A Religious Basis of Liberal Democracy

Michael J. Perry

Abstract: There exists a sentiment that persons of deep religious faith can be, at best, only halfheartedly committed to liberal democracy. (“All religion is toxic to the liberal project, something we should have learned from the events of September 11, 2001…. Enlightenment rationalism, not religion, made liberal democracy possible.”) In fact, many religious believers, no less than nonbelievers, enthusiastically affirm the political morality of liberal democracy. Moreover, as I illustrate in this essay, countless religious believers affirm the political morality of liberal democracy partly on the basis of their religious faith.

Biography: Michael John Perry specializes in the areas of American constitutional law and theory, law, morality, and religion, and human rights theory. Perry is the author of eleven books and of over sixty articles and essays. His books include Love and Power: The Role of Religion and Morality in American Politics (Oxford, 1991), The Idea of Human Rights (Oxford, 1998), We the People: The Fourteenth Amendment and the Supreme Court (Oxford, 1999), Under God? Religious Faith and Liberal Democracy (Cambridge, 2003), Toward a Theory of Human Rights:  Religion, Law, Courts (Cambridge, 2007); Constitutional Rights, Moral Controversy, and the Supreme Court (Cambridge, 2009); and The Political Morality of Liberal Democracy (Cambridge, 2010).  Perry is presently writing a book on the morality and law of international human rights, to be published by Routledge. Since 2003, Perry has held a Robert W. Woodruff University Chair at Emory University, where he teaches in the law school. Perry is married to Sarah Anne O’Leary, and the couple have two sons, Daniel and Gabriel.

Volume 4, Number 4 (Fall 2009) pp. 381–396