Thursday, June 02, 2005

Imposing One's Views

In responding to this column, Andrew Sullivan succinctly expresses a view I've held for years that seems consistently lost on those so-called Christians trying to influence politics:
Secularism allows Christians, and any other religious faith, to affirm religious values, live exactly as they see fit, and avoid such moral outrages as abortion and gay civil unions in their own lives, if they so wish. All secularism does is say that as a political matter, there will be as much government neutrality as possible because the government should represent all citizens; that the Church and the state shall coexist, but independently of each other.
I will never understand those who wish to write the dictates of their religion into law. I just don't get it. To me, laws banning abortion or gay marriage are no different than laws forbidding the eating of pork because it is against certain religions. Your religion says "don't eat pork"? Then don't do so. That's your business and your dinner plate you're talking about. I don't have the right to come to your house and stuff pork sandwiches down your throat. But you have no right to turn around and tell me -- someone who doesn't share your faith -- that I can't legally eat pork.

Many Christians seem to have a victim complex whereby they believe they are being picked on if the government doesn't do special favors for them.

Even way back in the dark ages, when I went through my own fundamentalist Christian phase, I thought that some of the battles being fought were silly. For example, prayer in public schools. I never understood why Christian parents would want to grant schools this power over their children. It is all well and good when your own faith is in the majority, but what if you win, and then the demographics change? All of a sudden your community is majority Muslim and the teachers are leading your kids in prayers to Allah rather than reciting the Lord's Prayer. Does anyone believe that Christian parents would be fine with that for half a second? Then why expect Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, and agnostic parents to be fine with starting the day by reciting "Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name."

Both the column and Andrew's response mention abortion, which is an excellent example of how political opponents redefine words to mischaracterize their opponent's true position. Redefine "secular" to mean "anti-Christian." Redefine "pro-choice" to mean "pro-abortion." This is supremely dishonest. Once can be personally opposed to abortion while at the same time maintain that it should be legal. It is highly unlikely that I would ever choose to have abortion myself (setting aside the fact that pregnancy isn't something that is going to just happen to me under normal circumstances here). If, say, one of my young nieces came to me for advice about an unplanned pregnancy, I would probably emphasize other options if possible. Ditto for any of my female friends. To me, pro-choice means just that...choice. The choice the woman makes does not have to be abortion. It is completely consistent and pro-choice to choose one of the other options in this situation.

In other words, forcing an abortion on a woman is just as appalling as forcing her to carry the baby to term. Both are examples of "imposing ones views" on another person.

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