Whose Crisis? Secular Liberalism, the Theocratic
State and the Political Consequences of
Privileging Religion in Pluralist...
The Problem
• On the one hand Western elites continue to cultivate a broad solicitude for religion—not
merely as individua...
The Issue
• This paper considers the issue of the "return" of religion
from a comparative constitutional perspective.
• It...
My Roadmap
• Part II considers the relationship between rule of law and blasphemy in Pakistan
and its implications.
• Part...
L
Law and blasphemy in Pakistan
5
Asia Bibi from The State
Democracy, Blasphemy and Law in
Pakistan
6
Blasphemy and Foreigners: Sudan
7
http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1687755,00.html
The Blasphemous Teddy Bear...
Western Constructs: Afghanistan
Islam considers conversion to another religion a grave insult to God. In some Muslim state...
political consequences in theocratic
States
9
political consequences: the problem
comes home
10
There was an uproar in Britain recently when Sudan charged a British tea...
Character of the Crisis of Secular
Liberalism
• Rule of law . . . . . And religion
• Direct democracy. . . . . .and religi...
Summing Up
• Institutional religion is returning to the state to the
state
• But is it ready to engage in politics without...
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Whose Crisis? Secular Liberalism, the Theocratic State and the Political Conseqeunces of Privileging Religion in Pluralist States

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2013 Law and Society Annual Meeting
An Existential Crisis for Secular Liberalism (Part I) 
 Fri May 31 2013, 12:30 to 2:15pm,
Building/Room: Boston Sheraton Hotel / Room 03

Published in: Spiritual, News & Politics
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Whose Crisis? Secular Liberalism, the Theocratic State and the Political Conseqeunces of Privileging Religion in Pluralist States

  1. 1. Whose Crisis? Secular Liberalism, the Theocratic State and the Political Consequences of Privileging Religion in Pluralist States • 2013 Law and Society Annual Meeting – An Existential Crisis for Secular Liberalism (Part I) • Fri May 31 2013, 12:30 to 2:15pm, – Building/Room: Boston Sheraton Hotel / Room 03 • Larry Catá Backer – W. Richard and Mary Eshelman Faculty Scholar & Professor of Law, – Professor of International Affairs – Pennsylvania State University • 239 Lewis Katz Building University Park, PA 16802 • 1.814.863.3640 (direct), lcb11@psu.edu
  2. 2. The Problem • On the one hand Western elites continue to cultivate a broad solicitude for religion—not merely as individual belief but as an organized force with institutional life. • On the other, it is increasingly willing to admit (or unable to prevent) the participation of religion in political life—but protected by the privilege of religion against broad in the give and take of political contests. • At the international level this is evidenced in the continuing efforts to develop a consensus among the community of states that would constitutionalize religious solicitude in the form of prohibitions against insulting or blaspheming religion and its sacred objects and habits. • At the domestic level, it is evidenced by a greater willingness to permit the secular state to be organized within frameworks of religious values. 2
  3. 3. The Issue • This paper considers the issue of the "return" of religion from a comparative constitutional perspective. • It argues that where the apparatus of institutional religion seeks to enter into the political life of a state its religious beliefs ought not to be accorded any particular deference. • The interactions of blasphemy, democracy, hierarchy and religion, then, are the subjects of this essay. 3
  4. 4. My Roadmap • Part II considers the relationship between rule of law and blasphemy in Pakistan and its implications. • Part III the considers the effects of this framework on the democratic foundations of Pakistan. • Part IV then extends the analysis to the Sudan and its interrelations with foreigners. • Part V then considers the way Western secular states have facilitated this new role for religion in places like Afghanistan. • Part VI considers the political consequences in theocratic States and • Part VII concludes with a consideration of the resulting nature of the dilemma in Western style states. 4
  5. 5. L Law and blasphemy in Pakistan 5 Asia Bibi from The State
  6. 6. Democracy, Blasphemy and Law in Pakistan 6
  7. 7. Blasphemy and Foreigners: Sudan 7 http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1687755,00.html The Blasphemous Teddy Bear, Time
  8. 8. Western Constructs: Afghanistan Islam considers conversion to another religion a grave insult to God. In some Muslim states including Saudi Arabia, Iran and Afghanistan, it is punishable by death. Abdul Rahman, an Afghan convert toChristianity pictured at right during his trial for apostasy, only escaped death in 2006 because of an international outcry; he found refuge in Italy. http://blogs.reuters.com/faithworld/2008/03/23/vatican-baptism-raises-questions-about- catholic-muslim-dialogue/ 8
  9. 9. political consequences in theocratic States 9
  10. 10. political consequences: the problem comes home 10 There was an uproar in Britain recently when Sudan charged a British teacher with blasphemy for allowing her pupils to name a teddy bear Mohammad. Do you think London should sweep in front of its own door before criticising blasphemy laws elsewhere? Reuters Jan. 2008 http://blogs.reuters.com/faithworld/2008/01/11/blasphemy-and-the-beast-as-britain-debates-church-state- ties/
  11. 11. Character of the Crisis of Secular Liberalism • Rule of law . . . . . And religion • Direct democracy. . . . . .and religion • Apostasy/treason. . . . . And religion • Interpretation/Participation . . . . . .and religion • Foreigners/minorities. . . . . . And religion 11
  12. 12. Summing Up • Institutional religion is returning to the state to the state • But is it ready to engage in politics without the protection of its privilege? • The rise of blasphemy, insulting religion or inciting religious hatred suggests not. • The consequence will be transformative. 12

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