Friday, April 14, 2006


I've been thinking. What do I have to say about government and religion? The whole discussion ought to center around two things:

Religion in Government - People have a moral and philosophical framework that frequently includes religion, expecting them to not take that into government with them is foolish, they will. I would be horrified by the prospect, while some seem to lose some of that framework once there, it would be bad to send sociopaths to govern.

Government in Religion - This is an exceptionally dangerous idea, it is very bad for religion and the non-religious. There are a bunch of religions, even narrowly speaking of Christianity, there are a bunch. Each sect is supposed to be able to practice their religion freely and openly. This idea becomes very dubious when government gets involved. Government cannot do anything within a religious framework without destructive consequences, it will interfere. It cannot help it, it is a device for applying power and that is what it does. Money from government will have strings attached, it must because government has a desired end for that spent money. When the government gets involved in prayer it must interfere, it cannot satisfy all sects so it will satisfy what it can, those left out are marginalized and those included are defined. This does not expand religious freedom, it constrains it.

Government is about social order and the enforcement of conditions required to maintain it. This is an entirely pragmatic exercise of force, it may masquerade as moral, it isn't. Morality involves choice or free will, the government does not offer such, it offers consequences. Moral people ought to be able to pass good laws that allow people as much freedom of choice as possible while constraining the outrages that people sometimes commit on each other. This is something entirely different than enforcing morality. There is a contradiction in terms in the concept of moral law, holy books may set out terms of moral laws, but a government cannot do it, it has recourse only to coercion to accomplish such a thing, if you see the words moral and law conjoined, beware.

If this seems anti-religion you haven't paid attention, many people are greatly inproved by their religions and get comfort and support in their daily lives from them. This is a very good thing, something precious enough to not allow the cudgel of government to interfere with.

No comments: