World Conference Calendar

35118 Conferences

Law and Religious Pluralism in Contemporary Asia

Added by admin on 2011-09-26

Conference Dates:

Start Date Start Date: 2011-11-17
Last Date Last Day: 2011-11-18

Conference Contact Info:

Contact Person Contact Person: Assoc Prof Gary F. Bell
Email Email:
Address Address: National University of Singapore, Singapore, 259776, Singapore

Conference Description:

Jointly organised by the Asia Research Institute and the Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore

The debate about law and religion is often casted in modern Western terms: a separation of Church and State and a neutrality of the State are presumed, and religion is relegated to the private sphere where law (at least state law) should play no role (though of course sometimes this model is not followed in some parts of the West). Freedom of religion in the West is often defined as freedom from State intervention in religion – “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” says the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

This has never been the case in many jurisdictions in Asia – religions and religious laws often count on the support and the regulations or at the very least the recognition of the State. Law and religion are often linked in Asia which makes Asia very different from the Western model. Yet Asian jurisdictions most often also have to deal with religious pluralism and claims of neutrality and secularity of the State and freedom of religion. How Asian jurisdictions reconcile these concepts may prove useful in our world today where States everywhere are challenged by religious pluralism.

This workshop looks at how the law deals with religious pluralism in Asia. Is there a place for legal pluralism in the law – i.e. does the state apply different laws to different people depending on their religious affiliation (as is the case in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia etc.) and how does this relate to the nature of the state (secular or not). What are the justifications for legal pluralism in state law and in religious law? Furthermore, how does state law deal with religious group – does it treat all religions equally, does it forbid some religions, does it facilitate/regulate/control religious activities? Are there spheres of religious law beyond the reach of the state – for example ecclesiastical courts of the Churches which exist without support or recognition by the state, or other informal religious laws that is widely followed without being sanctioned by the state or even against the state’s prohibition of such practices (unregistered Muslim marriages in Indonesia).
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