Penn Calendar Penn A-Z School of Arts and Sciences University of Pennsylvania

Faculty Workshop Series

Co-sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania Department of Religious Studies

ACCORDING TO THE TERMS OF THE INTERNATIONAL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM ACT, passed by Congress in 1998, a unique history of religious freedom has endowed the United States with a special responsibility to promote this virtue abroad as a goal of foreign policy. The U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor has compiled annual watchdog-style reports on every country in the world – except for the United States itself – ever since. Yet how exceptional or exemplary is the U.S. record of accommodating religious freedoms? How have other countries, informed by their own histories and circumstances, negotiated complex terrains of religion, statehood and citizenship? And what are the states of religious freedom around the world today, in light of current controversies over abortion, sexuality, changing gender roles, religiously-motivated terrorism, the rights of religious minorities, and the establishment of official religions?

During its 2017-18 theme year on “STATES OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM,” Penn DCC will study the U.S. experience within a comparative international context, exploring how states – as political entities – accommodate or hinder religious expression and culture, as well as how social conditions – states of collective being – affect and influence the practice of religious freedom. 

  • Silverstein Forum, Stiteler Hall First Floor (Accessibility)
    Free and open to the public / Co-sponsored the the Penn Department of Religious Studies

    Discussant: Jolyon Thomas (East Asian Languages & Civilizations)

    All attendees are encouraged to read Prof. Su's paper, available here.

    DETERMINING WHAT IS AND WHAT IS NOT a substantial burden on religion currently preoccupies the American legal and political milieu because of legal controversies surrounding its health-care statute. But defining what a burden is for the purpose of triggering legal protections for religious freedom has important consequences beyond a single issue.  Professor Su considers and compares the caselaw of the United States, Canada, and the European Court of Human Rights and argues for an expansive understanding of the burden requirement in evaluating religious accommodation claims — an understanding that would encompass the spiritual practices of indigenous peoples and the lands they hold sacred.

    ANNA SU is an Assistant Professor in the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. Her primary areas of research include the law and history of international human rights law, U.S. constitutional law (First Amendment), and law and religion. Her research has appeared in the Vanderbilt Law Review, the International Journal of Constitutional Law and the Journal of the History of International Law. Prior to coming to Toronto, she held a postdoctoral fellowship at the Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy based in SUNY Buffalo Law School, and a graduate fellowship in ethics with the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University.She is the author of Exporting Freedom: Religious Liberty and American Power (2016).

    All attendees are encouraged to read Prof. Su's paper, available here.

  • Thursday, November 16, 2017 - 4:30pm
    Silverstein Forum, Stiteler Hall First Floor (Accessibility)
    Free and open to the public

    LEIGH E. SCHMIDT is the Edward C. Mallinckrodt Distinguished University Professor in the Humanities at Washington University in St. Louis. He joined the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics in 2011. He is the author of numerous books, including Hearing Things: Religion, Illusion, and the American Enlightenment (2000), which won the American Academy of Religion Award for Excellence in Historical Studies and the John Hope Franklin Prize of the American Studies Association; Heaven’s Bride: The Unprintable Life of Ida C. Craddock, American Mystic, Scholar, Sexologist, Martyr, and Madwoman (2010); and Restless Souls: The Making of American Spirituality (2005 and updated in 2012). 

  • Thursday, December 7, 2017 - 4:30pm
    Silverstein Forum, Stiteler Hall First Floor (Accessibility)
    Free and open to the public

    RANDALL BALMER is the John Phillips Professor in Religion at Dartmouth College. A prize-winning historian and Emmy Award nominee, he has published more than a dozen books, including Redeemer: The Life of Jimmy Carter and The Making of Evangelicalism: From Revivalism to Politics and Beyond. His second book, Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: A Journey into the Evangelical Subculture in America, now in its fifth edition, was made into an award-winning, three-part documentary for PBS. His op-ed articles have appeared in newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, the Des Moines Register, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the Anchorage Daily News, and the New York Times.

  • Thursday, January 18, 2018 - 4:30pm
    Silverstein Forum, Stiteler Hall First Floor (Accessibility)
    Free and open to the public

    GRACE YUKICH is Associate Professor of Sociology at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut. She is a sociologist whose research, writing, and teaching focus on immigration, religion, social movements & politics, race & ethnicity, and culture. Her first book, One Family Under God: Immigration Politics and Progressive Religion in America(2013), is an ethnographic study of how immigration is changing the relationship between religion and politics in the United States, especially migration from Latin America. She is currently finishing research for her next book, using experimental methods to measure discrimination against Arab American Muslims in the U.S. job market.

  • Thursday, March 1, 2018 - 4:30pm
    Silverstein Forum, Stiteler Hall First Floor (Accessibility)
    Free and open to the public

    CASSIE ADCOCK is Associate Professor in the Department of History and in the religious studies program at Washington University in St. Louis. She specializes in religion in the political culture of modern north India. Her first book, The Limits of Tolerance: Indian Secularism and the Politics of Religious Freedom (2013), addresses the politics of religious conversion in India by providing a critical history of tolerance, a secularist ideal central to the Gandhian tradition. Her current book project traces the long history of cow protection in north India from 1881 until 1969. Her work has been supported by a Fulbright Scholar Award, an NEH-AIIS Senior Research Fellowship, and a Kluge Fellowship.

  • Thursday, March 22, 2018 - 4:30pm
    Silverstein Forum, Stiteler Hall First Floor (Accessibility)
    Free and open to the public

    HUSSEIN ALI AGRAMA is Associate Professor of Anthropology and of the Social Sciences at the University of Chicago. His ongoing research interests are in the anthropology of law, religion, Islam, and the Middle East; in secularism, law and colonial power, and in the genealogies of sovereignty and emergency states. His work has been published in the journals Political TheoryComparative Studies in Society and History, and American Ethnologist, and in several edited volumes. He is the author of Questioning Secularism: Islam, Sovereignty and the Rule of Law in Egypt (2012).

  • Thursday, April 26, 2018 - 4:30pm
    Perry World House
    Free and open to the public

    JONATHAN FOX is Professor in the Department of Political Studies at Bar Ilan University in Israel. He specializes in the influence of religion on politics which he examines using both quantitative and qualitative methodology. His research also investigates the impact of religion on domestic conflict, terrorism, international intervention, and international relations. His other research interests include the quantitative analysis of Samuel Huntington's "Clash of Civilizations" theory, nationalism, and ethnic conflict. His recent books on these topics include Religion in International Relations Theory: Interactions & Possibilities (2013, with Nukhet Sandal) and An Introduction to Religion and Politics: Theory & Practice (2013). Currently he is focusing on the issue of government religion policy as part of the Religion and State (RAS) project.

  • Friday, May 4, 2018 - 9:00am to 5:00pm

    DCC CAPS ITS 2017-18 THEME YEAR ON “STATES OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM" by addressing a series of challenging questions: What is religious freedom? Can it truly be universal? What are the rights of religious minorities when set against a nation's popular majority?  And when religious liberties seemingly conflict with gender and sexuality rights, which should prevail if the conflict cannot be resolved?  Panelists include Lori G. Beaman (University of Ottawa), W. Cole Durham (Brigham Young University), R. Marie Griffith (Washington University in St. Louis), Nadia Marzouki (Harvard Kennedy School), Daniel Philpott (University of Notre Dame), and Winifred Sullivan (Indiana University at Bloomington).