It’s not uncommon to hear social liberals bemoan the fact that conservative Christians vote according to a Christian worldview, particularly on issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage.  We are told that voting according to one’s religious convictions is an imposition of that religion on the American public, and this is a violation of the 1st amendment.  While I believe such a claim is based on a misunderstanding of the meaning and intent of the 1st amendment, I will save that discussion for another day.  For my purposes here, I will only focus on the notion that voting according to one’s religious worldview is an imposition of religion.

I think we ought to distinguish between religious and moral convictions.  Religious convictions are those that are specific to a particular religion; i.e. theological convictions.  For example, my conviction that Jesus Christ is God incarnate is a religious conviction.  Moral convictions, however, are not the same as religious convictions.  While most religions have a moral component, morality is not religion- or theology-specific.  All humans have a moral sense, whether they subscribe to religious belief or not.  It will not do, then, to claim that opposition to same-sex marriage, abortion, etc., are rooted in religious convictions, thus rendering them unconstitutional (as though they are an imposition of religion in violation of the 1st amendment).

While one’s moral point of view may be consistent with the moral code embedded in their religious tradition, it does not mean their moral point of view is necessarily dependent on their religion.  It could be dependent on their moral intuitions, wholly apart from their religious beliefs.  As such, there is no reason to think one’s moral objection to some proposed law is necessarily a religious objection.

Social liberals fail to recognize that everyone who objects to a law does so for a moral reason.  Those who oppose laws establishing marriage as between a man and woman only, for example, do so because they think it wrongly discriminates against homosexuals.  No one is morally neutral.  All of us vote according to our moral convictions, whether they are rooted in our religious tradition or not.  In principle, then, liberals cannot fault conservatives for favoring or opposing certain legislation on moral grounds.  All who are involved in the process of making law do so on moral grounds.  The question is not whether one’s moral point of view will influence their politics, or whether one’s moral point of view will be imposed on those who disagree, but rather the question is whose moral point of view will be imposed.

Even if our moral objection against some law is rooted wholly in our religious beliefs, what of it?  Wouldn’t we expect people’s moral point of view to be influenced by their religious beliefs?  Of course!  Christians’ moral point of view should not be barred from the public square simply because we subscribe to the Christian religious tradition.  This would be nothing less than religious bigotry, and that is what the 1st amendment sought to avoid.  All men should have a voice in this republic, regardless of their moral or religious point of view.

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