Moral certitude in politics

Religious studies professor Ira Chernus has an interesting article, “Is Religion a Threat to Democracy?,” in which he says:

In itself, faith in politics poses no great danger to democracy as long as the debates are really about policies — and religious values are translated into political values, articulated in ways that can be rationally debated by people who don’t share them. The challenge is not to get religion out of politics. It’s to get the quest for certitude out of politics.

He also says many other reasonable things.

Yet I wonder. Refraining from going on a quest for certainty is not easy, and not just for voters stressed by social change. Indeed, abandoning the quest for certainty is particularly difficult in a religious context. So, does a view like that expressed by Chernus mean, in practice, that faith in politics very often will be a danger for democracy? (Or rather, liberal democracy.) Probably not what he had in mind…

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About Taner Edis

Professor of physics at Truman State University


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