James Leroy Wilson's blog

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Property and Culture War blowback

I don't have a sophisticated theory of property rights. I know what doesn't belong to me. I know I shouldn't take or control what isn't mine, and that the State has no more right to take or control my neighbor's property than I do.

I also agree with Ryan McMaken, who argues that when you have property rights, you don't need religious freedom. The specific issue he discusses is the legal quagmire of the Catholic Little Sisters of the Poor being forced to provide abortion-related medical coverage. Abortion is against Catholic teaching.

McMakesn argues that if we protected property rights, we wouldn't have to make far more subjective judgments as to when to provide a religious exemption to a mandate. There wouldn't be mandates.

Commenter "Laughing Target" notes, "Debates over marriage, bathrooms, etc, all of them exist only  because we allowed the State to violate property rights."

I agree. The entire Culture War seems to be about socially "conservative" and socially "liberal" factions trying to control the property of others.

That's not the right war. All sides should be defending property rights against The State.

But I can't but help think that religious institutions and leaders have helped make the bed they now have to sleep in.    

If you ask most religious leaders if brothels should be free to set up shop next to their church buildings, they'll likely say no. They'll also probably say that racial discrimination should be illegal. And they'll support, or have supported, drug prohibition and bans on "obscenity." Most probably don't have any principled objection to the minimum wage.

In short, they'll often applaud when The State treads on the property of their neighbors. Instead of reaching out to "sinners" in charity and friendship, religious leaders have helped throw them into the nightmares of the penal system  and/or civil lawsuits.
 
But then they'll demand religious exemptions for their own hospitals, clinics, and social services. They'll defend their hiring practices from LGBT lawsuits on religious grounds.

They had little regard for the property rights of others, and now are shocked when the tables have turned. It's the blowback of using The State to impose one's preferences on others.

That's why religious communities should repent of their Statism. To defend their ways of life, they must defend the freedom of their neighbors as well. Which means protecting their property.

By all means defend the caterer who refuses to serve a gay wedding celebration. But also defend the strip club owner from arbitrary zoning laws. Defend the right of the brothel or marijuana dispensary to exist. Defend the right of any establishment to allow smoking on their premises.

Not because you agree with them, but because their property doesn't belong to you, or to The State.

If you defend the property rights of others, they'll see the principled consistency of your efforts and will be more willing to defend you.

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