• Religion and Democracy: an Institutional Response to Robert Audi

      Chaplin, Jonathan; Dam, Ken; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2006)
      This thesis will enter into the discussion about the relationship between religion and politics to examine the proposals made by Robert Audi attempting to resolve perceived incompatible and incongruous tensions arising from politically active religion. Utilizing the work of Paul Weithman, Christopher Eberle, Nicholas Wolterstorff, Jeffrey Stout, and others, this essay examines Audi's epistemological and empirical arguments for justifying restraints upon religiously-based political advocacy. Contesting the viability of Audi's notion of a "secular reason," and his generalization that religiously-based political advocacy threatens the health and strength of a free and democratic society, I conclude that the types of restraints being put forward by Audi will likely hinder rather than help bring about more healthy and just societies. Nonetheless, Audi has helped identify a key lacuna within the arguments of those advocating the legitimacy of religiously-based and religiously motivated political advocacy and action. As such, this essay aims to provide a 'complementary' approach - one which works to clarify and situate concerns expressed by Audi regarding unrestrained religiously-based political advocacy and those of his critics desiring a more religiously-inclusive public political sphere.Ascribing to the political community the task of discerning the common good or some variant thereof (Audi speaks briefly of "political justice"; this essay proposes "public justice") is widespread within the academic literature. Few theorists, however, have allowed substantive reflection on what the political common good entails to significantly shape their considerations of and proposals regarding democratic legitimacy, appropriate restraints and guidelines for public-political dialogue, and ideals of citizenship. To that end, the thrust of the complementary approach will involve grounding and framing a religiously inclusive conception of the public-political sphere within what is being called the "institutional imperative" of the political community to pursue "public justice." Part and parcel of this institutional grounding involves re-examining concerns for civic respect, restraint, and dialogue in light of the guiding institutional norm of "public justice."