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Thursday, October 08, 2020

"Religious Questions: Relevant, Legitimate, and Impossible" at Canopy Forum Blog

Here is a post I did for Canopy Forum, the blog of Emory's Center for the Study of Law and Religion, which (present company excepted, of course) has been running some excellent material. Here's a key paragraph:

It is in the seeming tension between these two assertions — that the Religious Test Clause as a constitutional provision is more residual than important these days, and that religious questions about putative office-holders are at least as urgent as they have been in some time, if not more — that we might approach the latest such controversy, over the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the United States Supreme Court. 

I would like to make two suggestions here. First, despite the rhetoric of some of her supporters, those who suggest that the Religious Test Clause bars any religious questions about Judge Barrett and her views are wrong. That is not a bad thing; religious questions can, in theory at least, be sensible things. Second, precisely because of the rhetoric of those who actually raise or insinuate religious questions, whether in opposition to her or in her support, we should avoid them like (pardon the expression) the plague. That is, in a sense, a bad thing. It means that the level of public discourse around religion — and not just religion — and the religious literacy of our representatives and of the public itself is so impoverished that we are virtually incapable of asking such questions. 

Posted by Paul Horwitz on October 8, 2020 at 03:11 PM | Permalink

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