Despite talk of a “naked public square,&rdquot; religion has never really lost its place in American public life. As the twenty-first century opened, it was re-emerging in unexpected and paradoxical ways. Religious institutions were considered for expanded roles in welfare and education, at the same time that the limits of religious pluralism—as, for example, in the relation of Islam to American values—became a question of urgent public concern.

Religion Returns to the Public Square:Faith and Policy in America explores how and why religion has to be mixed up with American politics. Uncovering philosophical, historical, legal, and social roots of this relationship, these essays go beyond hot-button issues to reflect on the current interactions and future possibilities of religion and politics in America.

Hugh Heclo is Robinson Professor of Public Affairs at George Mason University. Wilfred M. McClay is SunTrust Chair of Excellence in the Humanities and Professor of History at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Both are former Fellows of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

A full transcript of the book launch discussion that occurred on February 28, 2003, can be found at the Pew Forum for Religion in Public Life website.


Part I: The Big Picture
1. An Introduction to Religion and Public Policy
2. Two Concepts of Secularism
Wilfred M. McClay
3. The Religious Conscience and the State in American Constitutional Law, 1789–2000
Charles J. Reid Jr.
4. What is a Public Religion?
Jose Casanova

Part II: Religion in Political Action
5. Faith and Morals: Religion in American Democracy
Wilson Carey McWilliams
6. Faith in Politics
A. James Reichley
7. Mainstream Protestantism, “Conservative” Religion, and Civil Society
D. G. Hart

Part III: Policy Applications
8. American Catholicism, Catholic Charities U.S.A., and Welfare Reform
John A. Coleman, S.J.
9. Charitable Choice: Bringing Religion Back into American Welfare
Stanley W. Carlson-Thies
10. Public Education Changes Partners
Charles Glenn
11. With God on Their Side: Religion and American Foreign Policy
William Martin


“The authors span the political and religious spectrum.… This well-documented collection demonstrates that a secular state can thrive even when its citizenry is deeply committed religiously, albeit to diverse ways of being religious. This book will be valuable to those interested in the role of religion in public life, in both historical and contemporary terms.”—Choice

“These essays, written by experts of all faiths, offer informative insights and even inspiration.”—Robert F. Drinan, America

“The contributors here are the right people to push a diverse debate.”—Research News and Opportunities in Science and Theology

“A very fine collection of essays by scholars on differing aspects of religion's public presence.… If you want to read one volume on the role of religion in public life, this is the current front-runner.”—Virginia Quarterly Review

“The contributors comprise a truly dazzling array of talent. They are precisely the ones one would want to read for insight into the difficult but crucial questions regarding the relationship between religion and public policy.”—Marc Landy, Boston College