Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2011

Abstract

On November 5, 2010, the St. John's Center for Law and Religion proudly hosted the annual Religious Legal Theory Conference. The event, now in its second year and to be shared among different universities, brought together scholars from around the world to discuss this year's theme, "Religion in Law, Law in Religion." The Center chose this theme in order to include papers on traditional church-state issues—“Religion in Law"—as well as papers addressing the role that law plays in various religious traditions—“Law in Religion." In addition, because contemporary law and religion scholarship has moved beyond strictly domestic-law questions, and takes an increasingly comparative approach, we solicited papers addressing non-American legal systems as well as our own. In all, there were six panels: American Law and Religion; Biblical Law; Comparative Law and Religion; Duties of Judges, Lawmakers, and Citizens; Religious Legal Theory; and Religious Conceptions of Law and Loyalty.

Law and religion is not a new subject in the academy, of course, but it has been drawing increasing interest. Notwithstanding the predictions of the old secularization thesis, religion has not disappeared. In the United States, religious identification remains strong, although rising generations show somewhat less affinity for organized religion than their parents did, and in Western Europe, organized religion's decline has slowed a bit and may even be starting to reverse. In the rest of the world, religious identities remain quite strong. Legal scholars thus need both to understand the claims that religions make on believers and address how those claims can best be accommodated within the rule of law.

From among the many excellent papers presented at the conference, the editors of the Law Review have selected ten for publication. Most of these papers reflect two recurring subjects that the participants addressed over the course of the day. The first of these is the role of courts in enforcing anti-establishment norms. The second major theme that conference participants addressed is the place of religious arguments in secular law.

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