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Religious Voices in Public Places$
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Nigel Biggar and Linda Hogan

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199566624

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199566624.001.0001

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The Public Presence of Religion in England

The Public Presence of Religion in England

Anglican Religious Leaders and Public Culture

(p.235) 10 The Public Presence of Religion in England
Religious Voices in Public Places

Peter Sedgwick

Oxford University Press

This chapter presents a discussion of Rawls' argument that ‘public reason’ expressed in the legislature should exclude explicitly religious voices. There is religion participation in England in the legislature, through the membership of some of the bishops of the Church of England in the House of Lords, as Lords Spiritual. The chapter examines the discourse of these religious leaders, both against the argument that such discourse will invalidate the nature of public reason, and against the charge that such discourse will be theologically weak. A case study is presented of two bishops who were active in public policy debates. Finally, the speeches of Rowan Williams, who is both a distinguished theologian and Archbishop of Canterbury, throw a different light on the concerns of Rawls. Williams' contribution is not made principally in the legislature, but in the ‘background culture’.

Keywords:   Rawls, public reason, House of Lords, bishops, background culture, Rowan Williams

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