Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Is there an echo in here?
I love it when smart people sound like me. Eugene Volokh has a post up on a topic that you'll notice has become a pet interest of mine: "I keep hearing evangelical Christian leaders criticized for 'trying to impose their religious dogma on the legal system,' for instance by trying to change the law to ban abortion, or by trying to keep the law from allowing gay marriage. I've blogged about this before, but I think it's worth mentioning again.
I like to ask these critics: What do you think about the abolitionist movement of the 1800s? As I understand it, many -- perhaps most or nearly all -- of its members were deeply religious people, who were trying to impose their religious dogma of liberty on the legal system that at the time legally protected slavery.
Or what do you think about the civil rights movement?
[...]Or how about religious opponents of the draft, opponents of the death penalty, supporters of labor unions, supporters of welfare programs, who were motivated by their religious beliefs -- because deeply religious people's moral beliefs are generally motivated by their religious beliefs[...]"


Religion cannot be divested from government. There are too many people for whom such a separation is an impossibility. Obviously Volokh says these things much better than I can. Seriously, read the whole thing—it's worth it.

1 comment:

Joe said...

Fallacy examination time:

"I like to ask these critics: What do you think about the abolitionist movement of the 1800s? As I understand it, many -- perhaps most or nearly all -- of its members were deeply religious people, who were trying to impose their religious dogma of liberty on the legal system that at the time legally protected slavery.
Or what do you think about the civil rights movement?"

Empirically, I believe those were the correct decisions. You must understand, sir; that if a Christian wants to impose a value which we find to be empirically proper on society, there will be little objection on the basis of religious motivation. However, to someone who is not Christian (such as myself -- though I was born-again for a couple of years), many tenets of Christian thought will appear to be, well, psychosis.

The issue those of us who are secular have with those who wish to impose religious morality on society is that it's implicit (though obvious) that the problem arises when the morality being imposed is one which we deem it logically incorrect to impose on a society.

What's the difference, you ask?

In a hypothetical two-person society...

If you tell me "My Christian values say that we should have free speech in society", and I agree with you, there's nothing to debate. We simply carry it out.

If you tell me "My logical conclusions say that we should NOT have free speech in society", we can debate that logic and thus through empiricism hopefully come to a consensus. The process works.

If you tell me "My Christian values say that we should NOT have free speech in society", everything breaks down. How can we debate the issue? I'll be trying to work through logic, and you'll simply be citing scripture as your Ultimate Source of Truth. There's no potential to come to a consensus, because *I don't necessarily believe your ultimate source of truth exists*.

In a pluralistic society, someone whose positions you can't debate over on logical grounds (And there are plenty of those on both sides of the political spectrum) is dangerous to the health of the Republic. Hence, the problem.

"Religion cannot be divested from government. There are too many people for whom such a separation is an impossibility."

Can you really blame me if to me, such fervency strikes me as insanity?


~Joe
(Running for the center at Georgetown)