2/23/2012—Today is the beginning of the Second Annual Religious Legal Theory Conference, this year at Pepperdine Law School. I speak on a panel on Saturday and I will be reporting back throughout the next few days. [Note: I will be on break from Monday, 2/27-Monday, 3/5. Patt and I will be visiting Guatemala where I hope to learn something of the religious sensibilities of Mayan civilization.]
The Conference begins this evening with a basic question: what is the central meaning of the religion clauses—separation or neutrality. Actually, there are numerous other possibilities and we will be discussing them undoubtedly.
Clearly we are at something of a crisis point with regard to secularism and religion in the public square. The two “sides” are both feeling under assault. Both sides are making symbolic and political points rather than seeking compromise or common ground. Two examples: Catholic institutions have been living with something like the compromise offered by the Obama Administration in other places; and here’s one on the other side—during the Vietnam War, liberals strongly supported religious exemptions from the war.