human law

A Rational Case for Religious Freedom

By: Sherif Girgis

It’s had a shaky history. Unknown among pagans, it was—as Karen Taliaferro reminds us—quietly endorsed by some early Church Fathers. Augustine wrote something about it, Aquinas much more. A distortion of it was championed by French Revolutionaries and denounced by several Popes. A better version found its way into history’s most consequential political charter (the US Constitution) and through thinkers shaped by it (such as John Courtney Murray) to some of the Catholic Church’s most solemn pronouncements (at Vatican II). As recently as the 1990s, bills promoting it won the nearly unanimous consent of Congress and the signature of a Democratic president; today it’s depicted as the lonely cause of a socially conservative fringe. I mean the right to religious liberty.

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A Tale of Three Laws

By: Karen Taliaferro

Smuggled beneath the rancor over the recent Obergefell decision is an entirely distinct, yet more profound, disagreement that has little to do with whether gay couples have a legal right to marry. It is a disagreement over what law is: whether it is something that is merely human or whether it answers to something higher than human beings. Our current popular understanding of liberalism, including human rights and the rule of law, assumes that law is ultimately human fiat; that is, law is what the legislatures craft and the courts interpret. But this is a relatively recent notion in social and political history, and I argue that it is a misguided one, especially when we consider the implications for the freedom of conscience and religion. 

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