Pluralism, of course, refers to people of diverse and conflicting beliefs coexisting peaceably, linked by their adherence to a shared social contract which commits members of different groups to treating others fairly and accommodating them equally in the public square. Outside academic settings, however, pluralism is little discussed these days— except by right-wing Christians. That’s a problem: failing to articulate a liberal understanding of pluralism will allow the authoritarian Christian Right, already advantaged in what I recently argued in Playboy Magazine is our de facto Christian public sphere, to drag the country ever further rightward.
Liberals do not feel comfortable discussing the place of religion in the public sphere, says Jeremy Forest Price, assistant professor of education and chair of the Jewish Faculty and Staff Council at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis. Avoiding the topic, however, has unintended consequences. “It allows those who seek to push their own religious agendas, particularly evangelical Christians, Christian dominionists*, and Christian nationalists, to [convince the public] not only to support their beliefs and practices over others, but to make the public sphere itself mirror their beliefs and practices.”