Christianity and law Archives

March 9, 2008

The Most Famous Evangelical Intellectual You've Never Heard Of--Skeel

Thanks to Crazy for God, a new tell-all memoir by his son Frank, Francis Schaeffer is back in the news in evangelical circles. Twenty-four years after his death, the height of his fame has long since passed, but Schaeffer had an incalculable influence on the contemporary evangelical mind.

In 1955, Schaeffer and his wife Edith founded the Christian retreat center L’Abri in Switzerland. Schaeffer, a Presbyterian minister, took all comers, engaging college students, dropouts, and others in debates about the meaning of life.

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April 20, 2008

Evangelicals and Climate Change--Skeel

One of the more interesting things I learned (thanks to Vanderbilt Earth & Environmental Sciences professor Jonathan Gilligan) at a very interesting conference on consumption and climate change at Vanderbilt Law School this weekend was a tidbit from Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign. In an NPR interview, Huckabee argued that creationists should be more concerned about the environment than Darwinists. For a Darwinist, Huckabee reasoned, there's no reason to fear global warming because it can be seen as the planet's natural adaptation to industrial civilization, whereas he sees the earth as God's creation---something we hold in stewardship and which is not ours to deface.

Equally interesting was a finding by Columbia sociologist Dana Fisher that more than 75% percent of environmental activists have college degrees, and more than 33% of them have advanced degrees, percentages much higher than among antiwar demonstrators and other protest groups. (Fisher’s website, with links to her work on activism, is here). These two data points seem to me to nicely illustrate both the likely growth of evangelical environmentalism, and its likely limits.

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May 3, 2008

More on Evangelicals and Climate Change--Skeel

Three follow-up comments about evangelicals and climate change, inspired in large part by the comments to the earlier post:

1) Perhaps the biggest point of disagreement among evangelicals, which shows up in spades in the comments, can be traced to differing perceptions of the implications of accepting scientists’ warnings about climate change. For skeptics, the science is a Trojan horse paving the way for massive governmental intervention. Most envangelical environmentalists seem less worried that socialism is right around the corner. Mike Vandenbergh, a leading environmental law scholar and co-organizer of the Vanderbilt conference mentioned in the earlier post, pointed out to me that the divide among evangelicals echoes a fault-line among Americans generally: work by Dan Kahan at Yale suggests that people’s perception of the importance of climate change is closely tied to whether they think the societal response will be more governmental regulation. Those who believe that accepting the science is likely to mean lots more regulation are much less likely to credit the science.

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May 14, 2008

An Evangelical Manifesto--Skeel

The response to “An Evangelical Manifesto”-- which was released a week ago, with the endorsement of many prominent evangelicals, and is designed to “address the confusions and corruptions that attend the term Evangelical in the United States” and to describe the proper role of evangelicals in public life– seems to be a collective yawn. There have been yawns in the media (see Alan Jacobs’ excellent Wall Street Journal op-ed) and everyone I have queried personally has responded with an electronic yawn. But is everyone yawning for the same reason? I don’t think they are.

Many of those who would not call themselves evangelicals are likely to read the manifesto, if they do read it, to try to understand just who evangelicals are. The most obvious ways to define evangelical would be to develop a single theological definition that includes most of this jelly-like group, to attempt to identify the major subgroups of evangelicals, or both. “An Evangelical Manifesto” seems to adopt the first approach, providing a list of seven beliefs that evangelicals hold. Seven is already a bit on the cumbersome side– the best known definition, which is discussed in the first footnote of this article, has four.

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May 19, 2008

The (Invisible) Immigration Issue--Skeel

“So, whatever happened to immigration as a presidential campaign issue?,” Wall Street Journal editor Jason Riley asked in an interesting op-ed last week. He speculates that the candidates have been avoiding it because Americans are “basically pro-immigrant but conflicted about it,” and goes on to suggest that one reason many social conservatives want to seal the border is in reaction to multiculturalists who have attacked the traditional American ideal of assimilation.

