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2010-2011 Interfaith Speaker Series: Comparative Perspectives on Religious Minorities and the Law


The Legal Status of Religion at the UN (January 2011)

Conversation with:
Marshall J. Breger, Professor of Law, Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law
Rev. Ellias D. Mallon, SA, Advocacy Officer, Franciscans International       

"The Legal Status of Religion at the UN" explores recent UN debates on Defamation of Religion versus the individual rights to freedom of religion  

Bennett L. Graham, Defamation of Religions: The End of Pluralism; 23 Emory Int’l L. Rev. 69 (2009).
Heiner Bielefeldt, “Western” Versus “Islamic” Human Rights Conceptions? A Critique of Cultural Essentialism in the Discussion on Human Rights; available online; based on Chapter V of his book: Philosophie der Menschenrechte Grundlagen eines weltweiten Freiheitsethos (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1998).


Religion in the Classroom: The First Amendment and the Politics of Culture (November 2010)

Conversation with:
Robert A. Destro, Professor of Law, Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law
Rabbi Tsvi Blanchard, Director of Organizational Development, The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership (CLAL); Meyer Struckman Professor of Law at the Humboldt University, Germany

"Religion in the Classroom" is a topic rarely examined in a global context, but the topic is just as important in other countries as it is here in the United States. The traditional, American narrative presents the Supreme Court's post-1936 jurisprudence of the First and Fourteenth Amendments as a bulwark protecting historically marginalized or excluded minorities from oppression. A very different picture of the Court's role in our system of checks and balances emerges when political and constitutional disputes over religion in the classroom are viewed as challenges by dissenters to state control over of the content, environment, and funding of compulsory education programs. A comparative and international perspective highlights the cultural aspects of these issues, and provides a useful vantage point from which to consider the American case law.