How God Commands Religious Liberty: Islamic Minarets and Liberal Democracy
Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life
University of Fribourg (Switzerland)
Date: Thursday, December 1, 2011
Location: Boisi Center, 24 Quincy Rd
Abstract: In 2009 the citizens of Switzerland passed a constitutional amendment that prohibited the construction of new minarets in the country. Religious communities spoke out against the initiative in the days before the vote, and condemned the result in its aftermath. Although rarely expressed at the time, the right to religious freedom was at the heart of the debate over the amendment. In this talk, Swiss theologian Gregor Scherzinger links the minaret controversy with a broader discussion of how religious communities ground their claims to religious freedom in a pluralistic, democratic society.
Gregor Scherzinger is a Ph.D. candidate in the department of moral theology and ethics at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. His dissertation is entitled "Normative Ethics and Jewish Ethos – A Reconstruction of David Novak’s Moral Theory and its Criticism of Political Liberalism." Scherzinger received the equivalent of a masters in theology and religious studies from the University of Fribourg in 2007. He also studied in Jerusalem as a participant in the Theological Study Program at the Dormition Abbey.
In the News
Citizens in the U.S. and Europe have in recent years tried to prevent many Muslim communities from building or expanding mosques. The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating one recent case in California; last year Switzerland banned the construction of minarets. On Thursday, Dec. 1, Boisi Center visiting scholar Gregor Scherzinger discussed the controversy in Switzerland and examined how religious communities ground their claims to religious freedom in a pluralistic, democratic society.