Saturday, November 13

The end of democracy

Over at the Belmont Club Wretchard muses (here):
Cardinal George Pell, the Archbishop of Sydney asks a question which is neither completely secular nor religious, one which Thomas Jefferson might have revolved in his mind but which no modern politician would dare discuss. Pell rhetorically asks whether democracy must of necessity be spiritually empty.
The Cardinal asks:
But think for a moment what it means to say that there can be no other form of democracy than secular democracy. Does democracy need a burgeoning billion-dollar pornography industry to be truly democratic? Does it need an abortion rate in the tens of millions? Does it need high levels of marriage breakdown, with the growing rates of family dysfunction that come with them? Does democracy (as in Holland's case) need legalized euthanasia, extending to children under the age of 12? Does democracy need assisted reproductive technology (such as IVF) and embryonic stem cell research? Does democracy really need these things?
I think the Cardinal misses the point. If the people in this democracy were religious, then the billion-dollar pornography industry would be starved out of business (and would seek their employment elsewhere). The other questions similarly follow the same reasoning, to whit, a religious people do not need laws prohibiting such activities. A secular society with those problems will chafe at laws restricting them and those laws will encourage the breakage of said laws (with the concomitant lessening of regard for the established enforcement/enforcers of the law). That being said, there is a widespread confusion regarding the purpose of law and government. Nowhere it is said or implied that because a thing or act is legal, that it is condoned. Many lawmakers today seem to operate under the pretense that all that is legal is good, justifying the codification of morality into our legal system. What the Cardinal needs to be done, is his job, i.e., promoting his religion, evangelising, and spreading the message amongst the heathen. He needs to be keeping an eye to his own flock, teaching them and trying to make sure they aren't among those supporting the causes and industries he decries.

A better approach would to set up institutions and habits in our people which might promote good morality. And keep in mind, that which is legal is not necessarily condoned. As a leader of his church, he is in a unique position to actually implement such institutions. After all, morals and ethical teaching is more the role of the church than the state.

Update: Mr Mobley has also commented on the same post here