Tag Archives: Comparative Law and Religion

French & Nathan (eds.), Buddhism and Law: An Introduction

This June, Cambridge University Press will publish Buddhism and Law: An Introduction edited by Rebecca Redwood French (SUNY Buffalo) and Mark A. Nathan (SUNY Buffalo). The publisher’s description follows.buddhism

As the first comprehensive study of Buddhism and law in Asia, this interdisciplinary volume challenges the concept of Buddhism as an apolitical religion without implications for law. Buddhism and Law draws on the expertise of the foremost scholars in Buddhist studies and in law to trace the legal aspects of the religion from the time of the Buddha to the present. In some cases, Buddhism provided the crucial architecture for legal ideologies and secular law codes, while in other cases it had to contend with a preexisting legal system, to which it added a new layer of complexity. The wide-ranging studies in this book reveal a diversity of relationships between Buddhist monastic codes and secular legal systems in terms of substantive rules, factoring, and ritual practices. This volume will be an essential resource for all students and teachers in Buddhist studies, law and religion, and comparative law.

Kanarek, “Biblical Narrative and the Formation of Rabbinic Law”

This June, Cambridge University Press will publish Biblical Narrative and the Formation of Rabbinic Law by Jane L. Kanarek (Hebrew College). The publisher’s description follows.biblical

This book presents a new framework for understanding the relationship between biblical narrative and rabbinic law. Drawing on legal theory and models of rabbinic exegesis, Jane L. Kanarek argues for the centrality of biblical narrative in the formation of rabbinic law. Through close readings of selected Talmudic and midrashic texts, Kanarek demonstrates that rabbinic legal readings of narrative scripture are best understood through the framework of a referential exegetical web. She shows that law should be viewed as both prescriptive of normative behavior and as a meaning-making enterprise. By explicating the hermeneutical processes through which biblical narratives become resources for legal norms, this book transforms our understanding of the relationship of law and narrative as well as the ways in which scripture becomes a rabbinic document that conveys legal authority and meaning.

The Weekly Five

This week’s collection of five new articles from SSRN includes Corinna Lain’s history of Engel v. Vitale, the school prayer case; Anna Su’s review of Steve Smith’s new book on the decline of religious freedom; and pieces on corporate social responsibility in Asia; Christianity and other foundations of international law; and the will to live.

1. John D. Haskell (Mississippi College-School of Law), The Traditions of Modernity within International Law and Governance: Christianity, Liberalism and Marxism. According to Haskell, three traditions constitute “modernity” in international legal scholarship—Christianity, Liberalism, and Marxism. These three traditions differ from one another but also have some similarities. He writes, “my hope is that in studying each tradition, we can find a new synthesis that allows fresh analytical tools to conceive the dynamics of global governance today and how they might be addressed.”

2. Corinna Lain (University of Richmond), God, Civic Virtue, and the American Way: Reconstructing Engel. In this history of Engel v. Vitale, the 1962 Supreme Court decision that struck down school prayer, the author argues that the conventional wisdom has the case wrong. Engel was not an example of the Court’s standing bravely against a popular majority. If the Justices had understood how controversial their decision would be, she maintains, they would not have taken the case to begin with. Instead, Engel demonstrates the power of judicial review in stimulating democratic deliberation on the Constitution—what some scholars call “popular constitutionalism.” She argues that popular antipathy to the decision resulted from misunderstandings provoked by the media.

3. Marvin Lim (Independent), A New Approach to the Ethics of Life: The “Will to Live” in Lieu of Traditionalists’ Notion of Natural/Rational and Progressives’ Autonomy/Consciousness. The author maintains that both traditionalist and progressive justifications for protecting human life are inconsistent and unconvincing. In their place, he argues for an ethic of the “will to live.” What ultimately matters is whether actions respect or violate this ethic. This approach would allow abortion and assisted suicide in at least some circumstances, he says.

4. Arjya B. Majumdar (Jindal Global Law School), Zakat, Dana and Corporate Social Responsibility. In this essay, the author traces the tradition of charity in Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism and explores the relevance of that tradition in corporate law. Especially in Asia, the author says, where corporations have relatively few shareholders and tend to be family or individual operations, religious traditions of charity can play an important role in boosting corporate social responsibility.

