This is the most thorough philosophical analysis available of the principle of religious freedom. It draws on the thought of philosophers and political theorists (Rawls, Habermas, Murray, Rorty, Greenawalt, and Mead) rather than on the framers of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
The endorsement of religious freedom in the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States represents a modern revolution in the relation between politics and religion. In American politics there has been continual disagreement about the meaning of this constitutional principle, and widely-held views of religious freedom include much philosophical confusion. This book shows how a plurality of religious convictions can be politically united only by a free debate among different religious convictions.
The author demonstrates that religious freedom is a coherent political principle, and that this principle is the defining democratic commitment because all other political principles should be subject to assessment by the same free debate characterizing religious freedom. This book identifies the meaning of an authentically democratic constitution and the civility required of democratic citizens.
Franklin I. Gamwell is Professor of Religious Ethics at the University of Chicago. He is the author Beyond Preference: Liberal Theories of Independent Associations and The Divine Good: Modern Moral Theory and the Necessity of God, and is co-editor of Existence and Actuality: Conversations with Charles Hartshorne and Economic Life: Process Interpretations and Critical Responses.
"It is the most thorough theoretical examination of the subject that is available today. The author takes up the best, most reliable interpretations of the issues with which he is dealing, compares and contrasts them after elucidating them carefully, and provides a conclusion that is careful, sound, and convincing. It is a conclusion that registers most fully within an intellectual context that is informed by the thought of Habermas, Rawls, Rorty, Murray, Greenwalt, and Mead." — Walter H. Capps, University of California, Santa Barbara