To the Editor:

Brian Cook (“The right’s rationale for legislating on faith,” 11/16) claims that political positions based on personal faith are as legitimate as positions based on secular reasoning. His argument is predicated on a fallacy. What Cook doesn’t recognize is that an individual’s faith is inherently subjective. Cook states that many people use their religious beliefs to determine that life begins at conception, and thus oppose abortion. However, there are also people in the world who use their religious beliefs to determine that it is a sin for a man to view a woman’s flesh, and thus force women to wear burkas in public. Why is one religiously defined belief legitimate, while the other is not?

The problem with legislating based on faith is that all Americans do not share the same faith. This is why we must legislate not on faith but rather on fact — on verifiable truths that all parties can agree upon. Simply saying that gay marriage should be banned because it goes against your personal faith, without taking into account the factual effects of such a policy, is no different than the Taliban using their own interpretation of their faith to force women to wear burkas. If we let government policy be formulated by belief instead of fact, we use the same logic as the former overlords of Afghanistan — who, if I remember correctly, the United States deposed in part because they made their extremist religious beliefs into the rule of law.

Aryeh Cohen-Wade ’05

Nov. 16, 2004