Beyond Dissent and Compliance: Religious Decision Makers and Secular Law
6(2) Oxford Journal of Law and Religion 293 (2017)
29 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2017 Last revised: 7 May 2018
Date Written: January 13, 2017
Throughout history and across many societies, people have been facing conflicts between faith and the law. This paper exposes and defines central dynamics of these conflicts by empirically investigating how educational leaders in religious communities tackle, reduce, and resolve conflicts with the law. Three main dynamics emerge. First, religious leaders frequently seek to harmonize law and religion by redefining the conflict around different themes, arguing that “true religion” raises no conflict with the law or that “real law” has been misinterpreted by the courts. Second, leaders withdraw religious normativity from conflict zones through nuanced distinctions of sphere and role. Third, religious leaders seek to restrain the reach of legal norms by constraining and reshaping state power, in order to retain power over the religious community. The article highlights the personal and institutional dimensions of conflict reduction and concludes with a demonstration of the broader explanatory power of the theory, thereby contributing to our understanding of one of the most enduring forms of conflict in society.
Keywords: law and religion, norm conflict, conflict resolution, education
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