Dennis Prager on religion, law, and the left

“The religious have a belief in God-based moral law, and the Left believes in man-made law as the moral law. [W]hereas they cannot change God’s laws, those on the Left can and do make many of society’s laws. In fact, the Left is intoxicated with law-making. It gives them the power to mold society just as Judeo-Christian values did in the past. Unless one understands that leftist ideals function as a religion, one cannot understand the Left. Laws are the Left’s vehicles to earthly salvation.” –Dennis Prager

Comments

  1. I don’t understand this quotation. Why the contrast between the “religious” and the “left?” There are religious people who are both to the left and the right, and likewise with non-religious folk. It’s like contrasting the religious against the left-handed.

    Also, I don’t know anyone who is “left” or “liberal” who thinks that civil law somehow equates to or constitutes moral law. The Orthodox Christians are vitally interested in molding society (abortion, homosexual marriage, etc.) into a Judeo-Christian model through laws, yet the “left” are accused of that very thing. And again, I don’t know of anyone on the left for whom “leftist ideals function as a religion,” though I suppose that personal ideals are for all people a reflection of their worldviews.

  2. Dean Scourtes says:

    “A DAY IN THE LIFE OF JOE REPUBLICAN”

    Joe gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his coffeepot with water to prepare his morning coffee. The water is clean and good because some tree-hugging liberal fought for minimum water-quality standards. With his first swallow of water, he takes his daily medication. His medications are safe to take because some stupid commie liberal fought to ensure their safety and that they work as advertised.

    All but $10 of his medications are paid for by his employer’s medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance – now Joe gets it too.

    He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs. Joe’s bacon is safe to eat because some girly-man liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.

    In the morning shower, Joe reaches for his shampoo. His bottle is properly labeled with each ingredient and its amount in the total contents because some crybaby liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained.

    Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some environmentalist wacko liberal fought for the laws to stop industries from polluting our air.

    Read the rest at http://www.southknoxbubba.net/skblog/

  3. “the Left is intoxicated with law-making”

    They aren’t the only ones… We Republicans spend our days making plenty of needless, useless laws as well.

  4. You guys are missing Prager’s point. He is arguing that the moral precepts of the Judeo/Christianity provided checks on behaviors apart from the law. Putting it another way, when the cultural concensus was Judeo/Christian, less moral confusion existed so less laws were necessary that impact and govern human behavior. The cultural left (think beyond just “Democrat” Dean), lacking this religious base seeks to construct a new concensus based on legal activism, which, Prager argues, also functions as a religion. It’s a philosophical point with political/cultural ramifications, not merely a political point alone.

  5. “A day in the life of Joe Democrat”

    Joe gets up at 6:00 AM and does all the stuff Joe Republican does, because armies of ignorant Republican jarheads, spurred on by evil Republican warlord politicians, defended America, her freedom, her values, and her interests from totalitarian despots who wouldn’t have cared if the Americans they tried to conquer and enslave were Democrats or Republicans… and did this by putting their lives on the line.

    It’s “A Few Good Men” all over again.

  6. Fr. Hans writes: “He is arguing that the moral precepts of the Judeo/Christianity provided checks on behaviors apart from the law.”

    Then I don’t to which law he refers. In the “olden days” we had laws against homosexual activity, and against adultery. There were much stricter laws governing divorce. We had prohibition. We had laws banning birth control, and even a law defining contraceptive information as obscene. There were laws against obscenity, against abortion. The list goes on and on.

    It seems to me that a more accurate description is that the Judeo/Christian tradition was enshrined in laws promoted by religious people.

  7. Dean Scourtes says:

    Father Jacobse: I’m not sure I understand Parger’s argument. The only way “God-based moral law” could replace “man made law” is either if America became a theocracy, or we forcibly converted every member of society to a Judeo-Christian faith and were successful in persuading them to accept its values.

    Hopefully, and ideally, the religious values of our citizenry will inform and guide our man-made laws. But because our society is diverse and herterogenous, man made law has to result from a process of consensus and agreement among people from various backgrounds with differing views.

    Bottom line: I don’t think that there is a deliberate effort to set up a “secular-humanist” value system to compete with and challenge Judeo-Christian beliefs. Rather, the need to attain consensus means keeping laws neutral with respect to religion, and substituting an alternate value system that can apply to all members of society.

