Franklin I Gamwell’s Democratic Resolution

             As mentioned earlier Rawls argues that comprehensive conviction including religion is not important to politics. Unlike Rawls, Gamwell considers that religion is important to politics. He does not separate religion from politics but in the same time he also disagrees with idea of the state establishment of religion. Gamwell’s thoughts on the relation between religion and politics are exposed in his The Meaning of Religious Freedom, Modern Politics and The Democratic Resolution in which he makes an effort to find an answer to the modern political problematic. What he means by the modern political problematic is the problem of the proper relation between religion and politics especially if the political community consists of plural society. To quote Gamwell’s own word, this problematic is as follows: “What, if any thing, is the proper relation between politics and religion, given that the political community includes an indeterminate religion?” (Gamwell 1995, 5).
  To solve this modern political problematic he proposes “religious freedom”. What he intends by religious freedom is “nothing than a free political discourse, that is also, a full political discourse because it includes adherents of plurality of religions, that is a political discussion and debate in which differing religious convictions are or can be publicly assessed”. He calls this solution “the democratic resolution” and believes that it can be redeemed as an answer to political and religious formulations of the modern political problematic (Ibid. 10).

All the way through his democratic resolution, it seems that Gamwell trays to accommodate the interest of the two groups: the separationist and the religionist. He is in the side of the separationist when he supports the disestablishment of religion and he also fortifies the religionist through the endorsement of the full political discourse of all citizens. Therefore Gamwell declares that the democratic resolution is “both separationist and religionist in the following senses. All religions are separated from the state in sense that the state may not explicitly endorse any answer to comprehensive question. At the same time, religion is essential to the body politic in the sense that political decisions should imply the valid comprehensive conviction” (Ibid. 205). The democratic resolution, Gamwell argues, makes it possible that in one side “[p] olitics is consistent in principle with a plurality of legitimate religions because they are united through democratic discourse,” while in another “adherents of all religions can consistently be democratically civil precisely because all religions claim to represent the valid understanding of human authenticity as such.” (Ibid.). The democratic resolution is believed to be the most appropriate solution for the modern political problematic on the reason that democratic discourse is the principle of political unity and democratic civility is the constitutive political virtue consistent with all religious adherents.
As mentioned earlier Gamswell’s democratic resolution sets a precondition, namely that only within the understanding that the religion is accessible to reason, can all the member of political community be able to participate in free and full discussion. For these reason, it excludes the non-rational religion (Ibid. 10). In this case Gamwell understands religion as “the primary form of culture in terms of which the comprehensive question is explicitly asked and answered, and further, so answered that human authenticity is derived from the character of reality as such” (Ibid. 30). In defining religion as such he means that “the distinction between authentic and inauthentic human activity is identified by relation of human activity to reality as such or ultimate reality. Religion, then, is the comprehensive question that ultimate reality is said to authorize human authenticity” (Ibid. 30).
Meanwhile Gamwell identifies politics as “the primary form of association in which the question of the state is explicitly asked and answered” (Ibid.32). On this definition, “the state” is understood as “the form of governing activities through which all activities and associations within a given society or community are explicitly unified and ordered, therefore, is always some or other particular state” (Ibid.). To be more specific, “the question of the state may be formulated: What should the activities of the state be or what should the state do?” (Ibid.). In view of the fact that “the primary purpose of asking and answering this question in association with others is to determine what the state’s activities will be, a political association in the sense defined includes its own state” (Ibid.). Furthermore, “the definition intends to make clear that the body politic is not necessarily identical with the state, since the former includes all relations among the governed through which the state’s activities are explicitly determined”(Ibid.)  So, “as a specific form of activity, then, political activity may be identified as participation in politics or in body politic” (Ibid.)   
            The definition of religion mentioned above shows the scope of the issues, which are the concern of religion. The same thing is also applied to the definition of politics; it sets the limit of the subject matter of politics. The definitions classify which of kind of human activities that can be identified as religious and which one as political. Meanwhile if religions represent comprehensive conviction about human life, it raises a question how the conflict among religion and politics can be in principle civilized and therefore politics can coherently legitimate a plurality of religion.
            On the understanding that constitution means “the explicit principles, written or unwritten, in accord with which the state as such, and therefore politics as such are defined in given political community” (Ibid. 37), the problematic of relation between religion and politics is a constitutional issue. It means the constitution should explicitly order the relation between politics and religion because it cannot be credibly solved as particular political problem, in the sense that the political constitution is silent which respect to the relation between politics and religion and the character of that relation is left to the political process or statutory law.   
            It may be possible that the constitution decides religious establishment or religious freedom. However, the religious establishment is incoherent answer to the modern political problematic because it is inconsistent with the plurality of religions. The religious establishment is a religious conviction that the political constitution identifies as official. If it is the case then religious establishment means the explicit agreement on particular answer to the comprehenship question identifies the body politic, and consequently the state has a duty to ensure the teaching. Therefore religious establishment is inconsistent with the plurality of legitimate religions because the non-established religion would be considered as illegitimate.
            Since the modern political problematic cannot be answered by the comprehenship question, the modern political community must be constituted by the question itself. To constitute the political community by a question is to constitute a free discussion and debate regarding the proposed answer. Therefore the modern political problematic is only solved by the constitution of free political discourse that is also a full political discourse because it seeks to understand the character of human authenticity as such or the comprehenship purpose in relevant to the activities of the state.