Building the culture of life

Column: Christian values will prevail only if we advocate for them

Ron Kelsey is the archdiocesan consultant for the pro-life office. You can email him at: or call him at (913) 647-0350.

Ron Kelsey is the archdiocesan consultant for the pro-life office. You can email him at: or call him at (913) 647-0350.

by Ron Kelsey

Individual human rights are often a topic in society today.

Public debate on rights is critically important. However, major media coverage of rights is often relinquished to sound bites and emotional arguments with a lack of reasoned arguments offered, thus bypassing intelligent debate.

Additionally, there are times when a new right being discussed is not actually a right at all. Also frequently lacking in any debate of rights is a thoughtful discussion on how to resolve situations where there are competing rights.

Now, I would like to suggest a principle that could be used to prioritize competing rights. This principle draws upon the ideas of John Locke, Thomas Jefferson and others.

Intrinsic rights are among our most fundamental rights and should be accorded greater priority under law.

A fundamental right is a right that forms the basis for other rights. It is easy to see that the right to life is the most fundamental of all rights because if not alive, most other rights become moot. So when dealing with competing rights, an important principle to use is: The more fundamental a right is, the higher the priority it should be afforded in law.

When debating competing rights, we should employ well-articulated arguments based on sound reason. This debate is more challenging in a society where moral relativism and radical secularism find such embrace; where critical thinking becomes unnecessary and where what one feels is all that is required to determine what is right.

We must resist notions of false tolerance which can cause us to remain silent when we should speak out.

Christian values, different from dogma and doctrine, are legitimate competing values with other sources of values in our pluralistic democratic society, which is a marketplace of competing ideas and values. Cries of separation of church and state when Christian values are involved are either wrong interpretations of separation of church and state or intentionally dishonest.

In closing, as Christians, we have a right and duty to advocate for our Christian values in this competitive marketplace of values and rights. It is important to understand that someone’s values are going to be embraced in law with legal rights established and we must realize that, if our Christian values do not prevail, then we are left with un-Christian values embraced in law. As Christians, we must engage in the public square in the prioritization of rights or risk becoming marginalized and even persecuted. We should take courage from the fact that the majority of Americans self-identify as Chris- tians, but we will prevail only if Christians engage in the public square.

For a more in-depth reflection on prioritization of rights, go online to: www.

About the author

Ron Kelsey

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