The conventional wisdom about immigration is that it doesn’t decide elections, and I think the conventional wisdom will hold true this year, in part because Americans are conflicted generally, and in part because of the sharply opposed views of several of the particular constituencies McCain and Obama will be fighting over.

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June 11, 2008

The Great (Debt) Seduction--Skeel

David Brooks argued in his column yesterday that traditional norms of thrift and frugality have been displaced in America by norms that “encourage debt and living for the moment.” Among the causes of this shift, he blames state governments’ promotion of the lottery, pay day lenders, credit card companies, and Congress’s own profligacy with debt. The column is well worth reading, as is the think tank report he discusses, “For a New Thrift: Confronting the Debt Culture.”

Two thoughts on these issues:

1) Gambling and Risky Debt. It seems to me that the state lawmakers’ aggressive promotion of lottery play, and the culture that creates, makes it much harder than it should be to criticize borrowers who gambled on subprime mortgages in recent years. The states themselves have been sending a message that rolling the dice is a good thing. (In a notorious New York ad from a few years ago, a mother poked fun at her hardworking daughter, saying there’s no need to study because the mother had bought lottery tickets).

Will the pernicious effect of gambling on financial responsibility be a big campaign issue this summer and fall? Not likely.

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June 20, 2008

Evangelicals and the University--Skeel

I agree completely with Bill’s comments about (non) bias against evangelicals in the university. My own experience is very similar. Like Bill, I’ve always been up front about my faith, and it has never hurt me in any discernible way at the law schools I’ve been associated with (Penn and Temple on a full-time basis, three others as a visiting professor). To the contrary, I’ve often gotten the impression that my being an evangelical is viewed positively, as a source of diversity.

I have only one caveat to add. Christian scholars (not just an evangelicals but Catholics and main line Protestants as well) seem to have more difficulty persuading top law reviews to publish work that they write from an identifiably Christian perspective, than work that looks more like traditional scholarship. I suspect that there may be a similar dynamic on many tenure committees: scholarship from a Christian perspective doesn’t carry quite as much weight as scholarship that looks more like the other, secular scholarship in the scholar’s field. This doesn’t necessarily reflect any bias: it may be the scholarship is simply unfamiliar or seems hard to evaluate. But when young evangelical scholars ask me for advice about faith and scholarship, I encourage them to write both kinds of scholarship: some scholarship from an explicitly Christian perspective, but also more traditional scholarship that directly engages the best secular scholarship in their field on its own terms.

July 24, 2008

Judge McConnell's New Religious Liberty Case--Skeel

Judge McConnell, the former law professor and leading First Amendment scholar who is now a judge on the Tenth Circuit, issued a potentially important religious liberty case yesterday. As described by Rick Garnett over at Mirror of Justice, the court ruled “that Colorado violated the Constitution when it refused, on the ground that the school is "pervasively sectarian", to permit otherwise-qualified students to use publicly funded scholarships at Colorado Christian University.” (Link to Mirror of Justice here, and to the case here).

I haven’t read the case yet (that’s on the to-do list for today), but the facts may be an important test of the Supreme Court’s skepticism in recent years of rules that exclude religious groups or schools from benefits that are broadly available to other groups, and of the one case (Locke v. Davey) running against this trend. More on this soon.

July 25, 2008

More on the Religious Liberty Case--Skeel

Judge McConnell’s opinion in the case involving Colorado’s denial of Colorado Christian University’s request to participate in the state’s scholarship program because the university is “pervasively sectarian” seems completely persuasive as an application of the Supreme Court’s recent First Amendment Religion Clause decisions. (The case is linked to yesterday’s post: here). Judge McConnell points out that the exclusion of pervasively sectarian institutions both discriminates among religions (sectarian institutions qualify, but not pervasively sectarian ones) and requires the state to pass judgment on religious belief and practice.

