Moral Communities and The State: A rejoinder to Russell Blackford

Tom Frame; The Quadrant (Sept 2004); p38 – 43

The following are extracts for the purpose of a research paper relation got the Christian role in politics and the public square. 

Tom Frame is the Anglican Bishop to the Australian Defence Force. The piece is a reply in a debate between Frame and Blackford concerning commercial surrogacy legislation. As useful as it would be to follow up the previous articles in the debate, one will not find them lost if the piece was read in isolation. In fact, for my purposes, this piece was particularly insightful around the topics of how a Christian, in the context of belonging to a moral community, seek to engage with the public square. It shows that when contestation does arise between, say, public policy and Christian belief, one can take comfort in knowing they belong to a moral community and can live in a “manner consistent with our core beliefs and enjoy a quality of life that might inspire outsiders to ask the reason why.”

From the work that I have read of Frame, he always provides wholesome, and well-researched comments. They leave a Christian reader with the feeling like they can actually do something and outwork their values, despite how abstract the argument.

Quick word on Homosexuality
As an aside, I should declare that my religious convictions lead me to insist on the commissioning couple being heterosexual and married. Those same convictions do not permit me to advocate or promote what Blackford refers to as “non-traditional” families, such as those involving homosexual parents. p 38.

Surrogacy // but could be applied to other controversial legislation
My position is not about prohibitions but provisions… Should our society provide someone or a service to undertake an activity that a majority in our society believes is either generally unwise or definitely wrong? p 39.

The Layman and Paternalism
It is unreasonable for us to expect an individual tone fully acquainted with the moral arguments for and against  course of action. Individuals can, of course, be manipulated and misled by malevolent guide of entrenched prejudice. My point is only that ordinary peopler sometimes paralysed by both the depth and breadth of the issues faced in making serious moral decision. Some people are not up to the challenge. This is where paternalism – chosen or imposed – must be admitted. But on what basis?

I suspect that Blackford would share my belief that our society if throughly over-governed… We seem to have grasped state regulation as the remedy for most social woes and ethical dilemmas without realising that state intervention is a blunt instrument that can also diminish personal liberty. p 39.

But rather than trying to overcome the problem of where we place the acceptable limits of paternalism – something that is potentially intractable – I believe we ought to be asking a prior and more important question… What kind of people do we want to be? This means confronting the question of whether we view life and liberty, and the point and purpose of human existence, from an individual or a communitarian perspective. p 40.

Frame on Hobbes and Individualism
Individuals must surrender some of their discretion to a supreme authority – the great Leviathan of the state – which can ensure that competing or conflicting ambitions are harmonised or, at least, reconciled. In Hobbes’ worldview, there is not attempt to identify what is good or bad nor to encourage virtue and discourage vice. What we call god or virtuous, according to H, is little more than preference or prejudice.

Many Australians unreservedly accept the Hobbesian account. Individualism – the belief that the individual alone and unaided is entitled ti determine what is good or bad and to separate truth or falsehood- is a prevailing attitude.

Vision posited by Hobbes was to intended to displace the Biblical account of humanity’s origins and destiny derived from the opening narrative of the Book of Genesis: “In the beginning, God created… and it was good.” The universe unfolds according to a plan in which humanity finds meaning conveyed through two linked propositions.
1) Affirms the sanctity of the human individual as individual – made in the Image of God.
2) Asserts the incompleteness of the individual as individual: “It is not good to be alone”. Hence, the need for relationships and stable structures within these formative and definitive relationships can be sustained.
The individual is therefore to be understaff in relation to others and hence, to derive identity from them. p 40.

Quoting Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, The Politics of Hope:
…the crucial distinction between the story offered in Leviathan and the Book of Genesis is the central figure. For Hobbes, it is “I” over and against everyone else; in the Bible it is the “we” of which I am a part: marriage, the family, the nation understood as an extended family, and ultimately humanity itself. In this account, or affiliations and associations and attachments are not irrelevant, but essential, to the structure and obligations we form. We owe duties to other because that are a part of who we are. The driving force is not self-interest but a series of covenantal obligations that include the duties and responsibilities that flow from identification and belonging. p 41.

