What evangelicals forget about Lady Justice

20120512-123835.jpg Should government be secular? Or should government reflect the traditions, and religions, of the people from whom it derives its authority?

Those on both sides of this issue seem to be in a stalemate. Each can selectively introduce historical evidence to support or refute the positions of the other. And while the courts may declare winners, I fear that the evangelical movement has been led astray by allowing itself to be distracted from a simple, glaring truth.

They already support secularism under a different name.

Advocates for secular government are simply asking for fairness in the law. This is not a particularly controversial point of view. Consider our notion of justice, for example. We believe that all people should be equal before the law (we even have the 14th amendment to help protect that belief.) We believe that justice, or the equal application of law, should be blind.

Great controversies arise when some of us feel that Lady Justice peaks from beneath her blindfold and treats one person differently before the law than another. If we feel we are being treated unfairly – or judged disproportionately – in relationship to others, our Golden Rule alert system kicks in. This is an old friction point, worn thin by a long history of perceived contrast in treatment under the law in relation to wealth, race or religion.

Someone who advocates for secular government is simply asking for this same fairness in the creation of law that we already hold dear in both the interpretation (courts) and enforcement (police) of the law.

If we are ever to fully realize that ideal which we have personified into marble statues, we all must accept that – when it comes to the governmental institutions that create law – race, wealth or religion should be checked at the door.

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About SWIRLosopher

The SWIRLosopher is Sean Trapani, a professor emeritus of advertising who - despite a degree in philosophy - has abandoned all reason and is trying to make a living in the wine business.

2 thoughts on “What evangelicals forget about Lady Justice

  1. Fundamentalists and evangelicals forget that one of the factors necessitating a secular constitution from the very beginning of America was the diversity of beliefs that existed at the time. Many of the colonies espoused a particular religion, and, especially in the 17th century, were not tolerant of others, which resulted in groups of people moving out and starting other colonies. How were these diverse religious groups to come together and form a nation? By subtracting religion from the conversation when it came to matters of patriotism. The word ‘god’ appears once in the Declaration of Independence, and not at all in the Constitution.

    Of course secularism is the right approach; it guarantees that people of any faith (or not faith at all) can worship God (or not) in any way they please. As a Christian – and as a secularist – I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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