Friday, September 12, 2008

Gaming "Religious Views"

You may have noticed that "imposing one's religion" is a meme of the Democrat Party lately, mostly due to Sarah Palin's nomination. But it's not new. The same faddledoodle is dragged out of the closet when gay "marriage" is on the table, or any abortion-related question arises.

Fr. Neuhaus breaks that down a bit utilizing the thought of Jefferson and Lincoln.

More than he wanted to be remembered for having been president, Mr. Jefferson wanted to be remembered as the author of the Virginia “Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom.” In the text of the bill he underlined this sentence: “The opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction.” In a republic of free citizens, every opinion, every prejudice, every aspiration, every moral argument has access to the public square in which we deliberate the ordering of our life together

And yet civil government is ordered by, and derives its legitimacy from, the opinions of the citizenry. Precisely here do we discover the novelty of the American experiment, the unique contribution of what the Founders called this novus ordo seclorum, a new order for the ages. Never before in human history had any government denied itself jurisdiction, whether limited or total, over that on which it entirely depends, the opinion of its people.

Jefferson liked opinions, including those formed by religious conviction.

That was the point forcefully made by Lincoln in his dispute with Judge Douglas over slavery. Douglas stubbornly held to the Dred Scott decision as the law of the land. Lincoln had the deeper insight into how this republic was designed to work. “In this age, and this country,” Lincoln said, “public sentiment is every thing. With it, nothing can fail; against it, nothing can succeed.

Would that the Democrat Party poohbahs had read that before they set about attacking Ms. Palin. Of course, the Democrat Party opposed Lincoln back then--why not ignore him now?

What does all this really mean?

In a democracy that is free and robust, an opinion is no more disqualified for being religious than for being atheistic, or psychoanalytic, or Marxist, or just plain dumb. There is, or at least there ought to be, no legal or constitutional question about the admission of religion to the public square; there is only a question about the free and equal participation of citizens in our public business. Religion is not a reified thing that threatens to intrude upon our common life. Religion in public is but the public opinion of those citizens who appeal to religion in public

Said another way, people hold religion and it shapes their opinion.

The Democrat Party, twisting and spinning, would have us believe that religion is a "thing" which imposes itself on the debate--forgetting that only PEOPLE can have a debate.

They'd just like to eliminate those troublesome people whose opinions are shaped by religion.


Billiam said...

But Dad, the Dems have been taking that very Freedom for some time, along with the help of rino's. How else do you classify so called 'Hate' Legislation. If politicians can't control it, they fear it.

John Foust said...

How shall we disqualify beliefs, then? I can disqualify a half-dozen stupid beliefs before breakfast. Usually a lack of evidence helps. Invocation of divine authority or insight doesn't really help any secular discussions, does it?

Dad29 said...

Good for you John! You can "disqualify beliefs"!!


You missed the point of the post, again.