Tag Archives: Conferences

Discussion: “Boko Haram, the Islamic State’s West African Franchise” (March 23)

The Hudson Institute will host a discussion, “Boko Haram, the Islamic State’s West African Franchise,”  in Washington, D.C. on March 23, 2015.  The panel will feature Nina Shea (Hudson Institute), Bukky Shonibare (Adopt-A-Camp, Nigeria), and Emmanuel Ogebe (Washington Working Group on Nigeria).

Boko Haram swore fealty to the Islamic State earlier this month. The Nigerian Islamist terrorist organization, infamous for the abduction of 276 Chibok schoolgirls last April, has a long record of violent atrocities. Recently, it has increased attacks on marketplaces and public spaces, indiscriminately murdering moderate Muslims and Christians alike. How will this new affiliation impact the operations and reach of Boko Haram?

To assess the humanitarian situation in Nigeria and the global security implications of an alliance between two of the world’s deadliest terror groups, Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom Director Nina Shea will host a discussion with Bukky Shonibare and Emmanuel Ogebe. Bukky Shonibare is a strategic team member of the #BringBackOurGirls Campaign and the coordinator of Adopt-A-Camp, a program that assists internally displaced persons in Nigeria. She will provide her firsthand account of conditions on the ground. Emmanuel Ogebe, a human rights lawyer from Nigeria, will evaluate the broad impact of the new alliance between Boko Haram and the Islamic State.

Details of the event can be found here.

Call for Papers: The Legitimate Scope of Religious Establishment (March 7-9, 2016)

The Fondazione Studium Generale Marcianum in Venice has issued a call for papers for a conference, “The Legitimate Scope of Religious Establishment, to take place on March 7-9, 2016:

 How best to deal with the relationship between law and religion is one of the fundamental questions that every liberal democratic country must encounter. Comparative constitutionalism worldwide sees a large spectrum of state and religion models. The American model of separation, for instance, is an exception in liberal-democratic countries, where one can find a variety of ways in which religions get support from the state. In some democracies there is even explicit acknowledgement of one religion as the official religion of the state.

While it is clear that most democracies reject the idea that religion should be privatized, one is still hard pressed to ask: What are the essential features of establishment regimes? Should any limits be set to the establishment of religion? Are there any means of support that should necessarily be ruled out? May a decent state grant preferential treatment to one religion over other religions (or some of them)? If so, on what legitimate basis could this be done, and in what ways?

This workshop will be devoted to a discussion of these questions and other related topics. We are especially focused on papers that address normative questions about establishment of religion from a particular point of view, but comparative papers are welcome too. The keynote speaker will be Prof. Joseph Weiler.

Scholars are invited to submit a 2-3 page abstract (double-spaced) by April 15th, 2015. Abstracts will be evaluated by the organizing committee and decisions made in May 2015. Please direct all abstracts and queries to: gideon.sapir@biu.ac.il or andrea.pin@unipd.it.

DeGirolami at University of San Diego Law School Conference on Free Exercise

I’m here in lovely and warm San Diego (Mark went east and I went west) attending this conference organized by Larry Alexander and Steve Smith’s impressive Institute for Law and Religion at the University of San Diego Law School. Here is the conference description:

Hosanna-Tabor and/or Employment Division v. Smith?

The Supreme Court’s decision in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran School v. EEOC raised crucial questions. Was the decision reconcilable with the doctrine articulated in Employment Division v. Smith? If so, how? Did Hosanna-Tabor represent a passing anomaly or a major new direction in the constitutional jurisprudence of religious freedom? Such questions are still very much with us, and they can be addressed both normatively and descriptively and from a variety of standpoints: conventional legal analysis, history, political science, or political theory. This conference will consider such questions and their significance for the future of religious freedom in this country.

And here’s the abstract for my paper, Free Exercise by Moonlight (more on it by and by):

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 rhetorical hostility to religious accommodation—its admonitions about fabulously remote threats of anarchy in a world where each “conscience is a law unto itself”—has ironically become more apt as a description of the multiplying number of secular interests deemed legally cognizable than of religious accommodation run amok. There is no clearer manifestation of these developments than the recent emergence of theories that expound on the legally cognizable harms—dignitary and otherwise—to third parties that result from religious accommodation. These theories both reflect the enlarged ambit of state authority and defend novel understandings of the limits of religious accommodation. The ministerial exception simply represents the refracted glow of constitutional protection in the gathering gloom. It is free exercise by moonlight.

