The measles outbreak originating in Disneyland in California—which was finally declared over last month after 169 cases in the U.S.—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 the rest of 5 questions (and answers) about religious exemptions for vaccines.
Wei Zhu is a program associate for the SSRC program on Religion and the Public Sphere and an editorial associate for The Immanent Frame. He graduated from Brown University with a B.A. in Economics and in International Relations. He tweets at @newyorkwei.
Posts by Wei Zhu:
Over at Public Spirit, to coincide with the publication of the second edition of Grace Davie’s Religion in Britain, Tariq Modood comments on on three significant changes with demography, identity, and the public sphere are going to characterize the next few decades and perhaps beyond.Read the rest of Religion in Britain: Demography, identity, and the public sphere.
Roughly a millennium after Christianity overtook Norse paganism, there will soon be a new temple devoted to Odin, Thor, and Frigg overlooking Reykjavík.Read the rest of Norse pagan temple to be built in Iceland.
The Religion Network of the Social Science History Association has announced a call for papers, panels, and book sessions for the 40th annual meeting of the Social Science History Association, while two full-time Ph.D. research fellowship positions are also available at The Faculty of Theology, University of Oslo.Read the rest of CFP and fellowship opportunities.
On Friday, March 6th, 2015, the University of Chicago Divinity School and the Martin Marty Center will host “The Psychology of Religion/The Religion of Psychology,” a conference exploring the relation between two problem children of modernity.Read the rest of CFP: The Psychology of Religion/The Religion of Psychology.
TONIGHT at 6PM, Eugene Lang College will host a book launch party for Queer Christianities: Lived Religion in Transgressive Forms, edited by Kathleen T. Talvacchia, Michael F. Pettinger, and Mark Larrimore.Read the rest of Book launch for Queer Christianities.
On November 8, David P. Gushee, Distinguished University Professor at Mercer University, leading evangelical ethicist, and TIF contributor, will give the keynote speech at The Reformation Project Conference (which “seeks to reform church teaching on sexual orientation and gender identity”) and affirm his support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues.Read the rest of David Gushee shifts on homosexuality.
Addressing the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on October 27, Pope Francis stated that not only are the Big Bang and evolution consistent with God and creation, but in fact require a divine presence.Read the rest of Pope Francis reaffirms belief in evolution.
The “Interdisciplinary Innovations in the Study of Religion and Gender: Postcolonial, Post-secular and Queer Perspectives” project has announced its final conference, initiated and coordinated by Anne-Marie Korte (Utrecht University) and Adriaan van Klinken (University of Leeds).Read the rest of CFP: Religion, Gender and Body Politics.
On January 3, 2015, as part of the winter meeting of American Society for Church History, four interlocutors will speak on TIF contributor John Lardas Modern‘s book Secularism in Antebellum America, and Mark Noll’s book America’s God, with comments from both authors.Read the rest of Futures of the American Religious Past.
On October 13th, the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family, an assembly convened by Pope Francis, released a relatio post disceptationem—a snapshot of the discussion thus far—that has triggered much coverage and debate across the media landscape. The document seems to signal a softening stance on, among others things, divorce, homosexuality, and unmarried cohabitation.Read the rest of A “pastoral earthquake” in Rome?.
During last night’s victory over the New England Patriots, Kansas City safety Husain Abdullah, a practicing Muslim who once missed the entire 2012 season for the pilgrimage to Mecca, intercepted Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and returned it for a touchdown. After scoring, he was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct—specifically excessive celebration in the form of “going to the ground“—for sliding to his knees and praying.Read the rest of Religious exemption in the National Football League.
Since the resignation of former president Hosni Mubarak in 2011, Egypt has experienced significant turmoil, from temporary rule by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to the military coup that led to the election of current president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.Read the rest of Egypt’s uncertain future.
On November 26-28, 2014, Adyan and the Lebanese American University will host a conference on “Religious and Political Values” in Byblos, Lebanon.Read the rest of CFP: Religious and Political Values.
In the most recent issue of The Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study (NDIAS) Quarterly, TIF contributor Slavica Jakelić, in an excerpt from her book manuscript The Practice of Religious and Secular Humanisms, argues that in order to understand the moral foundation and democratic potential of religious-secular alliances, it is important to move beyond the discourse of power.Read the rest of On Religious-Secular Alliances.
Monday, May 12th, marked the ninth and final phase of India’s general elections, and the results announced in coming hours will likely declare Narendra Modi as India’s prime minister. Modi, the candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance, would then lead the world largest democracy—one with a staggering 814.5 million registered voters—but has been denied entry into ours: for almost a decade, the Department of State has banned Modi from entering the United States. Looking back at how this came to be highlights the uneven history of religious freedom as part of American foreign policy.Read the rest of The complicated case of Narendra Modi’s visa.
