What role should religion play in our law?

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

What role does religion play in terrorism and how can the law respond? Should religion play a role in legal issues around abortion or euthanasia? Should Australian law recognise religious law?

These are some of the issues to be tackled by a unique new research unit to be launched at the University of Adelaide this Thursday, 13 November.

Established within the University's Faculty of the Professions, the Research Unit for the Study of Society, Law and Religion (RUSSLR) will study the place and role of religion and law in contemporary society.

Director Dr Paul Babie said that while issues surrounding religion and law were increasingly significant for modern society, research within Australia to date had been fragmented.

"These issues are of clear importance to modern Australia and we need to study them in a focused and sustained way," said Dr Babie. "Individual and collective values shape the development of law in any society, and religion has been and continues to be one of the fundamental drivers of those values.

"If we understand the influences behind those values, and the way those interact with the social environment, then we can understand how law adapts and changes over time, and how we might want it, or not want it, to develop.

"On the other hand, if we fail to understand the relationship between religion, values and law, then we fail to understand a significant dimension of Australian social life."

The main areas of research include:

  • the role of religion in current social and moral challenges such as climate change
  • the protection of human rights including freedom of religion and privacy
  • religious fundamentalism and terrorism
  • the role of religion in education
  • moral and ethical dimensions surrounding abortion and euthanasia
  • citizenship and migration.

RUSSLR will be launched at the National Wine Centre on Thursday 13 November by Dr Michael Spence, the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Sydney and an international expert on intellectual property theory. He will deliver a lecture entitled 'Law and Religion'.

This will be followed by a one-day workshop at the University on Friday 14 November on 'The Relationship between Law and Religion in Contemporary Society'.


Contact Details

Associate Professor Paul Babie
Email: paul.babie@adelaide.edu.au
Website: http://www.adelaide.edu.au/lawandreligion/
Adelaide Law School
Director, Research Unit for the Study of Society, Law and Religion
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5521

Ms Robyn Mills
Email: robyn.mills@adelaide.edu.au
Media and Communications Officer
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 6341
Mobile: +61 410 689 084