Least surprising news story of the day: Eugene Volokh misses the point entirely:
I keep hearing evangelical Christian leaders criticized for “trying to impose their religious dogma on the legal system,” for instance by trying to change the law to ban abortion, or by trying to keep the law from allowing gay marriage. I’ve blogged about this before, but I think it’s worth mentioning again.
I like to ask these critics: What do you think about the abolitionist movement of the 1800s? As I understand it, many — perhaps most or nearly all — of its members were deeply religious people, who were trying to impose their religious dogma of liberty on the legal system that at the time legally protected slavery.
Or what do you think about the civil rights movement? The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., after all, was one of its main leaders, and he supported and defended civil rights legislation as a matter of God’s will, often in overtly religious terms. He too tried to impose his religious dogma on the legal system, which at the time allowed private discrimination, and in practice allowed governmental discrimination as well.
Or how about religious opponents of the draft, opponents of the death penalty, supporters of labor unions, supporters of welfare programs, who were motivated by their religious beliefs — because deeply religious people’s moral beliefs are generally motivated by their religious beliefs — in trying to repeal the draft, abolish the death penalty, protect labor, or better the lot of the poor? Perhaps their actions were wrong on the merits; for instance, maybe some anti-poverty problems caused more problems than they solved, or wrongly took money from some to give to others. But would you condemn these people on the grounds that it was simply wrong for them to try to impose their religious beliefs on the legal system?
My sense is that the critics of the Religious Right would very rarely levy the same charges at the Religious Left. Rather, they’d acknowledge that religious people are entitled to try to enact their moral views (which stem from their religious views) into law, just as secular people are entitled to try to enact their moral views (which stem from their secular, but generally equally unprovable, moral axioms) into law.
You see, the difference is that slavery and segregation were stupid for reasons other than their violation of religious principles. The same simply can’t be said of abortion or gay rights. Abolishing a woman’s right to choose is defended by the absurd conjecture that fetuses have “souls”. Writing discrimination into the constitution is defended by digging up obscure Leviticus passages. There aren’t any other arguments that haven’t already been proved wrong by science (i.e. that fetuses feel pain, or that being gay is a choice). Our objection isn’t with their views per se; it’s that they have no justification other than that found in Christianity. And religion should never factor into public policy in any way, shape, or form.