Outlawed Violation of Human Rights or Protected Religious Practice?

Given the prominence of debates over classification in my classes I’m always on the look-out for a good e.g., something useful in getting us thinking about the interests driving classification systems and their practical effects — and, perhaps, illustrating how naming something as religion plays a role in all this. Continue reading

The Effects of “Bad Religion”

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By Andie Alexander
Andie Alexander earned her B.A. in Religious Studies and History in 2012. She is now working on her M.A. in Religious Studies at CU Boulder. Andie also works as the online Curator for the Culture on the Edge blog.

Many of you may be following, or at least aware of, Rowan, KY county clerk Kim Davis denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite the recent Supreme Court ruling (on June 26, 2015) that legalized same-sex marriage across the United States. In the days following Davis’s refusal to cooperate, I have seen a lot of “bad religion” claims being made on social media and news media sites — i.e., claims by some that she exhibits an improper or inauthentically religious position. It has also since come out in the press that Davis has been married four times and had an affair with one man whom she eventually married. So what strikes me as interesting are the types of reactions and articles I have seen while scrolling through Facebook, seeking to invalidate her: she’s a hypocrite, she’s playing fast and loose with the Bible, her “personal beliefs” are infringing on others’, as a divorcée and adulterer she has no moral high ground — the list goes on. Continue reading

Keeping it Private — or Not

protestA recent development, reported here, nicely illustrates the socio-political function of privacy, e.g., the (once?) widespread notion that those claims on behavior that were said to be premised on religious belief are merely a private affair concerning faith, sentiment, etc. For now this once common presumption is being troubled — inasmuch as the U.S. Supreme Court seems to be gradually dismantling it, in favor of allowing (just some) such claims to warrant exemptions from federal law.

But once this notion is undermined, who can tell what else about the public domain will start to change, given how many interests are vying for a piece of that pie. Continue reading

How Do You Define “Minister”?

CatholicSchoolIn light of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, in which “closely held,” for-profit corporations now seem to have religious rights, it raises some questions about the extent to which employers can determine elements of their employees’ behavior — whether on the job or not. Continue reading

Big R and Little r

upperandlowercaseI recently wrote a review essay on the current state of scholarship on the category “religion” for the European history of religions journal, Numen (which comes out in 2015, I gather). It was fun to write, since its been 20 years since I first wrote a review essay on the same topic — “just how far have we come?” now becomes the question. Continue reading

Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.

RNS-STEVE-GREEN fAre you following the case in the U.S. that’s now being argued before the Supreme Court, on whether a corporation has religious freedom protections? It involves a chain of over 600 craft supply stores, in 47 states, and whether, under the new health care law (commonly known as “Obamacare”), it is required by the federal government to pay for certain forms of birth control that the owners of the corporation claim their religious beliefs lead them to understand as abortion. Continue reading