The great cultural divide: Many of us will never be secularists

28 Oct

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: There are many folks who simply just don’t get that there are many people of faith. This faith group is of a variety of religions and a variety of theologies. Some “liberal” strands of faith have no theology or interpret their theology in line with contemporary social thought. They see religion as part of a wider social movement. For this group, there are no fixed theological positions because the emphasis of their faith is “social justice” however that is defined. Many in this secularist religion group simply do not understand that many of faith have a fixed theological perspective on religion. They feel that theology does not change because the cultural context has changed. In this group there are eternal positions because they are very cognizant of an eternal life. Moi thought the many attempts to persuade her by providing lists of people who support a particular position were laughable. People who made the lists or who thought because this prominent person or that prominent person supported a position would make moi and many others jump on board were clueless. What they did not realize is that moi and others, to paraphrase the old Righteous Brothers song “believe in forever.” It doesn’t matter how many people, whether they are prominent or not believe something, that doesn’t change the theological perspective. Many of these proponents do not believe in the Bible, that it is a stupid little book that only morons follow. Moi suggests that these secularists spend some time digesting the book of Daniel. People of a non-secularist faith are not morons and really don’t want to be treated as such. So, the question is how do various groups operate in the society were all have to live.

Anthony B. Robinson has posted the intriguing opinion piece, Can religion and politics play nice?

All,” Volf terms “totalism,” (others might call it totalitarianism). Religious totalists want one religion, their own of course, to be legally established and in power, governing all aspects of a society’s life. This is true of radical forms of political Islam as well as for some versions of right-wing Christianity. It is what is sometimes decried as “theocracy.” Totalism, however, relies upon coercion, which Volf claims, “violates the central command [of God] to treat others as we would like them to treat us.”

The second big option is “nothing,” or “secularism,” which asserts that religious convictions really don’t belong in public debate at all. Believers, according to perspective, are to keep their faith “private,” limited to personal and family matters. In public and politics, religious conviction should be put on “idle.”

This is the Jeffersonian “separation of church and state.” Secularism is also the argument of the “New Atheists,” like Sam Harris and the late Christopher Hitchens. The problem here is that, in the name of liberalism, some world views are ruled “out of order,” and secular liberalism becomes in its own way coercive.

This is where Volf splits from traditional views. Instead of “separation,” he argues, the role of government should be neutrality. Volf proposes a third alternative that is based on accepting that we live in a society with a great and rich pluralism of religions, faiths and world-views (comprehensive philosophies that may or may not be religious in nature).

He speaks of the role of religions in such a pluralistic society as to that of being, “One player on the field; one voice among many.” In other words, different religions or world-views may each contribute their voice in the public discussion. They have as much right to share their views (in a non-coercive and legal way) as anyone else. But they have no right to have their views privileged or established.

Volf accepts that religious (and other) communities in a complex, pluralistic culture will continue to disagree and argue. And that’s not a problem. He would agree with the great Jesuit theologian of the mid-twentieth century, John Courtney Murray, who said, “A good argument is a great achievement.” (When was the last time you heard a “good” argument?) http://crosscut.com/2012/10/24/religion/111071/religion-presidential-politics-2012-mormonism-anth/

The overriding question which Robinson tries to evade is whether the “Separation of Church and State” has gone too far.

Brian J. Hershorin of Expert Law has written the following discussion in the article, The Separation of Church and State: Have We Gone Too Far?

Taken literally, the Establishment Clause does not mention anything about a “separation between church and state.” This notion, which came about through a letter written by President Jefferson to the Danbury Connecticut Baptist Association in an effort to support the Establishment Clause, has now become a major source of discussion in the Supreme Court. In fact, the Establishment Clause and this fiction of a “separation between church and state” have been the driving force in many Supreme Court decisions that have little to do with establishing a national religion. It seems as if they arise as a way for state institutions to stay politically correct, so to not offend the melting pot American religions.

Modern interpretations of the Constitution have allowed the Supreme Court to stretch the meaning of the Establishment Clause beyond its original intent. http://www.expertlaw.com/library/misc/first_amendment.html

The U.S. was founded by a group of men with various religious philosophies.

Mallie Jane Kim’s U.S. News interview of history professor Thomas S. Kidd and article, The Founding Fathers, Religion, and God of the discussion highlights the role of religion:

What role did religion play during the Revolutionary era?

