Separation of Church and State in the Jewish, Islamic, and American Traditions – Shlomo Pill

posts by drisha

Date(s) - 06/14/2017
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm

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As the United States continues to move towards greater separation between religion and state in some respects while promoting a greater role for religious voices in political and legal processes in other respects, questions about the proper relationship between religion and the state loom large. Both Judaism and Islam are all-encompassing normative traditions; in addition to regulating “ritual” matters, they also prescribe correct conduct in the more mundane spheres of private and public interpersonal relations.  While both of these traditions are often thought of as necessitating some form of theocratic government, however, both have historically maintained a relatively strict separation of religious and political authority.  In both Jewish and Islamic practice, moreover, this separation of church and state encouraged moderation and accountability in political and religious affairs, leading to better religious doctrine and better state law and policy.  As we grapple with these questions in this country, the examples of Jewish and Islamic law and practice offer helpful examples of what models of religion-state relations produce what kind of results in both the religious and political spheres.

This lecture is the second in a three-part series on Halakhah, Religion, and the State. Click here for more information on the series.