The views and opinions expressed by the author(s) do not represent the official position of Barbados TODAY.
by Kevin Browne
The other day (24th November, 2021) I heard a snippet on the radio of what Minister Colin Jordan said in Parliament with reference to the charter and he mentioned two things.
1. There should be a separation of church and state, and,
2. The state should not legislate morality.
I think many people tend to share these sentiments because they heard them sometime in the past and they sounded reasonable, but have they critically thought through them?
Regarding separation of church and state? Where does that phrase come from and what does it mean?
It’s actually not part of the US constitution but it is a phrase coined by one of the USA’s founding fathers Thomas Jefferson in a letter he wrote to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802.
It speaks to the idea enshrined in the first amendment of the US Constitution that, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”
What this speaks to specifically, is that the state ought not to make any law that either establishes a particular religion as the state’s religion or a religious law (i.e. Sabbath, Tithing, Lord’s Supper, etc.) as state law.
(When the BLP admin. legislated the practice of what they called a religious sacrament for the Rastafarian religion, they actually flouted this principle. But I digress).
What it does NOT mean, is that the state ought to be devoid of all religious notions and influences when legislating because law & justice are inextricably tied to morality.
So when Minister Colin Jordan, gets up and states that the state should not legislate morality, and uses the example that while he personally thinks adultery is immoral, the state should not outlaw adultery, one would have to ask Mr. Jordan, then on what basis does the state outlaw, polygamy, incest, bestiality, etc.? Or even theft and murder?
This is a question for you the reader as well.
Why is theft illegal? Because it’s impractical?
Why is polygamy illegal? Because it’s not modern?
Why is bestiality illegal? Because it’s unhealthy or animals can’t consent? Do animals consent to us eating them?
Why is incest illegal? Because the union might produce mentally handicapped children?
Really, have you ever thought through the question of WHY we legislate these things?
The reason why these things are illegal is because the state DOES legislate morality. It absolutely does.
There is no such thing as a purely secular government. Government makes laws and laws ALWAYS appeal to a transcendent standard of good and evil / justice vs. injustice. Once you’re dealing with a transcendent standard, you’re dealing with religion.
The only question is, what is that transcendent standard? But make no mistake. All governments are functional theocracies in this sense.
As Scripture declares, “For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” (Rom. 13:1b)
“For it (Gov’t) is a minister of God to you for good (morality). But if you do what is evil (morality again), be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God (God put Gov’t there TO LEGISLATE MORALITY), an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practises evil.” (Rom. 13:4)
So I would implore you, not to accept this false dichotomy that these people who scream “separation of church and state”, make.
One of the framers of the same US constitution who agreed with Jefferson’s famous phrase, John Adams, also wrote this,
“Our Constitution was made ONLY for a MORAL and RELIGIOUS people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
Apart from religion, we are nothing but beasts. Laws are not made for beasts. They are made for moral and religious beings.
This column was offered as a Letter to the Editor