CLR Participates in International Moot Court in Venice

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Posing a Question in Venice

As regular readers know, I’ve spent this week at a terrific new program at the Fondazione Marcianum in Venice, an international moot court competition on law and religion. The Marcianum gathered law student teams from the US and Europe to argue a hypothetical case before two courts, the European Court of Human Rights and the US Supreme Court. Along with Notre Dame’s Bill Kelley and Judge (and CLR Board member) Richard Sullivan of the SDNY, I served as a judge on the American court. That’s us, in action, above. Mark Hill of Cardiff University, Renata Uitz of Central European University, and Louis-Leon Christians of Catholic University of Louvain made up the European side. Both courts were ably assisted by PhD students from the Marcianum, who served as our shadow clerks, helping us with research and the development of our ideas.

The case was a very topical one. A private, family owned firm had dismissed an employee for making a negative comment about creationism, in violation of the business’s code of conduct, which prohibited anti-religious statements. In the European version, the domestic courts ruled in favor of the firm, and the employee brought a claim under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights. In the American version, the employee sued for employment discrimination, arguing that he had been dismissed on account of his religious views; the employer maintained that, even if Title VII applied, RFRA allowed for an accommodation in these circumstances.

Lots of issues here, and the student teams did a remarkable job addressing them. Special credit goes to the two Italian teams, from the Universities of Milan and Macerata,who had to learn an entirely new legal system and argue in a foreign language. In the end, our panel gave the 500 euro award for best team to the entrants from Emory Law School. They did their school, and especially Emory’s Center for the Study of Law and Religion, proud. On the European side, the award went to the team from Inner Temple.

This was an absolutely wonderful event. It was a lot of work for the students and the judges (not that I’m complaining!), but extremely valuable and tremendous fun. I imagine the most valuable aspect, for the students, was learning how another legal system would handle these issues. The Americans were struck by the argument style in the European Court — 30 minutes of presentation followed by five minutes to answer questions from the bench — and the Europeans were surprised at the more assertive, freewheeling style of argument in an American court. But they adjusted very well.

I hope the Marcianum continues this event. Law and religion has gone global, and comparative law is an increasingly important component of a legal education on both sides of the Atlantic. I’ll write more when I return to NY, but, for now, a very warm thank you to the Marcianum for hosting this event, and especially to Professor Andrea Pin, who invited me and had a major role in the entire enterprise. And thanks to the readers of our blog who stopped by to say hello!

Conference: “Under Caesar’s Sword” (December 10-12)

Under Caesar's Sword

The Center for Civil & Human Rights at Notre Dame University, in partnership with the Religious Freedom Project at Georgetown University, and the Community of Sant’Egidio will hold a public symposium titled “Under Caesar’s Sword: An International Conference on Christian Response to Persecution.”  The symposium will be held at the Pontifical  Urbaniana University in Rome, Italy, on December 10-12, 2015:

The International Conference on Christian Response to Persecution is a major component of Under Caesar’s Sword. It will take place at the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome, Italy, on December 10th to 12th, 2015.

The main objective of the conference is to introduce the results of the world’s first systematic global investigation into the responses of Christian communities to the violation of their religious freedom. The scope of Under Caesar’s Sword extends to some 100 beleaguered Christian communities in around 30 countries.

In addition, the International Conference on Christian Response to Persecution aims to:

  1. Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Diginitatis Humanae, The Second Vatican Council’s declaration  on religious freedom, and to inquire into the threats to religious freedom at the time of the declaration and those that Christians face today;
  2. Elicit a lively discussion of the global persecution of Christians among journalists, government officials, human rights activists, church leaders, representatives of world religions, scholars, students, and the interested public; and
  3. Draw public attention to the plight of persecuted Christian communities, promote cooperation among Christian churches in assisting these communities, and encourage global solidarity with them.

The conference will feature plenary speakers from among the world’s most respected advocates of religious freedom. It will offer a lively discussion of the global persecution of Christians among church leaders, government officials, scholars, human rights activists, representatives of world religions, students and the interested public. Finally, the conference will shed light on the experiences of millions of Christians worldwide whose religious freedom is severely violated.

Details can be found here.

“Christianity and Religious Plurality” (Methuen et al., eds.)

In May, the Ecclesiastical History Society will release “Christianity and Religious Plurality” edited by Charlotte Methuen (University of Glasgow), Andrew Spicer (Oxford Brookes University), and John Wolffe (The Open University). The publisher’s description follows:

This, the fifty-first volume of Studies in Church History, takes as its theme ‘Christianity and Religious Plurality’. The focus is on exploring the practical experience of Christians, who have often existed in a world of manifold belief systems and religious practices. Under the Presidency of Professor John Wolffe, the summer conference and winter volume brought together a fascinating series of lectures and communications, a selection of which are collected in this peer-reviewed volume. Three main areas of engagement emerge: contexts where Christianity was a minority faith, whether in the earliest years of the church, in the Mongol empire of the thirteenth century or under Ottoman rule in the fifteenth, or in contemporary Iraq, Egypt and Indonesia; responses to religious minorities in predominantly Christian societies, such as early-modern Malta or nineteenth- and twentieth-century London; and finally, Christian encounters with other religions in situations where no single tradition was obviously dominant. Offering an unusual perspective on Christian encounters with other faiths, this volume will appeal to students of religious studies and those interested in the cultural contexts in which Christianity has existed – and indeed continues to exist.

