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The Culture of Disbelief

The Culture of Disbelief
Author: Stephen L. Carter
ISBN 13: 9780385474986
ISBN 10: 385474989
Edition: Reprint
Publisher: Anchor Books
Publication Date: 1994-09-01
Format: Paperback
Pages: 328
List Price: $18.00

The Culture Of Disbelief has  been the subject of an enormous amount of media  attention from the first moment it was published.  Hugely successful in hardcover, the Anchor paperback  is sure to find a large audience as the  ever-increasing, enduring debate about the relationship of  church and state in America continues. In The  Culture Of Disbelief, Stephen Carter  explains how we can preserve the vital separation of  church and state while embracing rather than  trivializing the faith of millions of citizens or  treating religious believers with disdain. What makes  Carter's work so intriguing is that he uses liberal  means to arrive at what are often considered  conservative ends. Explaining how preserving a special  role for religious communities can strengthen our  democracy, The Culture Of Disbelief  recovers the long tradition of liberal religious  witness (for example, the antislavery,  antisegregation, and Vietnam-era antiwar movements). Carter  argues that the problem with the 1992 Republican  convention was not the fact of  open religious advocacy, but the political  positions being advocated.

Publishers Weekly

As in his previous book on race ( Reflections of an Affirmative Action Baby ), Yale law professor Carter offers a thoughful, cogent and ideologically subtle analysis of a divisive American issue. A deep believer ``in the importance of both religious tradition and liberal dialogue,'' Carter here suggests ways to maintain both. Our culture, he stresses, pressures people to ``treat religion as a hobby'' while the use of religion for political ends has further debased it. Criticizing Supreme Court decisions concerning the separation of church and state as enforcing ``public secularism,'' he argues for granting religious groups more latitude to participate in the welfare state, allowing proven church drug rehabilitation programs, for example, to compete for public funding. Carter does, however, reject organized prayer in public schools for fear of advancing ``the interests of one religious tradition over another.'' He suggests religious dialogue should be part of the debate over euthanasia and abortion and that pro-choicers would do better to argue positive constitutional rights rather than demeaning their opponents as ``zealots.'' In a postscript written after the events at Waco, Tex., Carter cautions that ``we must not make the mistake of confusing the Branch Davidians' sinfulness with their religiosity . . . Otherwise, the putative `fanaticism' of the Davidians becomes virtually indistinguishable from the `fanaticism' of Martin Luther King Jr.'' (Sept.)