Legislators and Religious-Based Reasoning
In a secular, multicultural, liberal democratic society founded on the rule of law, is it appropriate for legislators (or political candidates) to refer to religious beliefs or texts when discussing a government initiative or urging action on a particular issue? Such references might be used for various purposes: to explain the speakers’ own beliefs; to emphasize that an issue has been around for a long time and therefore should be taken seriously; to elucidate historical influences on a particular law; or to give weight to a particular argument by buttressing it with religious authority. In Canada today, do ethics, law, or political theory offer persuasive reasons to limit any such references to religion in parliamentary debate or political campaigning?
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