Covenant
A covenant is more binding because it is not predicated on interest, but instead on loyalty, fidelity and holding together… it is not surprising that so many embrace individualism.

As Australians, our common life is sustained by a number of social, political and economic contracts… But more important than contracts in terms of human fulfilment is the need for covenants and the values and virtues undergirding and fulfilling them.

We must insist on talking about values and virtues more than rights and entitlements, in order to preserve and protect the covenants that allow our meaning-imparting and identity-giving relationships to be maintained and to mature. We must talk about the kind of people we are and how we want others to see us. Laws and more laws regulating your attitudes and actions are manifestly not the answer. 

However, the identification and inculcation of virtues is not something that states do well. Covenants arise from moral communities able to teach values. p 41.

Moral Communities
Recognises that the Christian Church has been a strong moral community since Australia’s inception, but there has been a drift towards agnosticism.

Laws based on specific Christian beliefs have been challenged and repealed because they allegedly reflected religious convictions that not everyone held nor was argued that non-believers should not be subject to them. Examples of laws heavily influenced by Christian teaching include restrictions on the availability of abortion, closure of public facilities on the Sabbath and reluctance to extend grounds for divorce.

Since 1965, Australians have agreed less endless on more and more.

Drawing on Alasdair MacIntyre:
The notion that issues can be resolved by rational argument by well-intentioned people is an illusion according to M. In a pluralistic world with a fragmented culture, we simply cannot achieve moral consensus of the kind needed to justify legislating for certain attitude or actions and against others. Moral agreement is the dream of a lost common culture… moral questions can only be answered in a satisfactory way from within moral communities.

But how do these moral communities, particularly those founded on religious principles, interact with the rest of society and the state? One would have to reply: actively and with integrity.

There is nothing to restrain the members of moral communities from participating fully in social and political life. They need, however, to remain mindful of those beliefs and customs that give shape and substance to the particular community that is the chief source of their identity and belonging.

Frame shares that the Constitutional provisions for religion sit comfortably with the Christian view if the state and responsible citizenship.

Christianity teaches that the state despite its imperfections, is part of  the divine ordering of temporal affairs. It is authorised and empowered to exercise power by God, to whom it remains responsible. Individuals are to acknowledge the state’s mandate while realising that God will bring to nothing any state or rule that claims ultimate authority or demands absolute obedience. Governments are implored in the Christian Scriptures to use their power, and sometimes this includes coercive power, to reflect the divine purpose for humanity: that people should enjoy the fruits of the earth fairly and equitably and that he powerful and wealthy should not exploit the weak and poor. p42.

Christian Residency
…because the state could be motivated by evil intents and seek to thwart of resist the purposes and will of God, the Christian was to be more of a resident than a citizen… they live in this world but their citizenship is elsewhere. What marks them out as distinct also separates them from their neighbours. Elsewhere  in the NT, Christians are referred to as ambassadors of a foreign power who are warned to remain unstained by”the world” and its deception. p 42.

The Christian State v Modern State
Really feeds into Sandel’s use of Aristotle’s telos. (see previous blog posts)

In Christian theology, the state is, then, a moral entity with ethical responsibilities… But having shrugged off any sense of its religious responsibilities (and thereby losing any cli to spiritual and moral authority), the modern stat refuses to be the guardian of certain beliefs and values in its presence for lesser tasks. p. 42-3.

Any sense of higher vocations for the state is nor abandoned in favour of bureaucratic collectivism. States now make no pretension at offering any moral basis for their authority other than majority consent.

As a Christian in the Modern State

My beliefs and affiliations inevitable shape my social and political outlook. Having said that they ought to be declared in the same way that social and political commentators are expected to disclose their ideological commitments and political connections. I do not believe the cause of religion or the health of the body politic is well served by attempts to smuggle religious doctrine into public policy or election campaigns. It is better than religious organisations be open about their participation in public life to ensure they avoid the temptation of pursuing spiritual objectives by purely political means. It is for this reason that I am concerned about “Christian” political parties or legislative programs that seem designed to make the world safe for the Church.

