Category Archives: Scholarship Roundup

Free Exercise by Moonlight

I have a new article in draft called Free Exercise by Moonlight. It is about the current condition of permissive religious accommodation. It is pervasively lugubrious. Here is the abstract:

How is the current condition of religious free exercise, and religious accommodation in specific, best understood? What is the relationship of the two most important free exercise cases of the past half-century, Employment Division v. Smith and Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC? This essay explores four possible answers to these questions.

  1. Smith and Hosanna-Tabor are the twin suns of religious accommodation under the Constitution. They are distinctively powerful approaches.
  2. Hosanna-Tabor’s approach to constitutional free exercise is now more powerful than Smith’s. Smith has been eclipsed.
  3. Hosanna-Tabor has shown itself to be feeble. It has been eclipsed by Smith.
  4. Smith augured the waning of religious accommodation, which proceeds apace. Hosanna-Tabor does little to change that.

In describing these possibilities, the essay considers the cases themselves, various doctrinal developments (focusing on subsequent Supreme Court cases as well as lower court decisions interpreting Hosanna-Tabor), and the broader political and social context in which claims for religious accommodation are now received. It concludes that though each possibility has persuasive points (perhaps with the exception of the second), the last is most accurate.

Smith’s approach to free exercise continues to control for constitutional purposes and is, for more general political purposes, more entrenched than ever. Its admonition about fabulously remote threats of anarchy in a world where each “conscience is a law unto itself” has ironically become more apt as a warning against the multiplying number of secular interests argued to be legally cognizable than against religious accommodation run amok. There is no clearer manifestation of these developments than the recent emergence of theories maintaining that new dignitary and other third party harms resulting from religious accommodation ought to defeat religious freedom claims. These theories reflect the swollen ambit of state authority and defend surprising understandings of the limits of religious accommodation—understandings that pose grave threats to the American political tradition of providing generous religious exemptions from general laws. The ministerial exception simply represents the refracted glow of constitutional protection in the gathering gloom. It is free exercise by moonlight.

Miah, “Muslims, Schooling and the Question of Self-Segregation”

Next month, Palgrave Macmillan will release “Muslims, Schooling and the Question of Self-Segregation” by Shamim Miah (University of Huddersfield, UK). The publisher’s description follows:

‘Integration’ or the supposed lack of it by British Muslims has been a 9781137347756ubiquitous feature in political, media and policy discourses over the past decades, often with little or no evidence base. This book is particularly timely as it draws on empirical research amongst both Muslim school students and parents to examine the question of ‘self-segregation’ in the light of key policy developments around ‘race’, faith and citizenship. It aims to contribute towards a national debate on segregation, schooling and Muslims in Britain through deconstructing the received wisdom of ‘Muslim separateness’.

“Cultural, Religious and Political Contestations” (Mansouri, ed.)

In May, Springer will release “Cultural, Religious and Political Contestations” edited by Fethi Mansouri (Deakin University). The publisher’s description follows:

This book examines the foundations of multiculturalism in the context of émigré societies and from a multi-dimensional perspective. The work considers the politics of multiculturalism and focuses on how the discourse of cultural rights and intercultural relations in western societies can and should be accounted for at a philosophical, as well as performative level. Theoretical perspectives on current debates about cultural diversity, religious minorities and minority rights emerge in this volume.

The book draws our attention to the polarised nature of contemporary multicultural debates through a well-synthesised series of empirical case studies that are grounded in solid epistemological foundations and contributed by leading experts from around the world. Readers will discover a fresh re-examination of prominent multicultural settings such as Canada and Australia but also an emphasis on less examined case studies among multicultural societies, as with New Zealand and Italy.

Authors engage critically and innovatively with the various ethical challenges and policy dilemmas surrounding the management of cultural and religious diversity in our contemporary societies. Comparative perspectives and a focus on core questions related to multiculturalism, not only at the level of practice but also from historical and philosophical perspectives, tie these chapters from different disciplines together. This work will appeal to a multi-disciplinary audience, including scholars of political philosophy, sociology, religious studies and those with an interest in migration, culture and religion in contemporary societies.