My one qualm about the decision is really a qualm about the path the Supreme Court has taken in these cases over the past decade or so. It seems to leave no room for state institutions to distinguish among potential recipients when deciding who to fund or not fund. The usual test case is an organization like, say Ku Klux Klan University, which might be difficult to deny funding to on some readings of the analysis in cases like this one.

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July 31, 2008

Should Evangelicals Forgive the Environmental Movement?--Skeel

Last week I finished reviewing the coverage of environmental issues in Christianity Today over the past forty years (for an article described in this post), and in Sunday school heard a discussion of Christ’s warning at the end of the Lord’s Prayer that “if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14) Forgiveness and evangelicals’ stance toward environmentalism don’t seem to have a great deal in common. I wonder if perhaps they should.

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October 9, 2008

C.S. Lewis and the Financial Crisis--Skeel

I suspect I'm not the only one who feels vaguely guilty when I'm not thinking about or talking about or trying in some small, inept way to do something about the financial crisis. Everything else seems secondary. How can we go about our ordinary lives in a time like this?

Some of the most helpful answers I've heard come, as is so often the case, from C.S. Lewis. Speaking to university students at the height of World War II in an essay called "Learning in War-Time," he asked how they could continue studying "when the lives of our friends and the liberties of Europe are in the balance?" Lewis points out that, because times are never truly "normal," if we took the assumption that we should stop our ordinary activities when things are amiss to its logical conclusion, we would never engage in ordinary activities.

He then argues that the seemingly frivolous activities in which we engage are part of what makes us different from animals: people "propound mathematical theorems in beleaguered cities, conduct metaphysical arguments in condemned cells, make jokes on scaffolds, discuss the last new poem while advancing to the walls of Quebec, and comb their hair at Thermopylae. This is not panache: it is our nature."

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October 31, 2008

The Pulpit Initiative--Skeel

A month ago, 33 pastors around the country preached sermons that overtly endorsed a candidate (usually John McCain) as part of Pulpit Freedom Sunday and the Pulpit Initiative organized by Alliance Defense Fund, a prominent Christian legal fund. The Pulpit Initiative is designed to challenge a tax law that takes away nonprofit status if a church or other nonprofit organization endorses a political candidate. (Here's a link to an article about the challenge).

My biggest question is why challenge this law, and why now? This is very much an evangelical initiative, but the evangelical churches I'm familiar with rarely if ever talk about the merits or demerits of particular political candidates. When I first heard about the initiative, I wondered if it might designed less to protect white Protestant churches than to force the IRS to investigate black churches, which historically have mixed politics and religion much more freely. But from what I know about the Alliance Defense Fund, I can't imagine this was their motivation.

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December 9, 2008

Will There be Lawyers in Heaven?--Skeel

            A few weeks ago, I was struck by a line in Abraham Kuyper's "Lectures on Calvinism" (1898), one of the great (and accessible!) modern Protestant works on politics and law.   In a world without sin, Kuyper wrote, "every rule and ordinance and law would drop away, even as all control and assertion of the power of the magistrate would disappear."  Heaven, he suggests, is no place for law or lawyers.


            We lawyers come in for a lot of abuse, much of it justified, but I'm not so sure our work will disappear in heaven.  The conclusion that law and thus lawyers will be unnecessary seems to assume that in heaven we will be all seeing and all knowing, and all complexity will simply disappear.  I'm not sure where that assumption comes from; it doesn't seem especially consistent with the hints of heaven, with all its richness and diversity, that we get in the Bible.  The absence of sin doesn't necessarily mean the absence of complexity, and where there is complexity law and lawyers seem to have a role to play.


            I don't think it's entirely coincidental that the Holy Spirit is described in the Bible as an advocate and a counselor, both distinctively lawyerly roles.  The lawyers in heaven will be much better lawyers, but I suspect they will still be dispensing legal advice.


            I'd be curious as to whether others agree.

