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Religious Truth, Pluralism, and Secularization: The Shaking Foundations of American Religious Liberty

27 Pages Posted: 13 Jan 2011 Last revised: 12 Jul 2013

Daniel O. Conkle

Indiana University Maurer School of Law

Date Written: 2011

Abstract

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.

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

Suggested Citation

Conkle, Daniel O., Religious Truth, Pluralism, and Secularization: The Shaking Foundations of American Religious Liberty (2011). Cardozo Law Review, Vol. 32, 2011; Indiana Legal Studies Research Paper No. 221. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1739244

Daniel O. Conkle (Contact Author)

Indiana University Maurer School of Law ( email )

211 S. Indiana Avenue
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States
(812) 855-4331 (Phone)
(812) 855-0555 (Fax)

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