As an Anglican Christian, I want to influence the kind of society that Australia is and might become as a function of being part of a moral community with certain specific beliefs and customs. But I am not seeking to have my moral outlook accepted by society without its religious basis being embraced as well. My views only make sense because I ant to be like Jesus and to live his teaching about the Kingdom of God. 

I do not have the same expectations of the undifferentiated society. p 43.

Limits on Paternalism
Ought to be placed where our elected legislators decide to put them.. of what they perceive to be the wishes and the wellbeing of the people they represent. Whatever paternalism parliament prescribes will in any event be interpreted by the public service in its enforcement and moderated by teh courts if challenged by those subject to it.

If an individual is still unhappy about state intervention, democracy offers them a powerful means of gaining satisfaction – the ballot box.

This is not, of course, the ideal solution. Some people will be left unsatisfied and their liberty will be curtailed. But these processes are the best we can achieve… I would not want to live in a society where individuals claim the authority, wisdom, and discretion I believe resides only in God.

I am certain the resulting public policy outcomes will not satisfy Russell Blackford. They will not satisfy me either. But at least I can fall back on the discipline of the Anglican Church knowing that the authority of the state is not ultimate or its power absolute. 

As members of a moral community we can still live in a manner consistent with out core beliefs and enjoy a quality of life that might inspire outsiders to ask the reason why. 

 

 

The Secular Basis of Separation of Church and State: Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, and Tocqueville

Christopher Nadon; Perspectives on Political Science; 43:21-30, 2014; Taylor & Francis Group

The following is condensed for a research paper relating to the Christian role in politics and the public square.

Nadon is an Associate Professor of Government at Claremont McKenna College. His article focuses on the birthing of the concept of Separation of Church and State. He argues, through the works of these listed in his title, the origins of the concept were purely out o secular reasoning. Although inspired by Christian thought and drawing from theological arguments, it shares how over time, “political utility rather than truth” came to be the “foundation of belief”.

Hobbes
– advocates for “extreme deference to political authority” p 24.
In Hobbes’ hands the Bible would teach that the Christian has a Christian duty to acquiesce even in measures taken for the apparent destruction of Christianity. HE seems ti take a certain delight in then pointing out that any who would complain that the widespread acceptance of such a teaching makes it easy for the sovereign to crush resistance are in fact objecting to the occasion for certain martyrdom, and therefore acting in bad faith and with but little trust in God. p 24.

Hobbes – Spiritual/Temporal
Hobbes, writing chiefly for a Protestant audience, does not shy away from blaming the papacy for much of the troubles found “in these western parts of the world”. But he proceeds to give a more direct diagnosis of the underlying cause of papal malignity: it is the Christian distinction between spiritual and temporal powers. “By Spiritual power they [the doctors of the Roman faith] mean the power to determine points of faith, and to be judges in the inner court of conscience of moral duties, and power to to punish those men that obey not their precepts by ecclesiastical censure, that is, by excommunication”, a power, “claimed immediately from Christ”.

Temporal power… consists in judging and publishing the actions that are done again st the civil laws… The difficulty arises with the priestly claim to supervise or exercise temporal power “indirectly, that is to say, so far forth as such actions tend to the hindrance or advancement of religion and good manners”.

The difficulty is that the claims or spheres of spiritual and temporal power overlap and thus make conflict inevitable.

Reformation was itself no cure –> the difficulties in Scripture gave rise to even greater “diversity of opinion” and a corresponding multiplication of sects whose only point of agreement was that the considered “politics subservient to religion”. p 22.

Locke: Ecclesiastical Liberty and Separation
Most influential theorist of separation of church and state.

…instruments of political authority are apparently inadequate to reach man’s inward disposition.

Ecclesiastical Liberty was traditionally taken to refer to the corporate rights and privileges of the church vis-a-vis the magistrate. Locke recasts the term to mean each individual’s right to choose his own religion… We have no choice but to leave ecclesiastical liberty intact because it lies outside the power of human beings to devise a more secure enjoyment of the end for which it was apparently instituted, namely, salvation. p 25.

Locke finds its basis in neither Scripture, conscience, nor any other strictly Christian teaching. Instead, he derives it from the undeniable existence of conflicting religious sects.

