Monday, December 13, 2004

Legislating Religious Values

Here's another post from the Mainstream Baptist weblog that fits this weblog:

Baptist Press quotes Richard Land, head of a Southern Baptist political action committee, as saying that Christians "have a right and an obligation to bring our religious convictions to bear on public policy issues." He added, "That's not called a violation of church and state. That's called religious freedom. It's called freedom of speech."

When will Land wake up? People of no faith and people of all faiths -- not just Christians -- have an equal right and and obligation to bring their convictions to bear on public policy issues. Religious freedom and freedom of speech are rights that all citizens of our society share equally. These rights exist because the First Amendment created some "sacred ground" where, by force of law, we do not permit others to force their religious convictions on us and where we are not allowed to force our religious convictions on others. That is what separation of church and state means.

Our first responsibility as citizens of a pluralistic democracy is to assure that the laws governing our society are just, equitable and that they preserve religious liberty for all. Then, by persuasion -- not by force of law -- in an ongoing, open public forum, the people all religions and of no religion are free to promote their competing visions of the common good.

Mainstream Baptists still believe that salvation comes by persuasion, i.e. the "foolishness of preaching." We think we can be salt and light by sharing the gospel in the open forum and respectful dialogue created by the common ground of religious liberty for all.

Southern Baptists are giving up on persuasion and are now trying to save society by legislation. They think they can be salt and light by voting for politicians who will force their values on a nation with increasingly diverse values.

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