Events across the globe, such as the culture wars besieging Europe and the United States, the “war on terrorism,” regional conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere, to have moved religion from the margins of legal and political thought to its very center. The State and Religion Track provides an innovative approach to the study of religion in world affairs because it approaches religion not simply as an object of regulation by the state but also as an independent force in shaping legal norms and political projects. In this track, you will examine the relationship of religion and the state both from the perspective of democratic and liberal theory and also from the perspective of religion. How do the various religions conceive of the purpose and prerogatives of the state? What does secularism mean in light of the resurgence of religion? TAU Law’s Track in State and Religion also goes beyond the conventional focus on diverse religion-state arrangements and seeks, instead, to understand the role of religion in the emerging global order. In this track, you will explore such questions as: How do various religions conceive of world order? What is the role of religion in shaping norms of war and of peace-building? How central are religious concepts to the legal regulation and philosophy of human rights?
TAU Law has multiple strengths in this area. Many faculty members are engaged with the question of religion in light of democratic principles and liberal thought. They bring a wide spectrum of viewpoints to this topic. In addition to experts in constitutionalism, TAU has a vibrant faculty with expertise in Jewish Law and in Islamic Law who are directly engaged with the question how religion, modernity, and democracy could coexist from the internal viewpoint of religion. TAU Law is particularly known for its emphasis on law and culture and interdisciplinary inquiry. Faculty members approach these questions by asking foundational questions about the meaning of secularism in legal, political, and social theory and the implications of the modern division of human experience into distinct realms such as religion, politics, and culture. Finally, many faculty members who teach international and human rights law also are committed to a multidisciplinary perspective that complements the track in State and Religion.
Israel provides a fascinating setting for exploring these questions. Israel is known as the birthplace of major religions. At the same time, the founding generation of Israel brought with them European traditions of secularism, nowhere more evident than in the city of Tel Aviv. Debate about the relationship between religion and the state pervades daily life in Israel. The debate about religion and state is equally a debate about national identity and culture and provides an important window onto the complexity of the very idea of ‘religion’ in modernity.