Democracy and Faith

From Jan-Werner Müller’s article in the November/December Boston Review titled, “Making Muslim Democracies”:

In the case of Christian Democracy, believers needed to be convinced that the party had not sold out to secularism (of which liberal democracy seemed merely one symptom); nonbelievers needed assurance that religiously inspired parties would not abandon state neutrality in religious affairs once in power, and that the pronouncements of a Maritain did not constitute a kind of “double discourse,” with different messages for believers and nonbelievers. It was a delicate balancing act. Maritain managed it, partly because the rather vague philosophy of personalism suggested a third path not only between individualism and communism, but also between religion and secularism.

Thus did Christian Democrats create a unique set of principles that both believers and nonbelievers could follow. The moderation of Christian Democracy was not just the result of day-to-day politics. Rather, a long-term process of scholarship and debate helped create a group of parties that appealed to voters not by being arbitrarily centrist, but by making widely agreeable proposals based on Christian values.

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