Religion or Culture
The First Amendment (U.S. Constitution) gives religious freedom to the people of the United State. This freedom consists of not establishing a central governmental religion and not forcing one to participate in any particular religion. The Tenth Amendment (U.S. Constitution) gives the state responsibility over the powers not specifically delegated to the federal government and not forbidden to the state. Given the values of these two amendments, one must ascertain that abortion as well as homosexual marriage must remain in the state hands because it is not in the jurisdiction of the Federal government.
The issues of abortion and same sex marriage do not fall under the First Amendment but does fall under the jurisdiction of the individual state rights given through the Tenth Amendment (U.S. Constitution). The reasoning behind this allegation is moral complexity regarding cultural differences as well as the moral obligation to the future of mankind. Due to the complexities of the geographical and cultural differences as well as the moral obligation of human kind within the United States, one can see that the state should retain the control over these two aspects of American controversy.
When considering the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, Congress and the Supreme Court may be looking at these issues through the wrong category. Abortion as well as homosexual marriage is more a cultural and moral aspect rather than a religious one. This is what is important about state rights and the whole concept of federalism laid out in the Constitution.
The United States is a large entity that crosses 2800 miles from East to West and 1582 miles from North to South. This is a total area of 3,537,438 square miles. This is more than all 28 European nations placed together. (C. I. A.) Because of the regional differences in the United States, cultures are not the same across the board. Along with climate differences, crop growth, dialect, food tastes as well as religious bodies are different in each region and state nationwide. This makes it hard for the United States to do justice for all of the states regarding issues which could be deemed a cultural difference. One only has to travel the United States to fully understand that each individual region has their own particular culture. While Alabama and Mississippi may be on the same wave length culturally, if one was to cross the border between Alabama and Florida or the Mississippi Louisiana border, one would immediately feel the difference in the culture. The framers of the Constitution understood these culture differences and saw the need for the states to have control over certain issues. This is the reason behind Federalism.
The theory of relativism (SCU) contends that what might be moral in one culture might not be moral in another. This is relevant in the United States as well as other countries because in the south, religion is a huge part of who they are and what makes them tick. To prove this point, one can heed the words of Prinz (2011), “Morals vary dramatically across time and place. One group’s good can be another group’s evil.” In other aspects of American culture religion is not as important. This is why issues regarding abortion, homosexual marriage, prayer in school and religious or moral symbols in a governmental building should be left up to the individual state to decide instead of the U.S. Federal Government.
Another concept to decide is whether these issues fall under religious headings or moral headings. The First Amendment (U.S. Constitution) declares, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This statement declares that each citizen can worship in any way they may desire. Federalism and the establishment clause often butt heads over issues such as: prayer in school, abortion, homosexual marriage and religious symbols in governmental places.
This Amendment to the Constitution declares that it cannot tell which church to attend, or how to worship, it does not mention the common ground of morality. This country was founded on morality and what was right. Just because this coincides with Christian teachings, does not constitute that morality and Christianity are one and the same. After all, Islamic teachings have some of the same statutes in their religion.
While separation of church and state should exist, there remains certain aspects of religion that is an important feature in one’s individual lives: morality. Whether one wants to engage themselves in religious activities is one thing, but a certain level of morality should be expected. The sanctity of marriage and the respect for unborn human life are just two of the important features of this aspect. One doesn’t have to attend a specific church to associate these with a certain level of morality. These are aspects that should come with being human.
As a rule, humans need to preserve life and do what it possibly can to enhance the probability of life continuing on Earth. If one continues to allow abortion, the population of humankind will be endangered. If this is coupled with the institution of homosexual marriage, not only will human kind become endangered but possibly become extinct in the process.
Morals are values which make life worth living. Dictionary.com (2015) defines morals as, “principles or habits with respect to right or wrong conduct.” Morals, may be grounded through religious teachings, but in all honesty religion is not the compass in which guides morals; ones culture is the deciding factor. Morals gives us a sense of what is right and what is wrong. McKay and Whitehouse (2015) state, “A moral behavior is not necessarily a behavior that we advocate, but a behavior that is undertaken on putative moral grounds.”
