Friday, June 9, 2017

Religious Laws

I've seen a few people say that the government should never impose any religious laws. I disagree.

There are good religious laws, such as "do not commit murder", "do not steal" and "do not lie in a courtroom". Those are in the Ten Commandments, in the Bible. It doesn't matter that they have a religious source; those are good laws to have and enforce. "Do not rape" and "do not break binding agreements"

I would also argue that it's impractical to only have non-religious laws, simply because the scope of religion and belief is so broad. Atheism, humanism and environmentalism are considered to be religions by some people. So anything coming from those mindsets falls under the category of "religious beliefs", too. If you're going to rule out all laws made by theists and atheists by default, you're not going to have a whole lot of lawmakers to choose from.

To give a more traditional Catholic response, it's impossible to have laws that are independent from religion, because all laws refer to justice, and all justice flows from God. Since God is the source and foundation of law, all laws refer back to him. Hence, we can claim that "an unjust law is no law at all"; God's justice is a precondition for the existence of proper law. Further, Jesus Christ is also directly tied to law and justice; he is referred to as the Eternal Judge or the Just One, "who will judge the living and the dead".

To sum up, I think the government should impose good laws, just laws. Any true lover of justice is not going to reject a law, simply because it has a religious origin.


Mindabean said...

You make a very valid and logically sound argument. After all, per your point, would someone reject a law such as "Do Not Murder" simply because it has a religious foundation? I think to do so is a miscarriage of justice. Well said, Michael!

Anonymous said...

Hi Michael, what propted you to write this post?
I agree with your point ("laws should not be rejected JUST because of their religious origin"), but I disagree with your reasoning. I do not think that the laws you mention (do not kill, do not steal, do not lie under oath) are based on religious norms, I think both these laws and religious norms are based on some innate human understanding of what is right and what is wrong.

When it comes to highest-level principles (do not kill, respect other people, etc) there is no disagreement between what religion dictates and laws, all differences begin on the level of specific situations (e.g. when abortions should be permissible, what should be the punishment for stealing and murder, are there circumstances when killing is allowed, etc.) I agree relious laws should not be rejected on the ground of their origin alone and should at least be considered by lawmakers, but I think it is natural for lawmakers to find many of the biblical laws obsolete.

Anonymous said...

When I think of religious laws, they are things like don't eat meat on Friday, or eat Halal meat, or cover your shoulders and knees. To other people outside the religion, they make no sense, and life can function without them.

Things like do not kill, were crimes before Christianity or the Ten Commandments, and in other cultures with other belief systems. It is an innate belief to humankind and necessary for society to function.