Today is

   "A word to the wise ain't necessary --  
          it's the stupid ones that need the advice."
					-Bill Cosby

Friday, November 16, 2007

Religion and politics

Richard John Neuhaus argues compellingly against the proposition that "religion and politics should always be kept separate:"

I urge you to oppose the resolution because it is foolish to attempt to do what by definition cannot be done. Such an attempt can only intensify confusions and conflicts, further polarizing our public life. To exclude religion is to exclude from politics the deepest moral convictions of millions of citizens—indeed, in this society, the great majority of citizens. Thus the resolution before this house is a formula for the death of democracy and should be resolutely defeated.

What do we mean by politics? I believe the best brief answer is proposed by Aristotle. Aristotle teaches that politics is free persons deliberating the question “How ought we to order our life together?” The ought in that definition indicates that politics is in its very nature, if not always in its practice, a moral enterprise. The very vocabulary of political debate is inescapably moral: What is just? What is unjust? What is fair? What is unfair? What serves the common good? On these questions we all have convictions, and they are moral convictions.

It is not true that our society is divided between a moral majority of the religious, on the one hand, and an immoral or amoral minority of the nonreligious, on the other. Atheists can have moral convictions that are every bit as strong as the moral convictions of the devout Christian or observant Jew. What we have in the political arena is not a division between the moral and the immoral but an ongoing contention between different moral visions addressing the political question—how ought we to order our life together?

This ongoing contention, this experience of being locked in civil argument, is nothing less than democracy in action. It is Lincoln and Douglas debating the morality of slavery; it is the argument about whether unborn children have rights we are obliged to respect; it is the argument over whether the war in Iraq is just or unjust. And on and on. These are all moral arguments to which people bring their best moral judgment. In short, our political system calls for open-ended argument about all the great issues that touch upon the question “How ought we to order our life together?”

The idea that some citizens should be excluded from addressing that question because their arguments are religious, or that others should be excluded because their arguments are nonreligious or antireligious, is an idea deeply alien to the representative democracy that this constitutional order is designed to protect. A foundational principle of that order is that all citizens have equal standing in the public square.

Read the whole thing.


Blogger Liberator_Rev said...

Those who find this topic worth pursuing further, check out

November 17, 2007 6:53 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home