Tuesday, December 08, 2009

secular or religious coercion

A Guest Post by Rafi G

In light of Minister Neeman's statement about introducing Jewish law into the Israeli lawbooks, I wonder how it would work. I don't know what his intentions were, and I do not know if he meant to redesign Israel into a "Halachic State" (whatever that is), or if he just wants the State law to be more inclusive of Jewish law in society.

Regardless of that, the response has been quick to come. The various secular MKs and others have been quick to condemn Neeman's statement claiming it will lead to religious coercion and all sorts of other problems inherent in a "Halacha State".

After seeing a few condemnations, I decided to pose a hypothetical question on Twitter.

I asked why is it ok to impose law on people not interested or against their beliefs as long as the law is secular but if we adopt religious law and make that the law of country than they would consider it consider it coercion?

Meaning, if we make a law that one is not allowed to eat pork, for example, someone secular and opposed to such a law would consider it religious coercion, and therefore opposes the implementation of a lawbook based on halacha.

But if the law says that one is not allowed to cross the street against the light, for example, I am not allowed to oppose that law. Can I call it secular coercion?

Why is it legitimate for the secular state have the right to impose its laws, thereby imposing its set of values, on religious Jews, while a religious state (or call it a halacha state) would be considered religious coercion?

The ensuing discussion was interesting, though mostly off topic. It started out discussing the idea that if a religious law is "bad" it cannot be changed, because the law is imposed on us and we have to accept it as is (by definition of "halacha state" I assume), whereas with State law or "secular" law (for lack of a better word), if a law is deemed to be bad it can be changed. From there the discussion became one of mostly whether circumcision is good or bad and if it is wrong to main ones children.

What do you think about the original question - why is it ok for one set of laws to be introduced, with no opposition about coercion, while another set of laws is considered inherently wrong?

Search for more information about religious/secular coercion at 4torah.com.

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