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September 22nd, 2016

Religion, secularism, and Black Lives Matter

posted by The Editors

Black Lives Matter In February 2012, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was fatally shot by George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida. Zimmerman was initially released on the Stand Your Ground statute in Florida, claiming he had acted in self-defense, and was later acquitted of all charges.

As a call to action in response to this tragedy and the anti-Black racism that permeates society more broadly, Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi, and Patrisse Cullors founded #BlackLivesMatter—a Twitter hashtag against state violence that turned into a larger, in-the-streets movement against the pervasiveness of white supremacy. Black Lives Matter is a movement that declares itself to be “working to (re)build the Black liberation movement.”

But what role does religion play in this movement for Black lives—if any? What are the modern day connections between religion, secularism, and racial justice? Does a justice movement have to be openly religiously affiliated to invoke a sacredness?

Read Religion, secularism, and Black Lives Matter

August 29th, 2016

The Politics of Islamic Law: An introduction

posted by Iza Hussin

August 3rd, 2016

Religion and politics beyond religious freedom

posted by Elizabeth Shakman Hurd

July 22nd, 2016

Rethinking religion in a political scientific wilderness

posted by Ruth Marshall

~ More recent posts ~

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September 21st, 2016

Calvin’s questions

posted by Constance M. Furey
By You You Xue (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia CommonsIn “Teaching Calvin in California,” a recent piece in The New York Times, Jonathan Sheehan argues that students in secular college classrooms can learn a lot from studying theology. The example he uses to make the case is predestination. Sheehan is not teaching the comfortingly vague idea that each person’s fate is in God’s hands, however, but instead the disturbingly specific version insisted upon by the sixteenth century Christian reformer, John Calvin. According to Calvin’s teaching, often referred to as double predestination, God selects a chosen few and actively damns everyone else, for reasons known and knowable only to God. …

I am persuaded that Sheehan’s students complete the exercise of reading Calvin schooled, as he says, in “integrity, reason, creativity, and charity.” Encountering Calvin as Sheehan presents him, these students should rightly feel reassured that they can engage even the most outrageous ideas, make sense of them, and better understand people whose ways of being in the world might otherwise seem inexplicable. What is not clear is whether they have learned to appreciate theology as a live option, or have been confronted with the possibility that theological ideas might change the way they themselves understand the world.

Read Calvin’s questions


September 12th, 2016

A tale of two burdens

A tale of two burdensposted by Anna Su
In his landmark essay, Nomos and Narrative, the late legal scholar Robert Cover wrote about the jurispathic function of courts—that is, its ability to quash other commitments and forms of interpretation when they are incompatible with national norms. Religious freedom cases brought before courts often highlight this ability. In such cases, courts assert one law, often the state’s, to the rejection of all others.

This fall, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) will hear an appeal involving the claim of the Ktunaxa First Nation that a proposed ski resort construction in a sacred mountain will cause the Great Spirit Bear to leave the area and thus render all their religious activities meaningless. The Ktunaxa asserts that, among others, the construction will violate their religious freedom under Section 2(a) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms because it will effectively end the vitality of their religious community.

Read A tale of two burdens

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Religion and digital culture

In this series on thinking about religion in a digital age, scholars and journalists consider their respective crafts and the media through which they practice.

Featured publication

Saving the People: How Populists Hijack Religion

Saving the People: How Populists Hijack Religion

Saving the People, edited by Nadia Marzouki, Duncan McDonnell, and Olivier Roy, examines how right-wing populist parties in a series of Western democracies have used religion to define a good “people,” as opposed to the “others.”

Featured essay

Teaching religion: Refusing the Schempp myth of origins

Teaching religion: Refusing the Schempp myth of origins

Winnifred Fallers Sullivan argues why we should refuse the 1963 Schempp decision as a mythical moment of creation for religious studies for the sake of our scholarly independence, our intellectual coherence, and our students.