“Funding Religious Heritage” (Fornerod, ed.)

This May, Ashgate Publishing will release “Funding Religious Heritage” edited by Anne Fornerod (University of Strasbourg).  The publisher’s description follows:

PPCspine22mmThis collection brings together a group of highly respected law and religion scholars to explore the funding of religious heritage in the context of state support for religions. The importance of this state support is that on the one hand it illustrates the potential tensions between secular and religious values, whilst on the other it constitutes a relevant tool for investigating the question of the legitimacy of such financial support. The funding logically varies according to the national system of state-religion relationships and this is reflected in the range of countries studied, including: Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.

The book provides clarity in the assignment of funds to religious heritage, as well as seeking to define the limit of what relates to the exercise of worship and what belongs to cultural policy. It is clear that the main challenge for the future lies not only in managing the dual purpose of religious monuments, but also in re-using these buildings which have lost their original purpose. This collection will appeal to those interested in cultural heritage management, as well as law and religion scholars.

“Dissent on Core Beliefs” (Chambers & Nosco, eds.)

This May, Cambridge University Press will release “Dissent on Core Beliefs: Religious and Secular Perspectives” edited by Simone Chambers (University of Toronto) and Peter Nosco (University of British Columbia).  The publisher’s description follows:

Dissent on Core BeliefsDifference, diversity and disagreement are inevitable features of our ethical, social and political landscape. This collection of new essays investigates the ways that various ethical and religious traditions have dealt with intramural dissent; the volume covers nine separate traditions: Confucianism, Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, liberalism, Marxism, South Asian religions and natural law. Each chapter lays out the distinctive features, history and challenges of intramural dissent within each tradition, enabling readers to identify similarities and differences between traditions. The book concludes with an Afterword by Michael Walzer, offering a synoptic overview of the challenge of intramural dissent and the responses to that challenge. Committed to dialogue across cultures and traditions, the collection begins that dialogue with the common challenges facing all traditions: how to maintain cohesion and core values in the face of pluralism, and how to do this in a way that is consistent with the internal ethical principles of the traditions.

“Religious Literacy in Policy and Practice” (Dinham & Francis, eds.)

This month, Policy Press at the University of Bristol released “Religious Literacy in Policy and Practice” edited by Adam Dinham (University of London) and Matthew Francis (Lancaster University). The publisher’s description follows:

It has long been assumed that religion is in decline in the West: however it continues to have an important yet contested role in individual lives and in society at large. Furthermore half a century or so in which religion and belief were barely talked about in public has resulted in a pressing lack of religious literacy, leaving many ill-equipped to engage with religion and belief when they encounter them in daily life – in relationships, law, media, the professions, business and politics, among others. This valuable book is the first to bring together theory and policy with analysis and expertise on practices in key areas of the public realm to explore what religious literacy is, why it is needed and what might be done about it. It makes the case for a public realm which is well equipped to engage with the plurality and pervasiveness of religion and belief, whatever the individual’s own stance. It is aimed at academics, policy-makers and practitioners interested in the policy and practice implications of the continuing presence of religion and belief in the public sphere.

“The Transformation of Politicised Religion: From Zealots into Leaders” (Elsenhans et al., eds.)

