Saturday, October 02, 2010

Empirical Perspective on Religious and Secular Reasons

On "The Immanent Frame", John H. Evans has a very interesting entry on

"An Empirical Perspective on Religious and Secular Reasons"

"A few political scientists have examined the use of religious and secular reasons by the largely evangelical Protestant religious Right. If anyone would want to use religious reasons, it would be these activists. But what the scholars find is that, in fact, the religious Right offers secular reasons for their policy proposals. This is not because they are normatively sanctioned for using religious reasons, as critics of liberal theory suggest. Rather, religious reasons do not convince people to accept one’s position. In a country with diverse comprehensive perspectives, and especially when trying to pass a national, not a local, law, it just does not work to give “Leviticus 18:22″ as your reason. The upshot of this empirical finding is that unless the U.S. public sphere becomes less religiously pluralistic, religious activists trying to enact legislation will not want to use religious reasons. The claims of the critics of public reason thus appear to be moot."

John H. Evans is Professor of Sociology at the University of California, San Diego. He is the author of "Playing God? Human Genetic Engineering and the Rationalization of Public Bioethical Debate" (The University of Chicago Press, 2002) and "Contested Reproduction: Genetic Technologies, Religion, and Public Debate" (The University of Chicago Press, October 2010).

See his article (co-written with Kathy Hudson) on "Religion and Reproductive Genetics" (pdf).

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