Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Story here. And, he is certainly right to do so. I realize, of course, that in some quarters, talk like this -- words like "persecution" -- are seen as overblown, paranoid, or needlessly inflammatory (perhaps excessively "prophetic"). And, to be sure, many suffer (as the Pope acknowledged in his remarks) extremely impolite -- violent, lethal -- persecution for their faith. Still:
However, he added, there is also a “polite” persecution that “takes away from man and woman their freedom, as well as their right to conscientious objection.”
“Jesus has named the head of this ‘polite’ persecution: the prince of this world. And when the powerful want to impose behaviors, laws against the dignity of the son of God, they persecute them and go against God the Creator. It is the great apostasy,” the pope said.
Pope Francis said that although Christians are besieged by persecution, Jesus will always remain close.
“The Lord has promised that he will not be far from us: ‘Beware, beware! Do not fall for the spirit of the world. Beware! But go forward, I will be with you,'” he said.
I suppose some might say that the Pope is falling into a "culture warrior" mentality here? I would not. What's happening to, say, the Little Sisters of the Poor is not -- not even close -- what's happening to Christians in the Middle East and in China. But, it's naive (or worse) to imagine that, in the United States and elsewhere, the Pope is wrong when he says that "Christians must beware of a 'polite' persecution that is cloaked in a disguise of 'culture, modernity and progress,' Pope Francis said."
Monday, April 11, 2016
I have only read the first 28 pages of Amoris Laetitia--and do intend to read the rest "patiently and carefully" as the Holy Father instructs us to in the Exhortation's introduction. Admittedly, however, upon hearing of the controversy stirred up by a few footnotes in Chapter 8, I raced ahead to see what all the fuss was about...as though doctrine could be taught...changed!?...via footnote? But then, am I the only one for whom footnote 4 of Carolene Products came rushing to mind?
Recall that in US v. Carolene Products Company (1938), the Supreme Court upheld a public health and safety regulation as presumptively constitutional law-making on the part of the federal government as within its power to regulate interstate commerce. (The Court had repudiated Lochner just a year earlier.) But the Court dropped footnote four, laying claim to other types of legislation for which a more probing scrutiny would ensue. Footnote four would eventually become legal doctrine.
Of course the parallel between the Exhortation and Carolene Products fails as to the substantive contents of the text and footnotes, and it's inapt to compare the development of doctrine in the the Church with the development of jurisprudence by the US Supreme Court. But what I am struck by is the confidence with which notable Catholics eager to see the full dismantling of the Church's sexual teachings believe they have found their foothold in the Exhortation--and perhaps in the footnotes specifically! (And some Catholics hoping to see tradition upheld have agreed that the debate about the document's meaning takes place in a footnote...with some quite sure of it!)
Even for a centuries-old faith, this is a first.
Saturday, April 9, 2016
Here is Prof. McAdams's (I think devastating) letter to Pres. Michael Lovell. For more on the controversy, go here. Judging only by information that's public, it appears to me that -- apart from the important underlying questions about the implications of Marquette's Catholic character for what students should be welcome to say in philosophy and other classes -- Pres. Lovell is getting bad advice.
Friday, April 8, 2016
Charles Taylor, Professor Emeritus at McGill University, Montreal, is not only "one of the world's most celebrated living philosophers;" he is also a Catholic. So his reflections on secular democracy should be of special interest to MOJ readers.
We are informed, at the end of his reflections, that "Professor Taylor will visit Sydney to launch Australian Catholic University's Institute for Social Justice at the Opera House on Thursday, 28 April, and will give two public lectures: "The Language Animal" on Friday, 22 April, and "Secularism and Religious and Spiritual Forms of Belonging" on Friday, 29 April." Let's stay tuned.
I know that Brooks's writing and views are not for everyone, but I still often like what he writes, and these piece ("How Covenants Make Us") struck me as particularly interesting and also as consonant with a number of the themes we've been kicking around for the last decade or so here at MOJ. A bit:
Creating situatedness requires a different way of thinking. When we go out and do a deal, we make a contract. When we are situated within something it is because we have made a covenant. A contract protects interests, Pally notes, but a covenant protects relationships. A covenant exists between people who understand they are part of one another. It involves a vow to serve the relationship that is sealed by love: Where you go, I will go. Where you stay, I will stay. Your people shall be my people. . . .
Check it out.
Wednesday, April 6, 2016
Get your copy here.
