The Secular Agenda

March 25, 2013

The Center for Inquiry is advancing the secular agenda on many fronts, as one can observe from posts here at Free Thinking blogs.

Our upcoming conference on "Why Tolerate Religion?" will be in Washington, DC on April 27, 2013. For attendees, and folks unable to join us in DC, here is a sample of recent writings about religious liberty by some panelists.

Brian Leiter’s book Why Tolerate Religion? is now out. From the publisher’s book description: “This provocative book addresses one of the most enduring puzzles in political philosophy and constitutional theory--why is religion singled out for preferential treatment in both law and public discourse? Brian Leiter argues that the reasons have nothing to do with religion, and that Western democracies are wrong to single out religious liberty for special legal protections. He offers new insights into what makes a claim of conscience distinctively 'religious', and draws on a wealth of examples from America, Europe, and elsewhere to highlight the important issues at stake. With philosophical acuity, legal insight, and wry humor, Leiter shows why our reasons for tolerating religion are not specific to religion but apply to all claims of conscience, and why a government committed to liberty of conscience is not required by the principle of toleration to grant exemptions to laws that promote the general welfare.”

Another speaker at the CFI conference is Georgetown University professor Jacques Berlinerblau, who blogs about secular and religious issues over at the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jacques-berlinerblau/

We are also delighted to be joined by Wendy Kaminer, a lawyer and social critic, writes about law, liberty, feminism, religion, and popular culture. Many of her blogs are over at The Atlantic: http://www.theatlantic.com/wendy-kaminer/

This political and philosophical issue of religious liberty has been only growing in importance recently. Permit me to mention one additional scholar, who won't be at the conference. The great theorist Ronald Dworkin, who recently died, has a book coming out on this matter, and among his last articles is a section of his book already published by the New York Review of Books. Dworkin has been lecturing on secularism for some time; a video of a 2006 lecture is available here: http://www.law.virginia.edu/html/news/2006_spr/dworkin.htm. Besides his outstandingly clear prose, you have to listen just to hear how Dworkin’s voice and cadence reminds one of Garrison Keillor!

 

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