For readers in the neighborhood, I’m delighted to say that I’ll be giving a lecture, “Religious Freedom for Mideast Christians, Yesterday and Today,” at the Lanier Theological Library in Houston on Saturday, September 6:
Recently, in a city in Syria, an Islamist group imposed on Christian citizens the dhimma, the traditional “agreement” governing relations with Christians in Islamic law. According to the dhimma, Christians are tolerated as long as they pay a special tax and agree to abide by restrictions on worship and other public behavior. The dhimma governed Christians for centuries, but was abolished 150 years ago, when Mideast countries generally adopted Western models of religious equality. Its reappearance in Syria today has sent a chilling message to Christians throughout the region.
In this lecture, Professor Mark Movsesian, Director of the Center for Law and Religion at St. John’s University in New York, will discuss the religious freedom concerns of Christians in the Mideast. He will explore the historical treatment of Christians and describe the situation today. Inparticular, he will explain the current threats to Christians and explain why some observers believe the Christian communities of the Mideast are going through one of the worst periods of persecution in their history.
Details are here. Stop by and say hello!
For those in the neighborhood, San Diego Law Professor Steven D. Smith will give a lecture at Princeton on Monday, May 5, entitled “God and Caesar: Religious Freedom and the Two Jurisdictions.” Details are here. (H/T: Rick Garnett).
The Hudson Institute’s Samuel Tadros will be discussing his important book, Motherland Lost:The Egyptian and Coptic Quest for Modernity, at Georgetown University on January 30. Details are here. I interviewed Sam about this book at CLR Forum last fall.
Our friend Michael Helfand has posted this announcement for the Spring 2014 Speaker Series at Pepperdine’s Glazer Institute for Jewish Studies. It’s a fine lineup, including Florida State’s Michael Ruse on evolution and Villanova’s Chaim Saiman on Christian and Jewish legal theory. Congrats to Michael and all involved.
The Hudson Institute in Washington will host a discussion, “The Organization of Islamic Cooperation: Free Speech Implications of a Proposed Ban on ‘Islamophobia,'” on January 17:
“Islamophobia” is a widely used yet vague and controversial term referring to anti-Muslim bigotry. In recent years, identifying, monitoring, reporting on, and working to ban Islamophobia worldwide has been a major focus of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
The OIC is an international body of 56 member states that is based in Saudi Arabia and active within the United Nations. While the United States has formally recognized its work in the past – US ambassadors have observed its sessions and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton co-chaired some of its meetings – American awareness of the organization remains scant.
In 2007, the OIC began issuing regular “observatory” reports on Islamophobia, and since 2009 has published monthly bulletins that cite primarily Western examples of Islamophobia.
Is Islamophobia a serious problem, or is the term itself an ideological cudgel designed to incite fear and criminalize dissent? Dr. Mark Durie will discuss these and other basic questions related to the OIC’s efforts to ban Islamophobia.
Details are here.
The UN NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief will sponsor a lecture in New York on November 25, “The Resurgence of Anti-Semitism in Europe.” The speaker will be US Special Envoy Ira Forman. Details are here.
Fordham’s Russell Pearce will deliver a lecture on Jewish law and religious lawyering at Touro’s Jewish Law Institute on October 16. For information, please contact the Institute’s director, Professor Samuel J. Levine.
The International Center for Law and Religion Studies at BYU will host a lecture by Dean Brett Scharffs, “Can Public Reason Accommodate Conscience?”, on Wednesday, September 4, 2013:
Public reason as a framework for political dialogue has come to have a force in American and European political thought that might have come as a surprise even to its most articulate contemporary defender, John Rawls. But as religious and other minority or dissenting voices are increasingly pushed to the margins of public discourse, a serious philosophical, political, and practical question has arisen about the extent to which public reason can accommodate claims of conscience. The basic problem can be presented starkly: if public reason rules inadmissible reasons that are not publicly accessible, is there any reason to respect conscience at all, since by its very nature the claims of conscience may be private and only partially accessible or explicable? If public reason reigns supreme as a model of public discourse, are claims of conscience doomed?
A live Web broadcast will be available. Details are here.
On May 15, Fordham University’s Center on Religion and Culture will host a panel, “Saving the World: Does Faith-Based Humanitarian Aid Deliver Relief or Redemption?”–
Faith-based humanitarianism has become a growth industry in recent years, channeling the influence of privately-held religious commitments into the public sphere around the globe. Yet surprisingly little is known about these initiatives—and to what extent their religious inspiration might help or hinder their success, particularly in troubled regions marked by religious division and conflict.
Does the added dimension of faith contribute something unique to humanitarian work? Or is faith-based aid really just another form of religious proselytizing?
This forum will compare faith-based organizations to their secular counterparts and look at how they are transforming the landscape of humanitarian intervention today.
Details are here.