FreeThought Fort Wayne

        Be Reasonable

Promoting religious advocacy for secularism

Posted by Skeptigator on March 24, 2008

I am writing this to contribute to the Blog Against Theocracy 2008 campaign however it’s something that’s been sitting in my rough drafts folder for a while and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to get this idea out there.  To be honest I have read a number of articles over the weekend that are being submitted to this blog carnival and most are a “negative” position. I don’t mean negative in a bad sense just in an “against” something sense. I thought it might be good to have a “for” something thrown in the mix. I’m aware of the difficulties in writing a “for” something post when the campaign is “against” something but here’s my best shot.

The best way in America (in particular) to guard against the pitfalls of theocracy is to encourage our religious fellow citizens to embrace Secularism. That’s right, the big, bad, god-destroying, bring out your daughters secularism. This won’t be easy when we would have to work against the likes of Pat Robertson but it is necessary for a lasting peace between the religions appetite for power and our freedoms.

The first step of this new renewed effort is to spend some time explaining that religious advocacy for secularism was there in the beginning of our country and written into the Constitution itself. Many of the Founding Fathers in particular were very well aware of the dangers of mixing religion and politics. In fact, they went out of there way to ensure that religious authority had no explicit political power. Unfortunately, many people will not be persuaded by this since the arguments at the time were about the different and competing Christian denominations, but everyone believed in God. The concern was that one particular branch of Christianity would hold power over all others, not that God in general should be removed from our government.

We must be diligent in explaining that the underlying philosophy of the separation of Church and State is sound. It was simply being represented historically as a sectarian issue. You could take this one step further if you have an open audience, to simply state that our Founding Fathers went out of their way to remove the possibility of sectarian Christian political power and we should be even more diligent now that America has a pluralistic religious (and non-religious) citizenry.

The second step must build on the historical foundation laid down in the first step. There must be a renewed campaign to explain within the historical context mentioned above that removing God (or more accurately keeping him out) of government is the important safeguard to religious freedom today.

The more pessimistic and probably alarmist argument could be made that the early Americans were scared enough of their Christian brothers, can you imagine what would happen, if in their religious fervor Christians tore down the wall of the separation of Church and State, and in a few short decades Islam (or Scientology) or some other fairly hostile religion used that precedent to institute Sharia law (or perhaps more frighteningly Dianetics) in America. The safeguards to religious freedom that have directly contributed to the stability and freedoms in America, ironically, were torn down by the very people who felt their religious freedoms were being infringed upon. How short-sighted they will appear. I think I once heard a sermon that said something like, “if you beat a path to the devil what will prevent him from turning around on you.”

I know this isn’t an easy task. I know this message will fall upon deaf ears particulary within fundamentalist and evangelical communities (and unfortunately more strident Atheists) but it’s important to get this message out nonetheless. This sort of education needs to begin in the history and government classes at the high school level and continued through secondary education. It’s an important argument to make every time that legislation, resolutions and other governmental acts begin to chip away at our religious freedom or blur the line between personal religious belief and a secular government.

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5 Responses to “Promoting religious advocacy for secularism”

  1. thewordofme said

    I literally shudder to think of Islam or scientology or Catholics or Baptists 🙂 taking over control of anything.

    Enjoyed your post. Stop by and say hi sometime.

  2. Jake said

    I would love to see more taught in schools about history and government during the foundation of the United States.

    I fear we will run into the same roadblock to progress that evolution has in science classes. That of course is how religious fundamentalists are trying to drive a wedge into our public education system by making secular people appear as though they are not allowing “alternative” theories such as ID to be taught side by side.

    The fundamentalists would cry foul the moment we tried to incorporate more secular education.

    Thankfully Intelligent Design is extremely flawed and a born-again version of creationism.

    I don’t think the only goal of fundamentalists is to get ID in schools, but rather to create doubt and uncertainty in general, and to minimize the effectiveness of secualr attempts at education. It’s like republican politics. Pick something stupid to rant and rave about until it creates enough of a problem and diversion that the opponents have to waste time and energy dispelling stupidity and defending rationality.

  3. […] I’ve said it before and I say it again, we really should promote advocacy for secular government within the religious community. […]

  4. […] have also posted over on FreeThought Fort Wayne’s blog about a need to cultivate religious advocacy of secularism in America. I now have a better understanding that I wasn’t proposing anything […]

  5. […] have also posted on FreeThought Fort Wayne’s blog about a need to cultivate religious advocacy of secularism in America. I now have a better understanding that I wasn’t proposing anything […]

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