Walhof on Religion and the Public Sphere

Darren R. Walhof (Grand Valley State University) has posted Habermas, Same-Sex Marriage and the Problem of Religion in Public Life. The abstract follows.

This article addresses the debate over religion in the public sphere by analysing the conception of ‘religion’ in the recent work of Habermas, who claims to mediate the divide between those who defend public appeals to religion without restriction and those who place limits on such appeals. I argue that Habermas’ translation requirement and his restriction on religious reasons in the institutional public sphere rest on a conception of religion as essentially apolitical in its origin. This conception, I argue, remains embedded in a standard secularization framework, despite Habermas’ claim to offer a new account of secularization. This approach betrays the complex reality of the political constitution of religion and the religious constitution of politics, as demonstrated by the current debate about marriage rights in the USA. In mischaracterizing the inherently public and political dimensions of religion, Habermas undermines the effectiveness of his normative framework.

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