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Under God?
Religious Faith and Liberal Democracy


  • Date Published: July 2003
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521825399

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About the Authors
  • The proper role of religious faith in the public life of a liberal democracy is one of the most important and controversial issues in the United States today. Since the publication in 1991 of his book Love and Power, Michael J. Perry's important writings on this issue have been among the most insightful. In this new book, Perry argues that political reliance on religious faith violates neither the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution nor, more broadly, the morality of liberal democracy. Nonetheless, Perry argues, religious believers sometimes have good reasons to be wary about relying on religious beliefs in making political decisions. Along the way, Perry thoughtfully addresses three subjects at the center of fierce contemporary political debate: school vouchers, same-sex marriage, and abortion.

    • Weaves together political-philosophical debate with critical analysis of contemporary real-world controversies
    • Accessible to a much wider audience than a coterie of legal scholars
    • Devotes chapter-length treatments to three contemporary issues: school vouchers, same-sex marriage, and abortion
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'With this book, Michael Perry builds on his already secure reputation as one of our most astute, incisive, and level-headed theorists concerning the role of religion in the public square. As in all of Perry's work, what's impressive is the unusual blend of sophisticated theory and concrete examples. What is especially impressive about this particular collection is Perry's ability and willingness to think against the grain - even the grain of his own prior thought! I have learned a great deal, especially from the exemplary final chapter on 'Religion, Politics, and Abortion'.' Nicholas Wolterstorff, Noah Porter Professor of Philosophical Theology, Yale University

    'Michael Perry's is one of the most important voices in the legal academy on matters of constitutional law, religion, and the intersection between them … The book is distinctive because it addresses diverse audiences - believers and nonbelievers, Christians and non-Christians, liberal Catholics and conservative evangelicals - in an effort to bring these audiences together into a more encompassing conversation. And the book always keeps the concrete issues (vouchers, abortion, same-sex unions) in the foreground, preventing the discussion from losing itself in abstraction.' Steven D. Smith, University of San Diego Law School

    'I have nothing but admiration for it … The positions he takes on those central issues comprise a distinctive and nuanced mix of theses that, when taken as a whole, constitute a vision of religious political activity that is at the same time genuinely religious and humane, ecumenical and principled, wise and pragmatic.' Chris Eberle, United States Naval Academy

    'Michael Perry's is one of the most important voices in the American legal academy on matters of constitutional law, religion, and the intersection between them; and this book reflects his nature thinking on vital issues in this area.' The Universe

    '… Perry's book is a welcome contribution … Under God? is an excellent contribution to the current debate … The turn that Perry has taken in this most recent volume is significant and reveals the care and open-mindedness with which he has developed his position.' Conversations in Religion and Theology

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2003
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521825399
    • length: 218 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 16 mm
    • weight: 0.49kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Mainly for the Agnostics and the Exclusionists:
    1. What does the Establishment Clause forbid? Reflections on the constitutionality of school vouchers
    2. Why political reliance on religiously grounded morality does not violate the establishment clause
    3. Why political reliance on religiously grounded morality is not illegitimate in a liberal democracy
    Part II. Mainly for the Agnostics and the Inclusionists, Especially Inclusionists Who are Religious Believers:
    4. Christians, the Bible, and same-sex unions: an argument for political self-restraint
    5. Catholics, the Magisterium, and same-sex unions: an argument for independent judgment. 6. Religion, politics, and abortion.

  • Author

    Michael J. Perry, Wake Forest University, North Carolina

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