Here's a very nice problem that goes to the heart of one of the issues I find compelling these days. By what right are moral approbations applied from a religious / doctrinal perspective binding upon secular authorities in a democratic state?
More than 75 professors at Catholic University and other prominent Catholic colleges have written a pointed letter to Mr. Boehner saying that the Republican-supported budget he shepherded through the House of Representatives will hurt the poor, elderly and vulnerable, and therefore he has failed to uphold basic Catholic moral teaching.
“Mr. Speaker, your voting record is at variance from one of the Church’s most ancient moral teachings,” the letter says. “From the apostles to the present, the Magisterium of the Church has insisted that those in power are morally obliged to preference the needs of the poor. Your record in support of legislation to address the desperate needs of the poor is among the worst in Congress. This fundamental concern should have great urgency for Catholic policy makers. Yet, even now, you work in opposition to it.”
It brings up interesting questions about from which principles humanism and liberalism are informed.
Recently, I listened to a seminar from a scholar named Bernard Lewis. He argued that the clash of civilizations is inevitable because only the Christian and the Muslim faiths contend that their worldview is essentially universal. Other religions do not make such universal claims. So it is the idea of a universal standard of morals and behaviors that we ultimately speak of 'human rights'.
See the contradition? If you want your values to be universal, then you have to have some authority and infrastructure in place to defend them. This is at the center of a great number of discussions here, and I will bring up the point going forward. I call it Modernism - the presumption of the equal and immutable value of the soul.