Wednesday, February 21, 2018
On Friday, March 23, in Minneapolis, the Law Journal at St. Thomas is sponsoring a symposium on "Religious Freedom and the Common Good." In past work, I've explored the idea that common-good-related arguments can be an important, overlooked ground for religious freedom in a society that needs to be persuaded of the importance of that principle. This conference will push that exploration further.
The program will bring together (1) social scientists who measure the contributions of religion to society and (2) legal scholars, advocates, and policy analysts interested in religious freedom--for an interchange on how the two disciplines can learn from each other in the service of productive initiatives. Co-organizer is the Baylor University Institute for Study of Religion (ISR).
So far just a Facebook link, so I'll post at a bit of length. Speakers include:
- Brian Grim (lunchtime speaker), founder of the Religious Freedom and Business Foundation, whose widely-reported study quantifies the socio-economic value that religion contributes in the US as $1.2 trillion yearly
- Byron Johnson, director of the Baylor ISR and one of the leading sociologists on the empirical contributions of religious organizations
- Anthony Picarello, general counsel and associate general secretary for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (which has made "freedom to serve others" an important part of its religious-freedom advocacy)
- Jackie Rivers, an expert on the social role and contributions of African-American churches
- Melissa Rogers, now at Brookings, who handled issues concerning faith-based institutions for the Obama White House
- Sahar Aziz, Rutgers Law School, an expert on Muslim organizations, anti-terrorism efforts, and religious-freedom issues
- Stanley Carlson-Thies, founder, Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance
- Angela Carmella, Seton Hall Law School, an expert on Catholic social thought and religious freedom
- Mark David Hall, political scientist at George Fox U., expert on the framers' understanding of religion and the common good
- Dana Mataic (with Prof. Roger Finke, Penn State U.): on the causes and consequences of religious-freedom restrictions around the world
- Yours truly
Here's a fuller description:
Challenges to religious freedom have become more prominent and intense in recent years, both in the US and abroad. The conflicts involve both individuals and nonprofit religious organizations, of varying faiths, and laws on matters from nondiscrimination to healthcare to national security. Arguments over these questions typically treat religious freedom as a matter of personal individual autonomy. But religious freedom may have another important dimension: the common good. Indeed, in an era of increasing skepticism toward many religious-freedom claims, the defense of religious freedom may increasingly rely on showing that it preserves space for religious groups to benefit individuals and society.