To overcome our “unconquered past” of racism and sexism

brings us to two fundamental aspects of our problem of the consequences of religious belief:

  1. The consequences of religious belief will depend largely upon the distribution of power and whether or not the consequences are intended. If the social system is monolithic, the prevailing religious belief will have monolithic consequences. A different sort of consequence can issue only from a separation of powers that opens the space for new religious belief and for new consequences. …
  2. What we have said of the significance of the division of power for the sake of the freedom of religious belief to find new institutional incarnation, may also be said regarding the importance of this division for the sake of the criticism of ethical ideals. If no single configuration of power may be trusted, so also no single ethical idea or virtue may be adopted as final or trustworthy. William Hazlitt once said that the trouble with the man with one idea is not that he has an idea-that is rare enough. The trouble is that he has no other. That way lies demonry. “In my father’s house are many mansions.” Accordingly, the consequence of religious belief under a sovereign God must always be a rejection of idolatry before any one ethical idea and a promotion of “free trade” and tension among ideals.
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