Letter: We don’t need religion to be moral
During Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s hearing for the Supreme Court, Republicans challenged the rights to use birth control, to access abortion, to marry across racial lines, and to marry a same-sex partner.
So, how do these Republicans square overturning these established rights with the fact that we live in a democracy, in which the majority should rule, as long as it does not crush a minority?
In a 2019 speech, William Barr, at that time attorney general, answered that. He presented a profound rewriting of the meaning of American democracy. He argued that by “self-government” the framers of the Constitution did not mean the ability of people to vote for representatives of their choice. Instead, he said, they meant individual morality: the ability to govern oneself. And since, he thought, people are inherently wicked, self-government requires the authority of a religion: Christianity.
This is such a corruption of the meaning of democracy that it makes me sick. The thought that humans are inherently wicked and that we need the authority of a religion to be moral is ridiculous. I was born a non-believer and have never been anything else, and I’ll bet I’ve led at least as ethical a life as Barr has.
I trust that the majority of Americans understand what the founders of this country meant by “democracy” and that our country was ordained, from the beginning, a secular state.