I WAS INSPIRED to write this book by the experience of leaving my native Britain—where various Christian schools had long been supported by the state and the same status was gradually being offered to schools affiliated with other faiths—and wondering why so many members of the American Civil Liberties Union were so fervently committed to the principle that not one cent of the government's money should find its way into the coffers of a religious school. I already had a keen interest in the politics and political philosophy of multicultural and multireligious societies; questions about public funding and regulation of religious schools seemed to me to offer a revealing window onto those fundamental normative issues. My conclusions in this book are, it must be conceded, broadly critical of American education policy toward religious schools, but I should like to put on record that my stance does not reflect any lack of warmth in the welcome I received in this country. Indeed, I am deeply appreciative of the support provided by many American institutions, colleagues, and friends during the last seven years.
A Frank Knox Memorial Fellowship enabled me to spend five wonderful years at Harvard, during which time my project was conceived and a doctoral dissertation written that served as the first draft of this book. Lowell House was my home for four of those years: I am grateful to Dorothy Austin and Diana Eck, co-masters of the house, and to the students and tutors who made Lowell such a stimulating and pleasant place to live and work. During my final year at Harvard, the Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics gave me additional financial support and, more importantly, the most engaging intellectual community I found at Harvard. I was fortunate to have a seat at the table each week with Arthur Applbaum, Frances Kamm, Michael Blake, Sandra Badin, Noah Dauber, Kyla Ebels-Duggan, and Waheed Hussain.
My advisors at Harvard—Nancy Rosenblum, Dennis Thompson, and Glyn Morgan—were exemplary. Few graduate students enjoy the level of attention that was lavished on me by three such accomplished scholars. I also gained a great deal from conversations with fellow graduate students Carla Marie, Bryan McGraw, and Debbie Sorensen, and from meetings with two visiting fellows at Harvard whose scholarship addresses many of the same themes as my own: Stephen Macedo and Meira Levinson.