Modern Secular Democracy and the Destruction of Religion
affiliation not provided to SSRN
Western Political Science Association 2010 Annual Meeting Paper
Modern secular democracy is destroying the public practice of religion. While private religion remains a vital human activity in modern secular democracies it has been denied its traditional and moral place in public life. The ancients and medievals recognized that religion is a natural and necessary part of public life and the state should include its practices in its administration of public life. Modern advocates of toleration suggest that state endorsement of a particular religion violates the equal rights of citizens to choose their religions. However, one can imagine and indeed point to historical instances in which the state has promoted a public religious conception and administration while tolerating dissenters and nonconformists. But what of the political life of the dissenters and nonconformists; are they not denied the full human practice of politics? Perhaps it is a more profound question to wonder whether the practice of a full human life is not denied to the conformists and non-dissenters. Under democratic theory, the will of the majority should be supreme unless the will of the majority results in a clear moral violation. It is arguable that the clear moral violation under secularist conceptions of modern democracy is in the denial of the public practice of religion in any meaningful way and that the minor if any positive contributions to the political life of nonconformists are destroyed by the detrimental consequences for the conforming majority.
Date posted: March 29, 2010
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