Given the fact that the United States just experienced the inauguration of a new president, we thought we would share an article about the role of religion in public policy. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ, we feel strongly about the importance of being involved in politics and in the public sphere. This article helps explain how religious belief can and does have its place in the process of defining and making law.
Here’s a glimpse of what you will read in the article:
Fortunately, the Supreme Court has never held that citizens could not join together to translate their moral beliefs into laws or public policies even when those beliefs are derived from religious doctrine. Indeed, there are many sophisticated and articulate spokesmen for the proposition that the separation of church and state never intended to exclude religiously grounded values from the public square. For example, I offer the words of Richard John Neuhaus:
“In a democracy that is free and robust, an opinion is no more disqualified for being ‘religious’ than for being atheistic, or psychoanalytic, or Marxist, or just plain dumb. There is no legal or constitutional question about the admission of religion to the public square; there is only a question about the free and equal participation of citizens in our public business. Religion is not a reified ‘thing’ that threatens to intrude upon our common life. Religion in public is but the public opinion of those citizens who are religious.
(This article was written in 1992, but the principles may still be of interest, even as some of the specifics of recent important public policy issues are not included.)
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