Religion and Politics: Some Ground Rules for Engagement

Many factors influence a person's political outlook. Inevitably religion (or an equivalent secular philosophy) will as well. But because the Constitution mandates a separation between church and state, it's acceptable to curb that influence in some cases. Laws anchored in theology or that are designed to further the interests of a religious group, for example, might not survive court scrutiny.

Some people may believe that religion is beyond criticism or that faith and its practitioners should receive special deference in the political arena. Nothing in the law compels this.

In fact, houses of worship, ministries and denominations ought to be treated like any other interest group that seeks to interact with government or influence public policy. Their policies may be good for the country, or they may not be. They should be evaluated on objective grounds. A person who strongly opposes the public policy goals of religious organizations is not an anti-religious bigot.

As for the faith groups that put these policies forth, they should always remember that they need an argument better than, "The Bible tells me so."

6/8/2016 4:00:00 AM