This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

Comment

← Religious freedom and religious privilege

Zeuglodon's Avatar Jump to comment 17 by Zeuglodon

Comment 13 by Steve Zara

I think either we're talking at cross-purposes, or I'm committing a logical fallacy somewhere, so I'd very much like this cleared up. Secularism is:

... the principle of separation between government institutions and the persons mandated to represent the State from religious institutions and religious dignitaries.

I can see - more clearly than I did before, I have to say - how secularism in this sense works very much like NOMA, but with government in place of science. It fits with the idea that religion is a "private matter", which, as far as actual cosmological belief or church attendance goes, it is. If this was all there was to secularism, I'd treat it the same way I treat NOMA - without enthusiasm.

I was, however, thinking of secularism as simply refusing to make policy on the basis of any one religion's teaching. In other words, it largely ignores religion in the decision-making process. The counter I've got in my mind is a theocracy or a government system that puts any religious representative in the speaker's box as though consulting an expert.

As far as actual beliefs go, it is very much like NOMA and like the agnostic reconciliation tactic of simply saying "let's all agree to disagree". But when it comes to organised religion, it comes across more as a refusal to give an institution a direct line to policy making, which is right because it's essentially turning round to the aristocrats and saying "you earn your way just like everyone else". In other words:

...the right to be free from religious rule and teachings, and the right to freedom from governmental imposition of religion upon the people within a state that is neutral on matters of belief.

After all, it at least lets people like us voice our views in debates and things. There's nothing here that suggests religion can't be debated in the media.

In another sense, it refers to the view that human activities and decisions, especially political ones, should be unbiased by religious influence.1 (See also public reason.)

Can you at least see where I'm coming from?

Mon, 20 Feb 2012 14:03:50 UTC | #920008