Just from a review of this thread, I would say that the operational definition of a dead horse is that it is an aspect of a very broad question which some participants find tiresome, but which others wish to pursue, - and not an element in an argument in which all are directly involved.
My opening was an attempt to introduce a broad line of discussion, - with Blatham among others - but without either knowing or prejudging just where it would go. Blatham cautioned me that a BS storm would result, and that I should be very particular in my choice of terms and questions. Rejecting thoroughly the idea of taking advice from him, and not wanting to unduly confine the terms of discussion, I proceeded with the opening to which you refer. With respect to my original intent, I was wrong. Certainly the term 'secular religion' did more harm than good for the discussion.
We did indeed get a BS storm as Blatham foresaw. The questions I posed were too vague and did lead to multiple subtexts. However the line of dialogue I followed was very interesting - at least to me. Perhaps I am not sufficiently socialized for these communal activities, but, 'Frankly Scarlet ....'
Much later, in response to comments by you and Blatham, I attempted to restate my original proposition in different terms, which, I hope may eliminate some non-productive distractions. This was several pages back, so I'll quote it here.
My choice of the term 'Secular religion' has unfortunately brought more darkness than light. My intent was to refer to the growing tendency of modern liberal governments to displace religion from tacit roles it once played, or at least heavily influenced in public life. This occurs as a side effect of well-intended but intrusive legislation and programs that aim at perfecting good behavior (as opposed to merely proscribing criminal behavior) on the part of citizens. The manifestations are the increasing social indoctrination in public education; the growing social aspects of Head Start and welfare programs; increasing government regulation of the content and operation of the social aspects of private groups and religion in areas once left untouched. It is also aided by a growing vocabulary of politically correct usage that often obscures or devalues issues of great moral significance to many religions.
My interest is not so much in the content of the social controls and the vocabulary themselves as it is in the fact that it is coming from government and not directly from the people in their voluntary associations with each other and in religion. This, I fear could destabilize the balance between religion and government at a time when religion is already beset by many challenges, some self-induced. In short I don't mind government e-liminating the negative, but I do fear it ac-centuating the positive.
Blatham gave me points for the Irving Berlin reference, but little else. Screw him, he was undoubtedly preoccupied with the dwarf!
I also attempted to pose the notion of a productive tension between religion (and here one might wish also to include any private association of people outside government) and government as one of the historical factors in the relative success of Western Civilization since the Fifteenth century. This didn't fly well, undoubtedly because I wasn't sufficiently clear or persuasive (never wrong !).
I believe the questions you have posed above do indeed relate well to both the original and the revised proposition, and I will be most interested to follow your comments on them - or whatever else that may evolve.