It’s one of the most commonly heard warnings whenever debates erupt in Congress or elsewhere in our public policy forums with even the remotest links to divisive social issues — “Don’t impose your morality on me!”
But if you work in Congress, the reality is that you are in one way or another, to a greater or lesser degree, part of the inherent process of defining, applying, revising or communicating the morality government enforces on — and on behalf of — us all every day.
Dr. Frank Turek of cross-examined.org gets right to the point in responding to the warning about not imposing morality: “Well actually, that’s what every one is trying to do. Everyone is trying to put their own beliefs into the law.”
Turek continued during a recent panel on which he was participating, noting that “all laws legislate morality, the only question is whose morality, so it’s impossible not to legislate a moral position, the question is whose moral position. When people say to me ‘don’t impose your morality on me,’ I say ‘why not, would that be immoral?”
Whether Turek’s questioner responds “yes” or “no,” there is every bit as much of a morality behind the warning as there is behind the perceived threat that prompted it.
Of course, it’s not “his” morality and Turek doesn’t have the unilateral authority to “impose” it on anybody. Laws in this country are made through our representative assemblies with the consent of the governed.
But we all have the right to express our moral preferences and that includes the moral preference that government not punish or reward any particular action. Even favoring no laws (i.e. favoring anarchy) is imposing a moral position.
So whenever anybody working on the Hill is part of any effort to write or rewrite the laws, they are making moral preferences, whether they realize it or not and regardless of how remote they may be in the process from the ultimate decisions.
Turek’s full response takes a bit more than two minutes and it should clarify the issue, whether you are a legislative assistant, general counsel, chief of staff, caseworker, whatever. Whose morality are you imposing today?
Turek is the co-author, with the recently deceased Dr. Norman Geisler, of “I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist,” a classic analysis of the arguments for and against. And much else.
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