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Discussion 2 to Reflections on Ethics 30
Separation of Church and State

by Maarten van den Driest

Re: Reflection 30

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Dear Mr. Mackowiak,

Although I agree with you in principle that the separation of church and state should be absolute, I think that this state is, howevever desirable, impossible.

In The Netherlands, we use the same separation in politics. Still, there are several, albeit small, parties with an outspoken christian agenda. One of them even supports the idea of a theocracy, instead of a democracy.

One could make the point that the church should not dictate the state and therefore abolish abovementioned parties.

However, the problem is not so much the churches as their members. Believers have the same right to vote their conscience as non-believers. We are also all free in the basis of our views. I agree with you that claiming 'this is just my belief' is not a developed rational position but it is just as valid as any other. Decision and opinion-forming is free, the state can never dictate any position, not even a method of thinking.

Therefore, the separation of church (or anything else) and state is never absolute and can easily cease to exist in predominantly religious areas.

My opinion is that the point of separation is a legal one. It should remain in the books in order to stop religious people of any kind forcing others to come to their views.

Should gay marriage be legal? My personal opinion is that this should be so; in fact I am married to another man. However, my question to you is whether gay marriage should not be/remain banned if a clear majority wants this. A related question is whether there is an inherent right to marry for all people.