Abortion is not preserving life, it is taking it away. Homosexual marriage does not induce procreation but impedes it. These might be religious aspects, but on another note, they are morally deficient. Because of the value of life, these aspects are going against the grain and instead of keeping life going, these are preventing the existence of humans to continue on Earth.
As a whole the laws and statutes in this country are governed after the Ten Commandments given to Moses on Mt. Sinai: Thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, and thou shalt not bear false witness (Exodus 20:3-17 KJV). Is it really that big a stretch to keep marriage sacred through the traditional means of one woman and one man? Or how about valuing the life of an unborn child? Since the original laws governing the land was based on the Ten Commandments and they are basically accepted, why can’t they be posted in the courthouse? Because it offends some.
This is when one must understand the legitimacy of Aesop’s fable of “the man, the boy and the donkey”: you cannot please everyone. No matter where the government stands on an issue, there will be someone who sees things differently. The matter of state rights are placed in existence to help bridge the gap between the people of a community and the federal government.
Federalism is separation of powers not only within the bounds of the federal government but also including the individual state rights to govern as well. Egendorf says, that the “states rights lie at the very heart of the American system of government. State governments, after all, are closer to the people than are the federal authorities in Washington. They can create laws better suited to local conditions.”
Regardless of these aspects one can see why these issues were brought before the U.S. Supreme Court to decide. When looking at these issues through a religious standpoint one can see the validity of their claims. Religiously, the government cannot outlaw either abortion or homosexual marriage. This is violating the First Amendment rights of every American citizen.
If the Supreme Court were to decide against either of these on a religious standpoint, the court would not be upholding the Constitution. If they were not upholding the Constitution they would be placing themselves and the Supreme Court up for public scrutiny and therefore placing the entire governmental body in jeopardy. After all, the Supreme Court is one-third of the federal governmental body.
The argument for state rights are: cultural and geographical differences within the United States as well as ones moral obligation to humankind. The argument for state rights over abortion and homosexual marriage are true, therefore the argument is valid. These issues brought forward are strongly in favor of the standpoint of the state rights to decide the issues of abortion and homosexual marriage. While the opposing argument has valid reasons as well, one can clearly ascertain that leaving these two issues in the hands of the state will solve the issues. It will also enable the Supreme Court to make the right decision without placing this governmental body in danger.
When looking at the issues from another standpoint rather than religion, one can see where the validity of the state rights to decide come into play. The real question is this: does abortion and homosexual marriage fall under the category of religion or cultural differences. One can ascertain the answer by how each individual feels about the outcome. The outcome of leaving it to the Supreme Court to decide falls under religion. While state rights to decide what is important to the culture of the individual state. This is the foundation for Federalism in the United States. It allows all of the governing bodies certain rights and responsibilities to ensure “We the People” are governed and represented to the best of the ability of the United States of America.
Aesop, A man, a boy and a donkey.
C.I.A. The World Fact Book. (2015, July, 9) United State.
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Dictionary.com. moral. Accessed July 16, 2015. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/moral
Egendorf, L. K. (2003). The legal system: opposing viewpoints. San Diego : Detroit: Greenhaven
Press ; Thomson/Gale.
McKay, R., & Whitehouse, H. (2015). Religion and morality. Psychological Bulletin, 141(2),
Prinz, J. (2011). Philosophy Now. Morality is a culturally conditioned response. Issue 82. https://philosophynow.org/issues/82/Morality_is_a_Culturally_Conditioned_Response
U.S. Constitution. Amendment One; Amendment Ten.
Santa Clara University. (2014). Ethical Relativism. The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.
Accessed: July 17,2015: http://www.scu.edu/ethics/practicing/decision/ethicalrelativism.html