I prefer to call this the "liberal bargain" whereby every citizen of a liberal order is given the freedom to worship God as he or she wishes, without state interference, in return for giving up the ambition to political rule in the NAME OF HIS OR HER FAITH -- that is, the ambition to bring the whole of social life into conformity with his or her inevitably partial and sectarian theological convictions. As I said in TNR, short of universal conversion to a single faith community, such attempts will always end up being the imposition of one part of a highly differentiated community onto its other parts.
Neuhaus is the leader of an ideology that actively encourages religious believers to refuse the liberal bargain, which is, once again, profoundly unwise. But even if he merely tried to make room for orthodox religious believers AS RELIGIOUS BELIEVERS, AS OPPOSED TO AS CITIZENS, at the table, Id still consider it a mistake. Why? Consider the case, which Ross raises, of MLK. Kings version of the civil rights movement might have been largely motivated by religious convictions, but it employed the rhetoric of citizenship and appealed to a non-sectarian understanding of equality and the Constitution. One did not need to be a Christian or a believer to be moved by his words and deeds. One needed only to be a human being. (And of course King also inspired and impressed people, Christian and non-Christian, all over the world.) This was thus a pretty good example of religious faith being translated into public reason.
I dont see how he can answer
Alan Jacobss response, which points out that MLK did precisely the kind of thing Linker accuses RJN of attempting. I cant help but think that the difference between MLKs relative success (there were a few people who disagreed, on secular as well as religious grounds) and the contestability of RJNs positions has more to do with the degradation of public discourse and the relative success of the anti-rational celebration of self-definition and self-assertion. If Linker wants to argue that the mere popularity of this kind of self-definition renders any effort to restore even a minimal substantive moral order suspect, then hes become in effect an historicist, with no real capacity to resist whatever history brings on. He also, by the way, comes perilously close to "privileging" this position over against its natural law alternative.
Neither his "historicism" nor his (rather weak) "nihilism" strikes me as compelling.