January 9, 2009

Neuhaus' Passing--Stuntz

David is right:  Father Neuhaus was indeed one of a kind, and also a deeply admirable man.  He was the happy warrior of the culture wars:  eager to mix it up with those with whom he disagreed, but always with respect.  There seems to have been no anger or spite in him—a rare thing among those engaged in hot-button cultural debates.


Neuhaus embodied one of the most important developments of our time, and also one of the most surprising:  the hold conservative Catholics have on the political and legal views of conservative Protestants.  Though he converted in middle age (he was a Lutheran minister when he became a public figure), Neuhaus was every inch a Catholic.  Yet his work—both in his books and in First Things, the magazine he ran—attracted a wide and attentive audience among Protestants.  I feel confident saying that Neuhaus was far more influential in evangelical Protestant circles than figures like Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, or James Dobson.


Great as his influence was, the trend was the work of more than this one man.  The most admired legal intellectual in evangelical circles is Antonin Scalia, a conservative Catholic.  Catholic academics have spawned large and sophisticated bodies of work on the role Christian faith does and should play in law, politics, and culture.  Of course, Protestant academics work in these areas too, and some of them—Mark Noll, Alvin Plantinga, and Nicholas Wolterstorff come to mind—are every bit as smart and knowledgeable as their Catholic counterparts.  Just as Michael McConnell, longtime law professor and judge on the 10th Circuit, can match wits with anyone in wide world of legal thought.  But the Nolls and McConnells are few; their Catholic equivalents are many.  Much as Father Neuhaus will be missed, his death does not alter that state of affairs.


At one level, the Catholic influence in Protestant circles has been a source of great good:  there is more unity across denominational lines than perhaps at any time in American history.  But there is a downside.  Today’s American Protestants are optimistic about the potential for politics and law to move the culture in positive directions.  That has led to the too-casual embrace of Republican party orthodoxy by many believers.  (I say this as a registered Republican: I’m part of the problem, not part of the solution.)  Likewise, American Protestants of my generation have placed more weight on cultural symbols—crosses and crèches in public spaces, prayers at public school graduations and sporting events, the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance—than our predecessors in generations past.  Battles over those symbols have absorbed too much of Christians’ political attention, and a host of other problems too little.


Father Neuhaus was a large part of the reason for those intellectual tilts—his thought was shaped by a religious tradition that found the exercise of government power more comfortable and Christian symbols more important than most Protestant traditions would suggest.  Maybe Neuhaus and the tradition that shaped his legal and political views got these issues right.  If so, the increasingly blurred line between Catholicism and Protestantism we see today is an unmitigated blessing.  If not—well, suffice it say that some of us often find ourselves wishing that a more distinctively Protestant voice might emerge in the ongoing conversation about the role of Christian faith in American life.


January 24, 2009

Obama's Abortion Order--Skeel

Ever since Ronald Reagan first banned funding to international organizations that promote or provide abortions in developing countries and elsewhere in 1984, this executive order has been the most visible culture wars prize of our presidential elections. Like many culture wars battlegrounds, it has heavy symbolic significance. Unlike many, it also has significant real world consequences.

My wife asked me if I felt as though I’d been kicked in the stomach, as she did, when I heard that President Obama had rescinded the order (which had been reinstated by Bush after having been removed by Clinton) yesterday. I didn’t, since there was never any doubt that this would be one of Obama’s first actions if he was elected.

For me at least, President Obama’s order didn’t bring a kick in the stomach so much as a seeping sense of sadness. Obama softened the effect slightly by waiting until the day after the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, rather than trumpeting it on the anniversary. But the fact is that our government will be funding organizations that facilitate the deaths of unborn children in other countries. The order wasn’t unexpected, but that doesn’t make it less saddening.

July 28, 2009

Sam Harris on Francis Collins--Skeel

That Sam Harris, one of the leading “new atheists,” criticized the president’s nomination of Francis Collins, a professed Christian, to serve as director of the National Institutes of Health in this New York Times op-ed yesterday was hardly news. But I found the column interesting in several respects. 

