Religions, Rights, and Institutions

Sun, 11/23/2014 to Mon, 11/24/2014
Carl A. Fields Center, 58 Prospect Avenue, Princeton University
Event Category: 

Participant Info

The Conference on Religions, Rights, and Institutions will focus on how institutional design, of both religions and political regimes, affects the relationship between religious practice and activity and human rights.  It will examine how the internal organization (formal and informal structures and rules) of religions and religious communities affect therights of members of religious communities and the functioning of religion as a source of human rights. It will investigate the scope of, and limits upon, a just state’s authority to compel changes in the internal aspects of organized religion in the name of human rights.  Among the questions it will ask is how do social and political institutions shape religious behavior and affect the human rights of members of religious communities and the society at large.  

The conference is co-sponsored by Princeton University’s Program in Law and Public Affairs and the Israel Democracy Institute.  It will take place on November 23-24, 2014.  Attendance is by invitation only.

For more information, you may contact



Opening remarks from Hanoch Dagan  and Kim Scheppele


Session 1:   What Forms of Religious Recognition Are Compatible with Secularism?

  • Cecile Laborde, University College, London.  "Religion in the Law: The Disaggregation Approach"
  • Yedidia Stern, Bar-Ilan University; Israel Democracy Institute. "Religious Law and Civil Law in Israel:  A Zero-Sum Game?"
  • Commentator:  Christopher Eisgruber, Princeton University


Session 2:   Honoring Religious Practices in Secular Law (or Not)

  • Leora Batnitzky, Princeton University.   "Is Conversion a Human Right? A Comparative Look at Religious Zionism and Hindu Nationalism."
  • Roderick Hills, New York University.   "Decentralizing Religious Accommodation."
  • Commentator:   Melissa Lane, Princeton University


Session 3:   Religious Ideas as a Source of (or Substitute for) Secular Law

  • Intisar Rabb, Harvard University.   "Reform of Islamic Law by 1000 Amendments."
  • Amihai Radzyner, Bar-Ilan University.  "The Impact of Supreme Court Rulings on the Halakhic Status of the Official Rabbinical Courts in Israel.
  • Commentator:   Mirjam Künkler, Princeton University




Session 4: Religious Origins of Modern States:  How the Past Remains in the Present

  • Silvio Ferrari, University of Milan and Fellow, Center of Theological Inquiry, Princeton. "The Christian Roots of the Secular State."
  • Michael Karayanni, Hebrew University.  "Tainted Liberalism:  Israel's Millets."
  • Commentator:    James Q. Whitman, Yale University and Fellow, Program in Law and Public Affairs, Princeton University


Session 5:  Preserving the Social Distinctiveness of Religious Institutions as a Constitutional Value

  • Larry Sager, University of Texas.  "Why Churches Can Discriminate."
  • Haim Shapira, Bar-Ilan University.   "Equality in Religious Schools – Should the Court Intervene?"
  • Commentator:   Jan-Werner Müller, Princeton University


Session 6:  Localism and Religious Diversity (Or Managing Pluralism with Decentralization)

  • Yishai Blank, Tel Aviv University.  "In Search of the Secular: The Dialectics of Religious and Secular Federalism in Israel." 
  • Mary Anne Case, University of Chicago.  "Why 'Live-And-Let-Live' Is Not a Viable Solution to the Difficult Problems of Religious Accommodation in the Age of Sexual Civil Rights."
  • Commentator:    Alan Patten, Princeton University


Session 7:   Pluralism and Intolerance:  Secularism's Dilemmas

  • Ori Aronson, Bar-Ilan University.   "The 'How Many' Question:  An Institutionalist's Guide to Pluralism."
  • Peter Danchin, University of Maryland and Fellow, Center of Theological Inquiry, Princeton.  "Religious Freedom as a Technology of Modern Secular Governance."
  • Commentator:  Turkuler Isiksel, Columbia University and Fellow, Program in Law and Public Affairs


Session 8:  Secular Carve-outs in a Religious World; Religious Carve-outs in a Secular World

  • Shahar Lifshitz, Bar-Ilan University; Israel Democracy Institute:  "Civil Regulation of Religious Marriage in Israel from the Perspectives of Liberal Pluralism, Human Rights, and  Political Compromise"
  • Richard Garnett, University of Notre Dame
    "Religious Accommodations, Civil Rights, and Pluralism"
  • Commentator:  Hans-Martien ten Napel, Leiden University and Center of Theological Inquiry, Princeton