About the discipline
Many of the hottest legal issues today involve religion in the public square. Current First Amendment issues include church-state separation, God in the Pledge of Allegiance, and prayer in schools and public spheres. Ethical issues sometimes related to religious beliefs are also debated, such as potential bans on abortion or types of abortion, the death penalty, and how to rule or legislate in ways that offer freedom to practice religion but not against any particular practices or atheist beliefs.
History: Religion and law have been linked throughout history. The Code of Hammurabi (c. 1892 B.C.-1750 B.C), one of the earliest documented legal codes, was reportedly given to King Hammurabi by the Sumerian gods. The Ten Commandments, a centerpiece of the Jewish and Christian faiths, influenced similar guides for behavior in the Koran. They also have guided thinking on legal matters for centuries both in this country and in the European common law that was adopted by America at the founding of our nation. The notion of “eye for an eye” that guides some in the debate over capital punishment is a reflection of religious roots in the evolution of law (it is found in both Hammurabi’s code and the Old Testament and influenced Islamic Sharia law). The intentions of America’s Founding Fathers regarding how religion, law and public life are to be conducted remains up for debate among many groups.
Philosophical ideas: Some have said that law is the framework upon which religion rests – that law is the bones and religion is its soul. In truth, the two disciplines have much in common. They define right and wrong while also trying to find the interplay and balance between justice and mercy, between the need to provide discipline and order and the need to show love. These traditions can be studied in tandem, and the Center on Religion & the Professions offers a chance to connect legal scholars with those from other disciplines in ways to produce original research in this area.
Law in current affairs: The principles of law are seen in many current religious issues. For example, in the Catholic Church clergy abuse crisis, religious institutions and zoning laws, vouchers for religious schools, expressions of religion on public property, and rulings on peyote, a drug used in American Indian religious practice. Both Supreme Court and local rulings impact how religion and law are practiced in these areas.
Religion also plays a role in prisons and addiction recovery programs. Some studies have shown that inmates who participate in religious practice have a lower recidivism rate.
Law and journalism: The Center on Religion & the Professions is an affiliate of MU’s School of Journalism. Researchers could work jointly in religion, law and journalism to educate attorneys, students and the media about issues related to religion and law, with the goal of giving the public a more nuanced explanation of legal and religious issues. Journalists interested in law could also study how media coverage of these issues impacts public perception and how laws are made and followed.
Current issues: The Center aims to promote understanding of how a diverse public can better function with the many religions that are practiced in the U.S. The legal arena is often the one chosen by those in a minority viewpoint to protect rights or increase awareness. Legal scholars can work with the Center to promote these goals. Those practicing law can also better understand how their own religious or non-religious beliefs drive their interest in or practice of law.
Researchers could explore the ramifications of a legal system that has evolved from religious principles through the eyes of a diverse citizenry. In historical terms, the evolution of law in the U.S. could be traced in concert with the growth of religious diversity in the United States. Research that examines other ethical traditions could be useful in constructing law for a more diverse society.
- “Bans on the Wearing of Religious Symbols in British Schools: A Violation of the Right to Non-Discrimination?” by Erica Howard. Religion and Human Rights, Vol. 6, No. 2, 2011.
- “Challenged pragmatism: Conflicts of religion and law in the Danish labour market” by Lisbet Christoffersen and Niels Valdemar Vinding. International Journal of Discrimination and the Law. 13 no. 2-3 (2013): 140-168.
- “Faith and the Attorney-Client Relationship: A Muslim Perspective” by Azizah Y. al-Hibri. Fordham Law Review, Vol. LXVI, No. 4, March 1998.
- “Hungary’s New Constitution and Its New Law on Freedom of Religion and Churches: The Return of the Sovereign” by Renata Uitz. Brigham Young University Law Review. 2012 no. 3 (2012): 931-967.
- “Is there a place for religion in judicial decision-making?” by Kermit V. Lipez. Touro Law Review. 31 no. 1 (2015): 133-148.
- “Is the rule of law an antidote for religious tension? The promise and peril of judicializing religious freedom” by. Benjamin Schonthal, Tamir Moustafa, Matthew Nelson and Shylashri Shankar. American Behavioral Scientist. 60 no. 8 (2016): 966-986.
