December 14-15, Singapore Workshop on Regulating Religion

December 14, 2015toDecember 15, 2015

A workshop on “Regulating Religion: Normativity and Change at the Intersection of Law and Religion” will be held 14 – 15 December 2015 at the Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore (Bukit Timah Campus).

In most eras and cultures, law and religion relate dialectically. Every major religious tradition strives to come to terms with law by striking a balance between the worldly and the spiritual, the structural and the mystical, the rational and the sacred. Every major legal tradition struggles to align its formal structures and processes with the beliefs and values of its people. Thus, while law and religion can be conceptualized as distinct spheres of human life, they do not exist independently but are constantly interacting with and influencing each other.

This workshop will engage emerging scholarship on the influence of religion on legal systems, both historically and currently, and vice versa. Regulation is the key focus. How does law regulate religion, and how does religion respond to such regulations? The more complex question the organizers ask is how the normativity becomes diversified and drives the regulatory dialectics between law and religion after the institutional development of the latter two.

The workshop seeks to approach this question in three streams:
1.    Socio-political norms regulating religion. What social and political assumptions are we making when we make claims about the legitimate role of religion in public debate? What overarching social and political goals underlie how the law deals with issues of freedom of religion and freedom of religious expression? With the resurgence of religion into issues of public debate, how might religious considerations influence the formulation of contemporary legal norms, if at all?
2.    Constitutional and legal norms regulating religion. What can we learn from the different constitutional legal experiences and contexts of Asia and other parts of the world, given the importance of constitutional structures in framing, defining and governing the interactions of religion and law? What alternative models of arranging state and religion exist vis-à-vis the dominant constitutional model separating state from religion? How has the resurgence of public religion opened up the area of constitutional thinking?
3.    Religious norms regulating religion. What type of legal structures do religions have? How do religious traditions and communities perceive their interaction with religious laws? What demands do such internal rules make upon their religious faith and worship? Are all traditions ‘religio-legal’, i.e., as having claims that take the form of law over their adherents and others? What varying forms do they take? How do believers negotiate these internal rules and how can religious traditions change within this legal framework?

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