Religion in the Public Square?

Abstract
This paper examines Cornel West’s attempt to offer an alternative to the dominant liberal view concerning the proper role of religion in the democratic public square. Whereas mainstream liberals seek strategies to keep religion and public life separate, West seeks to dissolve the apparent tension between religion and democratic citizenship by reconstructing religion pragmatically such that it can be rendered compatible with democracy. I argue that West’s proposal fails to be a viable alternative precisely because the “prophetic pragmatism” underwriting his view is unethical to the extent that it relies upon manipulative relationships with traditional religious believers in African-American churches
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