Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Religion and Tyranny of the Majority

The LA Times Opinion page was full of interesting stuff today. An op-ed piece by Charlotte Allen, author of "The Human Christ: the search for the historical Jesus" demonstrates the fundamental ignorance about democracy of the Christian right.

Allen says: "Given that we've got a presidential election in November, offering voters a chance to boot out the Bible-thumping president if they wish, where's the threat to democracy?
But that's beside the point, which is: Although the Constitution explicitly requires separation of church and state, most Americans don't mind — indeed many demand — that their president not only honor religious faith, an American hallmark, but function in some sense as a religious leader."

Allen is arguing that if the majority wants it, it can't be undemocratic. More alarmingly, Allen seems to be arguing that the will of the majority should trump the Constitution! But the Constitution is there to protect people from what the Founding Father's referred to as the "tyranny of the majority." If 50% +1 wanted to take away Bill Gates' money and distribute it evenly to the rest of the population ($107 per American!) would that be "democratic?" Allen's logic would say yes. The Founding Fathers disagreed.

What is worse, I doubt that Allen's statement is an accurate statement of American opinion so really, her views would represent a tyranny of the minority, which is even worse.


The Law Talking Guy said...

Of course, the poll numbers (83% of Americans claim to be Christians, even a larger % believe in a deity) suggest that posing the conflict as secularists vs. religion is a loser. Some of that 83% are liberal Christians, Reform Jews, non-ethnic Buddhists, and others who favor democracy but also believe in God.

Raised By Republicans said...

According to 12% of the US population never attends religous services. Another poll on that website says that 10% of respondents report their religion as "none." Despite this, religious voters think it entirely legitimate to require overt religiosity of some form as prerequisite for political office. If the same opinion were expressed about African Americans, who make up roughly the same proportion of the population, (that by their nature they should be excluded from public office) we would declare a national crisis and do everything we could to stamp out intollerance. But atheists/agnostics are fair game.