Montesquieu
Writes with assumption that:
political power is in fact something that can literally be manhandled. In the words, the constitutional principle of the separation of powers presupposes that the political world is a realm of human artifact, which means, at least at a minimum, that religion and politics belong to separate spheres. “What god hath joined together, let no man put asunder.” But what man makes,man can sunder more or less as he pleases.

Montesquieu had an anti-religious intent.

Tocqueville
When T arrived in America, he was initially struck by the apparent hold Christianity had over Americans. He later came to appreciate the hold that Americans had over Christianity. The principal means by which religion was controlled was the separation of church and state.

Religion exercises its hold over men largely by its constancy and permanence. Political power in America frequently changes hands and democratic societies engage in frequent political experimentation and innovation.

Yet T knew that at a deeper level politics and religion are inseparable. “Allow the human mind to follow its tendency an it will regulate political society and the divine city in a uniform manner; it will seek, i are say to harmonise the earth with Heaven”. In this  (Democracy in America, 275). In this passage T does not state whether politics conforms to religion or religion to politics. Nor is he so doctrinaire as to think one would trump the other in every time and place. p 29.

The experience of “limitless independence,” in politicos religion, frightens men and makes them long for something firm and stable. Dogma, which T takes to be the essence of religion, provides certain limits and fixed points necessary for democratic man to orient himself and act.

“No one…has…tried to advance the maxim that everything is permitted in the interest of society” because “religion prevents them from conceiving everything and forbids them to dare everything”. But it does sons a means “to facilitate” a higher end… this argument shows the political utility of religion within democratic societies.

This is how utility rather than truth can come to form the foundation of belief.

Conclusions
For the Christian distinction rests upon and is meant to reinforce the superiority of religious to political concerns.

If you render unto God what is God’s, what is left for Caesar?

William T. Cavanaugh; The Review of Politics 71 (2009), 607-619.

The following is used as research for a paper concerned with the Christian role in the Politics and the public square.

This piece is Cavanaugh’s response to a critique on his work, formed by Rowe (see previous blog post). Reading the two is largely encouraging, as it promotes a healthy debate, where people’s values can be called into question, and be put on the line, without being personally attacked, and instead, be approached with courteous reasoning. Both authors realise it is important to have contesting dialogue, in order to shape the others worldview, and to delve into a deeper understanding, that has underpinnings of true mutual respect.

Cavanaugh’s Audience
I must clarify my audience from the outset. I am a Christian theologian, and I write in the first instance for other Christians. My principal concern is to help Christians to be realistic about what the can expect from the powers and principalities of the present day, especially the nation-state and the market, and to urge Christians not to invest the entirety of their social and political presence in these institutions. My goal as a Christian theologian is to help the church be more faithful to God in Jesus Christ. In the present day, I think that faithfulness means taking a hard look at political and economic structures many Christians take for granted… I am not in the business of setting further models for a new global order. I tend to think such global models are inherently problematic.

A true pluralism…consists in each community being more, not less, faithful to its own traditions. p 607.

Binary Categories: religion/politics, spiritual/temporal
The state is a modern idea; as are the binary categories of religion/politics and spiritual/temporal. Neither Jesus nor the writers of Scriptue would have had any conception of the state as we know it, nor would they have dreamed that God;s concerns could be condoned off into a distinct spiritual or religious category of life.

I am not against the separation of church and state; I think it is an advance from the church’s point of view to rid it of access to coercive power. I am, however, opposed to the separation of religion from politics, if that means the privatisation and marginalisation of the church’s public witness. p 608.

Loyalty to nation and state replaced loyalty to the church in the early modern period.p 609. –> extensive work… by Robert Bellah and others on civil religion makes clear that, from a Christian point of view, the replacement of the church by the nation-state is not a phenomenon of the early modern-era alone. p 610.

Idolising the State
To maintain social coherence in a liberal social order, and to get people to be willing to kill and die for a bureaucratic service provider, the liberal nation-state must provide a sense of transcendent meaning, a civil religion of freedom or love of country.
The kind of utopian eschatology that Rowe suggests, following Fukuyama and others, in which liberalism is just about to vanquish war for good is an important element in this kind of civil religion.
From a Christian theological point of view, such civil religion is a temptation to idolatry. Liberal eschatology is a substitute for the real thing… if you’re going to have a utopian eschatology, you might as well have a real one, a Christian theological one, that is. The problem with the modern nation-state is that it often offers an ersatz version, theology without God. p612-13.

