Many traditional liberals believe that keeping the public sphere free of religion is the only way to avoid taking sides in particular debates. Excluding religion does, of course, achieve neutrality among religions because no one of them is allow to participate in -- let alone dominate -- the public sphere. To the religious, however, exclusion certainly does not maintain neutrality between religion and secularism. By denying religion a public say, exclusion hands the field to secularism. Only secularists get to argue the full case for their claims. This type of civility may suppress conflict, then, but not neutrally. It does not respect all views equally or avoid taking a position on them. The secularists win. It is neutral only in the sense that it looks neutral to the majority because it corresponds with the majority's own view about how power ought to be allocated. This is civility's great strength. It allows the majority to think it isn't taking a position, especially since civility demands silence from those who disagree. It is civility's gentleness that allows the majority to overlook its brutal partiality. (11)
Paul Horwitz provides some excellent commentary on the article as a whole. See also my own commentary on civility, here and here (in comments.