Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Melissa Rogers on 'Justice Sunday II'

Melissa Rogers, visiting professor of religion and public policy at Wake Forest University Divinity School, has written an outstanding essay highlighting the concerns that a lot of us have with the rhetoric of the Religious Right as it rallies to stack the judiciary. Here's her conclusion:

It has become fashionable to say that the court is demonstrating hostility toward faith when it prevents the government from promoting faith for us. But those who make this argument are either ignorant of or willfully blind to the rationales expressed in Supreme Court precedent in this area. The court traditionally has refused to promote or to interfere with religion not because it is anti-religious, but because it wants to leave people free to make choices in matters of faith and to ensure that religious people and organizations may worship as they see fit, rather than as the government sees fit. Further, anyone who suggests that the court has scrubbed religion from the public square is inexplicably missing the rich religious landscape all around us -- a landscape that has thrived in the midst of the Supreme Court's so-called "hostility" toward religion.

Family Research Council has every right to hold this event. The precise role religion should play in public life, the exact place where the court should draw the church-state line, and the morality of abortion as well as other policy and legal matters are all legitimate topics for public debate. Religious citizens have the same rights as non-religious citizens to argue their side. But disagreement with those positions is not automatically anti-religious bigotry or hostility to faith.

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