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A Modern Secular Religion

 
 
Reply Thu 3 Jul, 2003 12:29 am
Do the ever more ubiquitous social values and vocabulary of modern politically correct thought and speech constitute a new secular religion, one that is gradually displacing traditional religions from a role in our public life? Is our society thoughtlessly embracing this new religion and thereby destroying the historical view of the existence of a moral authority above and independent of government and to which all individuals are ultimately morally accountable. What implications might this have for the limitations of the power and intrusiveness of government in our lives?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 14,307 • Replies: 305
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Jul, 2003 04:55 am
No
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dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Jul, 2003 06:56 am
THUD
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farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Jul, 2003 07:13 am
Now Im not cleanin up these bodies on the floor.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Jul, 2003 07:21 am
Of course, George's post deserves a more fully articulated response than I've given so far-although my answer still remains: "No."

This post in it's entirety--although i make no accusation against George, i will assume his sincerity-is functionally the battle cry of the religious right in its attempt at a reactionary counter-revolution. Make no mistake, our society has undergone a sea-change since the somnolent era of Eisenhower, Edsels and segregation. This change has been revolutionary in that one simply did not mention homosexuality, or sniggered at "homo" jokes. One assumed a woman would be found in the kitchen, or the laundry room, not the board room. People who gave serious considerations to questions of polity and ethics were eggheads. Anyone who railed against inequities and unfair practices in the labor marketplace was potentially the commie under the bed. Black men were "boys," and their wives were maids or cooks. Sunday religious service was de rigeur, and prayer before, during or after any public activity was, far from being decried, expected.

Quote:
"Do the ever more ubiquitous social values and vocabulary of modern politically correct thought and speech constitute a new secular religion, one that is gradually displacing traditional religions from a role in our public life?"


Of course, in answering this, one must accept the contention that there is a body of "politically correct thought" which has "social values" and a "vocabulary" which is becoming increasingly ubiquitous (a formulation which i find problematic-ubiquitous means found everywhere, so i wonder how something can be found "more" everywhere). This question also assumes that traditional religions have a role in our public lives. This last, is, of course, spot on. I see that as a problem. The Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court had a multi-ton stone slab inscribed with the ten commandments, and then had said slab installed in the rotunda of the state's Judiciary Center. That certainly qualifies as "traditional religion" in public life. It also qualified for an assault from those whom the right would describe as "secular humanists"-a handy way of marginalizing Jews, Muslims, Hindus and anyone else who is not Christian and would take justifiable offense. Politically correct has become a contemporary epithet, although the demand for adherence to such a type of standard is just as vociferous among members of the right as those of the left. Such a charged term can only be construed as a pejorative in its use here-it is meant to imply an unthinking adherence to a set of "social values" enforced by a rigorous application of "vocabulary"-and it can as easily be applied to the right as to the left.

In fact, political rectitude as a concept seems to be more and more unacceptable to the left as it grows in vogue among the members of the religious right. Whether or not that is the case, however, such language as this suggests that an extraordinary circumstance prevails in the polity. Nothing could be further from the truth. That the political rectitude of HUAC and Senator McCarthy is widely divergent from that of Mark Rudd and Huey Newton does not make it any less politically doctrinal. Finally, secular religion, apart from being hilariously oxymoronic, makes the unsupported and unsupportable assumption that there is such a thing as secular humanism to which a significant body of the populace adheres in support of a defined agenda of belief and calls to action. That the narrow, self-serving and exclusionary agenda of the religious right has a large and vocal opposition is not to be doubted; that this therefore constitutes an opposing "religion" is too absurd to continue to refute. However, i will acknowledge that there are those who do hold a belief in something called secular humanism, and that they would hope to impose their beliefs on others. The effort is largely futile, however, as religious adheres requires the surrender of one's will to higher authority, and what is described as secular humanism derives from an assumption of the intrinsic worth of the individual, to which the imposition of higher authority is antithetical.

Quote:
Is our society thoughtlessly embracing this new religion and thereby destroying the historical view of the existence of a moral authority above and independent of government and to which all individuals are ultimately morally accountable.


Once again, the language of the passage quoted is highly charged. The use of "thoughtlessly" is a slur against those who passionately believe that our society must be lifted from the mire of religion as politics, those who passionately believe that all people of all races and descriptions have a right to an equal place in the polity-such positions are not only not thoughtless, they are the result of a considered and intelligent review of the state of justice in our society. I would certainly hope that those who wish to change our society will dedicate themselves to the destruction of "the historical view of the existence of a moral authority above and independent of government and to which all individuals are ultimately morally accountable." Apart from the egregious use of "the historical view"-as though to lend some sort of authority to the argument-the citizens of this nation have every right to insist that their participation in the social contract have no reference to "a moral authority above and independent of government."

