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Down with Secularism!

Secularism is commonly stated as a goal of Humanists and atheists. It seems like an awfully good idea, with faith kept out of state business, and yet individual and group expression of religious beliefs protected.

I'm going to try to put the case that secularism is a rather bad idea, and far from being something we should look to as a way to deal with religion, it can create real problems.

Secularism is obsessed with religion. It grants religion special protection, because just as the state must not promote religion the state must also keep away from religion, preventing it being a factor in policy. The state can't legislate against religion.

Secularism privileges religious irrationality above other irrationality. If you have a crazy belief about the speed of light and physics you are a crank. If you have those beliefs because you are a Creationist, you get different treatment.

Because of the above, secularism is biased against the individual. If an individual has a supernatural belief then secularism will allow such a belief to be dealt with, such as through a discussion in a school. If a large enough group has a supernatural belief and that group have been accepted as being a religion, then their belief is protected against such discussion and analysis. Say that you believe in zombies and you can be ridiculed. Say that dead people walked around on the day of Christ's death, and you, as a Christian, are protected.

Secularism treats all religions as equal. They aren't. Some faiths are more rational and less harmful than others. Why should Buddhism be treated the same as Islam?

Secularism can end up treating atheism as if it were a faith, because it so often mentions non-belief alongside belief. Atheism isn't one of several alternate views on the nature of a god or gods. As a result we see complains about the possible promotion of atheism in classes which teach evolution.

Secularism enshrines in law social taboos about the discussion religion. It's a reduction of freedom of thought and expression.

I have a different agenda: Rationalism. The state should ensure that all its policies are based on rational considerations of evidence. The state should be free to deal with beliefs in any way it sees fit, within reason, and should not be held back because a particular belief happens to be categorised as religious. Rationalism supports fairness for the individual, because truth is unbiased.

Non-secularist rationalism need not treat all faiths the same, because it need not deal with faiths in the way that secularism does. If someone wishes to wear certain jewellery or clothing to work, the concerns should be about whether or not such things are suitable, not whether or not such things are religious. If someone wishes to perform some ritual, or eat certain food, again that should be about whether or not this is too much of an inconvenience, not about their faith.

Secularism is, paradoxically, all about religion. It's a reaction to religion that tries to control religion but in doing so also protects religion. We should treat individuals and their beliefs individually, religion need not and should not be involved.

TAGGED: SECULARISM


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