Sometimes secularism sounds legitimate. One of the more thoughtful arguments used by proponents of a secular state, or of a state that mandates the removal of all religious and moral speech and symbols from public life, is Frenchman Frederic Bastiat's 1840 classic treatise, The Law.
Periodically, letters come to this writer encouraging him to read The Law so that his "eyes may be opened ... for certainly religion and morality have no place in American law," they claim, "and Bastiat explains why."
The scolders are right; Bastiat's The Law is a must read. But the scolders are wrong; Bastiat did not oust religion and morality from public life; he simply defended their proper use and denounced their misuse.
Bastiat's opening paragraphs supplied the foundation upon which The Law rests. Under the heading "Life Is a Gift from God," he proclaimed:
"We hold from God the gift which includes all others. This gift is life — physical, intellectual, and moral life." A rather odd way to begin a "secular" treatise: Our right to life comes from God; all other rights proceed from or are a part of that God-given right.
Bastiat continues: "But life cannot maintain itself alone. The Creator of life has entrusted us with the responsibility of preserving, developing, and perfecting it."
That is, the preservation, the development and perfection of our God-given right to life is a religious and/or moral duty.
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Steve Farrell (photo)