Bigotry Recrudescent

Although Eutychus constantly strives to display good taste and to avoid descending into the arena of animosity, many correspondents have reacted so harshly to his modest lines in favor of religious liberty (“A Low Blow Against Religious Liberty,” June 7 issue) that it seems necessary to take up the cudgel again.

The correspondents generally do not dispute the contention that the widespread condemnation of bribery in American society originaliy derives from the Bible. But that gives the game away. Once it is admitted, one can no longer deny that the feeling against bribery is a form of religious prejudice. The Bible is certainly religious, and what is prejudice if not to condemn some practice (e.g., bribery) in advance without pausing to reflect on the particulars of the situation and the persons involved? In the case of bribery one must take into account the persons’ life-styles, the cost of living that their social position may impose on them, and the fact that in accepting bribes they may really have the greatest good of the greatest number at heart. It would be a kind of moral judgment on our part to suggest that any leader or official would ever accept a bribe on beha’f of something that he really thought to be wrong. And if he is only accepting a gratuity for doing what he believes to be right, can we find fault with that?

Well, our correspondents argue, if the feeling against bribery is to be dismissed as resulting from mere religious prejudice, and as incompatible with the Supreme Court’s view of the absolute separation necessary between church and state, what about all the other things that the Bible forbids? How can we reasonably insert any biblical commands into public law?

They do have a point. ...

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