  8. Dean Scourtes says:

    Sorry Bill, but you set me up for this:

    Representative Richard Gephardt, former House Minority Leader – Missouri Air National Guard, 1965-71. (1, 2)
    Representative David Bonior – Staff Sgt., United States Air Force 1968-72 (1, 2)
    Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle – 1st Lt., U.S. Air Force SAC 1969-72 (1, 2)
    Former Vice President Al Gore – enlisted August 1969; sent to Vietnam January 1971 as an army journalist, assigned to the 20th Engineer Brigade headquartered at Bien Hoa, an airbase twenty miles northeast of Saigon. More facts about Gore’s Service
    Former Senator Bob Kerrey… Democrat… Lt. j.g., U.S. Navy 1966-69; Medal of Honor, Vietnam (1, 2)
    Senator Daniel Inouye, US Army 1943-’47; Medal of Honor, World War Two (1, 2)
    Senator John Kerry, Lt., U.S. Navy 1966-70; Silver Star, Bronze Star with Combat V, and three awards of the Purple Heart for his service in combat (1)
    Representative Charles Rangel, Staff Sgt., U.S. Army 1948-52; Bronze Star, Korea (1, 2)
    Former Senator Max Cleland, Captain, U.S. Army 1965-68; Silver Star & Bronze Star, Vietnam (1, 2)
    Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) – U.S. Army, 1951-1953. (1)
    Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) – Lt., U.S. Navy, 1962-67; Naval Reserve, 1968-74. (1, 2)
    Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) – U.S. Army Ranger, 1971-1979; Captain, Army Reserve 1979-91 (1)
    Senator Fritz Hollings (D-SC) – served as a U.S. Army officer in World War II, receiving the Bronze Star and seven campaign ribbons. (1)

    Representative Leonard Boswell (D-IA) – Lt. Col., U.S. Army 1956-76; two tours in Vietnam, two Distinguished Flying Crosses as a helicopter pilot, two Bronze Stars, and the Soldier’s Medal. (1, 2)
    Former Representative “Pete” Peterson, Air Force Captain, POW, Ambassador to Viet Nam, and recipient of the Purple Heart, the Silver Star and the Legion of Merit. (1, 2)
    Rep. Mike Thompson, D-CA: Staff sergeant/platoon leader with the 173rd Airborne Brigade, U.S. Army; was wounded and received a Purple Heart. (1, 2)
    Bill McBride, Democratic Candidate for Florida Governor – volunteered and served as a U.S. Marine in Vietnam; awarded Bronze Star with a combat “V.” (1)
    Gray Davis, former California Governor, Army Captain in Vietnam; received Bronze Star. (1)
    Pete Stark, D-CA, served in the Air Force 1955-57
    Wesley Clark, Democratic Presidential Candidate – lengthy military career.

    http://www.awolbush.com/whoserved.html

    Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert – avoided the draft, did not serve.
    Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey – avoided the draft, did not serve.
    House Majority Leader Tom Delay – avoided the draft, did not serve
    House Majority Whip Roy Blunt – did not serve
    Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist – did not serve.
    Majority Whip Mitch McConnell, R-KY – did not serve
    Rick Santorum, R-PA, third ranking Republican in the Senate – did not serve.
    Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott – avoided the draft, did not serve.
    Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld – served in the U.S. Navy (1954-57) as an aviator and flight instructor. (1) Served as President Reagan’s Special Envoy to the Middle East and met with Saddam Hussein twice in 1983 and 1984.
    GW Bush – decided that a six-year Nat’l Guard commitment really means four years. Still says that he’s “been to war.” Huh?
    VP Cheney – several deferments (1, 2), the last by marriage (in his own words, “had other priorities than military service”) (1)
    Att’y Gen. John Ashcroft – did not serve (1, 2); received seven deferment to teach business ed at SW Missouri State
    Jeb Bush, Florida Governor – did not serve. (1)
    Former Speaker Newt Gingrich – avoided the draft, did not serve

  9. Dean presents us with an interesting world, in which, were it not for liberals we would eat poisoned food, drink poisoned water, breath poisoned air, bath with poisonous products, not get needed medication, …

    Gee, I must be alive today because some liberal made it possible. Thanks, Mr. or Ms. Liberal ;)

    [BTW, nice link Dean, especially that photoshoped picture showing a weather reporter being smashed in the head with a 2×4 while reporting a storm. Is that what passes for liberal humor?]

    Come on folks, all this completely misses the point that Dennis Prager was raising, which Fr. Jacobse made clear above. Furthermore, I think moral law can also be referred to as Natural Law, which is very well described by J. Budziszewski in his book “What We Can’t Not Know” that one can read about here . Religious faith is not necessary to know these things, so we do not need to establish a theocracy to know that it is wrong to lie, cheat, steal, or murder.

  10. Michael Bauman says:

    Dean, you day “Bottom line: I don’t think that there is a deliberate effort to set up a “secular-humanist” value system to compete with and challenge Judeo-Christian beliefs.” you go on to say, “Rather, the need to attain consensus means keeping laws neutral with respect to religion, and substituting an alternate value system that can apply to all members of society”

    Part I of your statement while it may not be as pervasive as many believe, does in fact exist and many groups such as the ACLU, many atheist organizations, homosexual activists and other left wing political groups have made it quite clear what their intent is,i.e., the force all people of faith out of the public arena, especially Christians.

