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Law and Religion Scholars Expand Global Influence

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By April L. Bogle
04/08/11

CSLR senior fellows continued their formidable global lecture schedule during the 2010-2011 academic year to increase understanding among students, religious leaders, and policymakers of the complex issues surrounding religious liberty, international human rights, marriage and family law, bioethics, and neighborhood stabilization policies.

“With the Arab world erupting into a series of democratic revolutions and with religious and cultural conflict  continuing in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Africa and beyond; as advances in science and medicine continued to push the boundaries of moral understanding; and as Americans continued to face mortgage foreclosure and declining property values, we are compelled to share what we’ve learned about these difficult subjects with our colleagues in education, religion, and government around the globe,” said CSLR Director John Witte, Jr.

CSLR Senior Fellow Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na`im, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law

An-Na`im delivered keynote addresses and presentations in numerous cities throughout the world on Islam and human rights, and on its place in secular and pluralistic societies. Included on his international circuit: Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany; Leiden University in the Netherlands; State Institute of Islamic Studies in Indonesia; School of Advanced Studies in Society, Economy, Theology in Venice, Italy; and the University of Warwick Law School in the United Kingdom. In Sierra Leone, he delivered the keynote address, “For Sustainable Peace: From Religious Responsibility to Legal Accountability,” at the conference “Peacekeeping in West Africa: Faith Communities and their Role in Conflict.” This spring he attends the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences conference, Universal Rights in a World of Diversity – the Case of Religious Freedom, in Rome, where he delivers a paper on lessons learned from the African experience. His summer travels will take him to Istanbul, Helsinki, and Venice to discuss issues of human rights and Islam. He will also give a keynote address entitled, “A Democratic State cannot be ‘Islamic’” at American University in Cairo.

An-Na`im’s U.S. lecture tour was equally wide spread. He delivered the Diane Markowicz Memorial Lecture on Gender and Human Rights, “Polygamy and Gender Justice in the 21st Century: Reflections on Basic Principles,” at Brandeis University. He spoke on “American Muslims and Citizenship” in Boulder, CO, and Boston University; Shari’a law at Duke University; comparative law as a plenary speaker and panelist at the XVIIIth International Congress of Comparative Law in Washington, D.C.; Islam and freedom of religion and speech at Georgetown University; cosmopolitanism and religion at New York University, and Islamic and state law at Duke Law School.  Other stops included Houston, Washington and Lee, University of Michigan Law School, and Georgia State University. He also participated in Carter Center events: the “Heaven and Earth” conference and the conference on women’s rights hosted this spring by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.

CSLR Senior Fellow Michael J. Broyde, Professor of Law

Broyde raised awareness of the difficult issues facing society due to advancements in science and medicine, in conjunction with his recent book, Innovation in Jewish Law (Urim Press, 2010). In Israel, he spoke about sex change operations and Jewish law at the Jewish Law Association Conference. In the United Kingdom, he addressed Rabbis of the United Synagogue convened by the Chief Rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks, who lectured at Emory last fall. From New York to Los Angeles and several cities in between, he outlined the Jewish law perspective on brain death, religion and the use of nuclear weapons, and assisted reproduction. He delivered the keynote address for the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations on these topics. Broyde also addressed the controversial issue of orthodox women clergy at the Rabbinical Council of America annual convention and at a dozen other congregations throughout the nation. In addition, Broyde delivered papers on various aspects of church and state separation at Depaul University in Chicago, the Association of American Law Schools’ meeting in San Francisco, and other major cities. This summer, he returns to Israel to speak on biotechnology at “Facing Tomorrow: The Israeli Presidential Conference 2011,” organized by President Shimon Peres. He also will speak in Hong Kong and Beijing on biotechnology and Jewish law.

CSLR Director John Witte, Jonas Robitscher Professor of Law, Alonzo L. McDonald Family Foundation Distinguished Professor

Witte discussed American principles of religious liberty and international human rights, marriage and family law, and the legal influences of the Protestant Reformation with audiences in Amsterdam, Berlin, Heidelberg, London, Milan, Nijmegen (The Netherlands), Munich, Tel Aviv, and Venice. Domestically, Witte served as the Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the John W. Kluge Center of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. during the spring semester, where he researched the history of law, religion, and marriage in the Western tradition. He delivered lectures on this theme as well as issues of religion and human rights to audiences at the Library of Congress, Georgetown University, Westminster Theological Seminary, Fuller Theological Seminary, and Pepperdine University.  His final lecture of the season was the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Lecture at the University of California at Berkeley on the place of Shari`a and other religious law in the West. Witte embarks on a Pacific Rim lecture tour this summer, with stops in Hong Kong, Beijing, Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide.

CSLR Senior Fellow Johan van der Vyver, I.T. Cohen Professor of International Law and Human Rights

Van der Vyver, who spent the fall semester at Emory and the spring semester at the University of Pretoria as Extraordinary Professor in the Department of Private Law, continued his teachings on international law and human rights. He traveled to Saigon University in Beijing, China last fall to discuss the international dimensions of law and religion, and he addressed similar topics with groups in Atlanta, at Emory, Georgia Tech, Amnesty International, and the Atlanta Horn of Africa Peace Conference of Citizens for Peace. In South Africa this winter, he delivered a series of lectures on “Jurisdiction and Immunity, Human Rights, and International Criminal Law” and “Humanitarian Law.”  In the coming months, Van der Vyver heads to Nepal and India to address conferences focused on drafting Nepal’s new constitution, and to China and Chile to speak about issues of law and religion.

CSLR Senior Fellow Michael J. Perry, Robert W. Woodruff Professor of Law

Perry explored the morality of human rights in a series of presentations and panel discussions. At the Fordham University conference “Moral Outrage and Moral Repair: Reflections on 9/11 and its Afterlife,” he delivered the lecture “Responding to Terrorism and Terrorists ‘in a Spirit of Brotherhood’?” He spoke on similar themes at Brooklyn Law School, Emory Law, University of California at San Diego, University of Chicago Divinity School, University of San Diego Law School, and as the Bergman Lecturer at the University of San Diego (USD). In addition, Perry co-led a session on the role of a judge’s moral and/or religious convictions in judicial decision-making at the Second Circuit Court of Appeals Judicial Conference in New York last summer. Perry spent the fall 2010 semester at USD as the University Distinguished Visiting Professor in Law and Peace Studies and will return there for fall 2011. In October, Perry will analyze same-sex marriage and the Catholic Church’s stance from a constitutional framework as the keynote speaker at Yale Divinity School’s conference, “Same-Sex Marriage and the Catholic Church.”

Frank S. Alexander, CSLR founding director and Sam Nunn Professor of Law

Alexander spoke to governments and communities throughout the nation about how to stabilize their neighborhoods in light of the nation’s mortgage foreclosure and vacant property crisis. As general counsel of the Center for Community Progress, a new national not-for-profit organization charged with reforming vacant and abandoned property policies, Alexander traveled to Cleveland; Harrisburg, PA; Kansas City, MO; Lansing, MI; Pittsburgh, and Washington, D.C. to outline new land use policy initiatives.  He delivered the lecture “From Treatment to Prevention: Our Professional Obligation to Reform Broken Systems” as his Investiture Lecture as the Sam Nunn Chair in Ethics and Professionalism at Emory last fall.

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