In the time following the recent General Conference of the LDS Church, I’ve had a brief moment to reflect on the question of faith and public reason. Although there has been great debate concerning the relationship between these two tools of society, there remains a great divide over which many dispute the issue from either side of the schism. It is clear to me, as I sit in reflection, that man is innately required to balance the powers of both faith and reason, and wield them both in the public sphere with equal fervor and dexterity.
In society today, there is a growing number of questions that conflict with the religious beliefs of many. Some such questions beg for a decisive opinion that perhaps would place the decider in conflict with the doctrine of his church. Many of you may already be thinking about one such question (as am I), and that is the matter of accepting homosexual marriages as legal and mainstream. Though I will not address this topic (as several of my colleagues have already done so), I merely wish to address the popular fashion of removing religious opinions from the public sector in all its forms.
There are those that would argue that the long lasting creed of separating church and state stands in direct opposition to promoting any sort of moral ethic tied to a religion. But are we not subject to religion? Is not our relationship and concept of man based on principles derived from religious origins founded in Christianity and other religions like unto it? I would argue that it is. We hold that men are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights; rights which men, by sheer virtue of existence, are entitled to exercise. Our reality of the natural comes as an attempt to incorporate the supernatural and incomprehensible. Regardless of sect, creed or denomination, the fact that we as a human race value human life and our planet resides in the foundations of religion.
Specific religions, though not publicly codified or universally accepted, provide the mooring line to which we can anchor our nation state. Political scholar David Walsh observed that if reason is used as though it were a mere instrument, it would proceed without direction or course. Reason becomes the means by which all laws are subject to discretion and change. Though we might argue that such a quality of change is necessary for laws born under democracy, is there not a line which we must draw in the sand? Is there not a moral compass by which we guide our decisions in this nation? The question regrettably remains unanswered.
Therefore if man, be he religious or no, abstains from promoting his values according to the dictates of his religious upbringing out of fear of persecution, then we as a people only march closer towards a privatization of religion. That is, a removal of deity from our daily lives. Politics, we know, grow more tacit and divisive as time marches on. Greed and selfishness, though ever present in our history books, have continued to corrode the institutions and laws that have held firm our nation until now. Slowly, the virtues of right and wrong fade into a haze of rationality and personal indulgence. Would it be so wrong to more assertively champion the virtues taught by the religions we hold as sacred?
I hope that none will confuse my affirmation of religious fervor as an attempt to merely place myself amongst those LDS leaders that spoke during General Conference. Yet I have found that I cannot be content with halfheartedly promoting that which I know to be true. I hope this article will be nothing more than an additional voice sounding in favor of the incorporation of moral and religious virtues into our secular society. May you be blessed in your efforts to better society and promote the values you feel we must profess in order to secure further liberty and peace.
Jess Jones is a conservative political columnist for Rhombus. He hasn’t written an article in so long that many feared him dead.
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