“There Are No Housewives on Star Trek ”: A Reexamination of Exit Rights for the Children of Insular Fundamentalist Parents



This article is corrected by:

  1. Errata: Afterwords Volume 63, Issue 1, 111, Article first published online: February 2013


In this essay, Paula McAvoy addresses the problem caused by the liberal state's necessary tolerance of insular fundamentalist groups and the concern that children raised in such groups do not have a fair opportunity to evaluate their inherited beliefs. This tension comes to the fore around disagreements over schooling and requests for religious accommodation. Often, these requests are treated as straightforward dilemmas — either the state accommodates the group at the expense of the child's future interest in autonomy, or the state must use its power to coerce the group into compliance. McAvoy argues for a principled middle ground between these two views. Using William Galston's conditions for securing the right to exit (set out in his 2002 book Liberal Pluralism) and evidence from Anabaptist apostates, McAvoy shows that insular groups cannot satisfy these conditions. Consequently, when accommodation is necessary, the state must mitigate the foreseeable costs to children by enacting policies that “facilitate entrance” for those who later choose to exit.