This series of lectures attempts to explore whether possible relations between some typical religious virtues, attitudes and practices and typical democratic virtues, attitudes and practices must be a source of conflict or can be mutually supportive.
There seem to be several sources of anxiety about the role that religion plays or might play in the world of public democratic politics. Some concern the widespread perception that there is an inherent tendency for religion to provoke instability, conflict, even violence. Others turn on questions of unfairness if religion, or some specific religion, is given a positive place in the political order. Another source is the view that any role for religion in the public sphere must be incompatible with the "secular" nature of the modern democratic state. Yet another source (sometimes voiced by the same people) concerns the supposed "irrationality" of religious faith which is seen as inimical to the public rationality regarded as central to modern democracy: religions ought not be able to coerce the non-religious by having the power to implement policies that are not amenable to the right sort of public contestation. A related concern is the worry that the sort of personal autonomy required by liberal democracy is rejected by (all?many?some?) religions.