Religion in American Public Life: Living with Our Deepest Differences

Overview

A thought-provoking discussion of the public and political expression of America's diverse religious beliefs.
Raise any number of public issues—health care, education, welfare—and religious beliefs inevitably shape Americans' viewpoints. On certain topics the introduction of religion can be explosive. This book discusses how we can and why we should hear religious voices in the public square. An American ...

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Overview

A thought-provoking discussion of the public and political expression of America's diverse religious beliefs.
Raise any number of public issues—health care, education, welfare—and religious beliefs inevitably shape Americans' viewpoints. On certain topics the introduction of religion can be explosive. This book discusses how we can and why we should hear religious voices in the public square. An American Assembly Book.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Commissioned by the American Assembly of Columbia University to "help reverse some of the most difficult and divisive forces in our society," this new work tries to create a bridge between public life and religion. Contributors al-Hibri (law, Univ. of Richmond), Jean Bethke Elshtain (social and political ethics, Univ. of Chicago Divinity Sch.), and Charles C. Haynes (senior scholar, Freedom Forum First Amendment Ctr.) strive to stimulate discussion and provoke independent, insightful thinking by presenting representative essays on religious belief and American democracy, religion and technology, and religion and public policy. Thoughtfully introduced by Martin Marty, the book concludes with an equally dynamic piece by Os Guinness (Trinity Forum), who rightfully ruminates that while some might consider this "windy nonsense," the murderous 20th century makes such political and religious discourse the most urgent challenge of the modern world. Intellectual but timely, this work recommends itself to all manner of American studies, religion, and political science collections. Sandra Collins, Duquesne Univ. Lib., Pittsburgh Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Position papers on the ongoing debate surrounding the role that religious belief should play in American public affairs. From the introduction by Martin E. Marty, defensively titled "Faith Matters," this collection has the sound of a project funded by grants from large, respectable foundations, employing a resolutely brave, we're-confronting-the-issues-here tone but coming up with stunningly inoffensive conclusions. Elshtain (Divinity/Univ. of Chicago) starts off promisingly with an analysis of de Tocqueville's advocacy of religious affiliation as a public good, but she soon wades away from consideration of the problematic aspects of his own religious positions (not to mention his ambivalence about democracy) into more familiar complaints that "dogmatic skepticism ... is corrosive of all faith and all belief save the unexamined belief in skepticism itself." Al-Hibri (Law/Univ. of Richmond) courageously asserts that "we need to foster honesty and appropriate disclosure in the public square" and "our position in the world and our role in it must be studied more seriously." Haynes (Freedom Forum) urges those disturbed by the introduction of religious discourse into public schools to find common ground with those affronted by the omission of religion from the curriculum, offering as a paradigm what he calls "the civil public school," which acknowledges the importance of religion while avoiding sectarianism. Os Guinness (Trinity Forum) pleads for a reenergized "public square" inspired by the theism of the Founding Fathers. It would be hard to find anyone who disagrees with these temperate statements-who's going to speak up for more dishonesty in the public sphere, or greater divisiveness andmore name-calling at the local Board of Ed meetings? But that's exactly the problem: real dialogue starts with confronting real differences, and conflicts of interest that cannot necessarily be resolved through a little good faith and earnest intellectual endeavor on all sides. In fact, a little corrosive skepticism might have been just the thing here. Well-intended but bland responses to a contentious topic.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393322064
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/1/2001
  • Series: American Assembly Books Series
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 206
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Azizah Y. al-Hibri, Ph.D., is a professor at the T. C. Williams School of Law, University of Richmond. She is a former professor of Philosophy, founding editor of Hypatia: a Journal of Feminist Philosophy, and founder and president of KARAMAH: Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights.

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Table of Contents

Preface 9
Introduction: Faith Matters 15
1 Faith of Our Fathers and Mothers: Religious Belief and American Democracy 39
2 Standing at the Precipice: Faith in the Age of Science and Technology 62
3 From Battleground to Common Ground: Religion in the Public Square of 21st Century America 96
4 A World Safe for Diversity: Religious Liberty and the Rebuilding of the Public Philosophy: An Address to The American Assembly 137
Bibliography 153
A Charge from the Leadership Council 155
Final Report of the Ninety-Sixth American Assembly 159
Religion Assembly Leadership Council 179
Uniting America Leadership Advisory Group 181
About The American Assembly 185
Index 189
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