Pasquale Annicchino (European University Institute – Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies) has posted Freedom of Religion or Belief in the Foreign Policy of the European Union: Much Ado About Nothing? The abstract follows.
Part One of this article introduces the new European External Action Service. Part Two focuses especially on the recent policies undertaken by the European Union to include the protection of religious freedom or belief in its external action. Part Three compares the action undertaken by EU institutions with the model that served as its source of inspiration, namely the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Part Four offers some tentative conclusions. I will argue that thus far, analyzing the concrete measures approved by EU institutions in the field, the enthusiasm or early critics is not justified. The EU guidelines on freedom of religion or belief will probably only constitute a first minimal step, but more time will be needed to assess the real policy intentions in the field in concreto.
This December, Oxford University Press will publish the second edition of Religious Freedom in the Liberal State by Rex Ahdar (University of Otago Faculty of Law) and Ian Leigh (University of Durham, Durham Law School). The publisher’s description follows.
Examining the law and public policy relating to religious liberty in Western liberal democracies, this book contains a detailed analysis of the history, rationale, scope, and limits of religious freedom from (but not restricted to) an evangelical Christian perspective. Focussing on United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and EU, it studies the interaction between law and religion at several different levels, looking at the key debates that have arisen.
Divided into three parts, the book begins by contrasting the liberal and Christian rationales for and understandings of religious freedom. It then explores central thematic issues: the types of constitutional frameworks within which any right to religious exercise must operate; the varieties of paradigmatic relationships between organized religion and the state; the meaning of ‘religion’; the limitations upon individual and institutional religious behaviour; and the domestic and international legal mechanisms that have evolved to address religious conduct. The final part explores key subject areas where current religious freedom controversies have arisen: employment; education; parental rights and childrearing; controls on pro-religious and anti-religious expression; medical treatment; and religious group (church) autonomy.
This new edition is fully updated with the growing case law in the area, and features increased coverage of Islam and the flashpoint debates surrounding the accommodation of Muslim beliefs and practices in Anglophone nations.
Posted in Scholarship Roundup, Yosefa A. Heber
Tagged Australia, Books, Canada, Church and State, Constitutional Framework, European Union, Law and Religion, New Zealand, Religious Freedom, United Kingdom, United States
A few weeks ago, I noted an essay by Estonian president Toomas Ilves hinting that religion may have something to do with Europe’s inability to agree on a solution to its fiscal crisis. Thrifty, rule-abiding Northern Protestants, Ilves suggested, do not like the idea of sending money to profligate Southern Catholics who think the rules about not spending what you don’t have don’t apply to them. Here’s another essay, by Harvard historian Steven Ozment, arguing that the roots of Northern unwillingness to bankroll the South lie in the Protestant Reformation. Germany’s refusal to agree to eurobonds, Ozment writes, reflects the Lutheranism that, notwithstanding “the forces of multiculturalism and secularism,” still informs German culture:
How little has changed in 500 years. The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, a born-and-baptized daughter of an East German Lutheran pastor, clearly believes the age-old moral virtues and remedies are the best medicine for the euro crisis. She has no desire to press a Continue reading
Posted in Commentary, Mark L. Movsesian, Uncategorized
Tagged Christianity, European History, European Union, Financial Crisis, History of Religion, Protestantism, Religion and Culture, Religion in Europe, Sociology of Religion
Another blow for Christian minorities in the Middle East: last week, Turkey’s highest court ruled against the Mor Gabriel Syriac Orthodox monastery (left), the oldest functioning Christian monastery in the world, in a long-running lawsuit brought by local villagers. The lawsuit accused the monastery of “anti-Turkish activities,” including the illegal occupation of land that allegedly belongs to the government. Most commentators have dismissed the merits of the lawsuit — among other things, the suit claims the monastery occupies the site of a pre-existing mosque, even though the monastery predates Islam by centuries — and the high court’s behavior during the litigation has not reassured people. At one point, for example, the court apparently “lost” the documents the monastery submitted in support of its claim. The monastery will now appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, which ruled against Turkey in a similar case involving the Greek Orthodox a while ago. The EU, meanwhile, has expressed “serious concern” about the decision.