    Part II: Jesus said many times in many ways that we are either with Him or against Him, there is no neutral position. To ratify the truth of His statement, all I have to do is meditate on my own day and examine the choices I made and why.

  11. Well, Dean, every now and then the warlords let the bleeding hearts have a go.

  12. Michael writes: “many groups such as the ACLU, many atheist organizations, homosexual activists and other left wing political groups have made it quite clear what their intent is,i.e., the force all people of faith out of the public arena, especially Christians.”

    I have a hard time understanding this viewpoint. No doubt there are such groups; I suppose for any point of view there are advocates. But in general I don’t think this is the case.

    In fact, the opposite seems to be the current trend. Here are some examples drawn from my own experience and observation:

    1) the existence of a large number of Christian radio stations, either fundamentalist or Catholic. I know of no liberal Christian stations.

    2) both Catholic and fundamentalist TV networks. No liberal Christian network.

    3) a cable access system that, here at least, is dominated by religious (translation: fundamentalist) programming.

    4) uncountable Christian web sites and internet resources.

    5) numerous Christian publishing companies.

    6) a president whose favorite “political philosopher” is “Jesus Christ,” and a general who sees the war in Iraq as a battle between Allah and Yahweh. Obviously, I root for Yahweh, but would prefer that the issue not be framed in those terms in the first place.

    7) a large portion of the Republican party that has been taken over by conservative Christians, mostly fundamentalists.

    8) I get evangelized on the street all the time, and on my own doorstep on occasion.

    9) the existence of large numbers of tax-exempt churches. I live in a fairly small city, and there are 5 large churches, a Christian bookstore, a Catholic social service agency, a Christian food distribution center, a Salvation Army, and a pizza restaurant that plays “Jesus music” within a mile of where I live.

    10) billions of tax dollars going to support Israel, a large Israel lobby, and possibly government officials passing information to Israel.

    11) on top of all that, the murderous Islamic folks for whom every atrocity is automatically approved by Allah.

    12) even the liberal Christians have their own “causes.” Indeed, now in America it seems that one cannot in any sense be any kind of Christian without also having a political agenda that God approves of.

    The net effect for me is that I end up getting sick of the whole idea of religion. My entire contact with anything religious at this point consists of reading a couple web sites, including this one. It is difficult even to read a book on Christing history without thinking mostly of what it has become. It becomes difficult even to think about Jesus without picturing him in the company of the vile George Bush, Pat Robertson holding an abortion protest sign, and some fundamentalist reminding me that I’m going to burn in hell forever.

    At this point I honestly feel like something has been stolen from me. It’s like living in an abusive, but religious family, where the whole concept of religion becomes associated
    with the abuse. On the other hand, I’m not interested in the ravings of the atheists, seeing Janet Jackson’s boob, or listening to Howard Stern.

    I think that perhaps I have become that most rare of creatures — someone who simply wants a normal life that includes God but does not include most of his followers or his detractors. To that end, were religion to move from the public to the private realm, that would be fine with me.

  13. So if more people were ethical, government would need to intrude less? This seems sensible enough: there would be no need for police officers if there were no thieves. So if everyone in the United States decided to hoard their money and even churches decided to stop providing assistance to those in need, would the government then have a greater responsibility to provide this? Many conservatives would argue otherwise, it seems.

    I don’t think that liberals are trying to define a new morality through legislation. This would be insanity (jaywalking is immoral because it’s illegal but abortion is moral because it’s legal?). They do, however, wish to place restrictions on what areas of morality may properly be addressed by the government. I may think drug use or lying to one’s mother is immoral, but I’m not sure that the government has the right or duty to punish both (or either).

    In general, it would be nice for all denominations to back off from politics and instructing their faithful how to better live the “Judeo-Christian” ethic as individuals. Right now, it seems we are being encouraged to believe in Christianity not because it’s true, but because it will serve our political ends.

  14. I think Prager is viewing the Left as historically skeptical or non-believers, going back to the French Revolution. But it was clear that even though the great leftist intellectuals thought they had “freed” themselves from faith, they quickly substituted new ideologies that functioned the same way, such as socialism, anarchism, communism, fascism, Nazism. Even if these have all faded from the scene, that quasi-religious feeling drives liberals and radicals to be every bit as “irrational” as they accuse believers of being. And they always want the reins of government so they can tell us all how to live. Of course, this is what they accuse the religious right of doing. But I think that religious people long ago ceased trying to control anything but are merely engaged in moral self-defense at this point. The secularists have won.

  15. Carol, the French Enlightenment thinkers did not even escape Christianity as thoroughly as they thought either. Check out this great book (one of my favorites): The Heavenly City of the Eighteenth Century Philosophers by Carl Becker.