A Secularist Talks Morality

Carol Platt Liebau
|
Posted: May 25, 2008 3:46 PM
Last week, in this column, I argued that if traditionalists were going to be successful in arguing against gay marriage, they would need to develop a public argument that explains why private sexual behavior can, sometimes, be a public matter.   In other words, they needed to develop a moral and public policy case for defining marriage as an institution reserved for one man and one woman, unrelated and above a certain age.  As I pointed out, in this day and age, that's not easy. 

This piece about a prominent secularist's new book helps explain why.  Austin Dacey is the author of "The Secular Conscience," where he argues that secularists have sought to preclude religious and moral claims from public conversation, through the following reasoning:

[S]ecular liberalism has come to hold that because conscience is private or personal, its moral conclusions must be subjective, and because conscience should be free from coercion, its moral conclusions must also be free from public criticism.

He argues that in doing so, secularists have made a terrible mistake.  Sounds like an interesting book, and a valuable one.