Fall 2014

Religion, Secularity, and Toleration

Introduction

One of the great differences between earlier civilizations and our own post-modern world is that the former emphasized a comprehensive truth without a comprehensive tolerance, whereas the latter honours an allencompassing tolerance owing, at least in part, to its lack of conviction in any all-encompassing truth. What, if any, is the place of religion in public and political life and institutions? Should the citizens of a modern liberal democracy keep secular and religious considerations wholly and entirely separate? Are religion and modern secularity in some way necessarily related? Is it appropriate for religious concerns to find a voice and to be heard in the public sphere? Some maintain that religious voices are not only appropriate in public discourse, but are indeed indispensable to the vitality of a pluralist constitution. Others point to the legacy of the Enlightenment and insist that religion is an intrinsically private matter, and that therefore it cannot lay a rightful claim to be heard in the public sphere. Our general question for this term’s series of public lectures is 'What is the place of religion in the public sphere?'

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Speakers

Dr. Arvind Sharma

Birks Professor of Comparative Religion, McGill University: Religious Tolerance Revisited

Mayyada Kheir

Centre d’Etudes Interdisciplinaires des Faits Religieux, Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris: At the root of French public discourse on church and state: the vocabulary of laïcité

Professor John Joseph Collins

Yale University: Torah and Jewish Identity in Second Temple JudaismNon-Mosaic Forms of Judaism in the Second Temple Period

Douglas Farrow

Kennedy Smith Chair in Catholic Studies, McGill University: Justin Trudeau and the doctrine of double truth

Elizabeth Shakman Hurd

Associate Professor of Political Theory, Northwestern University: Beyond Religious Freedom: Religion, rights and the politics of religious difference

Daniel Cere

Associate Professor of Religious Ethics, McGill University: Accomodating Religion? Perspectives from the Canadian Liberal Tradition

Armando Salvatore

Keenan Professor of Interfaith Studies, McGill University: Legitimating the expression of faith in the public square