Archive for Thursday, January 12, 2006

Positive separation

January 12, 2006


To the editor:

Scott Burkhart writes (Journal-World, Jan. 4) that if we're really consistent about keeping religion and government separate, we'll have to get rid of our laws based on the Judeo-Christian heritage. I would maintain that I can think of no instance in which a purely religious basis is, by itself, sufficient for any law. Finally, I would suggest that Mr. Burkhart ought to be thankful that this is the case.

Religious people clearly get conflicting messages from a multitude of supernatural sources. Some societies simply recycle religious beliefs into laws. On the other hand, our legal culture assumes that laws are based on reason and on our ability to identify concepts contributing to our vision of the common good. We have agreed, without having to resort to the teachings of any particular religion, for example, that allowing murder or child abuse is a lousy way to run a society.

At the other end of the spectrum are precepts which are clearly derived from a supernatural source: Dietary restrictions and dictates regarding special clothing are examples. Most of us agree that such precepts should not be imposed on all of society.

Our separation of church and state ought to give Mr. Burkhart some comfort: Unless he is breaking the law, no one may legally challenge his right to believe what he wishes or to gather with like-minded believers. He also should be assured that his religious freedom will not be limited by laws originating purely from a religion different from his.

Oliver Finney,



KayCee 12 years, 5 months ago

I still don't see what all the 'repercussion' is to Scott's letter. When I read it, I saw him with 'tongue firmly in cheek'. It amused me at the reaction.

KWCoyote 12 years, 5 months ago

Supernatural sources for laws? Ridiculous! What those old-time Bible guys were doing was passing public health advice off as commandments from on high, trying to fool people for their own good. Dictates regarding special clothing (meaning don't wear cloth of mixed fibers) was an attempt to be different from some ancient dead cult that did wear mixed-fiber cloth. There's not a darn bit of divinity in that practice, just an obsolete habit. Most of those Bible rules were made up because they seemed like good ideas at the time. Some of them still are. Some aren't. But they aren't of "supernatural" origin, people. They're only human rules, no more divine than "don't drink and drive."

Jamesaust 12 years, 5 months ago

There's a world of difference between religious and personal morality guiding political decisionmaking and controlling it.

classclown 12 years, 5 months ago

Hmmmm.... Does this mean my 50/50 poly-cotton blend underwear is getting me in trouble with the big guy?

Ember 12 years, 5 months ago

Abolish all religion.

Seems to me that it would cure the whole mess instantly.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.