Law as Religion, Religion as Law


The conventional approach to the relationship between law and religion operates with the assumption that these are two discrete domains, which often clash with one another. This outlook animates public discourse about such basic topics and tropes as the freedom of religion and freedom from religion; religion and human rights; and the competing jurisdiction of civil and religious courts.

A dichotomous account, however, is not the only way to understand the intersection between law and religion. The “Law as Religion, Religion as Law” project will explore a different perspective that considers religion and law as two kinds of orientations or sensibilities; or two alternate ways of structuring reality. From this vantage point, religion and law share similar properties, and arguably have a more symbiotic relationship. Moreover, many legal systems exhibit religious characteristics, and most religions invoke legal categories or terminology. This suggestive blurring of categories is likewise worthy of further inquiry.

This project will take place over two years, and comprises several parts and stages. During the years 2016-2017 a group of Israeli researches will meet and study together sources and issues on the topic “Law as Religion, Religion as Law”. In the summer of 2016 an international workshop took place, comprising three days of workshops on the topic of the project. Researchers from a wide range of disciplines and research interests took place in this workshop. In the summer of 2017 an international conference is due to take place, in which new research on the topic of “Law as Religion, Religion as Law” will be presented. For the call to propose papers for the conference, please see here . Following the conference, the article drafts will be sent for peer review, and if accepted, will be published in a designated volume (published with a leading academic press).

The project is made possible thanks to the support of the Barak Center for Interdisciplinary Research, The Hebrew University


Organizers: Benjamin Porat and David Flatto