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…

About Taner Edis

Professor of physics at Truman State University

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06394155516712665665 CyberKitten

    Well…. Democracy is about compromise and finding the middle way, its about tolerance and the protection of minorities. Its about free speech and free expression. Democracy and freedom of thought go hand in hand.

    Does any of the above sound reasonable from a religious point of view?

    The politicisation of religion is, pretty much by definition (and experience) anti-democratic.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00763792476799485687 J. J. Ramsey

    “Does any of the above sound reasonable from a religious point of view?”

    Depends on the religious view in question. As anyone who has hung around Ship-of-Fools would know, there are several religious points of view.


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