This post over at Sago Boulevard addresses a position which I would call one of my pet peeves if I didn’t hate the expression “pet peeve” quite so much. The position is basically that one shouldn’t use laws to impose one’s values on others. Of course, when this argument is put forward, the values in question are almost always religious values. In this instance, the author is addressing the argument that religiously motivated political positions are a violation of the establishment clause.
I agree with the author that groups motivated by religious beliefs shouldn’t be treated differently than any other political groups. Anytime you pass a law because of some fundamental belief you have, you are in fact imposing your beliefs on others. And religious voters should be on equal footing with abortion rights voter, gun rights owners, or any other political group.
He gets to the basic problem with the following:
In suggesting that religious individuals kindly keep their values to themselves, you imply that somehow religion isn’t worthy of the consideration we afford other ideologies. Of course, you may in fact think the religion is wrong, harmful, and stupid but it’s a step further to suggest they it their opinion isn’t welcome in public.
Some people simply think that religious views should always be kept private. I have always had issues with this line of thinking. If a belief system doesn’t inform one’s actions (both public and private), then why bother having the belief system in the first place? A philosophy which doesn’t inform one’s actions is irrelevant.
And that is why religious voters should oppose the “keep it to yourself” line of reasoning. Classifying a position irrelevant is far more serious than saying it is wrong, harmful or stupid. If a worldview is any (or all three) of those things, it is still possible that it might be corrected and remain useful. But if a position is irrelevant, it can simply be ignored.