Fri Oct 20, 2017
Room 141, Law School, 12–2 PM
|Workshop in Law, Philosophy, and Political Theory
Rogers Smith (Univ. of Pennsylvania Political Science )
A Progressive Case for Accommodating Religious Conservatives
My paper argues that the surge of conservative populism in the United States and elsewhere that has propelled insurgent leaders like Trump has in fact been fueled in part by policies and practices expressing excessive liberal disrespect, if not necessarily bullying or silencing, for religious traditionalists, along with economic concerns; and that both to do justice and to rebuild support for progressive political agendas, commitments to pluralism and diversity should be understood to include presumptions in favor of accommodations for conservative religious beliefs, along with all other claims of conscience–if those accommodations can be granted without defeating compelling state interests. That is a big “if.” The Trump administration’s actions dramatize the great dangers of this argument: that it will be used to license forms of discrimination and denials of public and private services that will verge on religious establishment, in effect making all other persons second-class citizens in comparison with religious traditionalists. Here I will seek to show why that need not be the case in theory and law. But I do not wish to deny, indeed I wish to stress, that it will take progressive political action, not just theorizing, to make sure that these unjust consequences do not transpire in practice.