Debating Religious Liberty and Discrimination


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Virtually everyone supports religious liberty, and virtually everyone opposes discrimination. But how do we handle the hard questions that arise when exercises of religious liberty seem to discriminate unjustly? How do we promote the common good while respecting conscience in a diverse society?

This point-counterpoint book brings together leading voices in the culture wars to debate such questions: John Corvino, a longtime LGBT-rights advocate, opposite Ryan T. Anderson and Sherif Girgis, prominent young social conservatives.

Many such questions have arisen in response to same-sex marriage: How should we treat county clerks who do not wish to authorize such marriages, for example; or bakers, florists, and photographers who do not wish to provide services for same-sex weddings? But the conflicts are not limited to the LGBT-rights arena. And they implicate age-old questions about the role of government, the value of religion, and the challenges of living in a diverse and free society.

The differences between Corvino and Anderson-Girgis, though nuanced, run deep. The debate between them is an important contribution to discussions about why religious liberty matters and what respecting it requires.

Praise:

Debating Religious Liberty and Discrimination is a direct challenge to our cultural moment, opting for careful analysis over clickbait, mutual understanding over demonization, and clearly demarcated disagreement over sweeping dismissal. The authors take the time to lay out their best arguments, then respond to the best arguments of their opponents. Whether or not the book ultimately causes readers to change their views is not the measure of its success. The authors provide a desperately needed model for engagement: they argue with, not at their opponent; they argue together.”
– Robert K. Vischer, Dean of the University of St. Thomas School of Law, writing for Commonweal.

“In our deeply divided nation, Debating Religious Liberty and Discrimination is a refreshing and hope-inspiring book. Provocative, clear, careful in argument, searching in coverage, it shows that people who strongly disagree can both find much common ground and also articulate their differences with respect and care, fostering a community of reason. It will be a wonderful book for undergraduate teaching, but it is also challenging for people well-versed in the subject, whether they agree or disagree. John Corvino’s wonderful essay, for example, is leading me to rethink some of my own positions, and will surely be part of my next law school class on this topic.”
– Martha C. Nussbaum, Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics
University of Chicago

“One of the most important debates in our time is that it of religious liberty as it relates to controversies over sexuality and marriage. Sadly, usually most Americans don’t have these debates at all, content to stay in our silos and never engage with those who disagree with us. This book is different. Ryan Anderson, Sherif Girgis, and John Corvino model how to hold strong (very strong) opinions while debating others with respect. This book will equip you, wherever you stand, on how the “other side” from you thinks. If American society follows the lead of this book, our culture wars won’t end, but they just might be kinder and smarter. That’s a good start.”
– Russell Moore, President, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention