"What is considered sinful in one of the great religions to which citizens belong isn't necessarily sinful in the others. Criminal law therefore cannot be based on the notion of sin; it is crimes that it must define."
by:
Pierre Trudeau
[Joseph Philippe Pierre Yves Elliott Trudeau] (1919-2000) Prime Minister of Canada (1968-1979, 1980-1984)
Source:
Memoirs (1993), Part 1, 1919 - 1968 The Road to 24 Sussex Drive, p. 83
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Reader comments about this quote:
This, is what we have been saying to the admin, and the sharia law people.for a long time. Good quote.
 -- Kimo, USA     
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    Well said PT - law should have nothing to do with any religion they are totally separate entities.
     -- Robken, Spain     
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    Religion is a private matter, Crime is a public matter. All criminal law must be rooted in property rights in order to be moral. Sadly, we don't have property rights...so we don't have many moral laws.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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    Sadly,k we have no property rights so we only have moral laws...part of our problem wouldn't you say?
     -- Abby     
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    Abby, yes, I would say, good observation. Again, sin, transgression, iniquity all have very separate meanings and definitions in religion. That sin, etc., that addresses the breaking of a law is addressed in a separate format of secular law (other than religion - the robed priests of the bench violate that seperation). Morality can not be legislated and is not a just cause for judicial action. Morality is a religious issue. That being said, John Adams accurately observed the foundation of a law abiding society by saying: " Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.' The de jure U.S. was to be a government of laws, as is averse to a government of men (and their carnal religions). Man can not make law, he can only adjust his administrations thereto (close or afar). The closer man passess his codes, ordinances, regulations, rules, etc. to law, the greater the freedom, liberty, recognition of inalienable rights, and prosperity. The further man's administrations are from law, being illegitimate religion, the greater the slavery, pain, poverty, and destruction. Today's problems are directly attributable to an immoral - non-law abiding people of the broadest scope.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Any laws to be created must first be based on some concept of what is right or wrong. Without any notion of sin, there is no basis for any laws, since my definition of right or wrong is just as valid as my neighbor’s. Absent a moral foundation established by the Almighty there is only “might makes right.”
     -- SCSURFR, SoCal     
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    SCSURFR, I am certainly no Atheist but are you saying that an Atheist cannot be moral ? I doubt that Christopher Hitchins would agree with you if you believe that.
     -- jim k, Austin, Tx     
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    Agreed. It should be noted, however, that Mosiac law, and specifically the Ten Commandments, has been the fundamental basis of law for thousands of years. One does not have to believe in a god or judgement day to be good. What is good? Life, Truth, and Love. What is bad -- the opposite. Can we make laws to enforce 'good'? NO! The most we can do is declare what our rights are, and therefore be justified in defending them. That is the entire basis of common law. Anything else is dictatorship whether it be one man, a council, or a mob.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    I am absolutely not saying that an atheist cannot be moral. I am stating that his morals are not superior or inferior to anyone elses unless you establish a justification for morality on something other than my or his opinion. No human based system is superior to or more defensible than anothers. I believe Hitchins would agree with that.
     -- SCSURFR     
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    Not sure what Abby is saying...seems a bit cryptic. But after reading all the comments...I'd say we've come full circle and we're back to "property rights" as the only real basis for moral law.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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    Keeping on my theme, Im curious Carlton where moral law and property rights intertwine. When one considers property is owned by one person or group of persons and is often taken away by others, only to be taken away by someone else. Does someone have an original moral claim on property? How is it established, or who decides who has the moral right to something above and beyond might makes right? What is the origin of this property rights as the basis for moral law?
