The goal of a religiously grounded ethics should be to critique, enhance, and strengthen the democratic values and institutions of society. These values include noncoercion, transparency, equal rights, compromise, equality of opportunity, individual and communal responsibility, and many others. To the extent that religious institutions are dedicated to promoting and enlarging democracy, religion can take an open and very active role in the public sphere. By contrast, to the extent that religion exploits the public domain to promote its own particular agenda and parochial needs, it is overreaching and harmful to both society and itself. While this might seem to some too limited a role for religion to play, I disagree. In fact, I think that abiding by the simple rule that religion must support democracy opens up the political debates and allows them to take place in a more honest and forthright way than ever before. Given this framework, this chapter specifically raises the following question: what role can the Jewish tradition play with regard to the contemporary question of income and wealth inequality?
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- Jewish Ethical Perspective on Income and Wealth Distribution
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