May Christians Vote Using Religious Principles?

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An interesting conversation has been taking place in one of the comment threads. The back and forth is between an atheist and a Christian. Another atheist recently stopped by to comment. His name is Quinlan and he made some assertions to the Christian, Howard, in that thread.

Quinlan objected to Howard using “religious principles” from which to base his position on abortion and homosexuality.  It’s as if a Christian is suppose to cease being a Christian outside of their home and worship service. Or at least in the realm of politics.

These types of charges are nothing new to Christians. Examples of such charges can be seen in Quinlan’s comment.

I find your comments to be as disgusting as they are hypocritical. You say you understand that this isn’t a Christian nation, and the separation between church and state. But then you’re talking about taking rights away from gay people, and rights away from women to get an abortion. These things are BOTH religious principles. If your opinion is strictly due to religion, then you are not allowed to impose that on others. Under the constitution, you are not allowed to use your phony god to take rights away from every day, law abiding people.

Different people define what it means for America to be a Christian Nation differently. The same goes for defining the separation of church and state. However, one can believe that America is not, and never was, a Christian Nation, hold to a separation between church and state and still push for particular policies based on their Christian beliefs. Most Christians do not desire for the state to run the church as is done in Britain. Nor do they desire to have the church run the state as if to appoint some sort of Pope of the United States. Christians can comfortably operated with these institutions remaining separate.

It is interesting that the rights of the baby does not enter the discussion when considering abortion. I assume the gay rights objection is dealing with marriage. If gay marriage was not a “right” for the life of this Nation then how can it be something that is taken away? And if gay marriage is something that comes to be forced upon the church by the state then this would then be a violation of the separation of church and state.

Other religious principles from the Christian worldview include not murdering, not stealing, not committing adultery, children respecting parents, etc. Are we then not allowed to impose these principles on others? Societal laws and rules uphold that these things are good principles to help guide one’s life. It is not solely the belief of religious people that these guidelines are implemented.

However, if Quinlan is saying that a person who holds to such positions “strictly due to religion” therefore invalidates their right to impose such laws, then this would also be the case for his anti-religious position. See, if a religious position is opposed simply because it is religious the opposition is based on anti-religious bias. Anti-religious bias cannot exist without religion, therefore it opposes itself.

If God is phony then He is a figment of one’s imagination and therefore is simply part of one’s subconscious. This means ultimately that people are actually making decisions based upon beliefs that originate from self. If Quinlan believes this then why would he object to people making such decisions? I also wonder where in the U.S. Constitution does it state that citizens cannot vote according to their religious positions.

Christians are not trying to take away peoples’ rights, but to properly apply them based on their worldview. Even the Constitution defines and applies certain individual rights. For example, one has to be 18 to vote, atleast 30 to be a Senator and a natural born citizen to be President. No one is complaining that these stipulations violate individual rights. Sure, these requirements aren’t based on religious principles, but neither does everyone oppose abortion and same sex marriage due to religion.

So may Christians Vote Using Religious Principles? Of course! And so can any person of any religion. This goes for Quinlan too as he signs off on his comment “Atheistically yours”.

P.s. While we’re on the topic, Justin Taylor links to a great analysis in The Moral Reasoning in the Same-Sex Court Decision.

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The above article was posted on August 10, 2010 by Mark Lamprecht.
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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Christiane August 10, 2010 at 10:59 am

I believe that there is alway a ‘caveat’ (warning) in a matter like this that is so very important for people of faith:

put your faith in Lord Christ, not in the words of men who are running for office.
Some will abuse and have abused the trust of people by claiming certain values in order to get elected, and they have violated the trust placed in them, by using their office to futher agendas that were not in the best interest of their state or our country. So be aware that men and women who run for office are ‘human’ and that the temptations of power can lead them to be deceptive. There is much evidence for this on record.

2 Philip August 10, 2010 at 6:28 pm

I would grant you that today, we are no longer a Christian nation based on our moving away from biblical principles to moral relativism which is why there even exists the argument today regarding the right to abortion and gay marriage. However, one cannot read the writtings of the founders and say with a straight face, we are not founded as a Christian nation. The moral foundation of our laws, constitution, and government all lay in the basic biblical principles found in the old testament.

Where does the sense of inalienable rights come from if not from God? from the state? If our rights come from the state, can they really be called rights when by matter of a simple vote by others they can be taken away? If there is no moral standard, then from what vantage point does one argue their morals are superior? How can one argue for fundamental rights and at the time argue against the use of religous principles when it is from religous principles that the very idea of fundamental right’s originates?

As an add, the arguement of the right to gay marriage is not even close to the argument of the natural right of one to be free. Should one accept the moral foundation of the law is grounded in biblical principles, then one has to reject anything which contradicts that moral foundation i.e. gay marriage. Once the moral foundation is erroded, then anything is acceptable i.e. pedophila etc…

3 Quinlan August 10, 2010 at 8:42 pm

Mark-

It’s not very nice to write an article without permission. Luckily I don’t object. Here’s the thing: gay marriage was a right. It was legal in California, and then Proposition 8 came and took it away. So a right was taken away, that simple. In terms of all the “God is a figment of the imagination” stuff – yes, he is, and you actually make a good point. But the problem is, it’s what’s called an “irrational basis”. When you have no reason other than a religious principle for voting for something, that’s the term that they use. That’s one of the reasons that Prop 8 was stricken down. You can use the principles that may currently stem from religion, but you have to bee free of that religion before you do. You need to have an understandable reason, free of religion and animus, to vote for something and have it count. It’s pretty simple.