- “Is This Arbitration?: Religious Tribunals, Judicial Review, and Due Process.” by Michael C. Grossman. Columbia Law Review. 107, no. 1 (2007): 169-209.
- “Key Theoretical Issues in the Interaction of Law and Religion: A Guide for the Perplexed” by Benjamin Berger. Constitutional Forum. 19 no. 2 (2011): 41-52.
- “Law and Religion in a Secular World: A European Perspective” by Silvio Ferrari. Ecclesiastical Law Journal. 14 no. 3 (2012): 355-370.
- “Law and the Art of Defining Religion” by Cecilia Kenny. Ecclesiastical Law Journal. 16 no. 1 (2014): 18-31.
- “On Being a Muslim Corporate Lawyer” by Azizah al-Hibri. Texas Tech Law Review. Vol. 27: 947.
- “On Freud’s theory of law and religion” by David Novak. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry. 48 (2016): 24-34.
- “Religion, Power and Law in Twentieth Century India” by Ishita Banerjee-Dube. History Compass. 13 no. 12 (2015): 621-629.
- “Religion and Freedom of Speech: Portraits of Muhammad.” by Robert Post. Constellations: An International Journal of Critical & Democratic Theory. 14, no. 1 (2007): 72-90.
- “The First Amendment Implications of Teaching the Theory of Evolution and Creationism In Public Schools” by E.Y. Brownfield, E.Y. Journal of Law & Education. 36, no. 1 (2007): 141-8.
- “The Interaction of Law and Religion in Central Nigerian Societies” by Oladiti Abiodun Akeem and Akin Alao. Journal of Pan African Studies. 10 no. 5 (2017): 42-65.
- “The Most Hated Woman in America’: Madalyn Murray and the Crusade against School Prayer” by Bruce J. Dierenfield. Journal of Supreme Court History. 32, no. 1 (2007): 62-84.
- “The Study of Law and Religion in the United States: An Interim Report” by John Witte. Ecclesiastical Law Journal. 14 no. 3 (2012): 327-354.
- “The Unconstitutionality of Religious Vilification Laws in Australia: Why Religious Vilification Laws Are Contrary to the Implied Freedom of Political Communication Affirmed in the Australian Constitution” by Augusto Zimmermann. Brigham Young University Law Review. 2013 no. 3 (2013): 457-504.
- “To Accommodate or Not to Accommodate: (When) Should the State Regulate Religion to Protect the Rights of Children and Third Parties?” by Hillel Y. Levin, Allan J. Jacobs and Kavita Shah Arora. Washington & Lee Law Review. 73 no. 2 (2016): 915-1016.
- “To Engage in Civil Practice as a Religious Lawyer” by James L. Nolan, reprinted from Fordham Urban Law Journal, Vol. XXVI, No. 4, April 1999.
- “Trajectories of Religion and Law” by Benjamin Schonthal. Journal of Religion. 94 no. 4 (2014): 529-531.
- “Twenty-five years of law and religion scholarship: some reflections” by Maria A. Failinger. Touro Law Review. 30 no. 1 (2014): 9-25.
- “Veiled Women and the Affect of Religion in Democracy” by Stewart Motha. Journal of Law & Society. 34, no. 1 (2007): 139-62.
- Constitutional Illusions and Anchoring Truths: The Touchstone of the Natural Law. Hadley Arkes. Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (May 31, 2010).
- Across the Religious Divide: Women, Property, and Law in the Wider Mediterranean. Jutta Sperling and Shona Kelly Wray. Routledge (October 13, 2009).
- Encountering Religion in the Workplace: The Legal Rights and Responsibilities of Workers and Employers. Raymond F. Gregory. New York: Cornell University Press, 2011.
- Islamic Feminism and the Law by Qudsia Mirza. Routledge-Cavendish, 2011.
- A Correctional Administrator’s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices (.pdf)
- Law and Religion in Europe: A Comparative Introduction by Norma Doe. Oxford University Press USA, 2011.
- Religion and law: An introduction. Peter W. Edge. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2006.