5. Anna Su (SUNY Buffalo), Separation Anxiety: The End of American Religious Freedom? This is a review of Steven D. Smith’s new book, The Rise and Decline of American Religious Freedom. Su disagrees with Smith that the Supreme Court’s twentieth-century Religion Clause cases threaten the existence of religious freedom. “These decisions,” she writes, though frustrating and incoherent as they might seem, in fact, are as responsible for the remarkable religious pluralism that exists in American society today as much as for the contemporary secular extremism that Smith deplores.”

How Do You Say “Nones” in French?

From a French post describing my work on the Nones:

Est-il important de donner une définition au mot “religion”? Mark Movsesian, professeur de Droit à l’Université St. John a récemment publié un article sur la montée de la population des “Sans”, ces Américains qui se déclarent sans appartenance religieuse. Selon certaines évaluations, ils seraient 20% des adultes et, parmi les “millénaristes”, atteindraient 30%.

So it’s “les Sans.” I’d have thought it was “les Riens,” or maybe “les Aucuns.” Que sais-je? You can read the whole post in French here.

Driessen, “Religion and Democratization”

Next month, Oxford University Press will publish Religion and Democratization: Framing Religious and Political Identities in Muslim and Catholic Societies by Religion and DemocratizationMichael D. Driessen (John Cabot University).  The publisher’s description follows.

Religion and Democratization is a comparative study of democratization in Muslim and Catholic societies. It explores the nature and impact of “religiously friendly democratization” processes, which institutionally favor a religion of state and allow religious political parties to contest elections. The book argues that religiously friendly democratization transforms both the democratic politics and religious life of society. The book explains this transformation by modeling the effects of religiously friendly democratization on the political goals of religious leaders and the political salience of religious identities. In a religiously charged national setting, religiously friendly democratization can generate more support for democracy among religious actors. By embedding religious ideas and values into its institutions, however, religiously friendly democratization also impacts national religious markets, creating more favorable conditions for the emergence of public religions and altering trajectories of religious life.

In making these arguments, the book draws on and advances recent scholarship from political science, sociology and philosophy on the relationship between religion and state in contemporary democracies. It engages empirical debates about global patterns of secularization and religious belief; normative debates about the role of public religions in post-secular societies; and theoretical debates about the democratic future of political Islam and political Catholicism.

The book anchors its theoretical claims in case studies of Italy and Algeria, integrating original qualitative evidence and statistical data on voters’ political and religious attitudes. It also compares the dynamics of religiously friendly democratization across the Muslim world today in Tunisia, Morocco, Turkey and Indonesia. Finally, the book examines the theory’s wider relevance through a statistical analysis of cross-national data on democracy, religiosity and religion-state relationships.

Reichberg & Syse (eds.), “Religion, War, and Ethics”

9780521738279Next month, Cambridge University Press will publish Religion, War, and Ethics: A Sourcebook of Textual Traditions edited by Gregory M. Reichberg (International Peace Research Institute, Oslo) and Henrik Syse (Peace Research Institute). The publisher’s description follows.

Religion, War, and Ethics is a collection of primary sources from the world’s major religions on the ethics of war. Each chapter brings together annotated texts – scriptural, theological, ethical, and legal – from a variety of historical periods that reflect each tradition’s response to perennial questions about the nature of war: When, if ever, is recourse to arms morally justifiable? What moral constraints should apply to military conduct? Can a lasting earthly peace be achieved? Are there sacred reasons for waging war, and special rewards for those who do the fighting? The religions covered include Sunni and Shiite Islam; Judaism; Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant Christianity; Theravada Buddhism; East Asian religious traditions (Confucianism, Shinto, Japanese and Korean Buddhism); Hinduism; and Sikhism. Each section is compiled by a specialist, recognized within his or her respective religious tradition, who has also written a commentary on the historical and textual context of the passages selected.

Dixon & Ginsburg (eds.), “Comparative Constitutional Law in Asia”

comparative-constitutional-lawThis April, Edward Elgar Publishing will publish Comparative Constitutional Law in Asia edited by Rosalind Dixon (University of New South Wales, Australia) and Tom Ginsburg (University of Chicago). The publisher’s description follows.

