Imposing our belief that it\’s OK to kill babies on America

In an absurd NYT Op-Ed piece on October 23, 2004, Charles Chaput, the Catholic archbishop of Denver, says the separation of church and state is “an empty slogan…dishonest…dangerous.” Gee, that would surprise the framers of the Constitution, who put it in the very first Article of the Bill of Rights. Thanks to the editors of the Times for inviting such vigorous discussion. What’s next, an article calling for the revocation of the 13th Amendment? The 19th?

Chaput then goes on to reveal the central, and fatal, misunderstanding of those who, like himself, would impose religion-based beliefs on others. He says:

Lawmaking inevitably involves some group imposing its beliefs on the rest of us. That’s the nature of the democratic process. If we say that we “ought” to do something, we are making a moral judgment.

This is precisely, and fundamentally, wrong. Perhaps the good bishop is incapable of imagining the world in other than purely moral terms, but there is an entirely different perspective upon which modern-day democracies are based: judgments about the best (not morally right) ways to run our societies. Basic example: we put murderers in jail not because what they did is wrong, but because left unpunished it will harm the operational fabric of society. The minute we outlaw things because we think they are wrong, we have stepped onto a very slippery slope. The bishop claims that “No one in mainstream American politics wants a theocracy”, yet what he is proposing—a politics based on morality (his)—is the exact definition of theocracy.

The anti-abortionists believe that abortion should be outlawed because it is Wrong. Again, this is your quintessential theocratic viewpoint. The real question is whether abortion harms our society operationally. Preventing me from controlling my own body and life is to impose your anti-abortion beliefs on me. On the other hand, allowing people to control their own bodies and lives is not “imposing” anything on the anti-abortionists, other than the existence of behavior in their society of which they morally disapprove. Sorry guys—no one ever said democracy means you could outlaw everything your religion doesn’t like.

First the Catholics said that voting for John Kerry would be a sin. Now they’re taking the ridiculous faux-symmetry position that if their opponents are going to stand up in favor of some human right, then it’s OK for them to inject religious tenets into the political debate to deny people that right.

Let them just tend to the spiritual needs of their flocks instead. If they continue to insist that being true to your beliefs requires forcing others to abide by your moral standards, ship them to Iran.

And as in all the anti-Kerry Catholic diatribes in this election, of course, we find no mention of capital punishment or killing innocent civilians in unjustified wars in our friendly vicar’s “pro-life” screed.

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