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October 22, 2004

What You Do in the Privacy of Your Own Shrine...

I've been meaning to link to a post by David Morrison about public displays of religion:

What strikes me about this controversy is the way that the folks on the side of hiding or banning the expression of religious faith appear to have assumed that human life or the human person can be split in this fashion. A person of deep and sincere faith cannot fully live their public life as though their faith does not inform their opinions or actions and a human community cannot long survive when, collectively, it abandons the very beliefs which many if not most of its members hold.

Very often, lately, it has seemed as if the demand made of religious citizens is that, while they may come to conclusions based on their faith, they must devise some other, non-faith-based routes to the same conclusions before they can give them voice. Certainly, if something is true, one ought to be able to approach its truth in a variety of ways, and no matter the certainty that religious faith might bring, bolstering one's confidence with additional reasoning is always worthwhile.

But one gets the sense that secularists are succeeding in pushing the standard for opinions founded in faith beyond a simple preference for additional arguments. It is as if, in their view, the religious aspect must be overcome — as something that, a priori, raises suspicion about the conclusion. Nevermind that there are multiple sociological, even biological, arguments for the protection of the unborn, for example. If they lead to the same policy position as do a person's religious views, then they are somehow invalid. It is "forcing your faith on others." Back to David:

Another problem with this approach is that it effectively makes millions of Americans who live with faith feel substantially disenfranchised from a public life in which they are supposed to be represented. Their reaction to this feeling of disenfranchisement is often a withdrawal from supporting the public life and a subsequent weakening of the overall society in which we all, whether we live with faith or not and no matter what faith we share, have a stake.

There is, to be sure, another way to react.

Posted by Justin Katz at October 22, 2004 8:30 AM
Religion