Most of our fights about the Establishment Clause boil down to this: What can a religious minority reasonably require of the majority? Or, put differently, how far must the majority go to accommodate the sensibilities of the minority? Here, the Court seems to be saying, if a town is overwhelmingly Christian, non-Christians cannot legitimately expect that legislative prayers will be anything but overwhelmingly Christian. To insist on something else would be unreasonable. Continue Reading »
Last Friday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”the breakfast salon of the bien pensantUnder Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Rick Stengel took on Vladimir Putin. Stengel attempted to explain how Putin’s conduct in Ukraine damages Putin’s own interests. Putin, Stengel told his interlocutor Steven Rattner with an air of frustration, “is making fundamental errors” that would get him in trouble with the Russian people. “He’s moving further away from the West,” Stengel said, at a time when “people want to be closer to the West.” Rattner agreed that Putin is being “irrational.” Isn’t it obvious? Continue Reading »
Yesterday, Professor Brian Leiter (Chicago) responded to my earlier post on religion’s social goods. I appreciate the response, actually, and I’ll leave it to readers to evaluate his post and mine. On one point, though, I think I should respond.Leiter writes that I presented no evidence . . . . Continue Reading »
It used to be the case that Americans referred unselfconsciously to their country as “a Christian nation.” The phrase had multiple meanings. A few speakers, no doubt, used it as a taunt: Non-Christians (which, for many, would have meant non-Protestants) should keep quiet or get out. Others used the phrase to indicate that Christianity, in a general way, informed American law and government. That’s what Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story meant, for example, when he wrote that Christianity was part of the common law. Still others used the phrase in a theological sense: America was the New Zion, Chosen of God. Continue Reading »
Recently, an Islamist group in the Syrian opposition, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), captured the town of Raqqa and imposed on its Christian inhabitants the dhimma, the notional contract that governs relations with Christians in classical Islamic law. The dhimma allows Christian communities to reside in Muslim society in exchange for payment of a poll tax called the jizya and submission to social and legal restrictions. In Raqqa, for example, Christians have “agreed,” among other things, to pay ISIL a tax of $500 per person twice a yearpoorer Christians can pay lessand to forgo public religious displays. Continue Reading »
A growing number of legal scholars question whether a justification exists for protecting religion as its own category. Yes, the text of the First Amendment refers specifically to religion, they concede, but that’s an anachronism. As a matter of principle, religion as such doesn’t merit . . . . Continue Reading »
For those who are interested, here’s a brief writeup of the inaugural Joint Colloquium in Law and Religion, which the St. John’s Center for Law and Religion and Villanova Law School co-hosted this semester. The Joint Colloquium used “virtual classroom” technology that allowed . . . . Continue Reading »
Confronting the persecution of Christians is slowly making its way onto the world’s agenda. In his annual Easter message, British Prime Minister David Cameron (above) urged churches in Britain to do more to draw attention to the suffering of Christians across the globe. Cameron also spoke, . . . . Continue Reading »
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 .
The Wall Street Journal reports today that President Obama’s national security advisers have agreed on a proposal to increase US aid to “moderate” Syrian rebels. Although the advisers disagree on the advisability of more aggressive military intervention, they have apparently . . . . Continue Reading »