I'm still struggling with what to do with this, from Alberich:
Overall, I tend to agree with Niebuhr: government doesn't enforce morality so much as it follows its prime function, which is to keep the community safe and intact. That we confuse that with "morality" is our error, not government's. - RMJI've made several attempts a post on it, all to no avail. But for the time being, let me just say that somewhere between "government cannot and should not be moral" and this:
But in fact that is the argument of many a conservative interlocutor of mine: government should not and in fact cannot enforce morality, and in particular, it cannot promote economic justice. What government can do is to create an environment where people are more likely to be moral and also keep the community safe and intact (e.g. by ruthless enforcement of law and order, with an emphasis on the latter).
I don't know what Warren says or really thinks, but the argument I always hear from his ilk who claim to follow a morality in which wealth redistribution is a key factor (even if they try to avoid even thinking about the wealth redistribution aspect of their morality) is indeed that government cannot and should not be moral.
OTOH, some moral systems do place the safety and intactness of the community as a key moral good and also as a consequence of moral behavior on the part of individuals. Indeed, this is arguably the point of view of the Torah. And wealth redistribution (e.g. via the system of tithes and some of the sacrifices which serve as communal meals) is a key aspect of not only "morality" but also of ensuring the safety and intactness of the community: c.f. the many blessings and curses in the Torah relating to what will happen to the community depending on people's morality and sense of economic justice. In this view, a key part of the government's function in keeping the community safe and intact is the enforcement of morality, at least the communal (e.g. economic justice) aspects of morality.
Anyway, thank you for getting me thinking ;)
There is a sensible middle ground.
Cardinal Raymond Burke, former Archbishop of St. Louis and now the head of the Vatican’s highest court, told Catholic News Agency that he could envision a time when the Catholic Church in the U.S., “even by announcing her own teaching,” is accused of “engaging in illegal activity, for instance, in its teaching on human sexuality.”
Asked if the cardinal could even see American Catholics being arrested for their faith he replied, “I can see it happening, yes.”
In his remarks to several U.S. Bishops meeting with him Saturday, Pope Benedict XVI made similarly emphatic warnings about the U.S. The pope told the bishops that “the seriousness of the challenges which the Church in America, under your leadership, is called to confront in the near future cannot be underestimated.”
He added: “The obstacles to Christian faith and practice raised by a secularized culture also affect the lives of believers.”
In the interview published today, Cardinal Burke declared that “it is a war” and “critical at this time that Christians stand up for the natural moral law.” Should they not, he warned, “secularization will in fact predominate and it will destroy us.”
Now I just gotta figure out how to define it....