Comparative constitutional law is a field of increasing importance around the world, but much of the literature is focused on Europe, North America, and English-speaking jurisdictions. The importance of Asia for the broader field is demonstrated here in original contributions that look thematically at issues from a general perspective, with special attention on how they have been treated in East Asian jurisdictions. The authors – leading comparativists from around the world – illuminate material from Asian jurisdictions on matters such as freedom of religion, constitutional courts, property rights, emergency regimes and the drafting process of constitutions. Together they present a picture of a region that is grappling with complex constitutional issues and is engaged with developments in the rest of the world, while at the same time pursuing distinctive local solutions that deserve close attention. This unique scholarly study will prove an important research tool for Asian scholars, constitutional lawyers within Asia and comparative constitutional scholars around the world.

McCrea, “Religion and the Public Order of the European Union”

9780198713944Next month, Oxford University Press will publish Religion and the Public Order of the European Union by Ronan McCrea (University College London). The publisher’s description follows.

Ronan McCrea offers the first comprehensive account of the role of religion within the public order of the European Union. He examines the facilitation and protection of individual and institutional religious freedom in EU law and the means through which the Union facilitates religious input and influence over law. Identifying the limitations on religious influence over law and politics that have been required by the Union, it demonstrates how such limitations have been identified as fundamental elements of the public order and prerequisites EU membership.

The Union seeks to balance its predominantly Christian religious heritage with an equally strong secular and humanist by facilitating religion as a form of cultural identity while simultaneously limiting its political influence. Such balancing takes place in the context of the Union’s limited legitimacy and its commitment to respect for Member State cultural autonomy. Deference towards the cultural role of religion at Member State level enables culturally-entrenched religions to exercise a greater degree of influence within the Union’s public order than “outsider” faiths that lack a comparable cultural role. Placing the Union’s approach to religion in the context of broader historical and sociological trends around religion in Europe and of contemporary debates around secularism, equal treatment, and the role of Islam in Europe, McCrea sheds light on the interaction between religion and EU law in the face of a shifting religious demographic.

The Weekly Five

This week’s collection includes Benjamin Berger on the modest but useful role of law in mediating religious controversies; Cole Durham and others on same-sex marriage across the globe; Kenneth Lasson on food regulation; Ronan McCrea on face veils in Europe; and Eric Segall on legislative prayer.

1. Benjamin L. Berger (Osgoode Hall), The Virtues of Law in the Politics of Religious Freedom. Berger finds a role for law in mediating the politics of religious freedom. Unlike politics or religion, he says, law does not make comprehensive moral and empirical claims. Law’s goals are much more modest. As a result, law can bracket ultimate truth claims and reach workable compromises in religiously pluralist societies. He offers two examples, a Canadian case on the question whether a witness may give testimony wearing an Islamic niqab and an Israeli case about gender segregation on public buses.

2. W. Cole Durham (BYU) et al., A Comparative Analysis of Laws Pertaining to Same-Sex Unions. The authors survey marriage laws across the globe and report that only a relatively small number allow same-sex marriage. Most states that have decided to allow same-sex marriage have done so through the legislative rather than the judicial process. The authors maintain the legislative route is preferable for a variety of reasons and point out that “with very few exceptions, national and supranational courts have held that such decisions must be left to democratic action by citizens or their legislative representatives.”

3. Kenneth Lasson (University of Baltimore), Sacred Cows, Holy Wars: Exploring the Limits of Law in the Regulation of Raw Milk and Kosher Meat. The author discusses constitutional issues raised by food regulations that implicate religious practices, “especially when regulatory schemes bring into play both consumer protection of the public and recognition of individual rights.”

4. Ronan McCrea (University College London), The Ban on the Veil and European Law. McCrea argues that “offensiveness,” alone, will not justify bans on the public wearing of face veils under European human rights law. However, he maintains, “a ban that applies to public face-covering in general (rather than a ban that only targets the veil), that relates to the specific (though admittedly broad) context of social life and that provides some exceptions allowing the veil to be worn in specific religious or expressive contexts, has a reasonable chance of being upheld by European courts despite the significant infringement of personal autonomy it would involve.”

5. Eric Segall (Georgia State), Silence is Golden: Moments of Silence, Legislative Prayers, and the Establishment Clause. This comment on Town of Greece v. Galloway argues that the best solution to the controversy over legislative prayer is to forbid such prayer in favor of a moment of silence. This solution, Segall argues, “would solemnize governmental hearings and allow people with business there to pray or not pray, without causing offense to, or even in some circumstances coercing, people who do not wish to engage in a religious exercise.”

El-Gallal, “Islam and the West: The Limits of Freedom of Religion”

ASI Welten des Islams 4_Hardcover.inddThis 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?