Interesting argument on the impossibility of true neutrality
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08-10-2016, 07:04 AM
Interesting argument on the impossibility of true neutrality
I've been debating with my father about how a secular government should be run. He says there can be no such thing as "religious freedom", because of things like abortion. He, as a Catholic, believes that abortion is murder and should never be allowed under any circumstances. Therefore he believes that he has a moral duty to prevent them from happening, and a society that impedes his ability to do so is upholding a belief contrary to his worldview. A society always has to hold a set of values(whether they be religious or naturalistic). He's written a blog post on the subject that can be found here: http://freethoughtforchrist.blogspot.com...ty-of.html
(Note: If any of you feel inclined to comment on that post, I would appreciate it if you neglected to mention that I sent you. I feel that information might somewhat upset the current household balance I've worked to maintain during my coming out period. Thanks!)

It's an interesting topic. My current answer to him would be that I see morality as personal and subjective, so all I can do is attempt to create a society that corresponds with that sense as it applies to my own life. Our sense of right and wrong grows and changes as humans, and that's reflected in society's choices.

Thoughts?

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08-10-2016, 07:15 AM
RE: Interesting argument on the impossibility of true neutrality
If neutrality for religious freedom is not possible, I hope he realizes that it is his Catholic views that are interfering with that.
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08-10-2016, 07:18 AM (This post was last modified: 08-10-2016 07:35 AM by EvolutionKills.)
RE: Interesting argument on the impossibility of true neutrality
I'm not sure if 'neutrality' is the word you want. I'd strive for 'secularism', the separation of church and state, a neutral ground where no religion is given favoritism over another (or none) merely on religious grounds. To operate inside a secular framework, then any law needs to be able to stand on it's own merit. So in a secular society, a law forcing everyone to follow Jewish dietary restrictions would be a violation of secularism.

Unless your father wants to abide by Jewish dietary laws and Muslim calls to prayer, then he needs to realize that his stance on abortion doesn't get any special privilege just because he's Catholic. Judaism generally doesn't have an issue with abortion, because according to their traditions a body doesn't gain a soul until it's first breath. According to the ancient Hellenistic faiths, a soul wasn't bestowed until the first time an infant laughed. Plus you can make a valid argument that the god of the Old Testament clearly didn't care for not killing the pre-born (worldwide flood) or the innocent (dash the babies against the rocks), plus there is the ever present offer of salvation; even if abortion is a sin by Catholic standards, you're only a few prayers away from absolution.

So he can oppose abortion all he wants, but unless he has a better argument to rest his case on besides "because my religion says so", then he has no place at the secular debate table; and that same standard should be applied to everyone equally. That would be the basis for neutrality, if that's the word you want to use; a status quo of no favoritism, exceptions, or special pleading. If he wants to live under a Catholic theocracy, then he aught to petition Vatican City for citizenship.

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08-10-2016, 07:36 AM
RE: Interesting argument on the impossibility of true neutrality
(08-10-2016 07:04 AM)ErinRH2342 Wrote:  I've been debating with my father about how a secular government should be run. He says there can be no such thing as "religious freedom", because of things like abortion. He, as a Catholic, believes that abortion is murder and should never be allowed under any circumstances. Therefore he believes that he has a moral duty to prevent them from happening, and a society that impedes his ability to do so is upholding a belief contrary to his worldview. A society always has to hold a set of values(whether they be religious or naturalistic). He's written a blog post on the subject that can be found here: http://freethoughtforchrist.blogspot.com...ty-of.html
(Note: If any of you feel inclined to comment on that post, I would appreciate it if you neglected to mention that I sent you. I feel that information might somewhat upset the current household balance I've worked to maintain during my coming out period. Thanks!)

It's an interesting topic. My current answer to him would be that I see morality as personal and subjective, so all I can do is attempt to create a society that corresponds with that sense as it applies to my own life. Our sense of right and wrong grows and changes as humans, and that's reflected in society's choices.

Thoughts?

Thoughts? Your father is simply wrong as he can speak against abortion all he wants . He only isn't allowed to force his religious taboos onto others and it's not curtailing his freedom but rather saving others from religious oppression.

Also if abortion is murder then masturbation is genocide.

