Theses on Secularism

Nomi M. Stolzenberg

San Diego Law Review

Abstract: Notwithstanding the notorious difficulty of defining religion and the consequent effort on the part of jurists and academics to avoid embracing any particular definition, one model of religion has dominated modern discourse: religion as conscience. Because of the dominance of this model, alternative views – which either subordinate the conscience to other supposedly more fundamental features of religion or dispense with the psychological apparatus of conscience altogether – have been largely submerged in modern political and legal discourse. Yet they will not remain suppressed. As a number of the conference papers have attest, alternatives and challenges to the dominant model have been surfacing with increasing regularity and insistence, particularly in the last decade, in part because the logic of the model seems to have exhausted or deconstructed itself, or driven itself into a corner, but also because theoretical rivals to the conception of religion as conscience have always existed, have never disappeared, and have never stopped pressing their claims.

Stolzenberg NM. Theses on Secularism. 47 San Diego L. Rev. 1041 (2010).