Quote:
What implications might this have for the limitations of the power and intrusiveness of government in our lives?


Precisely the same implications which sodomy laws, the ten commandments prominently displayed in public places, prayer before school athletic events, and the legislation of morality have for the "power and intrusiveness of government in our lives." We live in a society of gross hypocrisies. The abuse of alcohol and prescription drugs is rampant and of long habit-while the abuse of marijuana and peyote, and other drugs which have been deemed illegal is punished with great severity in many places, and ignored in others. Public nudity is prohibited in adherence to the predilections of Christians who are made uncomfortable by their own bodies; homosexuality is circumscribed, derided and a pretext for violent assault as a result of our society's prejudice for the values of the conservative Christian.

Is there a war going on in our society? Yes, and it is one which pits conservative Christianity against those who wish and work for a plurality which is envisioned in the base documents of our polity-promises which have yet to be kept.
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Jul, 2003 07:22 am
37!
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Jul, 2003 07:22 am
So i'll revise my "no." As Luther said (more or less): "Depends on whose ox has been gored."
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Jul, 2003 07:58 am
Setanta - Just as a quick side question; you said above:

Quote:
The Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court had a multi-ton stone slab inscribed with the ten commandments, and then had said slab installed in the rotunda of the state's Judiciary Center. That certainly qualifies as "traditional religion" in public life. It also qualified for an assault from those whom the right would describe as "secular humanists"-a handy way of marginalizing Jews, Muslims, Hindus and anyone else who is not Christian and would take justifiable offense.


??? How does the tie in with the Ten Commandments display marginalize Jews and Muslims? Both of these religions, as well as Christianity, use the Ten Commandments as a basis of their religious belief. Why would Jews or Muslims be offended by the Ten Commandments?
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Jul, 2003 08:12 am
Referring to those who are not consonant with the promotion of christian values as "secular humanists" marginalizes them . . . which ought not to have required any explanation from me.
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georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Jul, 2003 08:18 am
Setanta has properly questioned the precise meaning of "political correctitude". Is it merely secular humanism? If not, what? I'll accept the secular humanism formulation.

This, of course calls forth a similar question on the other side. What is included in the 'religious right' ? Does that term include only fundamentalist Christians and various TV evangelists with a decidedly Republican political bent? Are Episcopaleans part of the religious right? Lutherans? How about lapsed, but still sympathetic Catholics? Is there any major part of the American population that could be considered as neither secular humanist nor religious right?

Setanta has clearly stated his advocacy of secular humanism and is generally consistent in his stated views. Given that, my question reduces to, 'Should the government necessarily become an advocate of secular humanism, or should it attempt to reflect the expressed views of the people - of course, while remaining within its constitutional bounds ?

It appears to me that Setanta favors government advocacy of secular humanism. If that is so then the essence of my original question remains. Is that a desirable situation ? Government advocacy of secular humanism will have numerous implications which we have only begun to explore. Is it in keeping with the constitution? What implications does that have for our individual freedoms?
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Jul, 2003 08:30 am
You're playin' fast and loose with what i've written, George, but i'll come back to address that later--i don't have much time here and now. I just wanted to add to Fishin' that the Arab Muslim considers him/herself to be descended from Abraham via Ishmael, the son of the handmaiden Hagar--and it is not correct to identify their religious belief with mosaic law.
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Jul, 2003 08:35 am
Setanta wrote:
Referring to those who are not consonant with the promotion of christian values as "secular humanists" marginalizes them . . . which ought not to have required any explanation from me.


Since the "value" mentioned is a major part of all three religions I didn't view it as a promotion of "Christian values" and never having heard of Jews or Muslims referred to as Secular Humanists I asked the question.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Jul, 2003 08:44 am
OK, i go slowly here. I used the Alabama incident as an example. I then posited that when christians feel that their dominance in the polity is challenged, that they describe their opposition as secular humanists, and in so doing, marginalize those whose religious beliefs qualify them to object to being so described. Christians side-step the issue of who will object to their dominance in a process which marginalizes adherents of other religiouis beliefs by lumping them into a category which is labelled securlar humanist. I have also already pointed out that the inference that Muslims consider the ten commandments as a part of their religious belief is not textually correct. Neither is it appropriate to include Hindus in such a group; additionally, Jews might still take offense, correctly identifying such an act as an attempt to establish religion in a way which marginalizes or excludes them. That Jews and Christians have much religious belief in common by no means assures that Jews will accept a christian establishment of religion.
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georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Jul, 2003 08:50 am
Setanta,

I don't see that I have mischaracterized or played fast and loose with your post at all. However I will be glad to amend my interpretation as you may elaborate on the ideas in it. The following excerpts from your post are the keys on which I based my response,

Setanta wrote:


....This post in it's entirety--although i make no accusation against George, i will assume his sincerity-is functionally the battle cry of the religious right in its attempt at a reactionary counter-revolution. ...

