Commentaries about whether Catholic Members of Parliament who voted in favour of redefining marriage should be refused communion, musings about whether a religious right is emerging in Canada, and accusations that churches are seeking to impose their morality on others, has reignited the debate about the relationship between Church and State. Our response should be two-fold: first we should respond to the misperceptions that are rooted in stereotypes, misunderstanding or bias, and second, in a time of continued secularization and differing views about the role of the Church in society, we can avail ourselves of the opportunity to engage in a discussion about the relationship between Church and State.The article doesn't actually talk about this at all, but what it does try to argue is why evangelicals, or the "religious right" should be involved in politics - arguing that there are common causes and that the concern over the "religious right" is all based upon misconceptions. The problem is, Mr. Clemenger's argument is itself based upon a misconception. His example of same-sex marriage as why evangelicals should be more involved displays that misconception:
Take the redefinition of marriage. We were told we were trying to impose our morality on others by defending the man/woman definition of marriage. Yet the other side was making moral arguments about why the definition should be changed. And in the end, it is the government that imposes a public definition of marriage - it makes a moral choice.Emphasis is mine.
Governments are incapable of making moral choices. Governments do not legislate morality - the minute a government determines what is right versus what is wrong, we are in deep trouble. Governments are only capable of determining what is legal versus what is illegal - or to boil it down even further, governments can only determine what is just - just for all people, not for some and not for most.
Because something is deemed to be immoral, does not make it illegal. Similarly, something somebody deems as moral, isn't necessarily legal. For example, to some, eating beef on Fridays is immoral or eating pork at all is immoral - it isn't illegal.
The common assertion raised by those of the religious right is that morality equals justice. If you encode morality, you will naturally achieve justice.
The piece then goes on to say:
While the Church and the State are distinct and have separate callings, they do have some tasksÂsuch as the pursuit of justiceÂin common. This commonality can contribute to both confusion and inappropriate expectations unless we are mindful of their respective roles in God's creation.Well, getting past the God talk, we once again arrive at the assertion that morality is the same as justice. The Church has never sought justice, and never will. Religion pursues instruction in a particular stripe of morality - teaching what is believed to be right and wrong. That is not justice.
Morality is not universal and justice must be universal and apply equally to all. Lawmakers, using morality to guide their way, must remember that - justice must apply universally, not to just those of your particular moral stripe.
Updated: Blue Grit comments on the same piece.
Tags: church & state, government, religion