Agreeing to Disagree: The Establishment Clause, Religious Diversity, and Liberty of Conscience
Professor Nathan Chapman
Notes & Changes
Professor Nathan Chapman will present a summary of his forthcoming book with Oxford University Press, Agreeing to Disagree (co-authored with Michael McConnell), with response from Dr Paul Kerry. No reading required beforehand.
The United States has always been a land of deep religious diversity, and now, as much as any time in recent history, religious belief and identity tracks with increasing political polarization. Critics of the Supreme Court’s recent religious liberty cases say that the Court has essentially read the Establishment Clause out of the Constitution, making way for religion (usually coded as conservative) to use the levers of government to enforce their policy preferences on dissenters. This view is upside down. By recalibrating Establishment Clause doctrine to its historical purpose of preventing government-induced religious conformity, instead of a federal court-imposed preference for secularism, the Court has given equal breathing room for all religious groups and to the ordinary political process to work out the implications of religious pluralism for themselves.