First, the tone was much more subdued than in Harris’s usual tirades against religion. Perhaps the Times’ op-ed editors tamed Harris’s prose, but I suspect the reasonableness of the tone is a tribute to Collins’s stature as a scientist.  I wonder if the religion vs. science debate might be a little less heated if it were more often conducted by scientists, and we evangelicals were less eager to credit any claim that seems to score points against the scientific community.
Second, Harris complained that Collins may stifle research in neuroscience that seems to suggest “that minds are the products of brains, and brains are [simply] the products of evolution,” since this calls God into question. My initial reaction was (and is) that Collins seems very unlikely to interfere with valuable scientific work, regardless of where it might lead.
But I also think it’s important to cast a skeptical eye, if not on the work itself, at least on the claims made for this work. This isn’t my field, but my sense is that the claims made for the neuroscience findings we have thus far often go far beyond any reasonable interpretation of the science. Some scholars claim, for instance, that criminal laws should not focus on “desert” (that is, the badness of criminal behavior) because criminal behavior is simply a product of our brains. This is an area in which I suspect that Christian lawyer-scientists might make important contributions.

October 4, 2009

The Ardi Fossils--Skeel

I happened to be reading the transcript of the 1925 Scopes (“Monkey”) trial the other evening, then woke up to front page pictures of Ardi, who was described “a 4.4 million-year-old human forbear.” Scopes and Ardi prompted a swirl of competing thoughts and emotions, but two thoughts stood out.

The first is that a trial is the worst possible place to debate these issues. In a trial, the parties try to concede as little as possible, rather than acknowledging the strengths as well as weaknesses of the opposing position. Attacks on evolution tend to attack particular elements of evolutionary theory—pointing out limitations in the fossil record, for instance—and treat this as disproof of the theory as a whole. Evolutionists tend to point to difficult Biblical texts or bloodshed in the name of religion—and treat this as conclusive evidence that Christianity is not true. Linking a handful of problematic details and inviting a jury to draw a sweeping conclusion is a classic rhetorical strategy in trials.
Second is the issue of humility. In the Scopes trial, Darrow repeatedly referred to religious critics of evolution as “bigots and ignoramuses,” and was cheered on by the East Coast press. He wasn’t treated much better by William Jennings Bryan and the defenders of the anti-evolution law. This absence of humility has characterized the subsequent debate as well, and is reinforced by its judicial, point-counterpoint quality. (Think of a few of the best known books: Darwin on Trial; God is Not Great). Greater humility might mean more acknowledgment of the limitations of evolutionary theory by evolutionists, and more willingness by Christian critics to marvel at the mysteries reflected in the decoding of genome or the discovery of fossils like Ardi.
The stories about Ardi noted that her discoverer, Tim White, waited many years before finally going public, painstakingly piecing together a large number of fossils even as fellow scientists pushed him to announce his discoveries. I don’t know anything about Dr. White or his reasons, but I like to think he wasn’t interested in firing salvos into the science vs. religion debate as soon as he could. Instead, he wanted to be as careful as possible, and to pursue the best understanding of the significance of what he and his team had found, without paying attention to the battles playing out on the best seller lists.

November 13, 2009

Religious Exemptions--Skeel

At a law and religion conference at Seton Hall’s law school yesterday, Rob Vischer, a law professor at St. Thomas, gave a fascinating talk that touched on the debate over religious exemptions—the question whether religiously oriented individuals and businesses should be protected from discrimination claims. This issue arose when a photo shop was sued for refusing to provide photography services at a gay wedding, and in cases challenging pharmacists’ refusal to dispense birth control or abortion pills. Vischer argues that the cases should focus less on the parties’ competing claims of conscience than on whether the declinations genuinely interfere with the plaintiffs’ access to these services (in many of these cases, they don’t). Among other things, such a shift might better protect the ability of businesses and other associations to govern themselves as they see fit. 

