Contemporary debates on the role of religion in American public life ignore the overlap between religion and race in the formation of American democratic traditions and more often than not imagine democracy within the terrain of John Rawls's political liberalism. This kind of political liberalism, which focuses on political commitments at the expense of our religious beliefs, fosters the necessary conditions to open historically closed doors to black bodies, allows blacks to sit at the King's table and creates the necessary safeguards for black protest against discrimination within a constitutional democracy. By implication of its emphasis on rights and inclusion, political liberalism assumes that the presence of black bodies signifies the materialization of a robust American democracy. However, political liberalism discounts the historical role of religion in forming and fashioning the nation's construction of race. Tragic Soul-Life argues that the collision between religion and politics during U.S. slavery and segregation created the fragments from which emerged a firm but shifting moral disdain for blackness within the nation's collective moral imagination.
The very problem political liberals want to avoid, our comprehensive philosophy, is central to solving the political and economic problems facing blacks.