My overall concern is with the proper place of religious convictions in lawmaking in our society. My special focus is on the place of religious convictions in the political resolution of church-state issues. Though I shall comment in passing on various constitutional issues, the main thrust of my comments also lies within the domain of political philosophy. I agree that the promotion of religious views and practices is not the business of the state in our society. Nevertheless, I strongly resist the idea that either this premise or any other premise underlying our liberal democracy requires good liberal citizens to try to disregard their religious convictions when they resolve many political issues. The emphasis of my remarks is that we should not expect people to try to resolve important church-state issues in this way. I shall roughly distinguish three different ways in which religious convictions may figure in political choice. I argue that citizens and legislators should not rely on religious convictions in the first two ways (when a citizen or legislator takes the promotion of good religious perspectives as a political objective, and leading people to identify practices as wrong simply because the practices offend religious ideas of correct behavior), but that they often may properly rely on them in the third way (religious convictions can influence one's sense of how society should best protect interests that can be understood in nonreligious terms).


The Thirty-Seventh Cleveland-Marshall Fund Lecture