"I was puzzled by Charles Larmore's review of Charles Taylor's new book, A Secular Age, in the current New Republic. The book is sprawling and often maddening, but it is very important (I've tried to do it justice in my own review in the forthcoming issue of First Things), and I give Larmore high marks for his accurate (if prickly) summaries of the...
Video: Religion and Secularism: The American Experience
"Some of the nation's leading journalists gathered in Key West, Fla., in December, 2007, for the Pew Forum's biannual Faith Angle Conference on religion, politics and public life.
Given the recent popularity of several high-profile books on atheism, the Pew Forum invited Wilfred McClay, a distinguished professor of intellectual history, to speak on the historical relationship between religion and secularism in America. McClay argued for a distinction between two types of secularism.
Political secularism, he says, recognizes the legitimacy and even moral necessity of religious faith, while preventing any one faith from being established. Philosophical secularism, on the other hand, views religion more negatively and attempts to establish a common unbelief as a basis for government. Inspired by a recent trip to Turkey, McClay contends that the first understanding of secularism was at the heart of the founders' vision and has resulted in a unique if imperfect mingling of religion and government in American public life."
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