Now, relative to church participation in public debate, when churches or church leaders choose to enter the public sector to engage in debate on a matter of public policy, they should be admitted to the debate and they should expect to participate in it on the same basis as all other participants. In other words, if churches or church leaders choose to oppose or favor a particular piece of legislation, their opinions should be received on the same basis as the opinions offered by other knowledgeable organizations or persons, and they should be considered on their merits. By the same token, churches and church leaders should expect the same broad latitude of discussion of their views that conventionally applies to everyone else’s participation in public policy debates. A church can claim access to higher authority on moral questions, but its opinions on the application of those moral questions to specific legislation will inevitably be challenged by and measured against secular-based legislative or political judgments. As James E. Wood observed, “While denunciations of injustice, racism, sexism, and nationalism may be clearly rooted in one’s religious faith, their political applications to legislative remedy and public policy are by no means always clear.”11th hour," I would have enjoyed the opportunity to think about gay marriage a lot more before deciding whether to support or oppose the particular amendment considered by the legislature. As it was, the reponses I got from my congressman and senators were assuringly rational, if a bit surprising. They agreed that marriage should be between one man and one woman, but that such things ought to be governed by states, not in a federal constitutional amendment. Having been involved in policy making on a very small scale, I think it's interesting to watch a popular idea destroyed because the implementation is all wrong. It's a good thing, certainly, but also a marvel anything ever gets done.
But my reluctance to support the amendment wasn't based on the execution, it was based on the idea itself. And my opposition to the idea was based on the way I thought it was appropriate for goverment to codify religiously based morals. Basically, I've come to believe as Oaks expressed above that religiously informed moral views have every right to be aired, but they are judged on the same basis of every other view. And I thought in this case the only argument I could make was "because God says so," which is a fantastic reason, but one unpersuasive when considered on the same basis as every other view. "On the same basis" means largely for me that science ought to give legitimacy and credibility to a view whenever science has something legitimate and credible to say on that view. The problem is, of course, that science is routinely obscured in favor of pseudo-science marketing crap that makes much stronger conclusions than are warranted. Without science or pseudoscience, the argument often becomes a series of assertions and denials that beg the question.
Anyway, this post isn't about science. It's about religion and public policy. I was excited to find this article from Elder Oaks (who is one of my favorite writers in the church). I found it persuasive. I'd be interested to hear everyone's thoughts.