It’s there in ideas that help to motivate and unite the Revolution, most importantly the idea that all men are created equal that [Thomas] Jefferson articulates in the Declaration of Independence. That is not to say that all the Founding Fathers were exactly the same on their personal faith.

How did people with different religious beliefs unify?

A good example of this is the relationship between Jefferson and his evangelical supporters, of which he had many. Evangelical Baptists loved Jefferson, and they were one of his key constituencies in the 1800 presidential election when he was elected president over John Adams. That seems strange to us today because Jefferson was a skeptic personally about Christianity; he doubted some key Christian doctrines like the resurrection and the divinity of Christ, but he was the champion of religious liberty. When Jefferson writes the letter in which he uses the phrase “the wall of separation between church and state,” which is in 1802, he’s writing to a group of his evangelical supporters in Connecticut.

How did religion inform the Constitution?

The most important of those [religious principles] is the idea that you need to check and balance power within government because giving too much power to any one person or one branch of government is dangerous because of human nature. There was a widespread assumption among the Founding Fathers that people were naturally sinful, and if they had a chance that any one person would become a tyrant.

How did religion and politics intersect?

The early presidents set a pattern of routinely having proclamations of days of prayer and fasting. Early Congresses hired chaplains and put them on the payroll to lead sessions in prayer and so forth. Even Jefferson, who is known as this kind of far-reaching, strict separationist—we view him that way today—would attend church services in government buildings.

What did religion contribute to this era?

One is the principle of religious liberty for all people and the free exercise of religion that’s guaranteed in the First Amendment. And then also the notion that all men are created equal. It’s such a simple proposition, and yet it’s deep and powerful that whatever men may say, that we’re all equal before God, and that God is our source of rights. Later on, Martin Luther King [Jr.] called this America’s creed.

How has church-state separation changed?

We’re certainly a much more diverse society in terms of religion than the time of the founding, but I think that constitutional jurisprudence now has moved in the direction of having a one-size-fits-all model of church-state relations that leans toward the more secular interpretation. That is certainly not what the founders would have envisioned. It also can easily send a signal that the government is not just neutral on issues of religion, but that in some cases it’s hostile to interests of religion in general, and I think that is an impression the government should seek not to make.

How can people overcome religious differences to work together now?

Jefferson strikes me as an excellent example for more skeptical or secular folks in America today. He has his own doubts about faith, but he doesn’t necessarily need to impose those on people of faith. Conservative believers could also learn from some of the evangelical Baptists at the time of the founding, who were more than willing to support politically someone like Jefferson, even though they didn’t share his own beliefs. http://www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2010/12/30/the-founding-fathers-religion-and-god

This discussion brings us to the concept of tolerance which is not necessarily a secular idea.

Many secularists don’t view secularism as a religion. Rabbi Ariel Bar Tzadok writes in the article, The Religion of Secularism:

Secularism is the way most people live today. Its aim is to place traditional religion on the “back burner” of life and to instill a completely new way and outlook on life. Traditional religion taught that man lives for G-d and is here on earth to serve Him. The secular religion teaches a different credo. Man is here on earth to live for himself, man created G-d in his own image, not the other way around. G-d (and thus traditional religion) is here to serve the needs of man. The individual is paramount and his desires are sacred. While many might not desire or be willing to view secularism as a religion, the philosophy underlying it definitely fits the dictionary definition of what is a religion. One just need do a standard web search of online information and the official and accepted definitions of both religion and secularism become clear. Looking at them side by side one should be able to

draw one’s own conclusions. The Wikipedia, free online Encyclopedia has provided these statements.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion Religion—sometimes used inter-changeably with faith or belief system—is commonly defined as belief concerning the supernatural, sacred, or divine, and the moral codes, practices, values, and institutions associated with such belief. In its broadest sense some have defined it as the sum total of answers given to explain humankind’s relationship with the universe http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secularism Secularism means: in philosophy, the belief that life can be best lived by applying ethics, and the universe best understood, by processes of reasoning, without reference to a god or gods or other supernatural concepts.

A religion is a “belief concerning… the… divine.” Secularism is “the belief… without reference to a god.” Reference specifically not to mention a god is as much a statement of religion as is the mention a god. One way or the other a relationship between man and god is established, one in favor, and one against. Nonetheless, both fit the dictionary definition of a religion. http://www.koshertorah.com/PDF/secularism.pdf

See, Religious restrictions index: how do countries compare? http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2012/sep/20/religious-restrictions-index-intolerance-rise

Tolerance is defined as:

tol·er·ance/ˈtälərəns/

  1. The ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily…: “religious tolerance”

If there is anything this past election has taught, it is the secularists are no more tolerant than the “religious Taliban” they claim to hate.

