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Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Brief Continuum of the Religious—Secular State

What are the major points on a brief Religious—Secular State Continuum?  The point on the left end of the continuum line is the Religious State.  The key factor to this arrangement is that it places law outside the purview of discussion and debate.  The law of the state is determined by religious law and authority which in turn is determined by unassailable inspired truth.  The middle point on the continuum is the Mixed State.  Here the people can be religious but the laws of the land are determined by discussion and debate to some extent informed by religious values held by the individual constituents.  Religion here can have great influence but no direct power or authority.  The point on the extreme right of the continuum is the Secular State.  The inhabitants of this state eschew all religion and abhor references to religious inspiration or authority by either institutions or individuals.  Law in this view is no longer tainted by appeals to unassailable authority of any kind but is entirely the creation of humanity.  Humanism here serves as the only unassailable doctrine.  In my view the country of my birth, the United States, is a Mixed State.  The main advantage of this arrangement is that it leaves room for divine inspiration.  It is an arrangement that partially rests on humility before God and helps keep in check inordinate pride.  Change, which is inevitable, is undergirded by arguable but widely accepted eternal values.  However messy this arrangement can be it avoids the rigidity and forced unity of the right and the arrogance and human behavioral fantasies of the left.  In this arrangement no one is either above secular law on the one hand nor divine judgment on the other.

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