Last month, Ashgate Publishing released “The Transformation of Politicised Religion: From Zealots into Leaders” edited by Harmut Elsenhans (University of Leipzig, Germany), Rachid Ouaissa (Philipps-Universität Marburg, Germany), Sebastian Schwecke (University of Göttingen, Germany), and Mary Ann Tétreault (Trinity University, USA). The publisher’s description follows:

Including contributions from leading scholars from Algeria, France, Germany, India and the United States this book traces the rise and turn to moderation of the New Cultural Identitarian Political Movements, often labelled in the West as fundamentalists. Arguing that culturally based ideologies are often the instruments, rather than the motivating force though which segments of a rising middle strata challenge entrenched elites the expert contributors trace the rise of these movements to changes in their respective countries’ political economy and class structures. This approach explains why, as a result of an ongoing contestation and recreation of bourgeois values, the more powerful of these movements then tend towards moderation. As Western countries realise the need to engage with the more moderate wings of fundamentalist political groups their rationale and aims become of increasing importance and so academics, decision-makers and business people interested in South Asia and the Muslim world will find this an invaluable account.

Bonacina, “The Wahhabis seen through European Eyes (1772-1830)”

This May, Brill Publishing will release “The Wahhabis seen through European Eyes (1772-1830): Deists and Puritans of Islam” by Giovanni Bonacina (University of Urbino).  The publisher’s description follows:

In The Wahhabis seen through European Eyes (1772-1830) Giovanni Bonacina offers an account of the early reactions in Europe to the rise of the Wahhabi movement in Arabia. Commonly pictured nowadays as a form of Muslim fundamentalism, the Wahhabis appeared to many European witnesses as the creators of a deistic revolution with serious political consequences for the Ottoman ancien regime. They were seen either in the light of contemporary events in France, or as Islamic theological reformers in the mould of Calvin, opposing an established church and devotional traditions. These audacious but fascinating attempts to interpret the unknown by way of the better known are illustrated in Bonacina’s book.

Rahnema, “Shi’i Reformation in Iran”

This May, Ashgate Publishing will release “Shi’i Reformation in Iran: The Life and Theology of Shari’at Sangelaji” by Ali Rahnema (American University of Paris).  The publisher’s description follows:

Shi'i ReformationShi ‘ism caught the attention of the world as Iran experienced her revolution in 1979 and was subsequently cast in the mold of a monolithic discourse of radical political Islam. The spokespersons of Shi’i Islam, in or out of power, have not been the sole representatives of the faith. Nonconformist and uncompromising, the Shi‘i jurist and reformist Shari’at Sangelaji (1891–1944) challenged certain popular Shi‘i beliefs and the mainstream clerical establishment, guarding and propagating it. In Shi’i Reformation in Iran, Ali Rahnema offers a fresh understanding of Sangelaji’s reformist discourse from a theological standpoint, and takes readers into the heart of the key religious debates in Iran in the 1940s. Exploring Sangelaji’s life, theological position and disputations, Rahnema demonstrates that far from being change resistant, debates around why and how to reform the faith have long been at the heart of Shi’i Islam.

Drawing on the writings and sermons of Sangelaji, as well as interviews with his son, the book provides a detailed and comprehensive introduction to the reformist’s ideas. As such it offers scholars of religion and Middle Eastern politics alike a penetrating insight into the impact that these ideas have had on Shi’ism—an impact which is still felt today.

Tene, “Changes in Ethical Worldviews of Spanish Missionaries in Mexico”

This month, Brill releases “Changes in Ethical Worldviews of Spanish Missionaries in Mexico” by Ran Tene (Hebrew University). The publisher’s description follows:

“Conversion” is a basic religious concept, which has manifold implications for our everyday lives. Ran Tene’s Changes in Ethical Worldviews of Spanish Missionaries in Mexico utilizes a cross-disciplinary methodology in which the fields of Philosophy, History, and Literary Studies are drawn upon to analyze conversion. He focuses on two moments in Spanish writing about Mexican missions, the early to mid-sixteenth century writings of the Spanish missionaries to Mexico and the early seventeenth century manuscripts of the author/copyist Fray Juan de Torquemada. The analysis exposes changes in worldviews – including the concepts of identity, ownership, and cruelty – through missionary eyes. It suggests two theoretical models – the vision model and the model of touch – to describe these changes, which are manifested in the missionary project and in the texts that it (re)produced.