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Saturday, March 06, 2010

"Laica" in Mexico

A worth-reading piece by the Becket Fund's Luke Goodrich in the Wall Street Journal:

. . . Last week, Mexico's lower house of Congress began the process of amending the Mexican Constitution to formally declare the country to be "laica"—meaning "lay" or "secular." Supporters say the amendment merely codifies Mexico's commitment to the separation of church and state. But the term "laica," like the term "separation of church and state," means different things to different people. In fact, Mexico has been fighting over the meaning of church–state separation for over a century, with pro-church factions seeking greater political control for the Catholic Church, anti-clerical factions seeking to suppress the church, and few factions willing to agree on government neutrality towards religion. The key question is: What version of the separation of church and state will this amendment embody?

Unfortunately, the context surrounding the amendment suggests that it might be a step backwards for religious liberty and true separation of church and state. . . .

He concludes:  

"Mexico should take care when defining its version of separation of church and state. Separation is good when it means the government is neutral toward religion—neither giving legal privileges to any one religion, nor interfering with the outward expression of religious belief. Separation is a problem when it means the government is hostile to religion—treating it like the "tobacco of the masses" and attempting to eradicate it from the public square. Let's hope that "laica" means the former, not the latter.

Posted by Rick Garnett on March 6, 2010 at 01:52 PM in Religion | Permalink


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