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This book aims to examine and critically analyse the role that religion has and should have in the public and legal sphere. The main purpose of the book is to explain why religion, on the whole, should not be tolerated in a tolerant-liberal democracy and to describe exactly how it should not be tolerated – mainly by addressing legal issues. The main arguments of the book are, first, that as a general rule illiberal intolerance should not be tolerated; secondly, that there are meaningful, unique links between religion and intolerance, and between holding religious beliefs and holding intolerant views (and ultimately acting upon these views); and thirdly, that the religiosity of a legal claim is normally a reason, although not necessarily a prevailing one, not to accept that claim.
Challenging a widespread belief that religious people are politically intolerant, Marie Ann Eisenstein offers compelling evidence to the contrary. In this surprising and significant book, she thoroughly re-examines previous studies and presents new research to support her argument that there is, in fact, a positive correlation between religious belief and practice and political tolerance in the United States. Eisenstein utilises sophisticated new analytical tools to re-evaluate earlier data and offers persuasive new statistical evidence to support her claim that religiousness and political tolerance do, indeed, mix -- and that religiosity is not the threat to liberal democracy that it is often made out to be.
Main description: What impulse prompted some newspapers to attribute the murder of 77 Norwegians to Islamic extremists, until it became evident that a right-wing Norwegian terrorist was the perpetrator? Why did Switzerland, a country of four minarets, vote to ban those structures? How did a proposed Muslim cultural center in lower Manhattan ignite a fevered political debate across the United States? In The New Religious Intolerance, Martha C. Nussbaum surveys such developments and identifies the fear behind these reactions. Drawing inspiration from philosophy, history, and literature, she suggests a route past this limiting response and toward a more equitable, imaginative, and free society.Fear, Nussbaum writes, is 0more narcissistic than other emotions.0 Legitimate anxieties become distorted and displaced, driving laws and policies biased against those different from us. Overcoming intolerance requires consistent application of universal principles of respect for conscience. Just as important, it requires greater understanding. Nussbaum challenges us to embrace freedom of religious observance for all, extending to others what we demand for ourselves. She encourages us to expand our capacity for empathetic imagination by cultivating our curiosity, seeking friendship across religious lines, and establishing a consistent ethic of decency and civility. With this greater understanding and respect, Nussbaum argues, we can rise above the politics of fear and toward a more open and inclusive future.
In the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Catholicism was often presented in the U.S. not only as a threat to Protestantism but also as an enemy of democracy. Focusing on literary and cultural representations of Catholics as a political force, Elizabeth Fenton argues that the U.S. perception of religious freedom grew partly, and paradoxically, out of a sometimes virulent but often genteel anti-Catholicism. Depictions of Catholicism's imagined intolerance and cruelty allowed writers time and again to depict their nation as tolerant and free. As Religious Liberties shows, anti-Catholic sentiment particularly shaped U.S. conceptions of pluralism and its relationship to issues as diverse as religious privacy, territorial expansion, female citizenship, political representation, chattel slavery, and governmental partisanship. Drawing on a wide range of materials--from the Federalist Papers to antebellum biographies of Toussaint Louverture; from nativist treatises to Margaret Fuller's journalism; from convent expos?s to novels by Catharine Sedgwick, Augusta J. Evans, Nathanial Hawthorne, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Herman Melville, and Mark Twain--Fenton's study excavates the influence of anti-Catholic sentiment on both the liberal tradition and early U.S. culture more generally. In concert, these texts suggest how the prejudice against Catholicism facilitated an alignment of U.S. nationalism with Protestantism, thus ensuring the mutual dependence, rather than the putative "separation" of church and state.
The author uses anecdotes and quotes to help illustrate his argument that tolerance has gone beyond simply putting up with another's differences and still disagreeing with him or her and instead now has more to do with completely refraining from saying others are wrong, in a book that offers the author's personal Christian perspective on the issue.
This path-breaking book reconceptualizes our understanding of political tolerance as well as of its foundations. Previous studies, the authors contend, overemphasized the role of education in explaining the presence of tolerance, while giving insufficient weight to personality and ideological factors. With an innovative methodology for measuring levels of tolerance more accurately, the authors are able to explain why particular groups are targeted and why tolerance is an inherently political concept. Far from abating, the degree of intolerance in America today is probably as great as it ever was; it is the targets of intolerance that have changed.

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