- Law and religion: a critical anthology. Stephen M. Feldman. NYU Press, 2000.
- Religion and the Law in America: An Encyclopedia of Personal Belief and Public Policy. Scott A. Merriman. ABC-CLIO, 2007.
- Clash Of Orthodoxies: Law Religion & Morality In Crisis. Robert P. George.Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2001.
- God vs. the Gavel: Religion and the Rule of Law. Marci A. Hamilton. Cambridge University Press, 2007.
- Doing Justice to Mercy: Religion, Law, and Criminal Justice. Jonathan Rothchild (ed.) University of Virginia Press, 2007.
- Religion and International Law. Mark W. Janis and Carolyn Evans (eds.). Hotei Publishing, 2004.
- Prison Religion: Faith-Based Reform and the Constitution by Winnifred Fallers Sullivan. Princeton University Press, 2011.
- Peyote vs. the State: Religious Freedom on Trial by Garrett Epps. University of Oklahoma Press, 2009.
- Dispute over Muslim cab drivers refusing to transport alcohol because of religious beliefs. Minnesota Public Radio News, Sept. 9, 2008.
- Lawsuit filed against Eastern Michigan University for dismissing a school counseling student for refusing to affirm homosexual relationships due to religious beliefs | Complaint/lawsuit(.pdf) | Dismissal letter(.pdf) | Transcript of hearing (.pdf)
Codes of ethics
- ABA’s Center for Professional Responsibility’s – “Model Rules of Conduct”
- Cornell’s Legal Information Institute – American Legal Ethics digital library
- Organized by topic, exploring the ethics of technology in the legal profession(Legalethics.com)
- Association of American Law Schools – Statements of Good Practices
- American Polygraph Association – Code of Ethics
- Journal of Law & Religion
- University of Maryland Law Journal of Race, Religion, Gender and Class
- Religion, State & Society
- Journal of Religious Ethics
- Brookings Institution: Religious Expression in American Public Life
- First Amendment Center
- The Becket Fund, protecting free expression of all religious traditions, land use, legal issues
- Law Enforcement Official’s Guide to The Muslim Community
- A Correctional Administrator’s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices
- Religion and the Workplace law
- Religious Accommodation in the Workplace (Anti-Defamation League)
- Religion & the Law (The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life)
- Center for the Study of Law and Religion
- International Center for Law and Religion Studies
- Religion and Law International Document Database
- Law and Courts (ReligionLink)
- The Year in Review: Law and Religion in 2005, From “Intelligent Design,” to the Ten Commandments, to Supreme Court Staffing Changes, to Clergy Child Abuse Developments
- The Influence of Religion on Law (Canadian Institute for Law, Theology and Public Policy)
- Law & Religion – Church & State – Directory of Online Resources (AcademicInfo)
- “New Family Law for Sunni Women in Bahrain Not for Shiites” (IPS)
- American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
- Religion and Law in Contemporary Europe: European Law Research
Professional associations and faith groups
- Association of Muslim Lawyers
- Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association
- Christian Law Association
- Christian Legal Society
- International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists
- Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship UK
- Karamah – Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights
- Buckingham, Janet Epp. “Advocacy for religious freedom in Canadian law.”International Journal for Religious Freedom. Vol. 4, No. 1 (2011): 65-74.
- Feldman, Stephen F. “Law and Religion: Modernity, Religion and the Public Sphere.” Tulsa Law Review. Vol. 45 (Summer 2010).
- Garcia, Jose Antonio Rodriguez. “Religious Freedom and Terrorism in Spanish Case Law.” Journal of Church and State. Vol. 53, No. 3 (Summer 2011): 17 pps.
- Pollock, Scott D. “Immigration Law vs. Religious Freedom: Using the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to Challenge Restrictive Immigration Laws and Practices(.pdf).” Rutgers Journal of Law and Religion. Vol. 12, No. 2 (Spring 2011): 295-346.
- Law and Religion in the Contemporary United States. Bill Long
- Jewish Law and American Legal Theory(.pdf). Professor Suzanne Last Stone and Rabbi Ozer Glickman, Yeshiva University