Whether simply uneasy or downright hostile, the relation between religion and liberal democracy in this country has long been vexed and complex—and crucial to what America is and aspires to be. Amid increasingly contentious exchanges over fundamentalism, abortion rights, secularism, and pluralism, this book reminds us of the critical role that religion plays in the health and well-being of a democracy.
A healthy democracy draws strength from a rich civic and social life, many forms of which are religious. Moreover, these contributions are anchored in the intrinsic commitments of faith, commitments that extend over time, linking generations past and present. Strengthening these commitments and practices, the authors suggest, will also fortify pluralistic civil society and democratic participation. Their book provides the analytical tools and historical perspective for building and reinforcing such a constructive engagement between religion and liberal democracy—and for understanding the ongoing dialogue between secular political philosophy and communities of faith.
Taking Faith Seriously offers nine case studies that describe the multiple and subtle roles that religion plays on many levels in our civic life: increasing moral and social “capital,” inspiring citizens to serve their neighbors, building relationships across barriers of race and income, and providing a moral vision of what kind of society we are called to be.