Thursday, October 23, 2008

Religion in politics

What is the proper role of religion in politics? Comments in threads below have pointed out that if religion is a source of personal morality, it is unrealistic to expect anyone to dissociate their religion from how they address public issues. On the other hand, the freedom to practice one's religion in a pluralistic society must reach a limit so that your values aren't imposed on those who don't share them.

Similarly, over on Fr Terry's blog, in the comments a discussion is sort-of underway about how conflicting religious views can be reconciled when they clearly disagree. As Dr Primrose quoted in the comments here, an LA Times columnist reflected on competing rallies of African-American christians pro-and con-prop8. Professing the same faith, each rally argues that THEY are the right Christian viewpoint.

A new study claims that a mind-boggling 77% of the pro-Prop8 donations are coming from Mormons, many of them out of state. I have real issues with some conservative religionist in Utah limiting my rights here in California (though I should point out I have the same issue with a California Mormon doing so). my marriage here has no effect on them, but their denial of my marriage has a huge effect on me. They are attempting to force me to live under their religious rules which I do not share. What's next, banning caffeine?

On the other hand, I am all in favor of the big anti-Prop8 sign outside the Episcopal Cathedral St John's in downtown LA, mainly because they agree with me, of course. Being honest at heart, I freely admit my double standard.

Still I believe that the knee-jerk response against religion in the political sphere is largely driven as a response to the conservative religionists who are attempting to force their view of morality on all others by "majority rules". (Just think: if "majority rules" ruled, then "activist judges" would never have de-segregated the South). This is because it is the conservatives who are most active in limiting the fundamental rights of others. How do we establish meaningful discourse and protect ALL our rights, when we have such profound disagreements?


James said...

Prop 8 should be called what it is: The Mormon Proposition. I head on 365 that there is some backlash though because of and directed toward the LDS church.

Frank Remkiewicz aka “Tree” said...

I have a real problem with limiting the basic rights of anyone by anyone particularly someone who "thinks" they know what God wants. If anyone asks, I have several better ways for Mormons to spend money than limiting peoples rights. For starters, how about feeding the hungry and not just some but all.

Mike in Texas said...

Interesting speculation that the Mormons are doing this in an attempt to gain favor with other religions who look down on them.

Cany said...

I just don't get it.

MarkBrunson said...

Mike, that brings to mind a phenomenon I've noticed and pondered - the "strange-bedfellows reaction," as I think of it.
Catholics, Baptists, Mormons, Calvinists of all denominations, EO, the "African-American ministers" have all joined together in a united front to make life as miserable as possible for gays.
When it's over, let's see what happens. Growing up in the South, I remember Baptists talking darkly of the idolatry of the Catholics - Mormons and EO were unheard of (and better stay that way, if they knew what was good for 'em). In my lifetime, there were still those in the same conservative group that took over the Baptists who told us Catholics conducted blood sacrifices! The Catholics, meanwhile, will not recognize anyone who isn't Catholic, the Orthodox, making a smug virtue of necessity in numbers say others are possibly acceptable to God, but not real Church, Mormons are . . . Mormons, and, as recently as 15?, 20? years ago, my niece was told she could not have her wedding in her Baptist church because she had invited black friends!
Talk about signing a "deal with the devil."

Anonymous said...

"A deal with the devil" indeed. I wonder if this strange alliance is having a corrosive effect on Roman Catholic moral thinking. I grew up with relatively high regard for the ability of the Catholic church to apply logic and scholarship to moral issues. I remember reading summaries of the just war doctrine and coming away very impressed. (Then again, those were the days when I heard a lot about the Berrigan brothers.) The current attitude that abortion and gay marriage are moral issues while war and poverty are not leaves me scratching my head.

Separation of church and state is good for both parties. When they are joined at the hip, good theological thinking tends to give way to groupthink and the American Civil Religion.

James said...

It just goes to show that bigotry will sleep in the same bed with anyone to accomplish the goal. Then, when the goal is realized, those bed mates will be mortal enemies again. Mark, read my post today.

That all this religion-in-politics removing civil liberties is doing is making the churches look even more irrelevant to the huge majority of young people of today. And I agree with them. If I were twenty-years old today and saw what these churches are doing, I'd paint all religion with the same "bigot" lable.

David said...

As far as the majority of religionists, I don't see them as being at all disturbed about using the force of law (or any sort of force) to impose their views on everyone else. They just don't see it as a legitimate issue.

So I'm with James. And what's left of the moderate, thoughtful Christian church ignores this at its peril.

Mike in Texas said...

It has become somewhat of a quadrennial ecumenical endeavor of the RCs, SBCs, Mormons, etc.

They'll be back at each other's throats by mid November.

Young fogey emeritus said...

Catholic (one true church) or Protestant (fallible church or a collection of individuals), conservative or liberal, straight or gay, the answer is... laissez-faire capitalism.

Laissez-faire capitalism is a politico-economic system based on private ownership of the means of production and in which the powers of the state are limited to the protection of the individual’s rights against the initiation of physical force. This protection applies to the initiation of physical force by other private individuals, by foreign governments, and, most importantly, by the individual’s own government. This last is accomplished by such means as a written constitution, a system of division of powers and checks and balances, an explicit bill of rights, and eternal vigilance on the part of a citizenry with the right to keep and bear arms. Under laissez-faire capitalism, the state consists essentially just of a police force, law courts, and a national defense establishment, which deter and combat those who initiate the use of physical force. And nothing more.

That is, libertarianism.

That way both the state and religions you don't like leave you alone.

If your religion and mine can work within that, we're good!

MarkBrunson said...

Sorry, but laissez-faire capitalism has never worked and never will because 99.99% of humanity turns into animals when money's involved. Church should have even less to do with the market than with politics!

If someone doesn't wish to have responsibility to others, they are free to go find a desert, or a forest or a mountain, build a cabin and live all by their lonesome.