This April, University Press of America will publish, The German Jews in America: A Minority within a Minority by Gerhard Falk (Buffalo State College). The publisher’s description follows.
This book describes the assimilation and acculturation of a small minority who immigrated to the United States in the nineteenth century and again in the twentieth century. Gerhard Falk focuses on refugees who fled from Nazi tyranny in the 1930s, immigrated to America, and succeeded despite immense obstacles. This book includes a review of the most prominent academics that made major contributions to science, medicine, art, and literature in America. The German Jews in America demonstrates that America is still the land of opportunity for everyone who makes an effort, no matter what their religion, ethnicity, or race. In addition, this book is a key to understanding immigration and the role of community in providing the support needed in becoming an American.
This April, Peter Lang International Academic Publishers will publish, Islam and the West: The Limits of Freedom of Religion by Hana Sadik El-Gallal (Benghazi University).
Religious Intolerance is on the rise. Debating religious freedom often means debating «West» versus «Islam». This book challenges crucial stereotypes around this issue. It explores the scope of the right to freedom of religion in the International Treaties and Declarations and investigates why this right creates misunderstandings and misconceptions that often lead to intolerance and discrimination in countries of various political, social, and cultural backgrounds.
Islam and the West attempts to find reasons for the rise of religious intolerance. The author looks at the limitation of the religious symbols law in France and the anti-terrorism measures in the USA; she discusses also Religious minorities and Apostasy in Saudia Arabia and Egypt. Furthermore, she calls for extending the scope, asking questions such as: How do societies deal with different religions and beliefs? How could and do they find ways of reconciling their conflicting demands while protecting human worth? How can universal values be found and established?
The Weekly Five showcases articles about commercial dealings among co-religionists, the reach of anti-discrimination laws, European cases and contexts involving the wearing of religious clothing and the registration of religious groups, and the free speech implications of regulating “spiritual advisors.”
1. Michael A. Helfand (Pepperdine) & Barak D. Richman (Duke), The Challenge of Co-Religionist Commerce: Two former CLR Forum guests argue for a contextualist (as against a formalist) approach to the adjudication of contracts and commercial dealings among members of religious communities. The article also amplifies on Professor Helfand’s previous work on “Establishment Clause creep,” arguing for a more engaged role for courts in this context.
2. Sahar F. Aziz (Texas Tech), Veiled Discrimination: Professor Aziz argues that while Title VII prohibits cover bias, it does a bad job in protecting against “implicit bias arising from negative stereotypes of protected classes”; and “disparate treatment of subgroups of protected classes who do not conform to coercive assimilationist pressures.” This failing is a particular problem for individuals who fall into several categories of protected classes–for example, women with religious commitments.
3. Michelle Biddulph & Dwight G. Newman (both of Saskatchewan), Eweida v. United Kingdom: This is a short and useful piece discussing four recent controversies at the European Court of Human Rights, two of which involve the wearing of religious clothing by Christians and two of which concern the provision of services by religious objectors to gay people.
4. Jeroen Temperman (Erasmus University Rotterdam), Recognition, Registration, and Autonomy of Religious Groups: European Approaches and Their Human Rights Implications: In the context of surveying various categories of demands imposed on religions in Europe for official recognition (including numerical and durational requirements), Professor Temperman argues that these demands are illegitimate. He also reviews the conflict between European states’ egalitarian interests and various religious autonomy interests, reaching a more intermediate conclusion.
5. Nicole Jones, Did Fortune-Tellers See This Coming? Spiritual Counseling, Professional Speech, and the First Amendment: An interesting comment about the ways in which “spiritual counseling” are more similar to religious speech than to professional speech for purposes of the First Amendment and state regulation. The piece discusses the free speech implications of the “Psychic Sophie” case also studied from another angle by my colleague, Mark, in his new piece.
Next month, Yale University Press will publish A World Without Jews: The Nazi Imagination from Persecution to Genocide by Alon Confino (University of Virginia). The publisher’s description follows.
Why exactly did the Nazis burn the Hebrew Bible everywhere in Germany on November 9, 1938? The perplexing event has not been adequately accounted for by historians in their large-scale assessments of how and why the Holocaust occurred. In this gripping new analysis, Alon Confino draws on an array of archives across three continents to propose a penetrating new assessment of one of the central moral problems of the twentieth century. To a surprising extent, Confino demonstrates, the mass murder of Jews during the war years was powerfully anticipated in the culture of the prewar years.
The author shifts his focus away from the debates over what the Germans did or did not know about the Holocaust and explores instead how Germans came to conceive of the idea of a Germany without Jews. He traces the stories the Nazis told themselves—where they came from and where they were heading—and how those stories led to the conclusion that Jews must be eradicated in order for the new Nazi civilization to arise. The creation of this new empire required that Jews and Judaism be erased from Christian history, and this was the inspiration—and justification—for Kristallnacht. As Germans imagined a future world without Jews, persecution and extermination became imaginable, and even justifiable.
Next month, Stanford University Press will publish Nation and Family: Personal Law, Cultural Pluralism, and Gendered Citizenship in India by Narendra Subramanian (McGill University). The publisher’s description follows.