I am interested in a more radical pluralism… From a Christian point of view, I think that resisting modern idolatries requires something more robust than the confinement of the church to one more lobbying group within the nation-state. When facing economic crisis, for example, the church can act more creatively, in concert with other non-state actors, to support economic practices that escape the dominance of the state-supported corporate paradigm. p 615.

Church
Even where I discuss the action of the hierarchy, such as in the denunciation of the Iraq War, I do not think the solution is simply for the pope and bishops to tell us what to do and for the laity to obey. I look instead to the laity, especially those in military, to say “This war is unjust and I am going to sit this one out”.

I am increasingly concerned as I see some vocal Catholic Bishops become involved in electoral politics in the United States, often giving de facto support to the Republican party based on some (usually empty) Republican promise to push the legislative agenda of the bishops. Not only is such involvement often counterproductive… but the bishops’ involvement is often based the mentality that sees state enforcement as the only solution to any given cultural problem. (Yen’s emphasis)

As my critique of the state should make plain, I am opposed to any nostalgia of Constantinianism. I believe that a Christian should feel politically homeless and refuse to regard the choice between voting for Democrats and voting for Republicans as the summit of our social witness. I favour instead the formation of real communities of witness.

The Temporal
I do not think it is sufficient to reduce the social gathering of the church to a spiritual gathering.

The spiritual/temporal binary as a spatial distinction is also problematic. Before modernity, the temporal was a time, not a space, the interval between the first and second comings of Christ, when coercive civil authority was temporarily necessary to stave off chaos. The temporal did not indicate some realm of merely mundane concerns, such as business and government, that were fundamentally separate from spiritual concerns, or the things that pertain to God.

What would Jesus have thought belongs to God? Pslam 24 begins, “The earth is the LORD’s and all that is in it, the world and those who live in it.” If this is so, what is left for Caesar? It is quite unlikely that Jesus had in mind the modern separation of spiritual and temporal, and a tidy division of labor between God and Caesar.

The modern nation-state is not Caesar, but the problem of idolatry has not disappeared. What should Christians render unto the civil powers of our day? Many kinds of ad hoc cooperation with civil government are possible and necessary. My work is meant as a reminder to Christians nonetheless, that before we are Americans, Britons, and so on, we are followers of Jesus Christ. p 619.

Render Unto Caesar… What? Reflection on the Work of William Cavanaugh

Paul S. Rowe; The Review of Politics 71 (2009), 583-605; The University of Notre Dame 

The following serves as research for a paper that seeks to look into the appropriate Christian role in Politics, especially in light of the upcoming 2016 Australian Election. 

Rowe embarks on a reflection of Cavanaugh’s work. Seeks to also introduce his work to a wider audience in political theory and science. Rowe is a political scientist.
Follows three line of questioning:
1) what are we to make of C’s argument against the state, and in particular, the coercive nature of the State?
2) is C correct to challenge the independence of civil society as a part of the state apparatus?
3) is C creating a fulsome critique of the modern international system from a Christian perspective?

In conclusion R suggests:
“his view of the church speaks in a limited way to Christians but even less to non-Christians”. p 585

On William Cavanaugh
– 
associate professor of Theology of St. Thomas in Minnesota // Catholic tradition
– part of a movement called: radical orthodoxy it looks at the roots of various political concepts and theories and how they have departed from their original meanings in modern society.
– Due to this, he sees the State as a modern rival to the church as a place of reverence and legitimacy, one that is,however, artificial and contrived. p586.

p602 – important!
Spiritual Kingdom; no a temporal order, just challenging political thinking.
The church was to become the standing witness of Jesus’ spiritual kingdom in the world. The fact that this has political and institutional implications was evident in the perceived challenge to existing authorities… It would provide alternative principles for leadership, reverse relationships of enmity, and create new conceptions of mercy, grace and justice. As such, it devised new patterns for political thinking, which have challenged and will challenge the nature if the modern nation-state. But it did not create an alternative temporal order. Attempts to do so have been woefully inadequate, to because of the failures of the church as a spiritual entity but because the institutional church is by definition something more than that spiritual church to which the scriptures refer.