The first revolt is against the supreme tyranny of theology, of the phantom of God. As long as we have a master in heaven, we will be slaves on earth.

Mikhail Bakunin.
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08-10-2016, 07:50 AM
RE: Interesting argument on the impossibility of true neutrality
(08-10-2016 07:36 AM)Szuchow Wrote:  Thoughts? Your father is simply wrong as he can speak against abortion all he wants . He only isn't allowed to force his religious taboos onto others and it's not curtailing his freedom but rather saving others from religious oppression.

Also if abortion is murder then masturbation is genocide.

Indeed. It's super fucked up when people equate "not being able to impose my religion on everyone else" with "religious persecution"... Dodgy

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08-10-2016, 08:15 AM
RE: Interesting argument on the impossibility of true neutrality
(08-10-2016 07:04 AM)ErinRH2342 Wrote:  He says there can be no such thing as "religious freedom", because of things like abortion. He, as a Catholic, believes that abortion is murder and should never be allowed under any circumstances. Therefore he believes that he has a moral duty to prevent them from happening, and a society that impedes his ability to do so is upholding a belief contrary to his worldview.

My personal view is that anti-abortion activists should be kicked in the crotch. Fortunately for your Dad, society impedes my ability to do so and upholds a belief contrary to my worldview.

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(06-02-2014 03:47 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  And I'm giving myself a conclusion again from all the facepalming.
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08-10-2016, 08:21 AM
RE: Interesting argument on the impossibility of true neutrality
For a second I thought this was gonna be a Dungeons and Dragons debate. Leave my druid alone godammit.

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08-10-2016, 03:32 PM
RE: Interesting argument on the impossibility of true neutrality
Hello. I'm the guy who wrote the blog post you're talking about. Basically, my argument is that religious/worldview neutrality in law is impossible simply because any set of laws (particularly on controversial issues) will reflect the values and beliefs of some rather than others. With regard to abortion, for example, if I, as a Catholic, attempt to influence civil law to oppose abortion on the grounds that it is wrong according to Catholic beliefs and values, then it is quite true to point out that I am encourage the law to reflect Catholic beliefs and values, and that is not religiously neutral. On the other hand, if a person tries to influence civil law to allow abortion, that position flows from other beliefs and values, beliefs and values different in some ways from mine. (For example, perhaps the person is an Agnostic rather than a Catholic and so doesn't think that "God's moral law" is a good reason to ban abortion or that there is any other good reason.) And so that position is not religiously neutral either, as it assumes some view other than my Catholic view just as much as my position assumes my Catholic view.

There is no way around this sort of thing, and so religious/worldview neutrality in civil law is impossible (unless everyone in the society agrees about all relevant beliefs and values, which is extremely unlikely in a society of any significant size). This seems quite evident to me, but I think it is hard for a lot of people to accept because accepting it requires quite a bit of modification regarding how we like to think of our American identity as religiously neutral.

If any are interested, I carried on quite an extensive conversation on this topic with a number of people a few years back in the comments section of this article - http://rationallyspeaking.blogspot.com/2...ipled.html (I'm Mark Hausam, by the way.)

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts. Thanks!
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08-10-2016, 05:07 PM (This post was last modified: 08-10-2016 06:19 PM by Reltzik.)
RE: Interesting argument on the impossibility of true neutrality
(08-10-2016 07:04 AM)ErinRH2342 Wrote:  I've been debating with my father about how a secular government should be run. He says there can be no such thing as "religious freedom", because of things like abortion. He, as a Catholic, believes that abortion is murder and should never be allowed under any circumstances. Therefore he believes that he has a moral duty to prevent them from happening, and a society that impedes his ability to do so is upholding a belief contrary to his worldview. A society always has to hold a set of values(whether they be religious or naturalistic). He's written a blog post on the subject that can be found here: http://freethoughtforchrist.blogspot.com...ty-of.html
(Note: If any of you feel inclined to comment on that post, I would appreciate it if you neglected to mention that I sent you. I feel that information might somewhat upset the current household balance I've worked to maintain during my coming out period. Thanks!)

It's an interesting topic. My current answer to him would be that I see morality as personal and subjective, so all I can do is attempt to create a society that corresponds with that sense as it applies to my own life. Our sense of right and wrong grows and changes as humans, and that's reflected in society's choices.

