Religion in politics

The very first sentence of the very first right guaranteed to the American people is the separation of church and state. But this is what I see happening: People believe in religions. Religions dictate morals. People vote based on those morals. Religious ideas enter the political sphere through the voting process. Laws and policies are determined or otherwise influenced by those religious ideas. Church enters state.

Let’s take gay marriage as an example. On what basis can anyone claim that gay marriage is wrong outside of a religious context? The ‘immorality’ of homosexuality is only ever justified by the interpretations of scripture. Without religion, no argument can be made against gay marriage. [See comments]


4 thoughts on “Religion in politics

  1. Personally I support the right of homosexuals to marry, but the argument is more than just a religious or homophobic one. Although religion is probably the key motive for the anti-homosexual movement (although psychologically it really is just sexual repression), people can use numerous justifications other than just religion morality. The attack is usually three-pronged:
    1) Moral: the moral law is usually a byproduct of religious adherence, although on the Christian side this argument is weak and trivial at best (based on Biblical support anyway). There is more to say against gossips and liars in the Bible then there is against homosexuality.
    2) Biological: Many continue to argue that homosexuality is wrong because it is unnatural. This is where you get the “you have a choice to be gay” mentality. Basically it states that only human beings commit homosexual acts. Of course, this is false as many other species in the animal kingdom participate in same-sex acts. Usually, however, anti-homosexuals are usually anti-Evolutionists and have no qualms with denying scientific observation.
    3) Ethical: Finally, the ethical. This one is a little more vague, very rarely used, but could actually be the strongest in the anti-homosexual arsenal if the movement could get off its religious bandwagon. Basically the ethical would argue a strict advocation of Kant’s Categorical Imperative: act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it would become a universal law. Of course a strict interpretation of this law is not what Kant meant, but it nonetheless would work. If a homosexual acts by committing homosexual acts, he or she must be will that act to become universal should it be considered ethical. Of course this would lead to the extinction of the human species as two peopel of the same-sex cannot procreate.

    Philosophy is not, however, the strong suit of the anti-homosexual wing, but at least it would force a different sort of discussion.

  2. I appreciate such a thorough response to my briefly stated idea.

    1) Agreed. Your statements generally go along with what I wrote. In a nutshell: many morals, including heterosexual favoritism, have religious origins.

    2) Any biological argument on this matter is moot and absurd. Since when do laws depend on scientific assertions? I can only hope that someday facts will outweigh opinions, or better, that popular opinions will be based on facts instead of arbitrary traditions, superstitions, and other myths. Furthermore, to claim homosexuality is ‘wrong’ (which is purely a moral opinion, however one justifies it) because it’s ‘unnatural’ brings enormous hypocrisy into the picture. Automobiles, ice cream, money, government, and more relevantly, abstinence would all fall under the category of unnatural as well. Additionally, it’s arguable that human actions are ever unnatural. Biologically speaking, humans are animals like any other. Therefore, our behavior is as natural as the behavior of any other animal.

    Anyone using biology to defend an anti-homosexual view must drastically distort and omit evidence. It appears that twisting and redefining science to fit religion is becoming a favorite strategy of religious zealots. Just look at Intelligent Design.

    3) This seems a very unpopular philosophical argument within the present context. I’m not familiar with Kant’s Categorical Imperative, but at a glance I would say it’s certainly incorrect. On moral and philosophical grounds, it’s antithetical to the idea of freedom. On biological grounds, it opposes behavioral diversity, which is essential to the survival of any species else evolution would be impossible. Homosexuality actually benefits our survival by decreasing the rate of overpopulation. It seems overall that the categorical imperative as applied to homosexuality conflicts with the facts. Regardless, I’ve never heard of this argument and I doubt it stands in the way of the larger debate over gay marriage.

    Overall I disagree with your main point. It seems evident that all anti-homosexual arguments, be they moral, biological, or philosophical, are motivated solely by religious ideas and the traditions of heterosexuality and homophobia that those ideas have propagated. Though one could argue that opinions on sexuality could just as easily have come from cultural bias, not religious bias, I’d have to point out that the dominant views of sexuality and relationships (and most moral topics, in fact) in any culture are determined overwhelmingly by religion. Find a culture whose pervasive religion accepts homosexuality, and you’ll find a culture that itself accepts homosexuality. In summary, a culture’s dominant religion determines its morals. The only escape is religious (and non-religious) diversity.

  3. I don’t think we are at much of a disagreement as I did agree that our current circumstances find religion as the center of these moral debates. I was only offering arguments that I have actually been in debates with – including against others who did not have any specific religious adherence. Remember, people grasp on to anything when their immediate reaction probably is more a result of a cultural taboo than any real rationality. This is why poor arguments, be they religious, moral, biological, ethical, or philosophical will be used – because people cannot just say “because…like…ewww…. its so gross”.

  4. I was mistaken. “Remember, people grasp on to anything when their immediate reaction probably is more a result of a cultural taboo than any real rationality.” Agreed, we be.

    And in addition to religious and cultural diversity, education (and hopefully intelligence and therefore rationality) is definitely a substantial part of the solution.

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