Sunday, August 8, 2010

Religious Right Reacts to Prop 8 Ruling: Barring Religion from the Public Square

In response to Judge Vaughn Walker's prop 8 ruling, R. Albert Mohler, president of a Southern Baptist seminary, says

"In essence, this [judicial ruling] establishes secularism as the only acceptable basis for moral judgment on the part of voters," Mohler said.

No it doesn't.  It does what the founders of our nation intended with the wall separating church and state: it removes religion from the public sphere as a privileged agent with the right automatically to trump moral reasoning based on something other than faith.  

It recognizes--as did the founders--that one can come to sound and compelling moral conclusions on the basis of reason, and that those conclusions can be shared by people of faith of diverse traditions and people without faith alike.  While established by reason rather than imposed by faith, those moral conclusions can and commonly do correspond with moral conclusions held by various faith communities.

Mohler wants a theocratic society in which Christianity has privileged status and power to control the behavior of everyone in the nation.  The founders abhorred theocracy because of its ability to divide societies and provoke bloodshed in the name of God and looked instead towards the kind of society we've become: pluralistic and secular, but with a foundation in moral principles that do not require a religious stamp to be compelling.

If Judge Walker's decision does implicitly address the role of religion in the public square, it reminds us just how dangerous the theocratic vision of the religious right is for our democratic society--not just in the area of gay rights, but in many other areas in which what the religious right deems morally correct is as incorrect as it the right's oppression of LGBT persons.