14 February 2013

"The Study of Law and Religion in the United States"

Is the name of a recently published article by John Witte. It's not available online but you can find it in volume 14 of the Ecclesiastical Law Journal published by Cambridge University Press in 2012. If you've read Witte you know that he writes in a winsome style complete with alliterative doublets reminiscent of the sermons he would have heard in his CRC youth.

Witte's subtitle--"An Interim Report"--suggests that this article is not one of groundbreaking depth. It is, however, sweeping in its scope as Witte describes and explains the near-death and resuscitation of religion in the life of American law (and scholarship of the law) and points to his vision for its future. A survey of quotable observations:

On the one hand, "While many officials and citizens--and the elite media with them--have remained faithful to this Jeffersonian logic, the reality is that separation of church and state is no longer the law of the land in America."

Yet on the other, this change is not an occasion for a repristination of an imagined monolithic Christian past: 
The rise of the so-called Christian right should be met with the equally strong rise of the Christian left, of the Christian middle and of many other Jewish, Muslim and other religious groups who test and contest its premises, prescriptions and policies. That is how a healthy democracy works.
But thankfully for me, "No one needs to cover their deep convictions under a patina of purported neutrality." Encouraging words as next week I present the initial thoughts for a paper addressing the nature of contract law in light of an aspect of biblical anthropology--human as imaginative, desiring creatures.

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