Next month, University of California Press will publish Good Catholics: The Battle over Abortion in the Catholic Church by Patricia Miller. The publisher’s description follows.
Good Catholics tells the story of the remarkable individuals who have engaged in a nearly fifty-year struggle to assert the moral legitimacy of a pro-choice position in the Catholic Church, as well as the concurrent efforts of the Catholic hierarchy to suppress abortion dissent and to translate Catholic doctrine on sexuality into law. Miller recounts a dramatic but largely untold history of protest and persecution, which demonstrates the profound and surprising influence that the conflict over abortion in the Catholic Church has had not only on the church but also on the very fabric of U.S. politics. Good Catholics addresses many of today’s hot-button questions about the separation of church and state, including what concessions society should make in public policy to matters of religious doctrine, such as the Catholic ban on contraception.
Next month, St. Augustine’s Press will publish Contraception and Persecution by Charles Rice (University of Notre Dame Law School). The publisher’s description follows.
“Contraceptive sex,” wrote social science researcher Mary Eberstadt in 2012, “is the fundamental social fact of our time.” In this important and pointed book, Charles E. Rice, of the Notre Dame Law School, makes the novel claim that the acceptance of contraception is a prelude to persecution. He makes the striking point that contraception is not essentially about sex. It is a First Commandment issue: Who is God? It was at the Anglican Lambeth Conference of 1930 when for the first time a Christian denomination said that contraception could ever be a moral choice. The advent of the Pill in the 1960s made the practice of contraception practically universal. This involved a massive displacement of the Divine Law as a normative measure of conduct, not only on sex but across the board. Nature abhors a vacuum. The State moved in to occupy the place formerly held by God as the ultimate moral Lawgiver. The State put itself on a collision course with religious groups and especially with the Catholic Church, which continues to insist on that traditional teacher. A case in point is the Obama Regime’s Health Care Mandate, coercing employees to provide, contrary to conscience, abortifacients and contraceptives to their employees. The first chapter describes that Mandate, which the Catholic bishops have vowed not to obey. Rice goes on to show that the duty to disobey an unjust law that would compel you to violate the Divine Law does not confer a general right to pick and choose what laws you will obey. The third chapter describes the “main event,” which is the bout to determine whether the United States will conform its law and culture to the homosexual (LGBTQ) lifestyle in all its respects. “The main event is well underway and LGBTQ is well ahead on points.” Professor Rice follows with a clear analysis of the 2013 Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage. Part II presents some “underlying causes” of the accelerating persecution of the Catholic Church. The four chapter headings in this part outline the picture: The Dictatorship of Relativism; Conscience Redefined; The Constitution: Moral Neutrality; and The Constitution: Still Taken Seriously? The answer to the last question, as you might expect, is: No. Part III, the controversial heart of the book, presents contraception as “an unacknowledged cause” of persecution. The first chapter argues that contraception is not just a “Catholic issue.” The next chapter describes the “consequences” of contraception and the treatment of women as objects. The third chapter spells out in detail the reality that contraception is a First Commandment issue and that its displacement of God as the ultimate moral authority opened the door for the State to assume that role, bringing on a persecution of the Church. The last chapter, “A Teaching Untaught,” details the admitted failure of the American Catholic bishops to teach Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical, Humanae Vitae. But Rice offers hope that the bishops are now getting their act together Part IV offers as a “response” to the persecution of the Church three remedies: Speak the Truth with clarity and charity; Trust God; and, most important, Pray. As the last sentence in the book puts it: “John Paul II wrote in a letter to U.S. bishops in 1993: ‘America needs much prayer – lest it lose its soul.’” This readable and provocative book is abundantly documented with a detailed index of names and subjects.
This May, Routledge will publish Law, Religion and Homosexuality by Paul Johnson (University of York) and Robert Vanderbeck (University of Leeds). The publisher’s description follows.
Law, Religion and Homosexuality is the first book-length study of how religion has shaped, and continues to shape, legislation that regulates the lives of gay men and lesbians. Through a systematic examination of how religious discourse influences the making of law – in the form of official interventions made by faith communities and organizations, as well as by expressions of faith by individual legislators – the authors argue that religion continues to be central to both enabling and restricting the development of sexual orientation equality. Whilst some claim that faith has been marginalized in the legislative processes of contemporary western societies, Johnson and Vanderbeck show the significant impact of religion in a number of substantive legal areas relating to sexual orientation including: same-sex sexual relations, family life, civil partnership and same-sex marriage, equality in employment and the provision of goods and services, hate speech regulation, and education. Law, Religion and Homosexuality demonstrates the dynamic interplay between law and religion in respect of homosexuality and will be of considerable interest to a wide audience of academics, policy makers and stakeholders.
On May 30, Mercer University Press will publish Separation of Church and State: Founding Principle of Religious Liberty by Frank Lambert (Purdue University). The publisher’s description follows.
