Below are links to a conversation between Margaret Romao Toigo of Land of the Free, Home of the Brave and Dory Zinkand of Wittenberg Gate. Margaret does not state her religious affiliation. Dory is a Reformed Evangelical and a member of the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA).
A major theme of the posts is finding that balance in which civil government has the authority necessary to effectively safeguard the rights of the people, and yet is limited enough as to not intrude into their personal lives. Each writer takes a different aprpoach to solving the problem.
Traditional Judeo-Christian Morality, by Margaret Romao Toigo.
Excerpt: The most important among America’s primary founding principles are freedom of religion and the separation of church from state. However, one needn’t be a Christian — or even believe in God — to understand that the profound wisdom in Matthew 7:1-5 is essential to our progress toward the goal of realizing the promise of liberty as it was laid out by the Framers a little over two centuries ago. And as we pursue that goal, we must be careful not to confuse universal truths with religious and other dogma, lest we forget that it is our God-given (or natural) free will that places the onus of seeking truth on human conscience, which is what should allow us to separate church from state without sacrificing our moral clarity.
On Judgment vs. Discernment and Sin vs. Crime, by Dory Zinkand.
Excerpt: Margaret speaks of a free will. If she means that in the sense of a freedom of conscience, (as opposed to the theological understanding of those words), I heartily agree. This concept, too, is entirely Biblical. Biblical government (both church and state) is very limited on what areas it can judge. For example, coveting is a sin, but no church or state authority is ever seen in Scripture to have the authority to find someone guilty of it. That is a matter of individual conscience and God will ultimately judge.
The Difference Between Crime and Sin, by Margaret Romao Toigo.
Excerpt: The question of whether any given law protects or infringes upon civil and human rights is the fundamental difference between the prosecution of crime and the judgment of sin, which is why we must guard our rights by recognizing the distinction between transient social conventions and the unchanging, unalterable truths of conscience as well as the difference between the mortal humans we elect to protect and defend our rights and the institutions we turn to for guidance in matters of conscience.
By What Authority and By What Standard?, by Dory Zinkand.
Excerpt: I'm with her for the gist of this, but there are two concepts here that I'm sticking on. One is that I question the existence of, "unalterable truths of conscience," or the practicality of using such a standard to determine what should or should not be civil law. How does one determine if something is an unalterable truth of conscience? Is it by doing a survey of current thinking or by looking at cultural trends historically? Do we have experts who can decide these things? ...All any tyrant would have to say is that this or that standard is an unalterable truth of conscience and that would be that. By what concrete standard could anyone object?