what extent can religious morality be imposed in a secular democracy?
In responding to this
query, my initial thoughts are, as follows:
Church and State:
Per the Bible,
there is a distinction or separation of
state, with each having definite and
distinct spheres of responsibility. Both are appointed by God and
designed for good purposes (Matthew 22:21;
purpose of the government
is to protect against and restrain evil.
purpose of the Christian church is to
spread the message of the good news of salvation
through Jesus Christ, help people have
meaningful and personal
relationship with God, and help and serve others.
Secular laws are
generally based on what people (and/or government officials) believe
are best for society and/or best for themselves. What people
best for society and/or for themselves depends to a large extent upon
"world view." People's world views are shaped by various
influences, for example: Parents, schools, church, friends, government
and the media.
In a democracy,
voters seek to elect government officials that, to the extent
possible, have similar world views and moral beliefs and/or that
Morality is in
"Do not murder." "Do
not steal." Etc. These are moral laws written in our
codes and also in the Bible. Some morals like the above examples
both religious and non-religious persons to be good to enact as the
"law of the land ."
But in a
democratic republic, laws must allow freedom
speech and religion. We must allow ideas and
opinions to be
presented and offered into the "marketplace of ideas" even if
sometimes the words
are offensive to
many listeners...and even if the words
are perceived or believed by the majority as discriminatory or
Where freedom of speech
and religion is hindered, ultimately tyranny
infiltrates, politically incorrect ideas are silenced, and individual
and individual autonomy are substantially reduced.
course, there are limits on speech
that can be imposed, such as not permitting one to falsely
yell “FIRE!” in a crowded theatre for just one example.
Laws against defamation, libel and slander are
another limitation on expression.
place and manner” restrictions on speech are also justified to a
morality may be imposed in a democracy, it should not impose upon us to
force us to
adhere to a particular or any religious faith and to prevent us from
beliefs in the
“marketplace of ideas.” In the
States of America the First Amendment of U.S. Constitution among others
strongly supports these values.
© 2014 by Matthew B. Tozer
Esq. All rights reserved.