Frank Lambert tackles the central claims of the Religious Right “historians” who insist that America was conceived as a “Christian State,” that modern-day “liberals” and “secularists” have distorted and/or ignored the place of religion in American history, and that the phrase “the separation of church and state” does not appear in any of the founding documents and is, therefore, a myth created by the Left. He discusses what separates “bad” history from “good” history, and concludes that the self-styled “historians” of the Religious Right create a “useful past” that enlists the nation’s founders on behalf of present-day conservative religious and political causes. Through the use of selective quotations lifted out of context and interpreted through faulty logic, the result is a politicized religious history that says more about the Religious Right than it does about the nation’s founders. Lambert believes that the most effective means of critiquing such misuse of history is sound historical investigation that considers all the evidence, not just that which support’s [sic] an author’s biases, and draws reasonable conclusions grounded in historical context. The result exposes the Religious Right “history” as fabrications and half-truths. In fact, one of the foundational principles of the Constitution is that of separation as the key to safeguarding freedom: separation of powers, separation of federal and state governments, and separation of church and state.
In January, Amsterdam University Press published The Malaysian Islamic Party 1951-2013: Islamism in a Mottled Nation by Farish Noor (Nanyang Technological University). The publisher’s description follows.
The Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party PAS is the biggest opposition party in Malaysia today and one of the most prominent Islamist parties in Southeast Asia. This work recounts the historical development of PAS from 1951 to the present, and looks at how it has risen to become a political movement that is both local and transnational, tracking its rise from the Cold War to the age of the War on Terror, and its evolving ideological postures – from anti-colonialism to post-revolutionary Islamism, as the party adapted itself to the realities of the postmodern global age. PAS’s long engagement with modernity and its nuanced approach to the goal of state capture is the focus of this work, as it recounts the story of the Islamist party and Malaysia by extension.
In May, Cambridge University Press will publish Counting Islam: Religion, Class, and Elections in Egypt by Tarek Masoud (Harvard University). The publisher’s description follows.
Why does Islam seem to dominate Egyptian politics, especially when the country’s endemic poverty and deep economic inequality would seem to render it promising terrain for a politics of radical redistribution rather than one of religious conservativism? This book argues that the answer lies not in the political unsophistication of voters, the subordination of economic interests to spiritual ones, or the ineptitude of secular and leftist politicians, but in organizational and social factors that shape the opportunities of parties in authoritarian and democratizing systems to reach potential voters. Tracing the performance of Islamists and their rivals in Egyptian elections over the course of almost forty years, this book not only explains why Islamists win elections, but illuminates the possibilities for the emergence in Egypt of the kind of political pluralism that is at the heart of what we expect from democracy.
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, the University of Toronto Press will publish Religion in the Public Sphere: Canadian Case Studies edited by Solange Lefebvre (Université de Montréal) and Lori G. Beaman (University of Ottawa). The publisher’s description follows.
The place of religion in the public realm is the subject of frequent and lively debate in the media, among academics and policymakers, and within communities. With this edited collection, Solange Lefebvre and Lori G. Beaman bring together a series of case studies of religious groups and practices from all across Canada that re-examine and question the classic distinction between the public and private spheres.
Religion in the Public Sphere explores the public image of religious groups, legal issues relating to “reasonable accommodations,” and the role of religion in public services and institutions like health care and education. Offering a wide range of contributions from religious studies, political science, theology, and law, Religion in the Public Sphere presents emerging new models to explain contemporary relations between religion, civil society, the private sector, family, and the state.
This April, Oxford University Press will publish Faith and the Founders of the American Republic edited by Daniel L. Dreisbach (American University) and Mark David Hall (George Fox University). The publisher’s description follows.
The role of religion in the founding of America has long been a hotly debated question. Some historians have regarded the views of a few famous founders, such as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Thomas Paine, as evidence that the founders were deists who advocated the strict separation of church and state. Popular Christian polemicists, on the other hand, have attempted to show that virtually all of the founders were pious Christians in favor of public support for religion.
As the essays in this volume demonstrate, a diverse array of religious traditions informed the political culture of the American founding. Faith and the Founders of the American Republic includes studies both of minority faiths, such as Islam and Judaism, and of major traditions like Calvinism. It also includes nuanced analysis of specific founders-Quaker John Dickinson, prominent Baptists Isaac Backus and John Leland, and Theistic Rationalist Gouverneur Morris, among others-with attention to their personal histories, faiths, constitutional philosophies, and views on the relationship between religion and the state.
This volume will be a crucial resource for anyone interested in the place of faith in the founding of the American constitutional republic, from political, religious, historical, and legal perspectives.
This month, McGill Queens University Press will publish Fighting Over God: A Legal and Political History of Religious Freedom in Canada by Janet Epp Buckingham (Trinity Western University). The publisher’s description follows.
From before Confederation to the present day, religion has been one of the most contentious issues in Canadian public life. In Fighting over God, Janet Buckingham surveys a vast array of religious conflicts, exploring both their political aspects and the court cases that were part of their resolution.
While topics such as the Manitoba Schools Crisis and debates about Sunday shopping are familiar territory, Buckingham focuses on lesser-known conflicts such as those over the education of Doukhobor and Mennonite children and the banning of the Jehovah’s Witness religion under the Defence of Canada Regulations during the Second World War. Subjects are explored thematically with chapters on the history of religious broadcasting, education, freedom of expression, religious practices, marriage and family, and religious institutions.
Contentious issues about religious accommodation are not going away. Fighting over God cites over six hundred legal cases, across nearly four centuries, to provide a rich context for the ongoing social debate about the place of religion in our increasingly secular society.