Sec­u­lar and sa­cred

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - VOICES -

State Sen. Ja­son Rapert, R-Con­way, seems de­ter­mined to im­pose his re­li­gious be­liefs on cul­tur­ally di­verse Arkansas. His pro­posed bill SB149 would crim­i­nal­ize all abor­tions ex­cept for med­i­cal emer­gency, and would go into ef­fect when and if the U.S. Supreme Court re­verses Roe v. Wade.

Faith in di­vine law that ig­nores time and place dif­fers from ad­her­ence to sec­u­lar law fo­cused on is­sues spe­cific to time and place. Sec­u­lar law serves this world; di­vine law serves an­other. Im­mi­grants to colo­nial Amer­ica came with such an ar­ray of re­li­gious creeds that the found­ing fa­thers sought to avoid the tur­moil plagu­ing Europe by keep­ing sa­cred and sec­u­lar law sep­a­rate: con­sti­tu­tion­ally opt­ing for free­dom of re­li­gion, while keep­ing any one re­li­gion from us­ing the state to im­pose its ver­sion of faith. Ap­par­ently Se­na­tor Rapert hopes to be the found­ing fa­ther of some­thing dif­fer­ent.

The right to life is gen­er­ally af­firmed by ev­ery­one. But hav­ing a child is of­ten de­ter­mined by some­thing other than faith, a po­si­tion rec­og­nized by the Lead­er­ship Con­fer­ence of Women Re­li­gious, com­posed mostly of Catholic nuns who sup­ported the free­dom of women to prayer­fully man­age their own re­pro­duc­tion. They re­cently muted their po­si­tion when church author­i­ties com­plained. Sub­or­di­na­tion of women seems canon­i­cal in both sa­cred and sec­u­lar prac­tice.

Cer­tainly re­li­gious bod­ies can in­sist that mem­bers con­form to its creeds, but they have no right to force them onto non-mem­bers through sec­u­lar law. Sen. Rapert is wel­come to lead by faith. He has no right to co­erce by law. DAVID SIXBEY Flip­pin

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