...The effort is largely futile, however, as religious adheres requires the surrender of one's will to higher authority, and what is described as secular humanism derives from an assumption of the intrinsic worth of the individual, to which the imposition of higher authority is antithetical.....

.... I would certainly hope that those who wish to change our society will dedicate themselves to the destruction of "the historical view of the existence of a moral authority above and independent of government and to which all individuals are ultimately morally accountable." Apart from the egregious use of "the historical view"-as though to lend some sort of authority to the argument-the citizens of this nation have every right to insist that their participation in the social contract have no reference to "a moral authority above and independent of government."

...Is there a war going on in our society? Yes, and it is one which pits conservative Christianity against those who wish and work for a plurality which is envisioned in the base documents of our polity-promises which have yet to be kept.


I believe our Constitution is indeed squarely based on the presumption of the existence of moral authority and individual rights that are decidedly beyond the proper reach of government. Without that then everything is indeed permissable.
0 Replies
 
fishin
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Jul, 2003 08:54 am
georgeob1 wrote:
'Should the government necessarily become an advocate of secular humanism, or should it attempt to reflect the expressed views of the people - of course, while remaining within its constitutional bounds ?


It sounds like you may be mixing some things here in your question. "Secular humanism" is different than being "secular". Secular Humanism is a belief set, a view of the world that could be loosely considered an equeal to a "theism".

The government is equeally prohibited from "promoting" that view as it is any other. The Constitutional intent is for the government to act in a secular manner (i.e. independent of any specific belief set.).
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Jul, 2003 09:02 am
Setanta wrote:
I used the Alabama incident as an example. I then posited that when christians feel that their dominance in the polity is challenged...


Ok, I missed your original transition... Apparently your use of the word "right" in the original statement intended the "religious right" aka "Christian Right".
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Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Jul, 2003 09:43 am
Frankly, I appreciate the lengths to which Setanta explained his initial "no" response -- but to be honest, I think the "no" was sufficient.

The questions:

1) Do the ever more ubiquitous social values and vocabulary of modern politically correct thought and speech constitute a new secular religion, one that is gradually displacing traditional religions from a role in our public life?

RESPONSE: No.


2) Is our society thoughtlessly embracing this new religion and thereby destroying the historical view of the existence of a moral authority above and independent of government and to which all individuals are ultimately morally accountable.(?)

RESPONSE: No.



3) What implications might this have for the limitations of the power and intrusiveness of government in our lives?

RESPONSE: Since both the previous responses were "no" -- this question really has no meaning.
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Scrat
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Jul, 2003 09:58 am
Re: A Modern Secular Religion
georgeob1 wrote:
Do the ever more ubiquitous social values and vocabulary of modern politically correct thought and speech constitute a new secular religion, one that is gradually displacing traditional religions from a role in our public life? Is our society thoughtlessly embracing this new religion and thereby destroying the historical view of the existence of a moral authority above and independent of government and to which all individuals are ultimately morally accountable. What implications might this have for the limitations of the power and intrusiveness of government in our lives?

Of course it does. More to the point, it is being ESTABLISHED as the religion of the federal government, by the use of the cry of "separation of church and state" as a mechanism to bar access to the government by all other religions. This effectively accomplishes that which the 1st amendment attempts to prevent--having one entity officially recognized by the government that bars access thereto by other religions.

That this non-religion is not technically a religion is of no more import than whether one is stabbed with a knife or a letter opener. The letter opener is not a weapon, until used as one. The battle cry of "separation of church and state" becomes a de facto established government religion when it is used to bar all other religions from having access to the government, and marginalizes them in society.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Jul, 2003 10:01 am
Quote:
Setanta has properly questioned the precise meaning of "political correctitude." Is it merely secular humanism? If not, what? I'll accept the secular humanism formulation.


How very convenient for your argument. Secular humanist is a term applied by those of the religious right (who so identify themselves, with apparent pride) to anyone who opposes their dominance of the "values" of the polity. That political rectitude derives from the militant beliefs of the left in the late 1960's and early 1970's i consider a given. However, the right has adopted this with a vengeance; abortion becomes murder, and the opposition thereto becomes support of "the right to life"; the imposition of a narrow view of morality becomes "family values"; the very term secular humanist is a product of this mind set. Whether employed by the left or the right, political rectitude is the process of imposing what you have identified as "vocabulary" on the political dialogue. Again, it is important to stress that secular humanist is a term applied by the religious to those who oppose their program; for me to accept such a label would not only be false, but would accept your casting the discussion in the term you find convenient, and not in terms which i would employ.