On April 7th the Quebec Liberal Party won a majority government in the 41st Quebec general election, with incumbent Parti Québécois, and its controversial Charter of Quebec Values, finishing second.Read the rest of The Charter of Quebec Values derailed.
A brief glance back at the history of Ukraine reveals a religiously diverse assortment of leaders.Read the rest of Four patriarchs and a Baptist preacher.
In a recently published edited volume, Varieties of Religious Establishment, editors Winnifred Fallers Sullivan and Lori G. Beaman asks contributors to think about religion in public life by considering varieties of religious establishment, rather than of religious freedom.Read the rest of Varieties of Religious Establishment.
In his new book, Securing the Sacred, Robert M. Bosco examines how secular states attempt to understand and engage religious ideas and actors in the name of national security.Read the rest of Securing the Sacred: Religion, National Security, and the Western State.
Recently, The New York Times published an article by Nicholas Kristof that lamented how academics, cloistered like medieval monks, have retreated from the public policy arena. Kristof cites a few institutional reasons for this phenomenon, including the decline in humanities funding, but also critiques academics for marginalizing themselves. The column has, unsurprisingly, triggered a debate among academics, policy-makers, and journalists about the merits of Kristof’s arguments, as well as potential causes and solutions.Read the rest of Are academics cloistered?.
On May 22-23, 2014, John Cabot University, as part of its Summer Institute for Religion and Global Politics will host an international conference entitled “Rethinking Political Catholicism: Empirical and Normative Perspectives.”Read the rest of CFP: Rethinking Political Catholicism.
Walking down Bowne Street in Flushing, Queens, you may see a most interesting sign. “Bowne House; Built in 1661,” it reads, “A National Shrine to Religious Freedom.” Flushing is known for many things—the New York Mets, for example, or its Chinatown. It is not, however, known for being the location of one of the first debates over religious conscience and tolerance in the American colonies.Read the rest of The forgotten story of the Flushing Remonstrance.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison has announced the theme for the 2014-2016 Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship Program.Read the rest of Postdoctoral fellowship on religion and secularism.
The complex and ever-changing relationship between the Chinese state and the nation’s religions stretches back thousands of years. While the state never struggled with religious leaders for power, it governed an embedded religiosity in the population, one best described as diffused, non-exclusive, and pluralistic. As a companion to The Immanent Frame’s newly launched series of essays on the state of religion in China, this piece embarks on a brief historical survey, outlining the wide variety of beliefs and practices that religion in China encapsulates, and paying particular attention to the events and philosophies that have shaped the policies of the atheist People’s Republic of China.Read the rest of What is religion in China? A brief history.
The Transatlantic Academy is seeking candidates to serve as resident Fellows from September 2014-June 2015 to examine the research theme, Religion and the Liberal Order.Read the rest of CFP: Religion and the Liberal Order.
Over at The Huffington Post, Norris J. Chumley writes on the growing influence of online forums and journals in the academic world of religion.Read the rest of Digital publishing and the academic study of religion.
The British Council has recently announced the launch of Bridging Voices, a grants program aimed at promoting improved understanding of the role religion plays in public life and international affairs through a series of transatlantic academic and policy dialogues and outreach activities.Read the rest of CFP: Bridging Voices.
The Social Science Research Council is currently seeking program assistants in two of its Africa programs.Read the rest of Program assistant openings at the SSRC.
On March 1st and 2nd, 2013, the Social Science Research Council and the University of California Humanities Research Institute will co-sponsor a conference at the University of California, Irvine entitled “After Secularization.”Read the rest of Conference: After Secularization.
Noting that “nearly all of the white Americans who drifted away from organized religion in the last few decades were liberals,” Claude Fischer worries worries that this is problematic for both the left and the right.Read the rest of The alienation of religion from the left.
Over at Theos, a British think tank working in the area of religion, politics and society, recently released a new report asking: “Is there a ‘Religious Right’ emerging in Britain?“Read the rest of Religious right in the United Kingdom?.
This month, the International Reporting Project at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies announced two new religion fellowships for journalists.Read the rest of Religion fellowships for journalists.
Brown University’s Department of Religious Studies has just announced a new fellowship.Read the rest of Postdoctoral Fellowship in International Humanities.
At Foreign Affairs, Karen Barkey looks at Oliver Roy‘s book Holy Ignorance.Read the rest of Faith, modernity and Holy Ignorance.
On November 21st, a Egyptian-sponsored ceasefire between Israel and Hamas took effect, bringing an end to eight days of particularly fierce fighting between the two.Read the rest of Morsi’s moves.