Thursday, August 11, 2005

Christians and conflict of interest

I just came across Christopher Morris' Boston Globe editorial (via Anchor Rising) in which he suggests that Catholic judges have a conflict of interest when it comes to Roe v. Wade.

It's ridiculous to cite conflict of interest based on religion alone since all people have deeply held opinions about what is right and wrong. Does a liberal judge not have his own strongly-held morals that might influence his opinion (to say, declare it unconstitutional to say "God" in the pledge of allegiance or to mysteriously find rights to gay marriage in centuries-old constitutions)?

It's unfair that Christians constantly have the conflict of interest card pulled on them just because a) they actually admit to having a belief system and b) it's clear, predictable and written down. The fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, I-know-it-when-I-see-it value system of the atheist left leads to convictions that are as strongly held as the most devout Christian's, the only difference being that they're based on individual opinions rather than time tested scriptures.

But that's beside the point.

I'm going to go way out on a limb here and assume that Morris leans left politically and is pro-choice. He seems to have skipped the class in the 6th grade where the rest of us learned about the Constitution and the Supreme Court because, like most liberals and abortion supporters, he seems to think that Roe v. Wade is what makes abortion legal and that a pro-life justice could not defend a position that supported Roe.

But, luckily, Roberts probably understands that as a Supreme Court Justice all he'd have to do is read the Constitution and see what it says. He could easily be against abortion but find that the Fourteenth Amendment was indeed implying a right to terminate a pregnancy at any point in gestation, thus supporting Roe. If that's what it says, that's what it says. No moral judgment involved.

I suspect that the bishops Morris was referring to were unhappy with Kerry because of his support for abortion, not his opinion on Roe v. Wade. If they were, they need to join Morris in a Constitution 101 class at the local community college where they can all learn together that your opinion about whether or not abortion should be legal and your opinion on the Roe ruling can (and should) be two separate things. One is a question about when life begins, the other is a question about what is written down in the Constitution.

But, ultimately, I think that this is just a case of projecting onto others those traits which you recognize in yourself. Judicial activism is a much more typical characteristic of the "spiritual but not religious" crowd on the left. Notice that when Christian and conservative groups wanted to ban gay marriage they were proposing a constitutional amendment, i.e. following the set procedures for how you go about making changes to the laws. Just getting some judges to suddenly discover it in the Constitution would have been much easier, but that's not typically how they operate. Christians are comfortable with the concept of following laws. They understand at an early age that when it comes to laws, whether they're God's or the country's, your personal opinion doesn't matter. There is a system in place designed by God in the spiritual world and by the government in the material world, and if you want to make changes you need to work within that system.

You don't generally see that sort of deep understanding and respect for laws on the left, possibly because of the disconnect with religion. Everything is subjective, rules were made to be broken if it doesn't sound right to you personally, so it's okay to go around the system and "find" things that don't exist in the laws as long as you're doing the right thing.

Morris and his ilk need to stop the melodramatic hand-wringing about Christian conflict of interest and admit that these folks are much more likely to have respect for the system than people who think that humans and their opinions are the highest force in the universe.


At September 28, 2007 9:21 AM, Blogger Dallas said...

wow. it's interesting that you totally neglect the possibility that someone can be a Christian and still be liberal... Therefore, someone can be a Christian and feel deeply called to morality defined by Christ. That doesn't, if you'll pardon me, always mean that a christian will agree with the law of the land.

At January 29, 2010 3:55 PM, Blogger Father Gregory Wassen said...

I would have to agree with the above comment. Quite a few "liberal" issues are high on my agenda precisely because I am a Christian and Orthodox Priest (supporting the poor, the needy, sick by means of meaningful reforms - which so-called conservatives are blocking). Otoh abortion is also high on my agenda (I am pro-life).

Iow from my pov there are probably as many problems for a Christian with a so-called political conservative agenda as there are for a Christian and a so-called liberal political agenda. A Christian could be both a liberal Democrat or a conservative Republican (and everything in between).

Fr. Gregory Wassen +


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