Freedom’s Edge – Religious Freedom, Sexual Freedom and the Future of Justice in America

“The stakes are high. For one side fundamental justice and human rights are involved. For the other fundamental justice and civil liberties are involved.”

Recent events in the United States have resulted in a national debate pitting religious freedom against the civil rights and civil liberties of the LGBT community. This controversy follows closely on the heels of the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, which set off a firestorm over the balance between reproductive rights and religious freedom. Both conservatives and progressives have raised the level of hysteria. The media has been happy to oblige. Television and radio news programs, newspapers, magazines and the blogosphere are filled daily with reports of discrimination by one or both sides. We have entered a new battle in the culture wars. Of course, the framing of this controversy ignores one central fact: religious freedom and strong civil rights for all can coexist when properly understood. The stakes are high. For one side fundamental justice and human rights are involved. For the other fundamental justice and civil liberties are involved. Professor Frank S. Ravitch asserts that this supposed conflict has a resolution, and in fact, in most situations the conflict has been manufactured by partisans on each side of the culture wars. This presentation provides an accessible and clear roadmap to the issues involved in this debate, and a clear path for balancing religious freedom and sexual freedom. Coexistence is possible, and it is necessary for the survival of America as a nation of freedom for all and can provide an example for other nations facing similar issues.

Professor Ravitch was a Keynote Speaker at The Asian Conference on Ethics, Religion & Philosophy 2016 (ACERP2016) in Kobe, Japan.

Professor Frank S. Ravitch

Professor Frank S. Ravitch’s career has included experience in private practice and on Capitol Hill. Since joining Michigan State University’s Law College he has authored several books, and a number of law review articles, essays, book reviews and book chapters, as well as amicus briefs to the US Supreme Court. He is the author of Freedom’s Edge: Religious Freedom, Sexual Freedom and the Future of America (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2016); Marketing Creation: The Law and Intelligent Design (Cambridge University Press 2012), Masters of Illusion: The Supreme Court and the Religion Clauses (NYU Press 2007); Law and Religion: Cases, Materials and Readings (West 2004)(2nd Ed. 2008) (3rd Ed. 2015 with Larry Cata Backer), School Prayer and Discrimination: The Civil Rights of Religious Minorities and Dissenters (Northeastern University Press, 1999 & paperback edition 2001). He is co-author, with the late Boris Bittker and with Scott Idleman, of the first comprehensive treatise on Law and Religion in more than one hundred years, Religion and the State in American Law (Cambridge University Press 2015) (this project was supported by a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment). He is also co-author of, Employment Discrimination Law (Prentice Hall, 2005) (with Pamela Sumners and Janis McDonald).

Professor Ravitch’s articles, which have appeared in a number of highly regarded journals, have primarily focused on law and religion in the US and Japan, but he has also written about civil rights law and disability discrimination. He has given numerous academic presentations nationally and internationally. In 2001, he was named a Fulbright scholar and served on the law faculty at Doshisha University (Japan), where he taught courses relating to US constitutional law and law and religion. He serves on a Fulbright Review Committee under the auspices of the Council for the International Exchange of Scholars. Complementing his professional service is his commitment to community service; Professor Ravitch has made dozens of public presentations explaining the law before school groups, community groups and service clubs and has served as an expert commentator for print and broadcast media.

He teaches Torts I, Law and Religion and Law and Interpretation. His current research projects include an article explaining why the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby harms the Free Exercise of Religion for traditional religious entities. He speaks English, Japanese and Hebrew.​

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