The distinct personal laws that govern the major religious groups are a major aspect of Indian multiculturalism and secularism, and support specific gendered rights in family life. Nation and Family is the most comprehensive study to date of the public discourses, processes of social mobilization, legislation and case law that formed India’s three major personal law systems, which govern Hindus, Muslims, and Christians. It for the first time systematically compares Indian experiences to those in a wide range of other countries that inherited personal laws specific to religious group, sect, or ethnic group. The book shows why India’s postcolonial policy-makers changed the personal laws they inherited less than the rulers of Turkey and Tunisia, but far more than those of Algeria, Syria and Lebanon, and increased women’s rights for the most part, contrary to the trend in Pakistan, Iran, Sudan and Nigeria since the 1970s.
Subramanian demonstrates that discourses of community and features of state-society relations shape the course of personal law. Ruling elites’ discourses about the nation, its cultural groups and its traditions interact with the state-society relations that regimes inherit and the projects of regimes to change their relations with society. These interactions influence the pattern of multiculturalism, the place of religion in public policy and public life, and the forms of regulation of family life. The book shows how the greater engagement of political elites with initiatives among the Hindu majority and the predominant place they gave Hindu motifs in discourses about the nation shaped Indian multiculturalism and secularism, contrary to current understandings. In exploring the significant role of communitarian discourses in shaping state-society relations and public policy, it takes “state-in-society” approaches to comparative politics, political sociology, and legal studies in new directions.
This May, Oxford University Press will publish The Tsar’s Foreign Faiths: Toleration and the Fate of Religious Freedom in Imperial Russia by Paul W. Werth (University of Nevada). The publisher’s description follows.
The Russian Empire presented itself to its subjects and the world as an Orthodox state, a patron and defender of Eastern Christianity. Yet the tsarist regime also lauded itself for granting religious freedoms to its many heterodox subjects, making ‘religious toleration’ a core attribute of the state’s identity. The Tsar’s Foreign Faiths shows that the resulting tensions between the autocracy’s commitments to Orthodoxy and its claims to toleration became a defining feature of the empire’s religious order.
In this panoramic account, Paul W. Werth explores the scope and character of religious freedom for Russia’s diverse non-Orthodox religions, from Lutheranism and Catholicism to Islam and Buddhism. Considering both rhetoric and practice, he examines discourses of religious toleration and the role of confessional institutions in the empire’s governance. He reveals the paradoxical status of Russia’s heterodox faiths as both established and ‘foreign’, and explains the dynamics that shaped the fate of newer conceptions of religious liberty after the mid-nineteenth century. If intellectual change and the shifting character of religious life in Russia gradually pushed the regime towards the acceptance of freedom of conscience, then statesmen’s nationalist sentiments and their fears of ‘politicized’ religion impeded this development. Russia’s religious order thus remained beset by contradiction on the eve of the Great War. Based on archival research in five countries and a vast scholarly literature, The Tsar’s Foreign Faiths represents a major contribution to the history of empire and religion in Russia, and to the study of toleration and religious diversity in Europe.
This April, Ashgate Publishing will publish Between Cultural Diversity and Common Heritage: Legal and Religious Perspectives on the Sacred Places of the Mediterranean edited by Silvio Ferrari (University of Milan, University of Leuven) and Andrea Benzo (Italian Embassy in Riyadh). The publisher’s description follows.
Going beyond the more usual focus on Jerusalem as a sacred place, this book presents legal perspectives on the most important sacred places of the Mediterranean. The first part of the book discusses the notion of sacred places in anthropological, sociological and legal studies and provides an overview of existing legal approaches to the protection of sacred places in order to develop and define a new legal framework. The second part introduces the meaning of sacred places in Jewish, Christian and Islamic thought and focuses on the significance and role that sacred places have in the three major monotheistic religions and how best to preserve their religious nature whilst designing a new international statute. The final part of the book is a detailed analysis of the legal status of key sacred places and holy cities in the Mediterranean area and identifies a set of legal principles to support a general framework within which specific legal measures can be implemented. The book concludes with a useful appendix for the protection of sacred places in the Mediterranean region.
Including contributions from leading law and religion scholars, this interesting book will be valuable to those in the fields of international law, as well as religion and heritage studies.
Posted in Jessica P. Wright, Scholarship Roundup
Tagged Books, Christianity, Comparative Law and Religion, History of Religion, International Law, Islam, Judaism, Religion and Culture, Religion and Politics, Religion in the Middle East
Next month, Harvard will publish Secularism, Identity, and Enchantment, by Akeel Bilgrami (Columbia University). The publisher’s description follows.
Bringing clarity to a subject clouded by polemic, Secularism, Identity, and Enchantment is a rigorous exploration of how secularism and identity emerged as concepts in different parts of the modern world. At a time when secularist and religious worldviews appear irreconcilable, Akeel Bilgrami strikes out on a path distinctly his own, criticizing secularist proponents and detractors, liberal universalists and multicultural relativists alike.
