Getting Over Equality: A Critical Diagnosis of Religious Freedom in America

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NYU Press, 2001 - Law - 214 pages
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Questions of religious freedom continue to excite passionate public debate. Proposals involving school prayer and the posting of the Ten Commandments in schools and courtrooms perennially spur controversy. But there is also a sense that the prevailing discourse is exhausted, that no one seems to know how to think about religious freedom in a way that moves beyond our stale, counterproductive thinking on this issue.

In Getting over Equality, Steven D. Smith, one of the most important voices now writing about religious liberty, provocatively contends that we must get over our presumption mistakenly believed to be rooted in the Constitution that all religions are equally true and virtuous and "authentically American." Smith puts forth an alternative view, that the courts should promote an ideal of tolerance rather than equality and neutrality. Examining such controversial examples as the animal sacrifice case, the peyote case, and the problem of aid to parochial schools, Smith delineates a way for us to tolerate and respect contrary creeds without sacrificing or diluting our own beliefs and without pretending to believe in a spurious "equality" among the variety of diverse faiths.

 

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Contents

How Firm a Foundation?
7
A Political Parable
27
Is a Theory of Religious Freedom Possible?
45
Unprincipled Religious Freedom
62
The Unhappy Demise of the Doctrine of Tolerance
83
Demons in the Discourse
116
Can Faith Tolerate?
141
Theism and Tolerance
163
Notes
185
Index
211
Copyright

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About the author (2001)

Steven D. Smith is Robert and Marion Short Professor of Law, Notre Dame Law School and author of Foreordained Failure: The Quest for a Constitutional Principle of Religious Freedom.

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