American Conversations With(in) Catholicism
Richard W. Garnett
Notre Dame Law School
Michigan Law Review, Vol. 102, p. 1191, May 2004
John T. McGreevy's Catholicism and American Freedom tells the story of how America or, more particularly, American liberalism has reacted and responded to Catholic claims about the nature and purpose of freedom. It also addresses how these claims were, in turn, shaped by Catholicism's own interactions with, internal conversations about, and adjustment to American liberalism. As McGreevy shows, for many people and for many years, the Roman Catholic Church served as a foil for American values and ideals and vice versa. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that American liberalism has often defined and constructed itself precisely in opposition to its image of Catholicism. At the same time, Catholic institutions, practice, and belief developed in response to American and liberal challenges, and American Catholics have oscillated uneasily between sectarianism, segregation, and counter-culture, on the one hand, and engagement, accommodation, and assimilation, on the other.
McGreevy's account enriches our studies and conversations not only about church-state relations, but also and more broadly about education, citizenship, and loyalty. His history could improve present-day academic debates about the nature and role of public reason and the place of religious argument and expression in public life, and more generally he takes us to the heart of perennial questions about the prerogatives of the liberal state, the scope and content of religious obligations, and even the nature and end of the human person.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 28
Keywords: Religious freedom, democracy, Catholicism, establishment clause
JEL Classification: K10, K30, K40
Date posted: July 26, 2005