lunedì 7 marzo 2016

The Libertarian Position on Religion in Public Life by KEVIN VALLIER

The Libertarian Position on Religion in Public Life by KEVIN VALLIER
Le posizioni libertarie in tema di laicità
(1) The Special Status of Religion: religious conscience and religious institutions should have no special protections in the law. Secular conscience and secular institutions are on a moral par with their religious counterparts. But this equal treatment should be understood as leveling up the protection given to secular conscience and secular institutions, not leveling down the protection given to religious conscience and religious institutions.
(2) Religious Discourse: in general, there are no ethical (and certain no legal) restraints on when a citizen can appeal to religious reasoning in her public discourse on political matters. Officials also have an absolute moral and religious right to freedom of speech, save when their speech constitutes a speech act that affects whether someone is coerced (like a judicial decision).
(3) Religious Exemptions: in general, since religious exemptions are reductions in coercion, libertarians should favor religious exemptions basically all of the time. Libertarians won’t like the special status given to religious exemptions, but it is better to have less coercion rather than more, so the inequality is no reason to support the continued coercion of the religious. Libertarians should treat secular requests for exemptions similarly.
(4a) Coercive Religious Establishment: libertarians should always oppose it.
(4b) Revenue Establishment: libertarians should oppose government attempts to fund expressly religious activities like proselytizing rather than a religious group’s charitable activity. Insofar as we have social insurance, libertarians should not oppose government funds going to religious organizations in addition to secular organizations unless they think that such funding will undermine the status and independence of the religious institutions in question, as those religious institutions understand their status and independence. Libertarians should not oppose school vouchers on the grounds that they’re forms of establishment. That would be an unacceptable reason to oppose an increase in the freedom of parents to choose schools for their children. It’s the sort of reason the statist left appeals to in order to trap children in government schools on the grounds that this will improve school quality.
(4c) Symbolic Establishment: here we face hard issues. Libertarians oppose the initiation of coercion but the use of religious or secularist symbols involves no coercion save the coercion required to prevent people from either removing those symbols or adding symbols of their own. So I think traditional libertarian political theory lacks the resources to address symbolic establishment. The only way I know how to address the issue is to argue that taxpayers own public buildings and objects (like courthouses and currency) and that the government should only use public buildings and objects in ways that represent everyone and does not reject the values of anyone. That sort of unanimity rule seems too demanding, though, given that some people can act as disgruntled holdouts. But if we go with a supermajority or simple majority rule, then dominant social groups, religious or secular, can legitimately press public buildings and objects to represent their views. So my conclusion is that libertarians qua libertarian need have no position on this issue, and should generally not be too bothered about attempts at symbolic establishment or ending symbolic establishment so long as symbolic establishment isn’t an indicator of coercive or revenue establishmentJudge Roy Moore, for instance, wants to post the Ten Commandments in Alabama courtrooms as a means of moving towards coercive establishment, so he should be opposed. But if a World War I memorial has a cross on it, it seems silly, even offensive, to forcibly remove it. I also can’t see why having “In God We Trust” on fiat currency most libertarians oppose is worth getting upset about. In fact, I think that unless symbolic establishment is meant to directly threaten or marginalize religious or secular minorities, then libertarians just shouldn’t care about it. Of course, as secular persons or religious persons, we might care. And I oppose symbolic establishment when I’m wearing my public reason hat. But I can’t find a good reason to worry about it in the cases I offerwhen I wear my libertarian hat