An obvious question with this approach is whether it would also have justified the refusal to serve blacks that characterized the Jim Crow era. Vischer acknowledged this concern, but argued that Jim Crow race practices shouldn’t be our template for thinking about the current issues. The harms in that era were much more systematic and severe than the harms claimed in the recent cases.
I don’t often think in terms of the consequences of social sin. But it seems to me that the way in which our country’s experience with slavery has complicated the debates on so many other issues—and has invited absolutist claims about what equality requires—is part of God’s punishment on our country for the sin of slavery.   Had it not been for slavery and the ongoing legacy of racial discrimination, the national discussion of these other issues surely would have looked quite different.

April 6, 2010

Implicit and Explicit Christian Scholarship--Skeel

In his characteristically wise contribution to the Stuntz conference, Mike Seidman posed the question of why so many of Bill’s influential criminal procedure articles make no references to the Bible or Christianity. Why, he asks, do they look so much like articles written by non-Christian scholars?

One possibility is that Bill hides his faith in order to make the articles more palatable to secular scholars. Seidman rejects this as completely inconsistent with Bill’s character, and he also rejects a second possible explanation, that Christianity does not really have anything to add. 
Seidman proposes a very different explanation: Christian humility. Because Scripture does not give a single, clear answer to many legal and political issues, better not to wield it as a weapon in the debates.
I think this is a subtle and persuasive insight. But I also think there may be two more explanations for the absence of explicit Christian reference in work by Bill and other Protestant legal scholars in the 1980s and 1990s. First, unlike for Catholic scholars, there weren’t a large number of role models—there weren’t lots of Protestant scholars integrating their faith into scholarship in criminal law or corporate law or other areas. There were some, but there certainly weren’t lots, and I can’t think of any in Bill’s field. Fortunately this is rapidly changing.
The second explanation is quite different. Top notch Christian scholarship isn’t always scholarship with explicitly Christian ideas. The author’s faith may be more a question of how the scholar chooses and explores the ideas, than of the particular position he or she ultimately takes. This is something Bill has written about, as has C.S. Lewis.

June 16, 2010

The Spirit of the Law--Skeel

This short review offers a few thoughts on The Spirit of the Law, a new book on the church-state battles over the past century.  The book is a fascinating, in depth historical study of six of the sometimes quirky groups behind the cases.

July 8, 2010

Christian Legal Society v. Martinez--Skeel

I was boarding a plane to Israel a few hours after the Supreme Court handed down its decision in CLS v. Martinez last week, so I was a bit behind the curve in reading it. In a 5-4 decision written by Justice Ginsburg, the Court upheld Hastings Law School’s decision to ban CLS from law school recognition because it requires its members and officers to sign a Statement of Faith that includes a provision affirming that sex should only occur in a marriage between a man and a woman.  Relying heavily on a stipulation between the parties stating that Hastings’ policy required student groups to accept “all comers,” Ginsburg held that the policy did not violate the CLS groups’ free speech rights (it wasn’t viewpoint discrimination) or association rights (it withheld recognition and the benefits that come with it but did not coerce CLS to change its policy).

