Unfortunately, we had an example last week of the Democrats doing what the Republicans have long done, using religion to support their public policy. Sen. Dianne Feinstein held a press conference to announce her gun control proposals and opened it with a prayer:
As Sen. Dianne Feinstein D-Calif. opened her press conference on gun control today, she invited Dean of the National Cathedral Rev. Canon Gary Hall to offer a prayer.
Hall spoke briefly before the prayer, calling for Washington lawmakers to stop fearing the gun lobby and fulfill their “moral duty” to restrict guns.
“Everyone in this city seems to live in terror of the gun lobby,” Hall said. “But I believe that the gun lobby is no match for the cross lobby.”
But there is no “cross lobby,” especially on this issue, where the religious right will be decidedly against gun control. And public policy should be decided on rational, not religious, grounds. But the right is doing the same thing. David French, who has done good work on free speech issues, makes the religious case against gun control in a column at the National Review.
Simply put, self defense is a biblical and natural right of man, and I fear that his words imply otherwise. There is nothing about the cross that requires me to allow someone to kill my family — or anyone else for that matter. Indeed, I have a moral imperative to come to the aid of those in distress…
First, it has always been clear that human life is precious — so precious, in fact, that throughout time God has mandated the ultimate penalty for unlawful killing. Among God’s first words to Noah after the Flood subsided was this declaration of the importance of human life and the price paid for spilling human blood: “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.” (Genesis 9:6) This statement is not made to a nation-state or to a police force but instead to a small band of people who are rebuilding human society from the ground up. While obviously not specifically addressing self-defense, by establishing that fundamental principle the biblical commands and examples that follow demonstrate how God expects us to protect life in the real world.
After quoting the Bible many times, he then concludes:
What does all this mean? Essentially that gun control represents not merely a limitation on a constitutional right but a limitation on a God-given right of man that has existed throughout the history of civil society. All rights — of course — are subject to some limits (the right of free speech is not unlimited, for example), and there is much room for debate on the extent of those limits, but state action against the right of self-defense is by default a violation of the natural rights of man, and the state’s political judgment about the limitations of that right should be viewed with extreme skepticism and must overcome a heavy burden of justification.
Of course it should. Every exercise of the government’s coercive power should overcome a heavy burden of justification. But that justification should be made solely on the basis of rationality, not religious duty.