Secular Authority and Morals

A letter writer in a recent Wall Street Journal‘s Letters to the Editor section, demurred from Attorney General William Barr’s remarks on secularism and religion at the University of Notre Dame’s Law School and de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture. The letter’s author wrote,

Our society can teach morality, ethics, civility, self-reliance, and humility without reference to religion or any particular faith. Children can be taught….

Certainly, such principles can be taught.  But how to enforce them? Relying on Government for enforcement means relying on the men who are in Government from time to time, men with views on the legitimacy of those principles and the means of their enforcement that are as variable as those men. And each man’s views will vary over time.

No, moral and ethical principles are universal and timeless, and the only even moderately sure way of enforcing them is through appeal to a higher power—in fine, to religion, which is what our republic’s founding documents do, and our Founders did.

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