If you espouse any religious belief, you have probably been told at least once in your life, “Keep your religion out of politics.” Having held public office as a state representative in the New Hampshire legislature, I heard it countless times, especially because I was outspoken about my faith. But it’s a disingenuous thing to say to someone of faith, or to anyone for that matter. The truth is that every law, every policy, every opinion, and every rule stated and brought forward is entirely based on some form of religious beliefs.
I like to use the term “worldview,” which applies to every single human on earth. There isn’t a single person who doesn’t have a system of beliefs that informs a collection of moral principles by which they live. Even atheists and agnostics have a worldview. Ask an atheist what he or she thinks of any controversial topic today and that person will almost assuredly have an opinion on the issue. Sadly, our culture has devolved so low intellectually that people view religion separate from any other worldview, particularly Christianity.
When I served in the New Hampshire state legislature, it was no secret at all that my Christian worldview shaped how I viewed legislation. Like anyone else serving in office, I would review legislation, and then immediately decide if the bill in question was of any moral substance. If not, I would then apply reason in order to conclude what considerations needed to be made to decide whether or not that bill was good or bad for my constituents; considerations may have been scientific, agricultural, financial, etc. in nature. Every person judges things using the same types of considerations and mentalities, whether they are a public figure or a voter. My religious beliefs, at the surface, are no different than the atheist who denies the existence of God. The only difference, albeit a significant difference, is that the atheists’ worldview is devoid of God.
The qualm many people have with Christianity, is that if the Christian’s opinion is left unchallenged, it will become despotic (tyrannical). But the atheists’ worldview can become just as harmful, if not more so, if left unchallenged. So why is it that Christians are told to leave their faith out of politics, but atheists are welcome to engage in policy using their humanistic worldviews? I will leave that question for the reader to ponder.
The fact is that laws will be made by people, and all people have their own worldviews, whether religious or not. Religion does not, and should not exclude an opinion simply because it seems archaic, or holds a supernatural element. Everyone has a natural-born right to have and express their opinions. It was Benjamin Rush, signer of the Declaration of Independence, who said that he would rather his children be raised under the teachings of Muhammad rather than no religion at all; atheism was implied.
Growing up, my father used to tell me often that someone’s opinion will become law, it’s just a matter of whose opinion it will be. This is not to say atheists or those with any other secular worldviews should not be involved in politics, but to point out that laws are inevitably going to be initiated from someone’s mind informed by his worldview. There is no doubt that people of different faiths and beliefs can come together and design laws that meet the needs of those in society; and they should do so with the sole intent of the good of society. Not everyone will be happy; that’s an impossible feat. But laws can be and are often designed by leaders of different worldviews. It’s really important to recognize, though, that laws must be based on a single standard of law and morality, which is what the framers of the federal constitution believed and understood.
The question then remains: Whose worldview do you want ultimately becoming law?