Although the Christian blog posts I’ve seen (including some by Constitutional law scholars who know vastly more about these issues than I do) have argued that a “take all comers” rule is inherently discriminatory, I don’t see the argument. If you agree that this is Hastings’ policy—and the stipulation does seem to say this—I think Justice Ginsburg is right. Such a policy strikes me as a bad idea, but lots of groups would be affected by a policy that didn’t allow them to police their membership, not just CLS.
A more serious complaint about the decision, it seems to me, is that it’s likely to lead to a lot more litigation, as groups like CLS contend that the policy isn’t being handled in an even-handed fashion. Justice Kennedy’s concurrence—the 5th vote in the case—makes clear that he would vote the other way if it were shown that the policy was really a pretext for excluding CLS.
My other concern is a more practical one. It seems to me that CLS, and evangelicals generally, should be careful about just what we fight for. Arguing that law school groups should be able to place limitations—such as a belief in Jesus Christ as our savior— on who can be a leader without sacrificing law school recognition strikes me as defensible. But I’m less certain about insisting on these strictures for ordinary members, at least of this kind of group. After all, a key purpose of CLS and other on-campus evangelical groups is evangelism. It may be that such a group could make a more winsome case for Christ if it maintained clear requirements for the leaders but were more flexible about who can participate in other capacities. If, on the other hand, the group concludes that the strictures need to apply to everyone, perhaps it shouldn’t be asking for law school recognition.

August 24, 2010

Evangelizing on the Job--Skeel

In the same issue of the New York Times Magazine with the story about Jeff Arnett and emerging adulthood this Sunday, there was a remarkably offensive (for me at least) column by the “The Ethicist” Randy Cohen.  A reader had gotten an EKG done by a technician who’d said, among other things, “Only divine creation could have created such an organ” (the heart), and asked whether he or she should report this to the technician’s boss.

Cohen’s ultimate advice seemed reasonable to me: yes, the reader may (he said, should) report the conversation, but the boss’s response hopefully would not be more severe than “reminding the technician to be alert to the patient’s feelings.” But he stuck in several tasteless jibes at Christianity—a reference to “the biblical injunction to put to death those who work on the Sabbath” and a concluding jab about heart disease: “surely that, too, is God’s handiwork, or does he only get credit for the design successes?”  I wasn’t sure whether Cohen is ignorant about religion—and got his talking points from the new atheism books—or simply trying to be provocative, and doing so with precisely the kind of offensive manner he warns against with his advice.
I also found myself thinking about what the technician should do.  If she felt called to evangelize overtly as she performed her job, she might risk losing her job.  In my view that would be the price of her faith (as with Peter and the apostles in Acts 5, when they say that have no choice but to speak of Christ, even if compelled not to), rather than a reason to sue. But I suspect most of us would conclude that it’s appropriate to be discreet about when and how we share our faith, which may mean being a bit more subtle in the EKG room and saving the boldness for elsewhere.

November 8, 2010

Last Week's Church-State Case--Skeel

For those who might be interested, here is a little column I wrote on an important new church-state case (Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn) that was argued in the Supreme Court last week. One interesting dimension of the case that I wasn’t able to squeeze into the column was the Obama administration’s stance: the administration came out squarely in favor of the Arizona program, supporting it both in an amicus brief and at the argument. This put the administration on the opposite side as the teacher’s unions, suggesting that the administration is serious about school reform. This may be one of the issues on which President Obama may find common ground with Republicans in the wake of last week’s election results.

January 17, 2011

Wheaton Talk--Skeel

For anyone who happens to be in the Chicago area, I'll be giving a talk entitled "Making Sense of the New Financial Deal" at Wheaton College this Thursday at 7:30pm.  The talk will be based on my new book, "The New Financial Deal: Understanding the Dodd-Frank Act and its (Unintended) Consequences," but with a particular emphasis on some of the Christian implications of these issues.  Here is the announcement.  I hope to see one or two of you in person there.

December 5, 2011

Was it Immoral for American Airlines to File for Bankruptcy?--Skeel

The former CEO of American thought so.  He's seems like an admirable leader, but I think he's wrong about bankruptcy.  Here's a little blog post elaborating on that theme.

February 26, 2012

The Latest on Bill and his Work

Here is a lovely article in the Boston Globe about Bill's rush to finish The Collapse of American Criminal Justice in the final months of his life.

Adam Gopnik discusses Bill's book in some detail in the a New Yorker piece (here) from late last month (which I'd missed but a friend just forwarded).

I will post additional articles and reviews, including an essay of Bill's called "Law and Grace" that will be published in April, in this space as they appear.