Religious Truth, Pluralism, and Secularization: The Shaking Foundations of American Religious Liberty
Daniel O. Conkle
Indiana University Maurer School of Law
Cardozo Law Review, Vol. 32, 2011
Indiana Legal Studies Research Paper No. 221
In this Essay, I recount John Locke’s 1689 Letter Concerning Toleration and explain how religious liberty continues to rest on Lockean and related justifications. These various justifications depend in part on religious-moral reasoning (both Christian and non-Christian) and in part on political-pragmatic considerations. I then discuss recent and ongoing developments in the American religious landscape, including a radical increase in religious diversity, the modernization of traditional faiths, the individualization or "spiritualization" of religion, and the increasing secularization of individual belief structures. I suggest that these developments, over time, may seriously threaten the underlying religious-moral and political-pragmatic foundations of religious liberty and therefore America’s commitment to religious liberty as a fundamental value. If I am correct, the long-term future of American religious liberty may be in peril.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 27
Keywords: Constitutional Law, Constitutional Interpretation, Religious Liberty, First Amendment, Free Exercise Clause, John Locke, Religious Perspectives on Religious Liberty
JEL Classification: K08, K18, K19, K38, K39
Date posted: January 13, 2011 ; Last revised: July 12, 2013
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