Thoughts?

[Image: neutrality_shmeutrality.png]

The point of religious freedom isn't that government will never do anything to impede any religious practice in any way. It impedes religion when it, for example, makes murder illegal and stops holy wars and witch hunts from breaking out all over the place. (People who say religions don't do this should study history.)

The point is that individual freedom of belief and pronouncement of belief shall be maintained, and that no one shall be forced to alter either under duress. Additionally, the Establishment clause (if you're here in the US, that is, which I'll assume unless you correct me) means, among other things, that the government can't engage in acts of government without a non-religious purpose. The Persecution Clause (not sure if that's its official name) prevents particular religions, beliefs, or stances from being targeted for discrimination.

But it does not require the government to avoid engaging in an action that any religion might find objectionable. This is indeed impossible. Either you piss off the Catholics by making abortion legal, or you piss off the Satanic Temple (among others) by making it illegal. And if you deliberately favor one religion over the other, then you are in a very real legal sense establishing it as being above the other in violation of the Constitution.

But if the government acts with deliberate blindness on the subject, if it makes these decisions without consultation or care as to whether or not they violate or advance anything that any religion cares about, but instead decides entirely on a policy's merits viewed from outside of a religious perspective, then that IS a form of neutrality towards religion. Not deliberately balancing the interests, but being totally indifferent to them.

So if Catholics and other anti-abortion advocates can actually, objectively, verifiably, without relying on their faith, prove their contention of the personhood of a three-days-past-fertilization embryo, great. That provides a secular basis to an anti-abortion policy, allowing it to proceed forward entirely on the basis of that evidence and in complete apathy towards whether Catholics believe it or not. But otherwise? I'll allow for some reasonable accommodation following that, but only reasonable accommodation. Nationalizing the bodies of women just to humor the unproven beliefs of some religions while violating the unproven beliefs of others is not reasonable.

The only alternative to what we have now is either to elevate one religion above all others, which is woefully unconstitutional, or to put ALL religious beliefs into law, which would result in, among other things, reactionary Islamists being legally entitled to go around bombing churches because their religious principles require them to kill heretics.

........

None of this will convince your father.

Instead, try discussing EFFECTIVE ways to reduce the abortion rate.

In particular, and I don't have the links on me at the moment, a healthy pro-choice strategy is far better at bringing the abortion rate down than broad "pro-life" policies. Time after time, in side-by-side comparisons, regions that make available to all things like family consultations, pre-natal care, acceptance without stigma of out-of-wedlock pregnancy, and above all easy access to contraceptives by people well-educated in their use, have lower abortion rates because there are fewer unwanted pregnancies.

The choice really is between a gesture of governmental disapproval through illegalization, versus actually doing something that is effective at bringing down abortion rates. Time after time we see that you can't have both. So the question is, empty gesture against abortion, versus effective measures to bring that rate down but that also increase contraceptive use. Which is more important to him?
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08-10-2016, 08:06 PM
RE: Interesting argument on the impossibility of true neutrality
"But if the government acts with deliberate blindness on the subject, if it makes these decisions without consultation or care as to whether or not they violate or advance anything that any religion cares about, but instead decides entirely on a policy's merits viewed from outside of a religious perspective, then that IS a form of neutrality towards religion. Not deliberately balancing the interests, but being totally indifferent to them."

To be indifferent to the beliefs and values of Catholicism is to take effectively the position that they are not true or that we do not know them to be true (or else it is to adopt a position of intentional stupidity, for if Catholicism is really true and can be known to be true it would be the height of foolishness to go against the objective moral law of God). Your entire post assumes a non-religious (Atheist or Agnostic) point of view, which is exactly what I mean when I say that it is not a neutral position any more than mine is.

"But it does not require the government to avoid engaging in an action that any religion might find objectionable. This is indeed impossible. Either you piss off the Catholics by making abortion legal, or you piss off the Satanic Temple (among others) by making it illegal."

Exactly. Either you embrace a law that, in order to make sense, assumes the Catholic worldview (or some other worldview whose beliefs and values lead to the same conclusion), or you make a law that, in order to make sense, assumes a contrary viewpoint. There can be no religious neutrality in civil law.
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