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Religion Returns to the Public Square

, 408 pages
January 2003



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Religion Returns to the Public Square

Faith and Policy in America

Despite talk of a "naked public square," religion has never really lost its place in American public life. As the twenty-first century opened, it was re-emerging in unexpected and paradoxical ways. Religious institutions were considered for expanded roles in welfare and education, at the same time that the limits of religious pluralism–-as, for example, in the relation of Islam to American values—became a question of urgent public concern.

Religion Returns to the Public Square;Faith and Policy in America explores how and why religion has to be mixed up with American politics. Uncovering philosophical, historical, legal, and social roots of this relationship, these essays go beyond hot-button issues to reflect on the current interactions and future possibilities of religion and politics in America.

Table of ContentsPart I: The Big Picture1. An Introduction to Religion and Public Policy Hugh Heclo2. Two Concepts of Secularism Wilfred M. McClay3. The Religious Conscience and the State in American Constitutional Law, 1789-2000 Charles J. Reid, Jr.4. What is a Public Religion? Jose CasanovaPart II: Religion in Political Action5. Faith and Morals: Religion in American Democracy Wilson Carey McWilliams6. Faith in Politics A. James Reichley7. Mainstream Protestantism, 'Conservative' Religion, and Civil Society D. G. HartPart III: Policy Applications8. American Catholicism, Catholic Charities U.S.A., and Welfare Reform John A. Coleman, S.J.9. Charitable Choice: Bringing Religion Back into American Welfare Stanley W. Carlson-Thies10. Public Education Changes Partners Charles Glenn11. With God on Their Side: Religion and American Foreign Policy William Martin

Hugh Heclo is Robinson Professor of Public Affairs at George Mason University. Wilfred M. McClay is SunTrust Chair of Excellence in the Humanities and Professor of History at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Both are former Fellows of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

"The authors span the political and religious spectrum... This well-documented collection demonstrates that a secular state can thrive even when its citizenry is deeply committed religiously, albeit to diverse ways of being religious. This book will be valuable to those interested in the role of religion in public life, in both historical and contemporary terms."

"These essays, written by experts of all faiths, offer informative insights and even inspiration."

"The contributors here are the right people to push a diverse debate."

"A very fine collection of essays by scholars on differing aspects of religion's public presence... If you want to read one volume on the role of religion in public life, this is the current front-runner."

"This impressive study... is grounded on the premise that religion is inevitably public in a political sense... must be only the beginning of the never-ending quest to discover the answer to a burning question, which is likely to be the foremost issue facing the American nation in the years to come."

"This thoughtful book makes a large contribution toward bestirring the hostile and the indifferent to the intellectual power and seriousness of what José Casanova calls 'public religion'... If you believe, as I do, that we are at a new stage in our great national debate over religious liberty, these essays provide an immensely useful step forward."

"The contributors comprise a truly dazzling array of talent. They are precisely the ones one would want to read for insight into the difficult but crucial questions regarding the relationship between religion and public policy."