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Contemporary philosophical defenses of outright establishment of a church or faith are few, but a famous defense of establishment was given by T. As a result, he argued, such a society would degenerate into tyranny and/or social and cultural fragmentation.Even today, there are strains of conservatism that argue for establishment by emphasizing the benefits that will accrue to the political system or society at large (Scruton, 1980).One such resource is a sense of belonging to a common culture that is rooted in a tradition, as opposed to a sense of rootlessness and social fragmentation (Sandel, 1998; Mac Intyre, 1984).
The second pair of sections is devoted to problems that, for the most part, have come to the fore of discussion only in recent times: (3) liberal citizenship and its demands on private self-understanding; and (4) the role of religion in public deliberation.
While the topic of establishment has receded in importance at present, it has been central to political thought in the West since at least the days of Constantine.
This cohesion in turn is dependent on a substantial amount of cultural homogeneity, especially with respect to adherence to certain values.
One way of ensuring this kind of homogeneity is to enact one of the forms of establishment mentioned above, such as displaying religious symbols in political buildings and monuments, or by including references to a particular religion in political ceremonies.
For example, Islam has traditionally held that all people owe obedience to Allah’s will.
Thus, it is probably inevitable that religious commitments will sometimes come into conflict with the demands of politics.From the perspective of many religious people themselves, moreover, there are worries that a political role for their religion may well corrupt their faith community and its mission.As European and American societies faced the growing plurality of religious beliefs, communities, and institutions in the early modern era, one of the paramount social problems was determining whether and to what extent they should be tolerated.If all people have such a right, then it is morally wrong for the state to force them to participate in religious practices and institutions that they would otherwise oppose, such as forcing them to take part in public prayer.It is also wrong, for the same reason, to force people to support financially (via taxation) religious institutions and communities that they would not otherwise wish to support.According to this line of thought, the healthy requires a substantial amount of pre- or extra-political social cohesion.More specifically, a certain amount of social cohesion is necessary both to ensure that citizens see themselves as sufficiently connected to each other (so that they will want to cooperate politically), and to ensure that they have a common framework within which they can make coherent collective political decisions.A weaker form of an established church is what Robert Bellah (1967: 3-4) calls “civil religion,” in which a particular church or religion does not exactly have official status, and yet the state uses religious concepts in an explicitly public way.For an example of civil religion, he points to Abraham Lincoln’s use of Christian imagery of slavery and freedom in justifying the American Civil War. Trained as a philosopher (he completed, but did not defend, a dissertation at Harvard on the philosophy of F. Bradley) and deeply influenced by Aristotle, Eliot believed that democratic societies rejected the influence of an established church at their peril, for in doing so they cut themselves off from the kind of ethical wisdom that can come only from participation in a tradition.The relation between religion and politics continues to be an important theme in political philosophy, despite the emergent consensus (both among political theorists and in practical political contexts, such as the United Nations) on the right to freedom of conscience and on the need for some sort of separation between church and state.One reason for the importance of this topic is that religions often make strong claims on people’s allegiance, and universal religions make these claims on all people, rather than just a particular community.