LUISS

Liberal Democracy and Religion (Ph.D. module 2018)

Course Description

What is the relationship between religion and liberal democracy? This course examines the meanings of and interactions between religion and politics from a liberal democratic perspective. Religious practices complicate liberal democratic theory in ways more complex than legal frameworks like “establishment clause” and “freedom of conscience” are able to capture. Illiberal practices, theological/fundamentalist justifications, and religious differences challenge core tenets of liberalism like autonomy, equality, and public reason. This course examines the emerging debate on the appropriate relationship between religion and politics in the light of a re-examination of Rawls’s political liberalism and post-Rawlsian liberal literature. The course investigates the implications of the various ways in which the religion-state relationship has been constructed to overcome political conflicts and the limits of this paradigm.

Building on the theoretical background provided by liberal political theory, the attention will be then turned to several of the current issues in religion and politics: Why is religion apparently more important than ever despite an increasingly secular world? What is the meaning of Secularism for contemporary liberal democracy? What is the place of religion in the public democratic life? Is Religious Identity Special for Democracy? What does liberal respect imply? How should liberal principles of equality and freedom of conscience be balanced to accommodate religious citizens? What is fundamentalism? How should democratic states cope with the emergence of fundamentalist movements?

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