Q & A: Marco Rubio on His Faith of Many Colors
You proposed legislation on whether employers should have to provide contraception. Do you see the Obama administration as hostile to religious freedom?
In order to make that kind of decision, you have to believe that somehow the wisdom of the government and what you believe government should do is more important than the constitutional protection of religious liberty and religious expression. They're basically saying they believe it's such a good and important idea that they think it is more important than what the Constitution protects. To me, it's not even a religious argument but a constitutional one. If it were any other constitutional principle being violated, I'd be just as adamant about it.
You have also proposed legislation on immigration. From a policy perspective, should Christians emphasize compassion or the rule of law?
I don't think they're mutually exclusive. You can do both. At no time does our faith call us to violate legal principles—on the contrary. We have to recognize that when we're talking about immigration, we're not talking about statistics. We're talking about human beings, the vast majority of whom, the ones who are here legally, are here in search of jobs and a better life. That's where the debate comes in:how do we balance those two things? That's what I hope any future conversation about immigration reform will be balanced by—the balance between our compassion for our fellowman and the need to have rules that are followed.
As we see banks take high risks, how should the government be involved? Is market regulation a moral issue?
It certainly calls into question why the government was involved in bailing out these institutions that a couple years later are making the same risky decisions they were before. On the other hand, it reminds us that while J. P. Morgan lost $2 billion, the federal government this year will spend close to $1.5 trillion more than it takes in.
Given Christians' view of human nature and depravity, is regulation a necessary part of policy? Can corporations be trusted to create optimal outcomes?
We want to make sure people cannot harm others by their irresponsible behavior. We have regulations on everything from how you treat your workers to how people should drive on the streets, regulations that say we can't dump poison into our water system or pollute the air. My individual rights end where other people's rights begin. I can't exercise my rights to hurt other people.
Like everything else, there has to be balance, and that balance is usually in the form of a cost-benefit analysis. What is the benefit of the regulation, and what is the cost of the regulation? Sometimes the costs of the regulation are economic; sometimes there's a cost to our personal freedom. People are willing to sacrifice a certain level of personal freedom in exchange for a public good, but there are limits to that. While government regulations are necessary, they're not always necessary, and they're not always good.
In this cost-benefit balance, how should the United States promote international religious freedom? What happens if it conflicts with our strategic interests?
We need to be clear that we stand for these principles. Any time America looks the other way for short-term economic or political benefit when these principles are being violated somewhere in the world, we lose a little bit of who we are and what makes us special. There's always a temptation to make some pragmatic decision that we should tolerate some decision in some country because they're an ally, or that we should look the other way because they're too big and powerful and we need them for business. From the long-term perspective, we can't afford to do that. We need to be consistent in what we stand for, principles that all men are given by our Creator.