News Release: Law, Religion and Ethics

Jan. 20,  2012

Law and Religion Issues Probed in Spring Lecture Series

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Can and should Western law accommodate Islamic law? Should governments recognize same-sex marriage as a human right? What did Jesus really say about marriage and divorce?

Faculty at Emory’s Center for the Study of Law and Religion (CSLR) will attempt to answer these and other difficult questions at the nexus of law and religion during the “When Law and Religion Meet” Lecture Series, which runs January-March.

All lectures begin at 12:30 p.m. in Emory Law School’s Tull Auditorium, 1301 Clifton Rd., Atlanta, GA 30322. They are free and open to the public.

Jan. 25: John Witte, Jr.

CSLR Director John Witte, Jr. leads the series with a presentation on “Shari`a in the West? What Place for Religious Family Laws in America and Other Western Democracies?” Witte, who is the Jonas Robitscher Professor of Law and Alonzo L. McDonald Family Foundation Distinguished Professor, delivers the inaugural Don S. Browning Lecture .

“Hard questions are becoming unavoidable for many modern Western democracies with growing and diverse Muslim communities, each making new and ever louder demands. If current growth rates of Muslim communities in the West continue, a generation from now the Danish cartoon ‘crisis’ is going to seem like child’s play,” Witte says.

Feb. 8: Luke Timothy Johnson

Luke Timothy Johnson, Robert W. Woodruff Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at Candler School of Theology and CSLR Senior Fellow, delivers the Alonzo L. McDonald Lecture in Christianity and Law. He will discuss “Jesus and the Law of Marriage and Divorce."

“I argue that any statement by Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel must be understood as an aspect of Matthew’s effort to portray Jesus in terms of Torah, and that the specific statements of Jesus on marriage and divorce make better sense when read within that narrative characterization,” says Johnson.

March 21: Michael J. Perry

Michael J. Perry, Robert W. Woodruff Professor of Law at Emory Law and CSLR Senior Fellow, gives this year's Overton and Lavona Currie Lecture in Law and Religion. His topic is "Freedom of Religion, Same-Sex Marriage, and the Catholic Church."

“Denying access to civil marriage to same-sex couples obviously serves the government interest in not taking a step that would tend to legitimizing conduct believed by many to be immoral:  same-sex sexual conduct. The serious question is whether that morality-based government interest qualifies, under the right to religious freedom, as a legitimate government interest,” Perry says.

The series brings distinguished scholars to the podium to confront difficult legal, moral and theological issues facing religious communities. Fall speakers included Mary Ann Glendon, Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard University and former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican, who tackled the challenges of the universal right to religious freedom in a world of diversity; and Michael J. Broyde, CSLR senior fellow and professor of law, who spoke on "The Bioethical Future: Some Jewish Thoughts on Reproductive Ethics."


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