Quote:
This, of course calls forth a similar question on the other side. What is included in the 'religious right' ? Does that term include only fundamentalist Christians and various TV evangelists with a decidedly Republican political bent? Are Episcopaleans part of the religious right? Lutherans? How about lapsed, but still sympathetic Catholics? Is there any major part of the American population that could be considered as neither secular humanist nor religious right?


There are many Christians who describe themselves as belonging to the Christian Right-i know of no one who describes themselves as secular humanists, although i do not deny that such may exists. There are ultramontane Catholics, surely, and although i am unwilling to state that this is the case, there may well be equivalent conservative groups among Episcopalians and Lutherans. I consider it significant that you mention the "televangelists." I know of no equivalent demagogues of the left with such large and generous followings. As for your final question, i would opine, without being able to offer any proof, that the majority of Americans are a part of neither group. Once again, i will point out that "secular humanist" is a term created by the religious right, and applied by them, rather than being a common term of self-description. Members of the religioius right, however, do describe themselves as such.

Quote:
Setanta has clearly stated his advocacy of secular humanism and is generally consistent in his stated views.


Nonsense. You make that such a statement without reference to anything which i have written. You should have the intellectual honesty and courtesy to withdraw it.

Quote:
Given that, my question reduces to, 'Should the government necessarily become an advocate of secular humanism, or should it attempt to reflect the expressed views of the people - of course, while remaining within its constitutional bounds ?


Again, you are working with a given which is not in fact a given. And i defy you to produce a statement of the "expressed views of the people" for the provenance of which you can provide irrefutable proof.

Quote:
It appears to me that Setanta favors government advocacy of secular humanism.


Appearances can, and in this case, obviously do deceive.

Quote:
If that is so then the essence of my original question remains. Is that a desirable situation ? Government advocacy of secular humanism will have numerous implications which we have only begun to explore. Is it in keeping with the constitution? What implications does that have for our individual freedoms?


What implications have the various agendae of religious demagogues have? Are they in keeping with the constitution? What implications do they have for our individual freedoms? You are here defining me as a secular humanist to facilitate your straw man argument. That is grossly unfair. That i oppose the imposition of Christian "values" upon our polity is not grounds to automatically assume that i advocate an agenda for an ill-defined and very likely non-existent dogma identified as secular humanism. The secular humanist must be your stalking horse. Don't point that gun at me, I'm not your prey. I find all of this very ironic, given the recent focus on the Texas Sodomy statute and the on-going debate about the acceptance of and inclusion into our polity of those who are not white european christians.
0 Replies
 
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Jul, 2003 10:28 am
Re: A Modern Secular Religion
Scrat wrote:
georgeob1 wrote:
Do the ever more ubiquitous social values and vocabulary of modern politically correct thought and speech constitute a new secular religion, one that is gradually displacing traditional religions from a role in our public life? Is our society thoughtlessly embracing this new religion and thereby destroying the historical view of the existence of a moral authority above and independent of government and to which all individuals are ultimately morally accountable. What implications might this have for the limitations of the power and intrusiveness of government in our lives?

Of course it does. More to the point, it is being ESTABLISHED as the religion of the federal government, by the use of the cry of "separation of church and state" as a mechanism to bar access to the government by all other religions.


Nonsense!

And in light of the climate right now in the federal government -- NONSENSE!

Quote:
This effectively accomplishes that which the 1st amendment attempts to prevent--having one entity officially recognized by the government that bars access thereto by other religions.



This is what is known as stretching -- and it is stretching to the point where there is gross distortion.

No one NO ONE is attempting to make what is euphemistically known as "prolitically correct thought and speech" into a religion -- or trying to establish this religion as the only religion.

We have grown up -- and we recognize that conduct and speech that was considered appropriate at an earlier stage of our existence -- is no longer appropriate. That is all!


Quote:
That this non-religion is not technically a religion is of no more import than whether one is stabbed with a knife or a letter opener. The letter opener is not a weapon, until used as one. The battle cry of "separation of church and state" becomes a de facto established government religion when it is used to bar all other religions from having access to the government, and marginalizes them in society.


Blather!

Scrat wants to assert that "politically correct speech and thought" is the new religion -- and they says it doesn't matter if it is a religion.

Come on! Let's have at least a pretence of being reasonable and logical here -- no matter how difficult it is for some.
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