Lester Reviews The Tragedy of Religious Freedom

The Review of Politics has published a thoughtful review by Emile Lester (political science, University of Mary Washington) of The Tragedy of Religious Freedom. The review is unfortunately behind a paywall, but here’s a portion of it:

The crucial contribution of Marc O. DeGirolami’s The Tragedy of Religious Freedom to both this literature [the literature of tragic conflict] and to legal theory is to explain the tragic approach’s special relevance to religious freedom disputes. DeGirolami’s treatment is deeply humane and wears its considerable erudition lightly and elegantly. Where much legal theory soars into abstraction, DeGirolami’s examples are grounded in wordily insight and empathy. This is fitting as DeGirolami targets reductive, formulaic approaches. These “comic monist” approaches wield master values such as equal liberty or neutrality as silver bullets promising to vanquish opposing concerns and slay the confusion that many religious liberty disputes appear to involve. DeGirolami, by contrast, practices a commendable humility. Religious liberty cases resemble forests teeming with rich, heterogeneous, and organic elements. DeGirolami would not tame this wilderness artificially by transforming it into a neatly manicured garden. His book offers thoughtful suggestions for how to resolve prominent cases, but acknowledges that others may weigh these cases’ complex factors differently to arrive at alternative conclusions.

Professor Lester goes on in the review to offer some interesting criticisms of the book, but I will let readers go and find those on their own.

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