Posted in Commentary, Mark L. Movsesian
Tagged Christians, Comparative Law and Religion, European Court of Human Rights, European Union, International Human Rights, Minorities in the Middle East, Recent Cases, Religion in the Middle East, Religious Freedom, Religious Minorities, Turkey
Pasquale Annicchino (Robert Schuman Center for Advanced Studies) is doing interesting work on a new phenomenon, the promotion of religious freedom in the foreign policy of the EU. I heard him give a paper on the subject at the conference at Harvard earlier this month. Last week, he had an op-ed in La Stampa describing a proposed unit within the EU’s new diplomatic corps, the European External Relations Service, devoted to the protection of religious freedom abroad. This unit, which is modeled after the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, is perceived as especially important in the context of the Arab Spring. Annicchino argues that the unit must have power to impose sanctions for violations of religious freedom; economic agreements the EU has with third countries may provide a mechanism. Here’s the link (in Italian).
This afternoon’s first panel was “Religious Freedom in the Contemporary Juridical Context,” chaired by Francisca Pérez Madrid of the University of Barcelona. (UPDATE: That’s a picture of the panel, left, with conference organizer Mary Ann Glendon). I opened the panel with a comparative paper on recent cases in the American Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights on the question of state-sponsored religious displays. Although both courts emphasize the need for state “neutrality,” they define neutrality differently, and I argue that the differences reflect underlying institutional and cultural factors. Hans-Martien ten Napel (Leiden University) followed with a paper on theoretical justifications for religious freedom, including church autonomy. He argued that Christian social pluralist thought, both Catholic and Protestant, can provide an institution-sensitive account of religious freedom that avoids some of the pitfalls of conventional individualistic accounts. Iain Benson (Miller Thompson LLP, Canada) spoke next. In a satiric paper, he explored rhetorical devices used by opponents of church autonomy, for example, referring to “public” as distinct from “religious” and treating “secular” as a neutral, ahistorical concept. Pasquale Annicchino (European University Institute) followed with a paper on the need for a religious freedom office within the new European External Action Service, an EU diplomatic corps established by the Treaty of Lisbon. This new service, he argued, which would advocate for religious freedom outside Europe, could be modeled on the US Commission on International Religious Freedom. Pérez Madrid closed the panel with a paper on a recent General Comment by the UN’s Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on article 15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which requires states to promote citizens’ participation in cultural life. Issued in 2009, the General Comment notes that “culture” encompasses, among other things, religion and belief systems; although it must be reinforced in some ways, Pérez Madrid maintained, the General Comment’s approach to religion as a matter of culture was basically sound.
Posted in CLR News, Mark L. Movsesian, Scholarship Roundup
Tagged Church Autonomy, Comparative Law and Religion, Conferences, European Court of Human Rights, European Union, International Human Rights, Religion and Culture, Religion in America, Religion in Europe, Religious Freedom, Supreme Court
This year, the Oxford University Press will publish A Secular Europe (forthcoming May 2012) by Lorenzo Zucca (King’s College London). The publisher’s description of the book follows.
How to accommodate diverse religious practices and laws within a secular framework is one of the most pressing and controversial problems facing contemporary European public order. In this provocative contribution to the subject, Lorenzo Zucca argues that traditional models of secularism, focusing on the relationship of state and church, are out-dated and that only by embracing a new picture of what secularism means can Europe move forward in the public reconciliation of its religious diversity.
Here is an interesting story at the intersection of geo-politics, economics, and religion, about Turkey’s increasing skepticism about becoming part of the EU. From the story:
A century ago when the Ottoman Empire was crumbling, Turkey acquired the unwelcome nickname “the sick man of Europe.” Now many Turks cannot help but gloat that Turkey’s economy is forecast to grow at a 7.5 percent rate this year while Europe is sputtering.
“Those who called us ‘sick’ in the past are now ‘sick’ themselves,” Zafer Caglayan, Turkey’s minister of economy, said recently. “May God grant them recovery.”
Erica Howard (Middlesex University) has posted EU Equality Law: Three Recent Developments. The abstract follows. – JKH
This article analyses three recent developments within the EU that have an impact on EU equality legislation: the coming into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, the Proposal to extend the material scope of the provisions against discrimination on the ground of religion and belief, disability, age and sexual orientation beyond the area of employment, and the case lawof the European Court of Justice regarding the EU Equality Directives of 2000. It will assess whether these three developments have led to improved protection against discrimination for people in the EU.