Colloquium: “Orthodox Christianity & Humanitarianism: Ideas & Action in the World”

On May 7-8, 2015, the Department of Inter-Orthodox, Ecumenical & Interfaith Relations (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America) will host a colloquium entitled “Orthodox Christianity & Humanitarianism: Ideas & Action in the World.”

Orthodox Christians worldwide are integrally involved in the faith-humanitarianism nexus, both as providers of humanitarian services through development and emergency relief and as part of those populations suffering from some of the world’s most urgent humanitarian crises and longstanding humanitarian challenges.

This colloquium is being sponsored by the Office of Inter-Orthodox, Ecumenical & Interfaith Relations of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, and will explore how Orthodox Christianity conceives of and practices humanitarianism.  The focus of our inquiry is the contemporary context, but we will necessarily consider historical examples, adaptations, and evolution in Orthodox teachings and practice regarding humanitarianism.

The colloquium is designed to encourage analysis, debate, and prescription.  The aim is to encourage conversation and dialogue that can facilitate networks of cooperation and action that will allow for the rich resources of Orthodox Christianity—its teachings, its institutions and organizations, its communicants—to become fully engaged in the urgent humanitarian needs of our time.

Details can be found here.

Movsesian at Federal Bar Council

L-R: Noel Francisco, MLM, Judge Brian Cogan, David Schaefer

On Monday, I participated in a panel discussion, “The Evolution and Implications of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” at the Federal Bar Council’s annual Winter Bench & Bar Conference. (Honor compels me to reveal that the conference took place at the Casa de Campo resort in the Dominican Republic, where the February weather is much nicer than in Queens. But I returned to Queens right after my panel to teach my classes. The sacrifices scholars make). Founded in 1932, the Council is an organization of lawyers who practice in federal courts within the Second Circuit. The winter conference attracts not only lawyers, but also judges–Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito is on the program this year–and discussions are substantive and enlightening.

My panel concerned a topic we’ve covered often here at the Forum, namely, religious accommodations under RFRA. I gave a twenty-minute overview of the topic, addressing the history of religious accommodations in American law, RFRA itself, the Court’s decisions last term in Hobby Lobby  and Wheaton College, and their immediate aftermath. Moderator Judge Brian Cogan (EDNY) then led the discussion, which included a mock argument on a hypothetical case involving the federal Family and Medical Leave Act–attorneys Steven Edwards (Hogan Lovells) and Steven Hyman (McLaughlin & Stern) took opposite sides–and interventions by Noel Francisco (Jones Day) and David Schaefer (Brenner Saltzman & Wallman). We wrapped up with audience Q&A.

I wasn’t the only member of the Center family to participate in the conference. Board member Mary Kay Vyskocil (Simpson Thacher) worked hard to coordinate the RFRA panel, though she unfortunately could not attend the conference, and Board member Judge Richard Sullivan (SDNY) will appear on a panel later this week.

Thanks to the Council for inviting me and to my fellow panelists for an engaging discussion!

 

Book Discussion at Fordham Law: “Bishop Sheen: America’s Most Iconic Catholic and Communicator” (Feb. 12)

On Thursday, February 12, from 6 to 8p.m., the Fordham Law School Institute on Religion, Law & Lawyer’s Work will host a book discussion, entitled “Bishop Sheen: America’s Most Iconic Catholic and Communicator.”

The speakers will be Msgr. Hilary G. Franco, author of “Bishop Sheen, Mentor and Friend” and Adviser at the Office of the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, and Susan Whelan, delegate and legal expert representing the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations.

For more information, click here.

Symposium: “Monuments and Memory”

On February 20th, Columbia University will host “Monuments and Memory: Material Culture and the Aftermaths of Histories of Mass Violence,” a symposium that will focus on the topics of restoration, restitution, and social justice:

In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, a groundbreaking symposium will be held at Columbia University and sponsored by the Armenian Center of Columbia University, Columbia’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights, the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society at Columbia University and the Armenian General Benevolent Union. Peter Balakian, Donald M. Constance H. Rebar Professor of the Humanities at Colgate University, and Rachel Goshgarian, Assistant Professor of History at Lafayette College, are organizers and hosts of the event.

The symposium will be groundbreaking in its comparative analysis of Jewish monuments in eastern Europe, Muslim monuments in the Balkans, and Armenian Christian monuments in Turkey. Issues of preservation, social justice, and restitution will be discussed. The symposium will take place in Room 1501 of Columbia University’s Morningside Campus International Affairs Building, located at 420 West 118th Street, from 10 am until 6 pm with breaks for lunch and coffee. A reception will follow.

More details can be found here.