Thursday, November 18, 2004

Abolition is not gay marriage

Eugene Volokh writes: "I keep hearing evangelical Christian leaders criticized for "trying to impose their religious dogma on the legal system," for instance by trying to change the law to ban abortion, or by trying to keep the law from allowing gay marriage. I've blogged about this before, but I think it's worth mentioning again. I like to ask these critics: What do you think about the abolitionist movement of the 1800s? As I understand it, many -- perhaps most or nearly all -- of its members were deeply religious people, who were trying to impose their religious dogma of liberty on the legal system that at the time legally protected slavery."

I don't believe evangelical Christian leaders are being criticized for trying to impose their religious dogma on the legal system, so much as they are being criticized for trying to impose legislation that only makes sense according to the laws of their religion, and has no possible non-religious basis for being enacted. There are some awfully strong non-religious arguments for abolition, civil rights, pacifism, and even abortion, whereas there's no decent non-religious argument against gay marriage. In a privately religious yet officially secular country, it's to be expected that individual law-makers will be guided by their personal belief systems, religious or otherwise, but they should only attempt to pass laws that seem reasonable to the religious and the non-religious alike.

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