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3 Responses to “The great cultural divide: Many of us will never be secularists”

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  1. People of faith don’t just ‘get over’ their faith « Comments From An Old Fart - November 7, 2012

    […] There are many folks who simply just don’t get that there are many people of faith. This faith group is of a variety of religions and a variety of theologies. Some “liberal” strands of faith have no theology or interpret their theology in line with contemporary social thought. They see religion as part of a wider social movement. For this group, there are no fixed theological positions because the emphasis of their faith is “social justice” however that is defined. Many in this secularist religion group simply do not understand that many of faith have a fixed theological perspective on religion. They feel that theology does not change because the cultural context has changed. In this group there are eternal positions because they are very cognizant of an eternal life. Moi thought the many attempts to persuade her by providing lists of people who support a particular position were laughable. People who made the lists or who thought because this prominent person or that prominent person supported a position would make moi and many others jump on board were clueless. What they did not realize is that moi and others, to paraphrase the old Righteous Brothers song “believe in forever.” It doesn’t matter how many people, whether they are prominent or not believe something, that doesn’t change the theological perspective. Many of these proponents do not believe in the Bible, that it is a stupid little book that only morons follow. Moi suggests that these secularists spend some time digesting the book of Daniel. People of a non-secularist faith are not morons and really don’t want to be treated as such. So, the question is how do various groups operate in the society were all have to live.  https://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/2012/10/28/the-great-cultural-divide-many-of-us-will-never-be-se… […]

  2. A comment about the American Academy of Pediatrics statement on gay marriage: Is it time to get government out of marriage | Comments From An Old Fart - March 21, 2013

    […] There are many folks who simply just don’t get that there are many people of faith. This faith group is of a variety of religions and a variety of theologies. Some “liberal” strands of faith have no theology or interpret their theology in line with contemporary social thought. They see religion as part of a wider social movement. For this group, there are no fixed theological positions because the emphasis of their faith is “social justice” however that is defined. Many in this secularist religion group simply do not understand that many of faith have a fixed theological perspective on religion. They feel that theology does not change because the cultural context has changed. In this group there are eternal positions because they are very cognizant of an eternal life. Moi thought the many attempts to persuade her by providing lists of people who support a particular position were laughable. People who made the lists or who thought because this prominent person or that prominent person supported a position would make moi and many others jump on board were clueless. What they did not realize is that moi and others, to paraphrase the old Righteous Brothers song “believe in forever.” It doesn’t matter how many people, whether they are prominent or not believe something, that doesn’t change the theological perspective. Many of these proponents do not believe in the Bible, that it is a stupid little book that only morons follow. Moi suggests that these secularists spend some time digesting the book of Daniel. People of a non-secularist faith are not morons and really don’t want to be treated as such. So, the question is how do various groups operate in the society were all have to live.  https://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/2012/10/28/the-great-cultural-divide-many-of-us-will-never-be-se… […]

  3. A comment about the American Academy of Pediatrics statement on gay marriage: Is it time to get government out of marriage | drwilda - March 21, 2013

    […] There are many folks who simply just don’t get that there are many people of faith. This faith group is of a variety of religions and a variety of theologies. Some “liberal” strands of faith have no theology or interpret their theology in line with contemporary social thought. They see religion as part of a wider social movement. For this group, there are no fixed theological positions because the emphasis of their faith is “social justice” however that is defined. Many in this secularist religion group simply do not understand that many of faith have a fixed theological perspective on religion. They feel that theology does not change because the cultural context has changed. In this group there are eternal positions because they are very cognizant of an eternal life. Moi thought the many attempts to persuade her by providing lists of people who support a particular position were laughable. People who made the lists or who thought because this prominent person or that prominent person supported a position would make moi and many others jump on board were clueless. What they did not realize is that moi and others, to paraphrase the old Righteous Brothers song “believe in forever.” It doesn’t matter how many people, whether they are prominent or not believe something, that doesn’t change the theological perspective. Many of these proponents do not believe in the Bible, that it is a stupid little book that only morons follow. Moi suggests that these secularists spend some time digesting the book of Daniel. People of a non-secularist faith are not morons and really don’t want to be treated as such. So, the question is how do various groups operate in the society were all have to live.  https://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/2012/10/28/the-great-cultural-divide-many-of-us-will-never-be-se… […]

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