be very surprising. It would, to the contrary, be quite a sensation to somehow discover that the legal conception of religion in the West had not been influenced by Christianity.Whether the arguably more particularly Protestant influence is as strong as the author assumes, is a different matter. It could well be argued that definitions employed in this manuscript and other recent literature on the topic, such as ‘the view that religion denotes a sphere of life separate and distinct from all others, and that this sphere is largely private and not public, voluntary and not compulsory’, represent the very opposite of what Protestantism has historically stood for.

The proposed paper will argue that, to the contrary, Christianity in general, and Protestantism in particular, have eventually given rise to a generous interpretation of the right to freedom of religion or belief. Such a generous interpretation suggests first of all that, because spirituality is the keystone of human identity, this right occupies a special place in the universe of rights. Secondly, it implies that religious belief cannot be separated from religious practice. Thirdly, the right to freedom of religion or belief applies to all religions and also to people who do not adhere to a particular religion. Fourthly, the associational and institutional dimensions of the right are important, not just with respect to religious organizations, but also with respect to civil society organizations more generally. A fifth element of a generous religious freedom conception holds that, although not sacred or inviolable, the bar to interference regarding the family as the fundamental social unit is relatively high. The sixth element is that human dignity can well serve as the underlying foundation of the right, as it can be subscribed to by different religious and other traditions. A seventh and final element is that equality does not necessarily imply identical treatment.

A generous approach to the right to freedom of religion or belief does not so much imply maximal but rather optimal religious freedom. Although the limits to the right can to a certain extent differ from place to place, and from time to time, they have historically by and large been determined by the same universal, transcendent truths which also sustain constitutional democracy more generally. This can be regarded as a major – though not exclusive – potential contribution of Christianity also to the future of Western and indeed world civilization.

Key bibliographical sources:
Cohen, Jean L. & Cécile Laborde (eds.) (2015) Religion, Secularism, and Constitutional Democracy (New York: Columbia University Press).

DeGirolami, Marc O. (2013), The Tragedy of Religious Freedom (Cambridge: Harvard University Press).

Petty, Aaron R. (forthcoming, 2016), The Legal Conception of ‘Religion’.

Spencer, Nick (2014), How to Think about Religious Freedom (London: Theos).

Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, Saba Mahmood, Peter G. Danchin (eds.) (2015), Politics of Religious Freedom (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press).