MORALITY AND RELIGION IN GOVERNMENT
Separation of church and state, laws against abortion, pornography, prostitution, homosexuality, and similar issues.
© Copyright 2004 through 2008 by G. Edward Griffin
Revised 2008 September 11
Members of Freedom Force have strong opinions about life style, morality, and religion but they do not advocate the use of government to force their views on others. None of us have the right to compel our neighbor to adhere to a particular religion or life style – unless doing so is essential for the protection of lives, liberty, or property. If we do not have that right as individuals, then we cannot grant it to our elected representatives.
The issue of abortion hinges on the question of whether or not the unborn child is yet a human being – or at what point it becomes so. The question is not answered by science. It is determined solely by personal conviction or religious doctrine. If we believe that the embryo is a human being, then laws preventing abortion are justified as a measure to protect human life. If we believe that it is not, then there is no justification for laws prohibiting it. If the woman next-door wishes to abort her fetus, would any of us as an individual have the right to enter her home forcibly and use acts of violence to prevent her from doing so? If we believe the fetus is a human being, then we would answer yes, and we would be justified in asking government to do what we as individuals have a right to do. If we do not believe the fetus is yet a human being, our answer would be no, and we would be outraged if other people directed the government to do that which they themselves have no right to do.
Many members of Freedom Force hold the view that the embryo becomes essentially human at the moment of inception and they advocate laws to protect the unborn. To them, that is consistent with The Creed of Freedom, because the purpose is to protect human life. However, other members hold the view that embryos do not become human beings until late in their development. To them, anti-abortion laws violate The Creed of Freedom, because they use state coercion to enforce what is essentially a religious code that has nothing to do with the protection of human life.
Conformity to either view is not a requirement of membership. There are numerous religious and lay organizations that address this issue, but Freedom Force is not one of them. That is not because we think it is unimportant but because we focus on issues that unite us, not divide us. We work to promote the broad principles of freedom on which we all agree so that we may continue to live in a society where we are free to have different views on science and religion. Otherwise, we soon will be living in a totalitarian world in which our masters will tell us what to believe.
Substance-abuse laws are popular among many people because of the morality issue. It is their belief that the use of Marijuana, alcohol, and other recreational drugs is morally wrong. Therefore, they favor laws that punish those who have a different view. The Creed of Freedom does not support this position. As individuals, we do not have the right to punish our neighbors for substance abuse, so we cannot delegate it to our elected representatives. However, if a sound case can be made for a causal relationship between substance abuse and activities that endanger our lives, liberty, or property, then prohibitive laws would be justified as an extension of our individual right to self-defense. In other words, if the record shows that those who use these chemicals become dangerous drivers or aggressive combatants, there would be justification for the use of coercion to prevent it.
Pornography, prostitution, and homosexuality are extensions of the substance-abuse issue. None of us has the right to use force against our neighbors to prevent them from sexual activities that are offensive to our personal morality. Therefore, we cannot delegate any such power to our government. However, if the record clearly shows that there is a significant causal relationship between any of these activities and crimes against human life, liberty, or property, then it would it be appropriate to ask for government intervention. The use of legalized force is not justified where this causal relationship does not exist.
CHURCH AND STATE
Separation of church and state does not mean that the state must be hostile to religion. To the contrary, one of the most important roles of government is to protect the right of each citizen to exercise his religion either in private or public – so long as doing so does not endanger the life, liberty, or property of others. This means that government must walk a delicate line between sponsoring and prohibiting public religious ceremonies. This is not difficult to do once we focus on the difference between a religious ceremony and a publicly spoken prayer. Clearly it is not permissible to use government facilities or tax revenue to compel a minority to participate in or pay for a religious service not of their choosing. However, there is no threat to liberty when individuals stand before an assembly in a government facility and express their personal theology by a short, spoken prayer. In fact, the right to do so is synonymous with the right of free speech. We do not have to share their theology, but we must respect their right to express it.
As individuals. no one has the right to either grant or deny the status of matrimony to others. Therefore, we cannot deligate that authority to government. We may voluntarily seek the sanction of our church in accordance with our religious convictions, but government has no logical role to play except to provide a convenient method of recording the marraige contract for public reference. Asking the government to grant permission for marraige through issuance of a license is absurd on the face of it and is a carryover from medieval times when peasants had to obtain permission from the Lords of their lands. In the modern world, there is no excuse for such nonsense. Marraige is a personal contract and does not need government approval. The role of goverment should be limited to merely enforcing the terms of the contract. The great bulk of matrimonial law centers on the issue of ownership and division of property. That is entirely consistent with the proper function of protecting life, liberty, and property by ensuring that the parties to the contract adhere to their agreements. The question of whether or not government should allow matrimonial contracts between homosexuals is immediately answered by this concept. Regardless of how we may feel about homosexuality or how we define marraige, government should not be called upon to settle the issue, because it does not have any right to do so.
THE POWER OF PERSONAL EXAMPLE
In all matters relating to laws for the enforcement of a particular behavior or life style, the path is clear. Members of Freedom Force believe that we should be strong advocates of our personal morality and strive to become attractive examples for others to follow. Actions speak much louder than words or laws. To use the power of government to deny others the freedom to act contrary to our own standards is a dangerous step toward tyranny. Once that line is crossed, there is no end to the restrictions on personal freedom that can be concocted – all in the name of public morality and decency. Tyrants always claim to be on the side of virtue and God.
Printed on 28 August 15 at 17:10
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