Religion in Politics

Constitutional and Moral Perspectives


Most Americans are religious believers. Among these there is disagreement about many fundamental religious/moral matters. Because the United States is both such a religious country and such a religiously pluralistic country, the issue of the proper role of religion in politics is extremely important to political debate.In Religion in Politics, Michael Perry addresses a fundamental question: what role may religious arguments play, if any, either in public debate about what political choices to make or as a basis of political choice? He is principally concerned with political choices that ban or otherwise disfavor one or another sort of human conduct based on the view that the conduct is immoral. He divides the controversy into two debates: the constitutionally proper role of religious arguments in politics, and a related, but distinct, debate about the morally proper role.Perry concludes that political choices about the morality of human conduct should not be based on religion. The newest work by one of the most important constitutional theorists writing today, Religion in Politics is sure to spark a new debate on the subject.
  • Oxford University Press; January 1999
  • ISBN 9780195351347
  • Read online, or download in secure PDF format
  • Title: Religion in Politics
  • Author: Michael J. Perry
  • Imprint: Oxford University Press

In The Press

"...a highly informative exposition"--Perspectives on Political Science
"Perry's attempt to clarify is undoubtedly worthwhile, and probably useful as well, and can be recommended for such purposes."--Bimonthly Review of Law Books
"In a field known for its confusions and contradictions, Perry's work stands out. He stakes his ground-for a bounded religious role in politics-with boldness, clarity, elegant simplicity, and power. This is one of the most rigorous and cogent analyses of the fundamental questions in the field that I have seen. Whether one agrees with Perry or not, Religion and Politics is a book that cannot be ignored."--Laura S. Underkuffler, Duke University
"Over the last decade, Michael Perry has distinguished himself as one of the most prominent and influential commentators on the role of morality and religion in democratic politics and lawmaking...This book will be of enormous interest and value not only to scholars, but also to thoughtful citizens-religious and nonreligious alike-who wish to confront the controversial questions that Perry addresses."--Daniel O. Conkle, Indiana University
"Perry draws on his deep acquaintance with both First Amendment constitutional perspectives and the broader traditons of moral discourse about religion and society to shed light and give guidance to what is often a muddled and wrong-headed debate about religion in public life."--John A. Coleman, S.J., The Jesuit School of Theology

About The Author

Michael J. Perry is the Howard J. Trienens Chair in Law at Northwestern University. Among his numerous writings are The Constitution in the Courts (Oxford, 1994) and Love & Power (Oxford, 1991).