It's been said in a variety of places that there is a natural alliance between leftist political groups and religious (or at least Christian) groups, regarding serving the poor, working for peace, and so on. I've said it myself, in fact.
What troubles me about such an alliance, however, is that in its own way it's just as bad as the alliance between the we-control-your-life rightists and Christian groups. Once again, they are using the machinery of politics to impose religious beliefs on everyone else; a tyranny of a (perhaps temporary, coalitional) majority.
And, truth be told, the reasons I support my various progressive causes are not at all religious. Religion is a reason for me personally to go out and help feed the hungry and help provide shelter for the homeless. (Something which I'm regretfully not very good at.) But if I say that the government should do those things for religious reasons, that's no good at all; it's a violation of the establishment clause, and just generally bad policy, since it would mean that a decrease in subscription to certain religions should decrease government services, which is madness.
No, I believe the government should be in the business of feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, and so on, because the government's business is to serve the people. The imperative for the government to provide social services is not particularly a moral one; to the extent that government is not just of the people and by the people but also for the people, basic services like keeping people from having to eat cat food is just part of the job description.
The fact that good Christians should be helping out on the side is just gravy.
You can't legislate morality. When you try, it doesn't make people suddenly start making moral choices, whether they be to give food to a soup kitchen or decide not to have an abortion. It just takes the decision away from them; such people aren't acting morally, they're just tooling along in an amoral state, following the law because they fear punishment or literally can't do otherwise. If you give people real choices, sometimes hard ones, they will surely make mistakes; but only through those choices and, yes, those mistakes, can they graduate to the highest levels of moral decisionmaking.
"The radical criticism of the myth is due to the fact that the primitive mythological consciousness resists the attempt to interpret the myth of myth. It is afraid of every act of demythologization. It believes that the broken myth is deprived of its truth and of its convincing power." --Paul Tillich, Dynamics of FaithPosted by blahedo at 3:42pm on 12 Jun 2005 | TrackBack