In a critical review of Professor Stephen Carter’s The Culture of Disbelief, this article contends Stephen Carter’s thesis that religion is disrespected in the U.S. lacks support and is inherently defective as a starting point from which to fashion a workable theory of freedom to engage in public religion. It argues that Stephen Carter himself fails to adequately consider minority group religious freedom rights and, thus, trivializes the very religious concerns that he set out to highlight. The article is split into four parts. In Part I, the article gives a basic outline of the trivialization theory. Part II focuses on Stephen Carter’s argument that law trivializes religion by examining the evidence used to support his thesis. Part III has two sections to discuss how his approach trivializes the concerns of religious and cultures outside the mainstream. The first discusses his failure to give religions and cultures outside the mainstream significant attention, and the second demonstrates how he trivializes specific religious expressions to those same religions. Finally, Part IV puts forth the argument that the attitude that Stephen Carter describes as our culture’s approach to religion is in fact society’s general approach to assume the majority’s perspective reflects the perspective of all groups within the culture.
GW Paper Series
GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2013-131; GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 2013-131
W. Burlette Carter, Can this Culture be Saved? Another Affirmative Action Baby Reflects on Religious Freedom (Review of The Culture of Disbelief, How American Law and Politics Trivialize Religious Devotion, by Stephen L. Carter), 95 COLUM. L. REV. 473 (1995).