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The boundaries of "Legislating Morality"
All laws codify the morality of their enactors. To say anything less is ludicrous. The laws of the United States of America are derived from the general prścipe of the Christian Bible, but are certainly a subset thereof. However, since we have decided to enact a country where people are free to worship, or not worship, as they please. The government is not an extension of Christianity, by the choice of the people.
The people have determined a minimal standard of decency. We dont kill, maim, batter, assault, kidnap, steal, extort, invade privacy, libel or lie before the courts. Within those basic common law crimes lies our entire standard of decency to be enforced by the government as we have so ordered it to. When leftists try to enact law beyond this in name of the standard of decency, they are imposing their standard of morality upon all, even those who do not agree with that standard.
Welfare is an example. Paying able-bodied persons to do nothing is no less than a governmental imposition of forced charity upon taxpayers, in the name of "compassion." Abortion is an example from the conservative end. Although we oppose abortion-on-demand on Constitutional grounds (which we will explain later on in a position paper), a comprehensive ban on abortion would compel compliance with the Christian doctrine that holds all life sacred from conception to death. To atheists, for example, that position could be at odds with the atheistís belief set about human life.
Therefore, with every piece of legislation that seeks to enact a law that is not a pure extension of the common law base of decency, there is a tension between the people and the possible imposition of a doctrine of the few upon the whole. Busing is an example of this doctrine used to desegrate, in order to ameliorate the injustice of racism. Racists have rights, and the people have decided that their right to be racist pales before the right of the people to be equal. Equality between all people is a Christian doctrine, a completely Christian doctrine.
So, where do we draw the boundaries? When are we imposing a religious belief set (atheism is a religion too) rather than simply setting a bound of decency for the people? This is the toughest question we have to answer. I simply cannot answer that with a bright-line definition.
For example, I would have said that gay marriage is not something that a government can forbid without imposing a Christian / Jewish / Islamic doctrine upon the people as a whole. In fact, one may go further and note that certain strains of Christianity believe that gay people are not innate sinful for their gayness, so therefore banning gay marriage is imposing a stricter subset of Christianity upon all people regardless of their faith.
So we have to go case by case. Hereís one: I oppose the placement of the Ten Commandments in a courthouse since it is really a guide for Jews and Christians; the first three commandments have nothing to do with civil conduct. This opposition imposes nothing upon Christians, most of whom know these laws by heart, but it does show unbelievers that we will not use the legal system to proselytize, or judge them on a code of conduct that is not equally applied to every other person in our country.
So we need to go case by case, generally not expanding upon the common law except to the extent that it can be applied to all based on principles that apply to all; to protect the rights of all the people. Itís tough, but it can be done. Thank God we have a Congress that is now committed to passing less law and getting the government off our backs. Letís hope and pray that we see their wisdom in their work.