The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):

  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”

Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

"First Freedom First" - a comment on a book

Recently I began reading a book entitled "First Freedom First," by the Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy and the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, the thesis of which is that it is important to maintain the constitutional separation of church and state. And this is a position which merits agreement from me. But in it, the Religious Right is castigated with the following words on p. xxvi of the Introduction:

The Religious Right claims an interest in recovering morality in America by seeking to outlaw all abortions, stem cell research, gay rights, and same-sex unions while advocating the teaching of religious doctrine as sound science. They also advocate, through a system of school vouchers often lauded as a way to help the poor, providing public tax dollars for the funding of public parochial schools. In recent years, the Religious Right has been loud in its advocacy for advancing the president's faith-based initiatives, displaying the Ten Commandments in public buildings, teaching the Bible in public schools, electing "God-chosen" leaders to public offices, and supporting the president of the United States in sopeaking and acting as the chief religious leader of the nation. However, the Religious Right has been strangely silent on the war in Iraq, increases in the numbers of people without adequate medical care and health insurance, the torture of prisoners, ... [I leave out the rest of this sentence, because it is really the part I quote here that I want to address]

When I read the first two of these sentences, I was willing to accept what Gaddy (the author of this introduction) says. But then I hit the third sentence. Obviously, Gaddy (I can't speak for Lynn, as he didn't write these words, but if he is willing to have his name on the book as co-author, I can't imagine he disavows them) seems to think that one of the purposes of his book is to advocate for our having left Saddam Hussein in power to gas the Kurds and threaten Israel with missiles, for our adoption of a socialized-medicine scheme (because most people talking about "increases in the numbers of people without adequate medical care and health insurance" seem to advocate such schemes), etc. And with this sentence he lost me.

What in the name of all that matters in this universe do "the war in Iraq" and "increases in the numbers of people without adequate medical care and health insurance" have to do with religious freedom? And what business do these points have in a book on preserving our First Amendment rights?

Up till that sentence, I might have favorably reviewed this book. But it is clear that Gaddy and Lynn have their own ideology to pursue, not merely advocating a religiously-neutral, even secular, government (with which I concur), but a left-wing, even socialistic political agenda. And with that I take issue.

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