Law, Religion, and Reason in a Constitutional Democracy: Goodman v. Rawls
Political Theology 16 (2015): 543-559
19 Pages Posted: 12 Jan 2017 Last revised: 29 Jul 2019
Date Written: 2015
This article responds to Lenn Goodman’s book, Religious Pluralism and Values in the Public Sphere (2014). Part I evaluates Goodman’s argument that John Rawls excludes “comprehensive” religious and moral arguments from public discourse. Part II analyzes Professor Goodman’s prediction that it will be practically difficult to enforce Rawlsian standards of public reason, and then shows how this is the case in U.S. constitutional law wherein American courts have had difficulty applying “secular purpose” norms to contested legislation. Part III describes more recent trends in constitutional law that accommodate religious pluralism in laws and legislative processes. The authors argue that Goodman’s interpretation of Rawls should be tempered by fuller engagement with Rawls’s later writings, which were relatively open to the substantive roles of religion in public reason and public discourse. They further argue that recent trends in U.S. constitutional law may promote the types of pluralistic discourse that Goodman and the later Rawls advocate.
Keywords: Lenn Goodman; John Rawls; liberalism; religion in public life; secularism; secularization; secular purpose test; neutrality; values; pluralism; civility; comprehensive doctrines; United States Supreme Court; First Amendment; Establishment Clause; secular purpose test; Lemon v. Kurtzman; Lynch v. Don
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