January 21st, 2010 | For more on this event, please visit: bit.ly/yF9xtX
Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs | Georgetown University
William James once quipped that “in this age of toleration,” no one “will ever try actively to interfere with our religious faith, provided we enjoy it quietly with our friends and do not make a public nuisance of it.” Unfortunately -- at least for the privatizers and the secularists -- religion is a very public matter for a simple reason: most religions make definitive moral claims that implicate the common good. So says Rabbi David Novak in his new book about religious liberty, why it is endangered, and why it should be protected. His is not, however, a book about attacks on religious freedom in Saudi Arabia or China. It is about liberal democracies such as the United States and Canada, where religious actors and institutions are increasingly vulnerable because of their public dissent to emerging laws and norms on issues like same-sex marriage. Novak, a Professor of Jewish Studies and Philosophy at the University of Toronto, discussed the perils and the remedies - including the need to ground democratic religious liberty once again (as did America's founders) in divine law.
To discuss this important new book, the Berkley Center featured a vigorous discussion between Novak, William Galston of the Brookings Institution, and Georget Weigel of the Ethics and Public Policy Center. The event was moderated by the Berkley Center's Thomas Farr.