July 2, 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s signing of the Civil Rights Act. Political emotion emanating from the religious particularity of the African American Civil Rights movement was a key factor in forging this landmark legislation. This milestone approaches at a time when sibling civil rights victories (e.g., Brown v. the Board of Education 1954 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965) suffer from diminished public and legal support. With the fragility of civil rights, the U.S. faces also renewed debates about the rights to religious freedom and the role of religion in public life. This uncertain legal and political landscape threatens to destabilize political society by allowing discrimination, segregation, and other inequalities to seep further into the basic political structure of the United States. In the midst of these political currents, how ought Catholic moral theology respond to the erosion of civil rights protections?
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