Mark Sanford Needs a New Faith

I've got a new piece up at The Guardian's Comment is free America about the Sanford affair (in both its uses):
[Sanford] also took time during his press conference to assert: "There are moral absolutes, and God's law indeed is there to protect you from yourself." Ah, that old canard. We're all inherently disposed to do the wrong things and too weak to stop ourselves doing them on our own, so there must be laws – God's or otherwise.

It's the position of a man who cannot fathom that not all of us need the threat of eternal damnation, or the promise of salvation, to keep us in line, who cannot conceive that there are people who reject the idea of any one religion as the singular genesis of morality and have, instead, faith in humankind – faith that individuals can make the best decisions for themselves.

Sanford, on the other hand, subscribes to a faith that tells him humans, even himself among them, aren't worth having faith in. That's why he wants to legislate morality – because he doesn't trust people to make good decisions; he couldn't even trust himself and never had to, was never encouraged to have faith in himself to aspire to more. He needs rules, so he thinks we all do.

It's a terrible thing that the people who have the least faith in their fellow humans are most often called the "values voters", as if equality is not a value, and who have commandeered the term "faith", because, on this earth, humans are the only ones who can guarantee equality – and it's the humans who have the admittedly grotty and earthbound faith in one another who are the most likely to extend it.
Read the whole thing here.

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