For those not aware of the fact, the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Locke v. Davey a few hours ago, holding that it did not violate the Free Exercise Clause for the State of Washington to exempt divinity degree applicants from an otherwise available scholarship fund. I am not going to comment here on the opinion itself, but there was a line from Justice Scalia’s dissent that brought to mind an earlier discussion here at T&S on civic religion.
For those who missed the earlier fireworks, I suggested that much of our public, political religiousity represented a desicated and potentially blasphemous form of religion. Russell, Adam, and others vehemently disagreed. Given that discussion, I thought that this passage from the Scalia dissent was interesting:
- Most citizens of this country indentify themselves as professing some religous belief, but the State’s policy poses no obstacle to practitioners of only a tepid, civic version of faith. Those the statutory exclusion actually affects — those whos belief in their religion is so strong that they dedicate their study and their lives to its ministry — are a far narrower set. One need not delve too far into modern popular culture to perceive a trendy disdain for deep religious conviction.
Locke v. Davis, 540 U.S. ___ (2004) (Scalia J. dissenting), slip op. at 9.
Scalia also notes recent attempts in France to ban religious attire in schools. I can only assume that he has been reading T&S.