The false church-state argument

Its latest rendering is over the results of the California vote on Proposition 8.

Bench Memos has an interesting post on it. The key words here are “properly understood.”

Prof. Stone and I (and Pope Benedict XVI) agree entirely
regarding the importance of the principle of “separation of church and
state”, properly understood.

Follow Garnett’s thought here…

To invoke this principle’s importance though, and even
to point to the fact that religious believers were much more likely to
support Proposition 8 than were non-believers, does not, in my view,
establish the point that Prop. 8 is (putting aside other questions
about its merits) an effort to (in his words) “conscript the authority
of the state to compel those who do not share their religious beliefs
to act as if they do.”

To say it does is tendentious.

As Stone himself writes, “[l]ike other citizens,
[religious believers] are free in our society to support laws because
they believe those laws serve legitimate ends, including such values as
tradition, general conceptions of morality, and family stability.”

Right. Furthermore… 

I do not see why we should think that this is not what Prop. 8’s supporters believe.

Seems like it’s political and intellectual dishonesty to ascribe other motives to those voters.

Stone insists that religious believers “are not free —
not if they are to act as faithful American citizens — to impose their
religious views on others”, but again, it does not follow from
the fact that most of Prop. 8’s supporters are religious believers that
they are trying to “impose their religious views on others.”

Exactly. [emphasis added] 

(There are all kinds of issues, I would think, where it
can be said that substantial support for the position enshrined in law
comes or came from religious believers. After all, lots of Americans
are religious believers.)

But have you noticed how the separation argument is never invoked
when their public support and votes go to liberal causes and


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