B. Ken Greenawalt, Religious Pluralism

            The second model of the relation between religion and politics is that proposed by Ken Grenawalt in his Religious Convictions and Political Choices. Kent Greenawalt holds that all religious convictions are important to politics and therefore he rejects the idea that citizens in liberal democracy should resolve both values and factual questions that are relevant to justice without relying on particulars religious convictions.[1]
            The main concern is the proper character of citizenship; the question is whether the reliance on religious conviction is consistent with a model of good liberal citizenship. To Greenawalt good citizens may both affirm the religious freedom and rely on the religious conviction in their political decision. He acknowledges that there is a distinction between personal grounds for decision and public justification, but the line between the grounds of decision and stated justification is not explored by the theorists who propose the exclusion of religion from political morality.[2] The citizens must be allowed to embrace the ways in which they justify to themselves the political position that they take, as well as the reasons that they communicate to others. Then it means that the citizens both affirm the religious freedom and rely on religious convictions in their political decisions.[3]

            In this discussion, by the citizens Greenawalt has in mind those of the United States of America and the by the idea of liberal democracy he means as “the form of government whose premises includes “indirect, democratic governance, extensive individual liberty”[4] and first amendment’s guaranty of religious liberty and disestablishment. Given the present degree of diversity and belief, he then accepts the principle of “non-sponsorship as the proper understanding of relation between the government and religion in the liberal state; in the sense that the government in the United Stated should not support religion or religious ideas, however broadly conceives.
            With the understanding of “liberal democracy”, the limit of “the publicly accessible reasons” and “religious convictions” Greenawalt proposes the thesis as follow:
When people reasonably think that shared premises of justice and criteria for determining truth cannot resolve the critical questions of the fact, fundamental question of value, or weighing of competing the benefits and harms, they do appropriately rely on religious convictions that help them answer these questions.[5]
The thesis demonstrates that reliance on religious convictions is warranted only when shared premises and publicly accessible reasons are inconclusive. This also identifies the sense in which religious conviction is politically important. Greenawalt, therefore affirms, “a constrained of commitment to shared premises and ways of reasoning” [6] and advocates that “a good liberal citizen must remain open to publicly accessible reason”.[7]    This commitment, however, is limited precisely because it does not completely exclude the political relevant of religion.

[1] Kent Greenawalt. Religious Convictions and Political Choices. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998) p. 53.
[2] Ibid., p. 51.
[3] Ibid., p. 53.
[4] Ibid., p. 26
[5] Ibid., p. 12
[6] Ibid., p. 207
[7] Ibid., p. 209.