On the Relations Between the Secular Liberal State and Religion

Jürgen Habermas

in Political Theologies

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print November 2006 | ISBN: 9780823226443
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823237043 | DOI:
On the Relations Between the Secular Liberal State and               Religion

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Is the liberal secular state nourished by normative preconditions that it cannot itself guarantee? The question expresses doubt that the democratic constitutional state can renew the normative preconditions of its existence out of its own resources. It also voices the conjecture that the state is dependent upon autochthonous conceptual or religious traditions—in any case, collectively binding ethical traditions. This chapter assumes that the constitution of the liberal state is self-sufficient with regard to its need for legitimation. The ideological neutrality of state authority, which guarantees the same ethical freedoms for every citizen, is incompatible with the political generalization of a secularistic world-view. Secularized citizens, insofar as they act in their role as citizens of a state, may neither deny out of hand the potential for truth in religious conceptions of the world nor dispute the right of believing fellow citizens to make contributions to public discussions that are phrased in religious language.

Keywords: liberal state; religious traditions; legitimation; state authority; neutrality; secularized citizens; democratic constitutional state

Chapter.  4380 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: East Asian Religions

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