     -- SCSURFR     
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    SCSURFR. If you combine material with labor and produce something of value, who's property is that object and what moral right does anyone have to take it from you by force? In a broader sense, if you earn money with your labor and use that money to purchase something of value, who's property is it? And what "moral right" does anyone have to take it from you? The concept of property is simple and natural, which makes it natural law. One must keep in mind that your property rights can not encroach on someone else's property rights. If that does happen...well, that's where we would require a system of justice to right any wrongs incurred. Property rights begin at birth. The vessel you are given by nature or the God of your understanding, (your body) is yours...how could that even be a question? If you are forced to work for someone else's benefit, you have been enslaved...I could go on and on, but hopefully you're getting the picture.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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     -- Anonymous, Reston, VA, US      
    Carlton, that all makes 100% sense unless I am a government leader, or king that conscripts you to fight to maintain my (or our collective) property. Then I have taken control of your body for my purpose. Does a government have a moral obligation to protect its citizens, and force you against your will to die for your country (or the kings throne)? I am also taxed to maintain the governments ability to defend our nation and few (there is a small minority that disagrees) would argue that there is not a moral obligation to do that. Again, it comes down to who decides what is moral. The true libertarian may find it repugnant that they must support the government in any sense, where as others see an unearned benefit the Amish acquire living in a country that is a world power and able to keep them safe (they would be easily overrun if they were their own nation). Is it moral for them to enjoy a peace maintained by others? There are those who feel it is morally acceptable to kill their neighbor because "they have more than they need while my family starves." That has been then reason for many wars between nations over resources to save their populations or deter another from reaching a level of threatening power. Life and property is always at stake and subject to someones moral view that may be 180 degrees from anothers. My argument is not contrary to yours as much as questioning how one set of human derived morals is superior to anothers. (I maintain only Gods laws and morals are superior and that we and yes, Hitchins - benefit from a world that has had those laws revealed to us).
     -- SCSURFR     
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    SCSURFER, your argument or query falls into a philisophical domain called legal positivism. Prior to the founding of the US, man's rules (laws) where based on the morality of the most powerful (a monarchy, democracy, varying forms of statist olichies, etc.) And as you so well pointed out, everybody's morals are different. US jurisprudence was originally based on law (no longer). Morality was no longer the foundation of law, law became the foundation of morality. Natural law is that natural state of being that just is (by way of example gravity, physics, fiscal law, etc.) Your entire line of reasoning made government an independent 3rd party at legal positivism, which was not the founder's intention (forming a government that eliminated such oppression). Man existed before, and can exist without government. It is when man is a government unto himself, recognizes the law that is, and unites with others that freedom, liberty, and justice are realized (such was the foundation of the Constitution). Each and every individual is a noble sovereign heir to their Eternal Father and King (a doctrinal reality if Christian, figurative if not - as corporeally applied, both are absolute at natural law; the only difference is the perceived source) The world's governments outside the de jure Constitutional / Representative Republic are foreign 3rd parties to the people governed. The de jure U.S. government is an extension of your representative State, as is based on you, the individual sovereign and, can not do that which you can not do personally. If that government does what you can not do personally, it is despotism and foreign to the representative republic of, by and for We The People. When man's rules (law) is passed on a perception of right and wrong, tyranny is the result. J Carlton's explaination was a good start on John Lockes philosophy and implementation of natural law (John Locke was the second most quoted reference, next to the Bible, in forming the Constitution). The ole: he who forgets history is doomed to relive it, is a good overview of how natural law is discovered. Issues such as murder, theft, and other non-immediate consequences are view through history's perspective and shown to be frist contrary to law, then immoral. Also, Socialism has historically been shown to be an unlawful, unjust religion with criminal morals (steal from one for anothers increase, no allodial ownership, no inalienable rights, no recognition of mans nobility, etc. - such always ends in pain, destruction, death, personal / social slavery, and poverty)
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Mike, I like it. Except that the Eternal Father and King is not 'Christian' per se. It is enough to say that man has not created himself or even the world in which he is born -- it is all antecedent to his arrival. Man cannot create man -- we may reproduce, but it is according to an antecedent design that is not man-made. Therefore, life is not a creation of man nor has any man authority over any other, at least not as a faculty of birth. However a newborn is dependent upon his/her parents, and therefore, they have the responsibility for the child until the child becomes self-reliant. So from the beginning of our arrival on this planet, we must learn how to become independent and responsible -- some call this freedom. Whose life is it anyway? The one living it -- that is the beginning of private property, as Carlton has explained. Government is borne out of our collective individual right to defend our lives, family, home, and by extension our community. So perhaps the best definition of morality is the respect of the natural born rights of all people -- as Mike says, the noble sovereign who lives in accord with the Laws of Nature and the Golden Rule. The reason 'why' is self-evident. ;-)
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Archer, said well, excellent starting point for corporeal man to create statutes, etc. in defining man's relationship to the law.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Well said Mike and Archer, The only thing I would add in response to SCSURFR is that...Of course we must be ready to rally and defend the nation. That is what Patriots do and they do it without being pressed into service when the threat is real. To fund this standing or reserve army though, "income tax" is still not justifiable. Especially given the form it has taken under the criminal Federal Reserve. User fees on commodities would more than suffice to support infrastructure and prevent bullshit like bailing out corporations and foreign banks etc. PLUS!...it leaves people a choice...you don't want to pay tax, then don't buy gas, etc.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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