Past and Future
Edited By Michael Welker
Freedom within Religion. Religious Ethics and Social Life
I want to thank Jack Templeton and The Templeton Foundation and also Professor Welker and the FIIT for the kind invitation to speak at this important event. I was sorry to hear that Jean Elshtain and Michael Novak have taken ill and cannot be with us. All of us wish them a speedy recovery. This session has now changed from being a dialogue into a monologue. I don’t know if I am to be envied, since I know that I will get the last word, or pitied, because, well, I am shouldering this whole session. I once had a homiletics professor in seminar define “preaching” as “to bore unnecessarily”! I promise that I’ll try to avoid preaching as we explore a topic at the very heart of current social and political debate (consider the US Presidential election): “Religious Ethics in the Public Square. My main point will be that I think amid all of the turmoil of our time there is the emergence of a new form of freedom in relation to religion and that this freedom is the form of the good will in our social life. It is a fragile and difficult freedom, one that is opposed on many sides. This is why it needs articulation and defense. And that is my task in this brief lecture.
Immanuel Kant opens Section I of his famous Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals by stating that the “good will” is the only good thing in this...
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