As early as the sixteenth century the liberal democratic state has
been forced to confront the question of religion in politics. The
result has been a tense and uncomfortable balancing act. Today, in
the public square of liberal democracy, a number of religious
confessions and beliefs compete for attention. In the American
experience, some sense of religious pluralism and relative social
harmony has been maintained. However, for this relationship to
prevail, a tension must continue to exist-one that balances the
political and social pursuits of self-interest with meeting the
objectives of the common good.
In Reaping the Whirlwind, John R. Pottenger shows how this
process began in the modern world, and how societies attempt to
manage this ongoing conflict. The first part of the book lays the
groundwork of his analysis by using examples from history to
demonstrate the genesis of political and religious "whirlwinds." It
goes on to explore contemporary case studies, such as conflicts
between Mormons and Evangelicals in the United States, liberation
theology in Latin America, Islam and the state in Uzbekistan, and
radical Christian reconstructionism.
Pottenger believes that the formal institutions of liberal
democracy should maintain this turbulence, even as religious
activism threatens to upset the balance. He concludes by advocating
religious liberty and recognizing the individual and social need
for expression. At the same time, he maintains that the survival of
liberal democracy requires that these religious traditions not
dominate the public sphere.
Table of Contents
You are viewing the table of contents
You do not have access to this
on JSTOR. Try logging in through your institution for access.