Ekklesia – Old Testament reasoning 
C’s exalted notion of the church does not follow from this Protestant tradition, but rather from an assumption of the church in some way as a continuation of the theocratic polity of the Jewish Old Testament. In one place, he argues the use of the word ekklesia in acient Greek for the church of the NT indicates its identification with the assembly of all Israel in the OT.. The point C is making here is that the church is not a mediating influence between State and Society, that it is properly an alternative loco of authority and tradition with a firmer grounding than the State itself…
It suggests that the Christian needs to filter the ideals of the state through a mind transformed by the power of Christ. But the ekklesia is not to be conflated with the temporal institutions of the church, many of which have proven as tragically artificial and unfocused on the common good as the modern nation-state itself.

–> But C does not advocate for a theocracy // public institution but not constitutive of a polity as a whole.
Simply providing an apologetic for the continued supremacy of the Catholic Church as a trasnational religious order.
– On the Reformation: “Luther contributed to the myth of the State as ‘peacemaker’ which would be invoked to confine the Church”. p603, quoting C in ‘A Fire’, p399.

Similarities to Sandel’s call for robust, values-driven, political engagement
Current international relations theory: The fear that religious traditions seeking to challenge the place of the nation-state will inevitably clash with one another and with modernity sugests that the diversity of religion represented by C’s devotion to the Eucharist will inevitably be de-stabilising. I hope to suggest otherwise: that the international stage is, indeed, a place for contending values to play themselves out, and often in political ways, but that this need not translate into uncontrolled conflict.
  What is necessary here, however, is a category of social relations in which such relations can play out. C may be right that teh stat is the wrong category. But he may also gave rules out more promising venues. p 604.

Reliance on the State
Without the state, or its attendant civil society, how do modern religious organisations seek some sort of common ground? By eliminating the secular state and civil society, C has left us with precious little space to construct common ground with the Other. p 604.

Render Unto Caesar
Was Jesus referring to the state when he made this claim? Was he not in fact declaring gather separation of church and state or was he simply making a pronouncement in the absence of the modern state? Or is it simply that the state must be constrained against the wanton use of violent means? p 605.

Justice: what’s the right thing to do?

Michael Sandel; Farrar Straus, and Giroux 2009; New York.

An exploration of the leading concepts of justice from Aristotle, to Kant, to Rawls. In the end offers his own views of how political and civic life should be approached and conducted. Sandel vouches for politics of moral engagement and recognises a need for “more robust and engaged civic life”, approached with “mutual respect”. Such politics is “not only a more inspiring ideal than a politics of avoidance,” as he says, “but is also a more promising basis for a just society”.

May add to this: at the moment these are just excerpts collected for the purpose of a research paper. 

Ch 1: Doing the right thing

“Maybe the moral difference lies not in the effect on the victims… but in the intention of the person making the decision”, p 22

“We sometimes think of moral reasoning as a way of persuading other people. But it is also a way of sorting out our own moral convictions, of figuring out what we believe and why”, p23

“Moral quandary… which principle has greater weight, or is more appropriate under the circumstances”, p23

Ch 8: Who deserves what? / Aristotle

Disabled Cheerleader story:
“resentment… what kind of resentment might motivate the head cheerleader’s father?”
“his resentment probably reflects a sense that Callie is being accorded and honour she doesn’t deserve, in a way that mocks the pride he takes in his daughter’s cheerleading prowess… a social practice once taken as fixed in its purpose and in the donors it bestowed was now, thanks to Callie, redefined”, p185.

According to Aristotle;
1. “Justice is teleological. Defining rights requires us to figure out the telos (the purpose, end, or essential nature) of the social practice in question.
2. Justice is honorific: to reason about the telos of a practice – or to argue about it – is, at least in part, to reason or argue about what virtues it should honour and award, p186

What is the purpose of politics?
“For Aristotle, the purpose of politics is not to set up a framework of rights that neutral among ends. It is to form good citizens and cultivate good character”, p193

“Why can’t we live perfectly good, virtuous lives with politics?
The answer lies in our nature. Only by living in a polis and participating in politics do we fully realise our nature as human beings. Aristotle sees us as beings ‘meant for political association, in a higher degree than bees or other gregarious animals.'” p195.

