Morality and the Law- 9/22

Mill brings up an important and often overlooked dynamic when it comes to the relationship between religion and a country’s laws, “Suppose now that in a people, of whom the majority were Mussulmans [Muslim], that majority should insist on not permitting pork to be eaten within the limits of the country… Would it be a legitimate exercise of the moral authority of the public opinion? And if not, why not?”. The problem presented here is whether or not a public should decide laws based in their religion.

While a theocracy is a country whose identity is based entirely on the law of a religion, Mills is pointing to an example of a country who has a majority of the population following one religion, but not all of it. The question here is whether or not it is fair to force the religious minority of the country to follow laws based in the majority religion because they hold a moral authority within that country. There have been many countries that followed one religion or another, particularly denominations of Christianity in Europe, that became the basis of laws and social norms.

However, in places like the US that have a separation of church and state are not immune to this question either. People, in general, will base their sense of right and wrong in the religion that they believe in. So, the policies that they vote for are influenced by one religion or another. It is dangerous to exclude the religion of people from the discussion of politics because what people think politics should be and the laws that should be enacted are based on their sense of right and wrong, which directly stems from the teachings of their religion. Should we base our laws on morality? Can morality be objective, or is it only something that a society collectively agrees is wrong? Do you agree with Mill’s question of whether or not the majority of the public should enact laws based on their religion in the name of morality, or should the minority get a greater say in those types of laws?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *