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Taking Rites Seriously

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction: faith seeking understanding; Part I. Reason and Motive: 2. Fides, ratio et juris: how some courts and some legal theorists misrepresent the rational status of religious beliefs; 3. Theological exclusionary rule: the judicial misuse of religious motives; Part II. Dignity and Personhood: 4. Dignity never been photographed: bioethics, policy, and Steven Pinker's materialism; 5. Personhood, prenatal life, and religious belief; Part III. Nature and Sex: 6. How to be an anti-intelligent design advocate: science, religion, and the problem of intelligent design; 7. Same-sex marriage and justificatory liberalism: religious liberty, comprehensive doctrines, and public life; 8. Conclusion: taking rites seriously.

About the Author

Francis J. Beckwith is Professor of Philosophy and Church-State Studies at Baylor University, where he also serves as Associate Director of the Graduate Program in Philosophy and Co-Director (with Trent Dougherty) of the Program in Philosophical Studies of Religion. He has held visiting faculty appointments at Princeton University and the University of Notre Dame and has published extensively on social ethics, applied ethics, legal philosophy, and the philosophy of religion. Named the 2007 Person of the Year by Inside the Vatican magazine, his most recent books include Politics for Christians: Statecraft As Soulcraft (2010) and Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case against Abortion Choice (2007).


'Beckwith's legal perspective and clarity make this short survey of the role of religious reasoning in American jurisprudence a valuable contribution to the defense of religion's place in public life.' Elliot Milco, First Things 'In Taking Rites Seriously, Francis Beckwith clears away many of the misunderstandings of religion that have marred discussions of faith and public life and corrupted the constitutional law of church and state. Of course, there are some academics and activists who are so deeply in the grip of secularist ideology that they have no desire to learn. Most Americans, however, whether they are believers or secularists, would like to be better informed about religion. For them, this book is a gift.' Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University 'Sophisticated, learned, and committed, Francis Beckwith argues coolly for a reasoned faith even as he smites the Philistines hip and thigh on behalf of human life and dignity.' Lenn E. Goodman, Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities, Vanderbilt University '... graduate students, take note, it is also a major jump-start on about twenty-five doctoral dissertations. 'Religious free exercise is part of the secular Constitution,' says Beckwith, and that serves as a working summary of Beckwith's main purpose in this important book.' Thomas R. Ascik, The Catholic World Report ( 'Covering three general topics - reason and motive, dignity and personhood, nature and sex - Beckwith addresses a variety of legal and cultural questions over which religious and nonreligious citizens often disagree, including religiously motivated legislation, abortion and embryonic stem cell research, reproductive rights and religious liberty, and the nature of marriage.' Law and Social Inquiry 'We endorse Beckwith's book because its goal is to encourage this kind of public reasoning about the ethico-religious matters that are hotly debated today across this society and within the field of religious studies.' Peter Ochs and Randi Rashkover, Journal of the American Academy of Religion

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