1st Edition

Religious Pluralism and Political Stability Obligations in Agreement

By David Golemboski Copyright 2023
    224 Pages
    by Routledge

    224 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book argues that the principles and institutions of political liberalism are necessary conditions for achieving reliable stability amid conditions of pluralism. Only a political system of this sort can bring citizens’ moral, religious, and political loyalties into robust agreement.

    Through an analysis that encompasses normative political theory and American constitutional law, David Golemboski illustrates the implications of this conclusion by examining contemporary legal debates in law and religion. By developing a fresh perspective on how legal frameworks for religious exercise and establishment can ameliorate conflict and enhance the stability of a liberal constitution, this book demonstrates that political systems need not subordinate or sacrifice important liberal priorities in favor of stability. Rather, those liberal priorities are themselves necessary components of a stable order.

    Religious Pluralism and Political Stability will be of interest to scholars across the fields of political philosophy, legal theory, and constitutional law who have an interest in religion.


    Part 1: Stability and the Foundations of Political Liberalism

    1. Justificatory Stability

    2. Hobbesian Political Liberalism

    3. Motivating Liberal Loyalty

    Part 2: Justificatory Stability and the Law of Religion

    4. Conflicts of Loyalty in Religion and Law

    5. Religious Exemptions as a Mechanism for Political Stability

    6. Endorsement, Entanglement, and Religious Neutrality

    7. Conclusion


    David Golemboski is Assistant Professor of Government and International Affairs at Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He teaches and writes on political theory and constitutional law, with a special focus on issues concerning law and religion.

    "Golemboski (Augustana Univ.) constructs a type of political liberalism that, unlike Rawls’s account, is based on a normative ideal of stability rather than justice or fairness. Justificatory stability, however, requires the presumptions of liberty, distributive equality, justificatory neutrality, and the rule of law, which together constitute political liberalism. In conditions of diversity, the key is to incentivize citizens to support this type of stability as a highest-order end. This in turn governs their pursuit of other ends or comprehensive values at a level that overcomes the temptation toward either brute force or a modus vivendi commitment. The book then focuses on religious pluralism. Regarding the free exercise of religion, Golemboski advocates for religious exemptions—and some secular ones—that can enhance political stability by avoiding conflicting loyalties, which can undermine citizens’ allegiances. He opposes governmental coercion of religious observance and some types of government endorsement of religion or privileged identification through religious displays. He recognizes that much of this will depend on context and allows a good deal of leeway for lower levels of government. Problematic in his construction is that the treatment of citizens will differ among various locales. Nevertheless, a provocative construction."

    Summing Up: Highly recommended. Advanced undergraduates through faculty.

    E. R. Gill, Bradley University, Choice Magazine

    "At a time when liberal institutions are fragile even in countries where they have long histories, the importance of their stability could not be more obvious. Yet many contemporary political theorists either treat stability as a condition of the moral values they privilege or claim that pluralistic societies can achieve stability only by retrenching to classical liberalism. David Golemboski argues, on the contrary, that stability is of paramount importance and that it requires distributive equality as well as liberty and justificatory neutrality. The result is an innovative defense of political liberalism that makes a surprising and persuasive case for its debts to Hobbes. Readers will also be grateful for Golemboski's insightful treatment of religion's place in a liberal order. In both its theoretical and more applied chapters, this is a thoughtful and richly argued book of quite refreshing originality."

    Paul Weithman, Glynn Family Honors Professor of Philosophy, University of Notre Dame

    "Golemboski aims to show that political liberalism with its commitment to liberty, distributional equity, and public justification is the most stable political outlook. This is an original, intriguing, and philosophically sophisticated project—it basically reconciles Hobbes and Rawls. Anyone with an interest in political liberalism and the role of religion in politics and society will find a wealth of insights in this book."

    Fabian Wendt, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Virginia Tech