Ch 10: Justice and the Common Good

Obama, June 28 2006
“‘I said that we live in a pluralistic society, that I can’t impose my own religious views on another’…he now thought his response had been inadequate, and “did not adequately address the role my faith has in guiding my own values and my own beliefs”, p245

“He proceeded to describe his own Christian faith and to argue for the relevance of religion to political argument. It was a mistake, he thought, for progressives to ‘abandon the field of religious discourse’ in politics. ‘The discomfort of some progressives with any hint of religion has often prevented us from effectively addressing issues in moral terms.’ If liberals offered a political discourse emptied of religious content, they would foreit the imagery and terminology through which millions of Americans understand both their personal morality and social justice.”

Quoting Obama:
“Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, William Jennings Bryan, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King – indeed, the majority of great reformers in American history were not only motivated by faith, but repeatedly used religious language to argue for their cause. So to say that men and women should not inject their “personal morality” into public policy debates is a practical absurdity”, p246.

Same-Sex Marriage
Argument, “without entering into moral and religious controversies about the purpose of marriage — whether one personally approves or disapproves of gay and lesbian relationships, individuals should be free to choose their marital partners. To allow heterosexual but not homosexual couples to get married wrongly discriminates against gay men and lesbians, and denies them equality before the law”, p253.

“The case for same-sex marriage can’t be made on non-judgemental grounds. It depends on a certain conception of the telos of marriage… fundamentally a debate about whether gay and lesbian unions are worth of the honour and recognition that, in our society, state-sanctioned marriage wonders. So the underlying moral question is unavoidable,” p253-4.

Three policies:
1) recognise only marriages between a man and a woman;
2) recognise same-sex marriages and opposite-sex marriages;
3) don’t recognise marriage of any kind, but leave this role to private associations.

Third has an advantage in that does not have to engage in the moral and religious controversy over the purpose of marriage and the morality of homosexuality, p256.

“Autonomy and freedom of choice are insufficient to justify a right to same-sex marriage. If governments were truly neutral on the moral worth of all voluntary intimate relationships, then the state would have no grounds for limiting marriage to two persons; consensual polygamous partnerships would also qualify”, p257.

“Possible to adjudicate rival accounts of the purpose, or essence, of marriage? Is it possible to argue rationally about the meaning and purpose of morally contested social institutions such as marriage? Or it simply a clash of bald assertions – some say it’s about procreation, others say it’s about loving commitment – and there’s no other way of choosing one to be more plausible than the other?”, p259.

Uses all of this to basically assert, not a view of whether same-sex marriage should prevail, but rather to stress, “we can’t remain neutral toward competing conceptions of the good life”, p260

“To achieve a just society, we have to reason together about the meaning of the good life, and to create a public culture hospitable to the disagreements that will inevitably arise”, p261

“Justice is inescapably judgemental”, p261.

“Most of our political arguments revolve around welfare and freedom – increasing economic output and respecting people’s rights… The challenge is to imagine a politics that takes moral and spiritual questions seriously, but brings them to bear on broad economic and civic concerns, not only on sex and abortion”, p262.

When analysing Robert F Kennedy, whom he thought was “the most promising voice in this direction”, in how we saw that justice involved, “a higher moral purpose”:
“He did not hesitate to be judgemental. And yet, by invoking Americans’ pride in their country, he also, at the same time, appealed to a sense of community”, p262-3.

Just everything from p263-269.
– role of politics is to strength community, cultivate citizens with a concern for the whole, dedication to common good –> what is common good, and cultivation? indoctrination?
– moral limits of markets – marketising social practices may corrupt or degrade the norma that define them..
– inequalities create disparity in social solidarity – public services deteriorate as those who no longer use those services become less willing to support them with their taxes – hollowing out o public realm makes it difficult to cultivate the solidarity and sense of community on which democratic citizenship depends.
– robust public engagement, not neutrality
– with basis of mutual respect