To the editor:
In his recent op-ed piece (March 27), former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich ascended into his pulpit to preach about public and private morality. Homosexual marriage, abortion, and contraception, he says, are matters of private, not public, morality. It's OK to have your own personal religious views on these matters, Reich contends, but it's not OK to express them in public debate or to base your vote on them. To do so would be a sin against democracy. So says "Reverend" Reich.
But Reich is wrong - in two ways.
First, he assumes that if something is a matter of private morality, it cannot also be a public concern. No one would argue with the fact that "what Americans do in their bedrooms is their own business." But what if they walk out of their house and go to the state legislature and demand that the public give their relationship a legal status that it has never had before? How private is that?
Or how about the contraception issue? It's private as long as it remains in the bedroom, but not when a woman appears before a public meeting at the U.S. House of Representatives and demands that her private choice be funded by others as a matter of public policy.
There are important public issues involved here. These are not simply matters of "private morality."
Second, Reich is dead wrong in his assessment of the role of religion in American public life. The U.S. Constitution prohibits the federal government from establishing a national religion, but that provision was not intended to prevent the virtues that are planted and nurtured in churches across the country from being expressed in public policy. Quite the opposite! The Constitution was designed to give us the liberty to do that very thing.
Reich would like us to voluntarily surrender that liberty. He would like to convince us that it would be unkind and un-American to take our religious views into the ballot box. Don't be fooled. What he really wants is to foist upon you and me a tyranny that will dictate to us what we may or may not think or do in public. Don't surrender. Use your liberty.
Michael A. Thom