When someone doesn't like certain government restrictions, the call comes out to "remove religion from government." Let's look at some consequences and see if unrestricted freedom makes life better.
We need to choose a religion to remove. We'll use Christianity, the most popular target due to its moral code. Pushing aside theological arguments for their relevance--while noting their ubiquity in freedom from religion lawsuits--let's use some of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) as our test case. What would happen if we removed their principles from public life?
"You shall have no other gods before me." The bottom line: When one desires to remove "religion" from the marketplace, he means "God," the Author of the moral code. In pushing God aside, the litigant assumes the mantel of moral arbiter. Hence, laws can be anything one wants them to be: "You shall have no other anarchists before me." When God is pushed out, human depravity flows in.
"You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain." Eliminating this would barely make a dent in modern society. The casual use of God's and Christ's name as epithets in conversation--both scripted and common--render this commandment, in effect, meaningless. Tellingly, "religious" names other than biblical ones are never used as curse words.
"You shall not murder." Were this eliminated, capital punishment would be abolished. Abortion would not be newsworthy. War would be another athletic contest. If I thought your sneakers or cell phone were worth more than your life, I would be justified in killing you for them. George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin would be anonymous and uncontroversial. Adolph Hitler might still be alive and well and worry-free, a poster boy for prejudice.
"You shall not commit adultery." Adultery is sex outside of heterosexual marriage. All extramarital relationships would be fair game. We can't say we'd act like animals, because most of them are monogamous and heterosexual. Jerry Sandusky would only--and still--be known as Penn State's defensive coordinator. STDs would not be a stigma and would flourish. Bestiality, prostitution, and bigamy could be taught in high school (and lower) health class. Rape and pornography would be defensible. Women and children first!
"You shall not steal." What's mine is mine, and what's yours is mine. Bernie Madoff made off with what he was entitled to and should be set free. All laws against theft would be removed. Burglar alarms would not be necessary. Safes, vaults, and locks wouldn't make sense. Private property would be a thing of the past. We can look to Communism as our guide.
"You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor." There goes the judicial system.
"You shall not covet your neighbor's house . . . wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's." Desiring what belongs to someone else is the root of crime. While no government can regulate the thoughts of a person, it can regulate the actions borne of one's motives. In a society where nothing is "mine," i.e., no right to private property, all bets are off. Anyone can do anything to anyone without fear of recrimination.
Just eliminating these religious concepts would eliminate prisons, courts, lawyers, police, armies, news outlets (What would be newsworthy?), benevolent societies (Who cares if someone goes without? Survival of the fittest!), etc. No laws = no crime!
Everyone, from legalist to anarchist, should find these consequences abhorrent, yet might argue, "There are natural laws that all societies agree to. We would just live by them." What is their source? "They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them" (Romans 2:15). The God some want to remove is the Author of conscience, so we can't "let conscience be our guide." Removing His standards would eliminate the concept of evil from the world, rendering all acts defensible and desirable. Dare we pretend that might work--at such a cost?
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