As president Obama, himself a Christian, continues to make decisions about stem cells and other matters that most Republican Christians disagree with him on, it is worth seeing again this speech about the Bible and American society given by Obama (HT The Rev’s Rumbles).
I can’t think of a better example of why “the Bible says” cannot be a basis for American law than the example Obama himself mentions of Abraham and Isaac. To be Biblical could mean to make laws stating that the police and child protection agencies are not to intervene if someone is seen sacrificing their child – God may be testing their faith, and to stop the test before it is done would be inappropriate, perhaps even irreligious. But to provide for a modern society in which children are protected, we must choose not to regard this component of the Biblical literature as inerrant, leave what today’s Abrahams may or may not have heard between them and God, and have laws that allow the authorities to intervene and protect our children before it is too late.
Obama rightly emphasizes that this doesn’t mean that one cannot discuss one’s religious values in the public square. But they must be translated into some form of reasoned discourse. This is important because, in the end, if we cannot make cases for our values involving actual data and concrete examples, are we not subtly admitting that our faith is irrelevant to real life and real situations?