Over at the NYT's Opinionator blog Stanley Fish weighs in on "Religion and the Liberal State Once Again." An excerpt:
The question is what does the liberal state do with those religious believers [fundamentalists and the range of exclusivists]— the popular answer in the comments is “tell them to go back where they came from” — and my contention, and the only one I make (in agreement with John Milbank), is that the liberal state is incapable of doing anything with them except regard them, as many of the posters do, as fanatical, medieval, crazy, dictatorial and downright dangerous. As I point out, liberalism’s inability to regard strong religious claims — claims that spill out into public life — as anything but a mistake and a transgression is not something liberalism can correct or get beyond; it is the inevitable (and blameless) reflection of what liberalism is and must be if it is to sustain its particular, not to say peculiar, brand of universalism, a universalism that operates by reducing persons to formal entities, all of which are, in the essential political respect, exactly the same. (It’s universalism writ small.)
Fighting words, in some quarters. It will be interesting to read the blazing comments on the NYT and elsewhere. Mostly elsewhere.