Religious accommodation is going through a period of heated contestation in multiple arenas: in the courts, in the academy, and in public and political debate. For the most part, the contest involves the specific occasions and doctrinal mechanics of accommodation, not its availability. But contestation over specific applications, particularly when it is intertwined with a larger trend of political polarization, can lead to a greater skepticism about and rejection of religious accommodation altogether. And so it has. As a thick version of equality and dignity assumes the status of "the master value of our time," as a rationalist rather than pluralist strand of liberalism becomes increasingly dominant, as specific controversies evoke strong concerns about the danger of religious accommodation, and as pluralism is seen more as a danger to be cabined than as a good in itself, more liberals have adopted a position that is much more critical of religious accommodation as such. To slow or halt that momentum, and not simply relegate accommodationist arguments to the realm of religious traditionalism or political conservatism and encourage further polarization around the topic, arguments for religious accommodation are needed that speak in roughly liberal terms to liberal audiences.
That is the primary goal of this Article. It sets out one standard liberal concern about religious accommodation: that it encourages or entrenches illiberalism and illiberal groups. And it argues that resistance or rejection of religious accommodation as such on illiberalism-fearing grounds fails to fully appreciate the bifurcated response to such refusals. While some religious groups, or portions of such groups, may liberalize as a result of refusals to accommodate, other groups or sub-groups may respond by becoming more, and more intensely, illiberal. Those groups are not only likely to become more confirmed in their illiberal views, but also to withdraw from participation in the larger liberal society, adopting a "Benedict option" approach that makes them more insular and less involved in broader public discussion and participation, and that will make it even more difficult for its most vulnerable members to have access to information or exit options. There are, in short, good reasons for liberals to continue to believe in the value and availability, from their own perspective, of a general principle of religious accommodation.
The Article has three secondary goals. First, it discusses an important argument against accommodation made some time ago by Mark Tushnet: a theological argument for skepticism about religious accommodation, on the grounds that the state should in some sense be indifferent to the threat of religious martyrdom, and that religious groups err by moving into the state's realm when they seek accommodations to avoid that prospect. I argue that Tushnet's argument is important and intriguing, but too narrow in its view of the religious realm and its relation to the secular realm. Religious groups are thus not precluded from arguing for governmental accommodation of religion, and liberals should and do continue to have reasons to favor an anti-martyrdom position. Second, I argue that the Article's primary argument has implications for how governmental decision-makers, particularly judges, should approach accommodation cases. Drawing on the literature dealing with how courts should speak to constitutional "losers," I argue that they should avoid categorical, near-contemptuous rejections of religious arguments for accommodation, lest they add to the threat of illiberal retrenchment and insularity and drive illiberal groups out of the general sphere of liberal society altogether. Religious groups may indeed lose in some accommodation cases, but it can matter how they lose. Finally, albeit more implicitly than expressly, I suggest that the current debate over accommodation would benefit from greater emphasis on the pluralist strand of liberalism, and a view of religious and other forms of pluralism as a positive good to be encouraged rather than a threat to be managed.
This paper was Paul's contribution to an excellent symposium hosted by the Notre Dame Law Review.
It's a nice problem to have but, sometimes, it is just not possible to attend all of the interesting events going on in lovely, cosmopolitan South Bend, Indiana. This conference, "The End of Human Dignity? Recovering the Intellectual Appeal of Human Dignity for the Philosophical and Theological Imagination", has featured an array of amazing speakers. Here's the blurb:
In recent years the concept of human dignity has come under intense scrutiny and has even been dismissed as “stupid” and “useless.” The erosion or outright dismissal of the concept of human dignity raises foundational questions, such as who is the human person and what kind of communities do we wish to inhabit? What would society look like if the language of human dignity were partly or entirely eliminated from public discourse? Such questions require that those who would assert the concept’s normativity must offer a philosophical and theological response that takes seriously the critique, renews the discourse, and offers new possibilities for how we may meaningfully engage the concept of human dignity.
My understanding is that, soon, video of the talks will be available online. Stay tuned!
Tuesday, April 5, 2016
St. John's Center for Law and Religion was delighted and honored to host Justice Samuel Alito at our colloquium in law and religion yesterday. Justice Alito discussed Hobby Lobby v. Burwell; Town of Greece v. Galloway; Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC; CLS v. Martinez; Salazar v. Buono; and Summum v. Pleasant Grove, as well as his dissent from denial of certiorari in Ben-Levi v. Brown and two free exercise decisions he authored as a Third Circuit judge, Fraternal Order of Police v. City of Newark and Blackhawk v. Pennsylvania.
We had a lovely day today as well, as Justice Alito discussed several important free speech cases in which he dissented with my constitutional law class–US v. Stevens, Snyder v. Phelps, and US v. Alvarez. It was a true pleasure to have him.
Monday, April 4, 2016
I suppose it goes without saying, but I will say it anyway: Mirror of Justice is rooting, in the National Championship, for the Catholic university, and not for the den of iniquity, dishonesty, and corruption (with ugly-colored uniforms to boot). Go Wildcats!