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Beyond establishment and separation: political liberalism, religion and democracy

Bonotti, Matteo 2012. Beyond establishment and separation: political liberalism, religion and democracy. Res Publica 18 (4) , pp. 333-349. 10.1007/s11158-012-9194-2

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Does John Rawls’s political liberalism require the institutional separation between state and religion or does it allow space for moderate forms of religious establishment? In this paper I address this question by presenting and critically evaluating Cécile Laborde’s recent claim that political liberalism is ‘inconclusive about the public place of religion’ and ‘indeterminate about the symbolic dimensions of the public place of religion’. In response to Cécile Laborde, I argue that neither moderate separation nor moderate establishment, intended as regimes of religious governance that fix specific interpretations of principles of social and economic justice, are compatible with Rawls’s political liberalism. Furthermore, I claim that a state can ensure that both its religious and non-religious citizens enjoy a sense of self-respect and identification with their polity by leaving issues of symbolic establishment and separation open to democratic debate. I conclude that Rawls’s political liberalism transcends the standard distinction between moderate establishment and moderate separation and leaves the public place of religion open to the democratic contestation of ordinary legislative politics

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Department of Politics and International Relations (POLIR)
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Political liberalism; Religious establishment; Separation; Religious symbols; Democracy
Additional Information: First published online: 13 June 2012
Publisher: Kluwer
ISSN: 1356-4765
Last Modified: 12 Jun 2019 02:15

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