Questions surrounding the influence of religious belief on the rule of the law will be addressed at this year’s Gifford Lecture.
The lecture series begun 126 years ago, inviting notable scholars to contribute to the advancement of philosophical and theological thought.
Justice Catherine O’Regan will consider whether faith should influence the law, and if it is possible to identify a principled basis for court rulings based on religious beliefs.
The lecture will take place in St Cecilia’s Hall on Monday 19 May, where Justice O’Regan will discuss instances where such matters have been raised in courtrooms across the globe.
During the lecture, Justice O’Regan will illustrate the difficulty that courts in democratic countries face when considering legal claims based on religious beliefs.
She will reflect on whether it is possible to develop standard values for the judgement of such claims, and whether cross-jurisdictional learning is possible.
Different social, political and religious contexts will also be explored, looking at example cases in India, North America, South Africa and Europe.
Justice O’Regan was appointed as judge to the South African Constitutional Court in 1994, serving the maximum term of 15 years.
She was the inaugural chairperson of the United Nations Internal Justice Council.
The body was established to help ensure the independence, professionalism and accountability of the new system of internal justice within the United Nations.
She has served as a member of the World Bank Sanctions Board since 2011, and is an acting judge of the Supreme Court of Namibia.
Justice O’Regan also serves on the boards of several non-governmental organisations in the fields of human rights, constitutionalism and the rule of law.
The Gifford Lectures have been delivered annually since 1888 by a succession of esteemed international scholars and are open to all to enjoy.
Established to 'promote and diffuse the study of Natural Theology in the widest sense of the term - in other words, the knowledge of God,' the Lectureships have enabled a most notable field of scholars to contribute to the advancement of theological thought.
Previous speakers in recent years include former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, theorist Professor Steven Pinker, and sociologist Bruno Latour.
Gifford Lectures – an overview
Gifford Lecture archive
College of Humanities and Social Science