4 William W. Wexler August 10, 2010 at 9:53 pm

Mark…

If you want to amplify your comments on our discussion, it would have been more polite and appropriate to put them in the thread where the discussion is taking place.

If you remember when I joined the other thread, I was really trying to get a handle on how people at Liberty University could tolerate a Mormon giving one of their commencement speeches. The reason I mentioned the fact that I’m an atheist was not to provoke a discussion on other topics, but having sat around college dorms in the 60s having “BS” sessions about religion, I understand how conversations stray from the point. In this political climate it’s practically a given.

I have a possible theory to explain Beck at Liberty U. I put it to you that the commonality of trying to influence the political process through religion that exists between the Beck empire and the mainstay college of the religious right trumps any religious differences, even if they are regarded as heretical.

So the discussion ought not to be about why atheists think gay marriage and abortions are and should be legal. The discussion ought to be why you can tolerate someone who believes that God and Jesus are living in flesh in blood, that Jesus and Satan were twin brothers conceived by intercourse, that grace doesn’t exist instead its equivalent is following all the rules of the Mormon cult, that each man becomes God in his own new universe, and so on. Those are the divisions between your alma mater and the cult Beck represents (not officially, of course).

I hope you think this through a bit before you respond, as I know you’re an intelligent and caring person as is Howard and I would like to have your best thoughts.

Peace,

Wexler

5 Mark August 10, 2010 at 10:45 pm

Wexler,

Honestly I’m behind on all the comments. I was going to try to catch up last weekend, but my internet was down. I was not attempting to write on Beck and Liberty, but on the comments I pulled out.

I figured that since the comment I quoted from relates a bit more directly to the Prop 8 marriage issues and such that I would briefly focus on that. I wasn’t trying to slight you or anything. Please don’t take it that way.

BTW, Liberty is not my alma mater, but it is an influential school and Beck is an influential individual.

I’m also unsure of how intelligent I am though I am caring. Well, my wife says I care. 🙂

6 William W. Wexler August 10, 2010 at 11:24 pm

Thank you for the prompt and kind reply.

I should have started with an explanation that I came to this website to do research on the topic of Glenn Beck speaking at Liberty U. When the topic turned to issues of gender and woman’s rights, I informed Quinlan about the thread and invited him to join the discussion. Quinlan and I are partners on the GlennBeckReport.com website. We have been working together for a couple of months, I’d guess, and although I don’t agree with everything he believes we are pretty much concurrent on most things. (BTW, we’ve never met face to face, I’m looking forward to that day.)

I am pretty much 100% with Quinlan on the role of church in making public policy on all things, including the very divisive issues of LGBT marriage and abortion. I do not approve of abortion personally, and if I were sexually active with a woman able to bear children I would take every step necessary to prevent a situation where you have to choose that path. But it is still my choice. Actually, it would be more my wife’s choice, because it’s her body. We can’t and we shouldn’t go to the old days of back-alley illegal abortions with high mortality rates. This is an area where a church could do some real good out in the field with young kids to make them know what the consequences might be for their little experiment. Sex education would be appropriate for younger kids because younger kids are having sex. They need to know, it shouldn’t be some kind of guessing game.

As far as LGBT marriage, this is an issue I took on that rather surprised me. I don’t have any particular stake in it. I know some gay and transgendered people, but it doesn’t affect me personally in any way what they do. And then it struck me. It doesn’t affect ANYBODY in any way what they do. I suppose it might make it harder to book the wedding band you had in mind due to more work. But seriously, it really doesn’t matter to you or the state or me or anyone if two men or two women decide to marry. In America, once you get to be old enough to marry, you may pick a spouse and take the plunge. They’ll find out soon enough that it’s not all glitz and glamor and it comes down to taking out the dog, doing the laundry, mowing the yard, and putting the cap back on the toothpaste tube. (In the words of Rodney Dangerfield, “I never used to cry at weddings until AFTER I got married.”) So if your marriage is strong, it’s strong, no matter who else says they’re married. There have been a few spurious claims that this will lead to bestiality. I pretty much think that’s a fear-based argument, designed to be the clarion call to the once-a-week Christians who don’t get fired up about much of anything. You know, the kind that Jethro Tull sang about in Agualung where they state that God is not the kind you have to wind up on Sundays.

So, Quinlan correctly pointed out to me that he came over here to discuss LGBT marriage and abortion. And I agree with his positions on those issues, and although I’m more here for the Beck information I’ll be happy to take up a side with Quinlan on that one if the discussion is going to continue.

Best, and Peace…

Wexler

7 Jonathan January 22, 2012 at 7:35 pm

As far as “gay marriage” what I object to is calling it “marriage”. If all they want it for is to get the legal benefits associated with marriage then why aren’t they satisfied with “civil union” or some other term but insist on calling it marriage? According to the Bible the first marriage was officiated by God himself when he created Eve from a rib from Adam and presented her to him whereby he said in Genesis 2:23-24(KJ3) “And the man said, This now at length is bone from my bones, and flesh from my flesh. For this shall be called Woman, because this has been taken out of man. Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife and they shall become one flesh.” That is biblically what marriage is – a union between one man and one woman. No Christian should take any other position regardless of whether it affects them directly in any way or not because a Christian should care only what God says on a subject and not be like the world. Abortion is never just a woman’s decision because unless a woman can become pregnant on her own without any aid from the sperm from a man then that would entitle (I’d except cases of rape) the man to an equal say in the matter. However for me it comes down to abortion is the taking of a life without due process..meaning the baby inside the womb has done nothing worthy of the death penalty. Society has a duty and an obligation to protect the life of one human being from being unlawfully taken by another. No society can call itself civil or moral that condones the wanton murder of unborn children by their own mothers.

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