Those who ground secularism in arguments that aspire to universal reach, Bilgrami argues, fundamentally misunderstand the nature of politics. To those, by contrast, who regard secularism as a mere outgrowth of colonial domination, he offers the possibility of a more conceptually vernacular ground for political secularism. Focusing on the response to Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses, Bilgrami asks why Islamic identity has so often been a mobilizing force against liberalism, and he answers the question with diagnostic sympathy, providing a philosophical framework within which the Islamic tradition might overcome the resentments prompted by its colonized past and present.
Turning to Gandhi’s political and religious thought, Bilgrami ponders whether the increasing appeal of religion in many parts of the world reflects a growing disillusionment not with science but with an outlook of detachment around the rise of modern science and capitalism. He elaborates a notion of enchantment along metaphysical, ethical, and political lines with a view to finding in secular modernity a locus of meaning and value, while addressing squarely the anxiety that all such notions hark back nostalgically to a time that has past.
Next month, the University of North Carolina will publish Choosing the Jesus Way: American Indian Pentecostals and the Fight for the Indigenous Principle, by Angela Tarango (Trinity University). The publisher’s description follows.
Choosing the Jesus Way uncovers the history and religious experiences of the first American Indian converts to Pentecostalism. Focusing on the Assemblies of God denomination, the story begins in 1918, when white missionaries fanned out from the South and Midwest to convert Native Americans in the West and other parts of the country. Drawing on new approaches to the global history of Pentecostalism, Angela Tarango shows how converted indigenous leaders eventually transformed a standard Pentecostal theology of missions in ways that reflected their own religious struggles and advanced their sovereignty within the denomination.
Key to the story is the Pentecostal “indigenous principle,” which encourages missionaries to train local leadership in hopes of creating an indigenous church rooted in the culture of the missionized. In Tarango’s analysis, the indigenous principle itself was appropriated by the first generation of Native American Pentecostals, who transformed it to critique aspects of the missionary project and to argue for greater religious autonomy. More broadly, Tarango scrutinizes simplistic views of religious imperialism and demonstrates how religious forms and practices are often mutually influenced in the American experience.
John Inazu has posted a very thoughtful and interesting piece, The First Amendment’s Public Forum. The abstract and some rapid reactions to the piece follow:
The quintessential city park symbolizes a core feature of a democratic polity: the freedom of all citizens to express their views in public spaces free from the constraints of government imposed orthodoxy. The city park finds an unlikely cousin in the federal tax code’s recognition of deductions for contributions made to charitable, religious, and educational organizations. Together, these three categories of tax-exempt organizations encompass a vast array of groups in civil society. The resulting mosaic is neither thematic nor tidy, but it is in at least one sense, beautiful: the deductions, like the city park, enact the aspirations of a democratic polity. Organizations and ideas wither or thrive not by government fiat but based on the “values and choices of private givers.”
The city park is a traditional public forum under First Amendment doctrine, and the charitable, educational, and religious deductions under the federal tax code function much like a limited public forum. Between these poles lie numerous other governmental arrangements with similar purposes and functions: sidewalks, parking lots, public schools, websites, public libraries, vanity license plates, and student activity funds, to name a few. In each of these cases, private groups and individuals rely on government resources (financial or otherwise) to inculcate and express their ideas and their ways of life. The ideal of the public forum represents one of the most important aspects of a healthy democracy. It signifies a willingness to tolerate dissent, discomfort, and even instability. The distortion of that ideal represents one of the greatest challenges to First Amendment jurisprudence today. That distortion is partially attributable to two important doctrinal developments. The first is increased judicial reliance on purportedly “content-neutral” time, place, and manner restrictions. The second is the relationship between the public forum and the evolving government speech doctrine, under which the government characterizes messages advanced under the auspices of its financial and other resources as distinctively its own and not subject to First Amendment review. This essay suggests that one factor facilitating these developments is a gradual but unmistakable shift in the moorings of the public forum doctrine from the Assembly Clause to the Speech Clause. The public forum is a First Amendment doctrine, not a free speech doctrine. And we will only comprehend its purposes and its possibilities when we rediscover the values underlying the rights of the First Amendment.
This piece continues and amplifies on John’s important work on the freedom of assembly. I have often wondered (and I suspect John may also wonder) whether the increasing muscularity of speech doctrine–verging, in my own view, on what might reasonably called absolutism–has contributed (or is contributing) to the weakening of the other freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment. One need not hold Robert Bork’s view of the speech clause to suspect that this is happening. One can see the phenomenon with respect to the religion clauses–for example, in the claim that corporations cannot “exercise” religion because corporations cannot “believe” anything, or have no “consciences” (that very claim about corporations was rejected by the Court as to speech itself, though Justice John Paul Stevens as well as most of the rest of the legal academy are still up in arms about it). John’s own relational account of the freedom of assembly emphasizes the value of congregation and consociation–of the act of gathering together for a social purpose–which is rather a distinct good than whatever speech concerns are at issue. One might add that the value of place–of having a place, and perhaps even (and more controversially?) of knowing one’s place–are important First Amendment considerations.