Tuesday, December 23, 2008
There are varieties of thin pluralism in Michael Scaperlanda’s sense. I believe, for example, that citizens properly act on their religious views in arriving at political opinions and actions, and that children should be taught about religion including the ways in which religion affects politics and about world religions in general. In addition, I regard it as obvious that an incoming President should be able to swear on the religious text of his or her choice – or to affirm instead of swear. On the other hand, I wish I lived in a country in which civic occasions were not marked by prayers to God that inherently discriminate against Buddhists, Hindus, atheists, and agnostics. I do not, but I believe religion would be better off if it were not so used.
Michael says that, “Since religion is not a purely private matter, faith will have (and should have) some public expression.” As I suggested in the last paragraph, I agree, but it does not follow that that public expression should take the form of Christian prayer in an inauguration. “In God We Trust” appears on our coins; that is no warrant for “In Christ We Trust” on the coins. That Christians are in the majority is all the more reason for them to respect the concerns of religious minorities. Religious minorities are often reminded that they are outnumbered. Their noses should not be rubbed in it on inauguration day.