Recent Posts

July 30th, 2015

Christianity, contemporary legacies, and the critique of secularism

posted by Samuel Moyn

The last post took my response up to the twentieth century invention of “Christian human rights.” This one engages with crucial details about my case for continuity in that era before turning to the major challenge several of my commentators offer concerning my decision to stress discontinuity thereafter: if I am correct about the endurance of Christian politics in and through the inception of universal human rights, could it really be the case, as Paul Hanebrink asks, that “the decline of Christianity as a social and political force in 1960s Europe falls like a curtain” across the stage?

Read Christianity, contemporary legacies, and the critique of secularism

July 28th, 2015

Truth and triviality: Christianity, natural law, and human rights

posted by Samuel Moyn

July 8th, 2015

Where is America in human rights history?

posted by Gene Zubovich

July 6th, 2015

Samuel Moyn and the history of natural right

posted by John Milbank

~ More recent posts ~

Recent comments

  • David Hollinger on Christianity, contemporary legacies, and the critique of secularism
  • Tech Chaplain on There is such a thing as a tech chaplain
  • etseq on Samuel Moyn and the history of natural right
  • David Hollinger on Border-crossers, the human person, and Catholic communitarianism
  • Teresa Blythe on There is such a thing as a tech chaplain


May 29th, 2015

Christian human rights—An introduction

posted by Samuel Moyn

The very first of the five peace points that Pius XII offered that day ran as follows: “1. Dignity of the Human Person. He who would have the Star of Peace shine out and stand over society should cooperate, for his part, in giving back to the human person the dignity given to it by God from the very beginning…He should uphold respect for and the practical realization of…fundamental personal rights…The cure of this situation becomes feasible when we awaken again the consciousness of a juridical order resting on the supreme dominion of God, and safeguarded from all human whims; a consciousness of an order which stretches forth its arm, in protection or punishment, over the unforgettable rights of man and protects them against the attacks of every human power” (emphases added).

We now take in such language, and especially the notion that human dignity provides the foundation for universal human rights, with mother’s milk. Yet it was all rather new at the time. The Catholic Church had previously rejected the hitherto secular and liberal language of human rights, and it was around the same time that the ecumenical formations of transatlantic Protestant elites proclaimed human rights the key to future world order. The communion between human rights and Christianity was therefore a novel and fateful departure in the history of political discourse.

Read Christian human rights—An introduction


May 22nd, 2015

5 questions (and answers) about religious exemptions for vaccines

posted by Wei Zhu

The measles outbreak originating in Disneyland in California—which was finally declared over last month after 169 cases in the United States—thrust the issue of non-medical vaccination exemptions into the political spotlight again, and fueled the growing public controversy over their place in mandatory immunization policies. Personal exemptions for moral or philosophical reasons exist in some states, but religious exemptions, which are allowed in forty-eight states, are far more prevalent. Determined to cut down on the number of unvaccinated people, lawmakers across the U.S. have proposed restrictions and bans on religious exemptions, triggering heated (and ongoing) debates in California, Maine, and Vermont. The current backlash raises a series of important legal, political, and religious questions about these exemptions, beginning with the most basic one.

Read 5 questions (and answers) about religious exemptions for vaccines

Featured discussion

The state of religion in China

This discussion brings together scholars to understand the relationship between the state and religion in China—past, present, and future.

Featured publication

Saving Sex

Amy DeRogatis’ new book documents how American evangelicals talk about sex and sexuality, and how sexual practice is used as a marker of distinction from “secular” American culture.

Featured interview

American civil religion in the age of Obama

Joseph Blankholm talks with Philip S. Gorski about his forthcoming book on civil religion, Obama’s messianic burden, and the significance of Émile Durkheim.