Read Chapter 14, “Conflict and Compromise in the West”, in God & Government by Charles Colson.  He had a quote by Joseph Sobran that caught my eye:

The prevailing notion is that the state should be neutral as to religion, and furthermore, that the best way to be neutral about it is to avoid all mention of it.  By this sort of logic, nudism is the best compromise among different styles of dress.  The secularist version of ‘pluralism’ amounts to theological nudism.

Is this even possible?  Can one really be “neutral” when it comes to religion?

The Supreme Court’s working definition of what is considered religion:

“A sincere and meaningful belief which occupies in the life of its possessor a place parallel to that filled by God,” (1965 United States v. Seeger Decision).

It would seem based on this definition that any value or worldview could be considered religious.  We don’t live in a vacuum, when one worldview is gone another takes its place.

What do you think?  Can one really separate religion (as defined by the Supreme Court) from public life?

21 comments
  1. I do not see how you can be neutral as the your core beliefs. They drive the decisions you make, the actions you take, the things you stand firm and are ready to die for.

    To be neutral to your core beliefs probably means you do not hold any.

  2. I do not see how you can be neutral as the your core beliefs. They drive the decisions you make, the actions you take, the things you stand firm and are ready to die for.

    To be neutral to your core beliefs probably means you do not hold any.

  3. I do not see how you can be neutral as the your core beliefs. They drive the decisions you make, the actions you take, the things you stand firm and are ready to die for.

    To be neutral to your core beliefs probably means you do not hold any.

  4. There is no way that religion and public life or religion/politics or religion and affairs of the state can be separated.

    The challenge lies in finding that middle ground between trying to put down religion (which is wrong) and lifting up one religion (or even a few) as the official (which is also wrong).

    When a nation has as many cultures, faiths and ethnicities as the United States, for example, it becomes a real challenge, because on the one hand you have a lot of people who expect you to espouse your beliefs if you run for office, and then a big chunk of people who will judge you for them.

    In this campaign, we’ve seen both Obama and Palin in particular lifted up for their church/religious practices by some, and evicerated for them by others.

    As for whether someone can be “neutral” on religion, sure. You’d have to be a pure, “I don’t know and I won’t presume to know” agnostic though.

  5. There is no way that religion and public life or religion/politics or religion and affairs of the state can be separated.

    The challenge lies in finding that middle ground between trying to put down religion (which is wrong) and lifting up one religion (or even a few) as the official (which is also wrong).

    When a nation has as many cultures, faiths and ethnicities as the United States, for example, it becomes a real challenge, because on the one hand you have a lot of people who expect you to espouse your beliefs if you run for office, and then a big chunk of people who will judge you for them.

    In this campaign, we’ve seen both Obama and Palin in particular lifted up for their church/religious practices by some, and evicerated for them by others.

    As for whether someone can be “neutral” on religion, sure. You’d have to be a pure, “I don’t know and I won’t presume to know” agnostic though.

  6. There is no way that religion and public life or religion/politics or religion and affairs of the state can be separated.

    The challenge lies in finding that middle ground between trying to put down religion (which is wrong) and lifting up one religion (or even a few) as the official (which is also wrong).

    When a nation has as many cultures, faiths and ethnicities as the United States, for example, it becomes a real challenge, because on the one hand you have a lot of people who expect you to espouse your beliefs if you run for office, and then a big chunk of people who will judge you for them.

    In this campaign, we’ve seen both Obama and Palin in particular lifted up for their church/religious practices by some, and evicerated for them by others.

    As for whether someone can be “neutral” on religion, sure. You’d have to be a pure, “I don’t know and I won’t presume to know” agnostic though.

  7. No you can’t live in a vacuum, really, but I suspect there are perhaps a few folks who are so “whatever works for you” in their mindset about faith that they could truly NOT care about religion as long as it avoids violent or hateful extremism.

    I mean, once a person uses religion as an excuse for breaking serious laws, they fall into a whole other jurisdiction of “lawbreaker,” and then even the most widely open minded person can savage them just on the basis of their vile acts.

    Just as an example, of course.

  8. No you can’t live in a vacuum, really, but I suspect there are perhaps a few folks who are so “whatever works for you” in their mindset about faith that they could truly NOT care about religion as long as it avoids violent or hateful extremism.

    I mean, once a person uses religion as an excuse for breaking serious laws, they fall into a whole other jurisdiction of “lawbreaker,” and then even the most widely open minded person can savage them just on the basis of their vile acts.

    Just as an example, of course.

  9. No you can’t live in a vacuum, really, but I suspect there are perhaps a few folks who are so “whatever works for you” in their mindset about faith that they could truly NOT care about religion as long as it avoids violent or hateful extremism.

    I mean, once a person uses religion as an excuse for breaking serious laws, they fall into a whole other jurisdiction of “lawbreaker,” and then even the most widely open minded person can savage them just on the basis of their vile acts.

    Just as an example, of course.

  10. Many in the public would prefer we live neutral Christian lives as it pertains to them, but if we’re Christ followers I don’t see how that is even possible. There was nothing neutral about Jesus. He said, “Follow me”, and either one did or he didn’t.

    And as for us, either we do or we don’t. As such, our faith MUST define our walk in life, or we contradict what it is we say we believe.

  11. Many in the public would prefer we live neutral Christian lives as it pertains to them, but if we’re Christ followers I don’t see how that is even possible. There was nothing neutral about Jesus. He said, “Follow me”, and either one did or he didn’t.

    And as for us, either we do or we don’t. As such, our faith MUST define our walk in life, or we contradict what it is we say we believe.

  12. Many in the public would prefer we live neutral Christian lives as it pertains to them, but if we’re Christ followers I don’t see how that is even possible. There was nothing neutral about Jesus. He said, “Follow me”, and either one did or he didn’t.

    And as for us, either we do or we don’t. As such, our faith MUST define our walk in life, or we contradict what it is we say we believe.

  13. “Can one really separate religion (as defined by the Supreme Court) from public life?” (Shane)

    No…if someone is really has a true committment to God via their faith – removing that committment for the sake of some political office is impossible to do. You cannot just up and drop your practiced morals at the drop of a hat.

  14. “Can one really separate religion (as defined by the Supreme Court) from public life?” (Shane)

    No…if someone is really has a true committment to God via their faith – removing that committment for the sake of some political office is impossible to do. You cannot just up and drop your practiced morals at the drop of a hat.

  15. “Can one really separate religion (as defined by the Supreme Court) from public life?” (Shane)

    No…if someone is really has a true committment to God via their faith – removing that committment for the sake of some political office is impossible to do. You cannot just up and drop your practiced morals at the drop of a hat.

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