Religion and the New Multiculturalism

Thanks to Mark and Marc for having me here this month.  I’m hoping to blog a bit this month about the competing claims of law and religion in the age of, what I’ve taken to calling, the “new multiculturalism.”  What I’m thinking of here is a growing set of conflicts between law and religion where religious individuals and religious groups are less concerned about recognition and symbolism and more concerned about securing autonomy from the state.  So, for example, I would contend that questions about prayer in public schools and religious symbols on government property have taken a back seat to debates over the ministerial exception (Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC) and the role of religious law within U.S. courts (e.g. the recent wave of proposed sharia-bans).

One of the things that I’ve found interesting about this focus is how interdisciplinary the inquiries have been.  Addressing this new multiculturalism invariably requires dabbling in everything from arbitration to international law to political theory.  And similarly, in my recent Litigating Religion piece, I’ve been working a bit on the options for resolving disputes that turn on religious doctrine and practice, a question that requires thinking about the alternative dispute resolution paradigms of both public law and private law.  I’m looking  forward  to discussing this wide range of issues here at the CLR Forum this month.

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