Law, Religion, and the Purpose of the University

11 Pages Posted: 23 Feb 2017

See all articles by John D. Inazu

John D. Inazu

Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law

Date Written: February 2017


This brief essay explores the relationship between law, religion, and the university. Religion asks the fundamental questions of human existence. Law is the means through which we impose our beliefs on our fellow citizens. The particulars of law and religion expose the differences among us. We respond to those differences with chaos, control, or coexistence. Coexistence requires tolerance, humility, and patience, and it requires institutions to habituate these practices within us. It is not clear that this country presently has such institutions, but if we are discover them among us, the university is one possible contender. The people, place, and purpose of the university can facilitate a more generous dialogue across difference. We might also keep in mind that participants in the university are also citizens in a larger political project, where the stakes are much higher, the differences much starker, and the possibilities for dialogue often much smaller.

Keywords: Pluralism, Difference, Confident Pluralism, Law, Religion, University

Suggested Citation

Inazu, John D., Law, Religion, and the Purpose of the University (February 2017). Washington University Law Review, Forthcoming; Washington University in St. Louis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 17-02-07. Available at SSRN:

John D. Inazu (Contact Author)

Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law ( email )

Campus Box 1120
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States

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