Nonpartisan report says brutal interrogation practices after Sept. 11, 2001, produced no valuable information that could not have been obtained by other means. “Acrobatic” legal advice helped provide justification. See SageLaw section on torture.
Women across Europe protest conservative Islam in a “topless jihad.” The movement follows a trajectory of antagonism between Europeans and their Muslim immigrants, as described by author Christopher Caldwell. See story.
A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that rates of gun deaths are higher in states with higher rates of gun ownership. See the state-by-state breakdown, and also see SageLaw analysis on the current state of the law.
In his 2013 Inaugural Address, President Obama used the word “collective” — “that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action” — rhetoric that Obama detractors might take as evidence of his inner-socialist. But such rhetoric is nothing new in American politics. See primer.
Four years ago, Barack Obama achieved what many thought was impossible. Now, his re-election and rhetoric seem banal. Read what gave Obama the edge during his first campaign: Barack Obama and civil religion.
In 2008, the Supreme Court declared that gun ownership is an individual right protected by the Second Amendment.
Since then, there have been 15 mass shootings in the United States, more than double the rate during the past 30 years. See SageLaw analysis.
A federal judge has upheld a ban on nativity scenes in Palisades Park, Santa Monica. While atheist groups celebrate their legal victory, Christian groups have moved the displays to private property. Read more about the “culture wars” in Religious Liberty in America.
On Nov. 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address at the site of the Civil War battlefield in Pennsylvania. This speech is considered a model of civil religion. Read more about Lincoln's rhetoric and logic here.
Compare the rhetoric of the 2012 presidential campaign with that of the previous election. Most of the lofty rhetoric and references to civil religion gave way to the practical realities of the day: the economy, the national debt and international challenges.
Americans like to hear how ‘exceptional’ their country is, rather than confronting national problems. American exceptionalism is often confused with civil religion, an idea that binds the country together with a national purpose.
The previous presidential campaign was marked by lofty rhetoric – complete with the burnished image of the “city on a hill.” Such rhetoric is largely missing from this campaign. At times, the old civil religion has been replaced by an “economic religion.”
A group of cheer-leaders in Kountze, Texas, are asking the court overturn a prohibition on their display of banners — featuring Bible verses — at football games. The school district banned the displays due to concerns over separation of church and state. School Superintendent Kevin Weldon is under fire for instituting the ban. Charles Haynes of the First Amendment Center comments.
Thousands of pastors across the country plan to preach politics from the pulpit on Oct 7 to defy a 1954 tax code prohibiting tax exempt organizations from such activities. But does the IRS really care? This issue is discussed in the UMass Press book, Religious Liberty in America.
Backing off on free speech
In the Los Angeles Daily Journal, William Slomanson suggests that the U.N. Security Council could order its member states to, at least temporarily, bar global access to “Innocence of Muslims.” Should the U.S. delegate its First Amendment freedoms?
The slaying of four members of the American diplomatic mission in Libya, in retaliation for a video denigrating the Prophet Muhammad, reveals again the persistent chasm between the Islamic world and the West. See discussion on the issue by author Christopher Caldwell.
Three women from a punk rock band face seven years in prison for performing an anti-Putin song on the altar of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow. By contrast, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects freedom of speech, religion and assembly.
The rhetoric of the party conventions is substantially different from the previous presidential campaign. Then, the lofty imagery of civil religion tinged the speeches. Now, the harsh reality of the economy pervades. Flash back to 2008.
David Brooks of the New York Times says it is “psychology, not sociology,” that is the issue in mass murders such as the one in Aurora, Colo. In a historical perspective, John Winthrop, the first governor of Massachusetts, emphasized social responsibility. Read more here.
On July 3, 1863, the Civil War Battle of Gettysburg ended in a major victory for the Union. Marking the event, President Lincoln said, “this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”
This week’s Time magazine features a cover story on the “state of the American dream.” On SageLaw, public intellectual Tony Sherrill explores the meaning of the American dream in terms of civil religion. Also see the primer, “Following the Contours of Civil Religion in America.”
May 1 has become a day of rallies over the immigration issue. See how this issue connects with civil religion.
JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon spoke candidly before the Senate Banking Committee. His words were reminiscent of the fictional CEO in “Margin Call,” who admitted, “We can't help ourselves.” See SageLaw article, The Gospel of Prosperity vs. Civil Religion.
Yet another mass shooting — this time in New York City — points to the issue of permissive gun possession in the United States. See SageLaw section on the Second Amendment, including an analysis of the landmark case, McDonald v. Chicago.
Yet another mass shooting — this time in Aurora, Colo. — points to the issue of permissive gun possession in the United States. See SageLaw section on the Second Amendment, including an analysis of the landmark case, McDonald v. Chicago.
A surge of shootings in Seattle has raised questions about gun possession in the United States. See SageLaw section on the Second Amendment, including an analysis of the landmark case, McDonald v. Chicago.
The Trayvon Martin shooting has raised questions about Florida's “Stand Your Ground” law – and similar laws in 20 states. See SageLaw article on the Supreme Court, “originalism” and African-American history.
“One prisoner of conscience is one too many,” said Aung San Suu Kyi during her Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech – 21 years after she was awarded the prize. See the SageLaw primer, “Faith and Conscience” in America, with Charles C. Haynes.
On June 18, 1948, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights adopted its International Declaration of Human Rights, which states, “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” See SageLaw section on torture.
“I don't think Richard Nixon, in his darkest hour, would have authorized torture,” said former White House lawyer and Watergate figure John Dean in a report on the rollback of many post-Watergate reforms. See SageLaw section on torture.
The current presidents of Brazil, Chile and Uruguay were all subject to torture during their countries’ tumultuous pasts. Torture became part of the common U.S. lexicon during the “war on terror.” See the SageLaw section on torture.
President Obama's increased use of drones to kill suspected militants has revived the issue of executive power – as invoked during the torture debate during the Bush administration. See the SageLaw section on torture.
On June 9, 1954, Army counsel Joseph N. Welch confronted Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy in a famous exchange in which Welch said: “At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” See SageLaw article on political civility.
Time Magazine's Joe Klein reports on the impact of faith-based social service programs. See the SageLaw newsletter on faith-based initiatives, SageLaw primer on the issue and Chapter 6 of the University of Massachusetts Press book.
John F. Kennedy was born May 29, 1917. His landmark 1960 speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association has been the source of discussion and revision among the 2012 presidential candidates. See SageLaw article.
JPMorgan Chase's $2 billion gamble and loss puts on display, yet again, business practices that led to the 2008 economic meltdown.
The recent foiled bomb plot points to ongoing challenges in curtailing attacks by extremist groups. Steven Simon of the Council on Foreign Relations discusses what motivates terrorists. Also, Prof. Mark Juergensmeyer “Gets inside the minds of religious militants.”
The recent foiled bombing plot points to ongoing challenges in curtailing attacks by extremist groups.