Lecture – Mark Movsesian – Religious Freedom for Mideast Christians; Yesterday and Today

Lecture by Mark Movsesian „Religious Freedom for Mideast Christians, Yesterday and Today”

Given 7pm – 9pm on Saturday September 6, 2014 at The Lanier Theological Library Chapel in Houston, Texas. It is part of the Lanier Library Lecture Series. A series devoted to bringing world class lectures to benefit the community of all those who might be interested.

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Recently, in a city in Syria, an Islamist group imposed on Christian citizens the dhimma, the traditional “agreement” governing relations with Christians in Islamic law. According to the dhimma, Christians are tolerated as long as they pay a special tax and agree to abide by restrictions on worship and other public behavior. The dhimma governed Christians for centuries, but was abolished 150 years ago, when Mideast countries generally adopted Western models of religious equality. Its reappearance in Syria today has sent a chilling message to Christians throughout the region.

In this lecture, Professor Mark Movsesian, Director of the Center for Law and Religion at St. John’s University in New York, will discuss the religious freedom concerns of Christians in the Mideast. He will explore the historical treatment of Christians and describe the situation today. In particular, he will explain the current threats to Christians and explain why some observers believe the Christian communities of the Mideast are going through one of the worst periods of persecution in their history.

Bio info:

Mark L. Movsesian is the Frederick A. Whitney Professor of Contract Law at St. Johnʼs School of Law in New York and the Director of the Center for Law and Religion. He teaches a course about law and religion and is doing research on the role of law in Christianity and Islam.

Professor Movsesian decided to follow in the footsteps of his own professors at Harvard Law School and pursue a career in teaching after finishing his clerkship with Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter.

About this choice, he said, “At the end of my clerkship, I had to decide between teaching and practicing law in DC. Around that time, I was reading Robert Boltʼs play, A Man for All Seasons. In the play, Sir Thomas More advises an ambitious young lawyer that he should forgo politics and take up teaching. Teaching, he says, allows you to have an impact on those you really care about. It sounds funny, I guess, but I took the advice as applying to me, and I chose academics. As it turns out, I now teach at a university with a church on campus dedicated to Thomas More. I mustʼve made the right choice!”

Born and raised in Queens, New York, Professor Movsesian grew up very close to St. Johnʼs Queens campus. Although he remembers the university from his high school days, he believes St. Johnʼs School of Law is more than just a return to his roots; it is an opportunity to be a part of one of the nationʼs most important legal communities. He explained, “For generations, St. Johnʼs has done an excellent job producing leaders in the legal community, both in New York and around the country. Iʼm proud to be part of an institution with that legacy of achievement. I also value being part of a global university with campuses around the world. My work increasingly involves international and comparative research and St. Johnʼs global connections are very helpful.”

His scholarship has appeared in several prestigious journals, including the Harvard Law Review, the Oxford Journal of Law and Religion, the American Journal of International Law, the Harvard International Law Journal, and the Virginia Journal of International Law. He has also been a visiting professor at Notre Dame and Cardozo Law Schools.Voted professor of the year in 2007 by St. Johnʼs Student Bar Association, Movsesian says his main goal when he teaches is to train students to “think like lawyers.” He explained the conceptual framework needed for success as a lawyer. “I try to teach my students how to analyze peopleʼs legal problems and find solutions. I tell them that to become a successful lawyer, itʼs not enough to memorize doctrine. You have to appreciate the reasons the rules exist and the human needs theyʼre meant to serve.”

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