May 31, 2007

Sectarian Secularism

Falwell's passing has initiated a plethora or news articles and commentary on the so called doctrine of the separation of church and state or the "wall of separation." A high degree of ignorance persists as it relates to understanding the difference between secularism and religious views. Actually, there is no difference. So what exactly is secularism? One helpful definition states that it is the view that matters of civil policy should be conducted without the introduction of a religious element. Well that just begs the question of what exactly a religious element is. A religious element could be a particular doctrine or practice of a particular religious sect, but as legislative activities pertain to what citizens should or should not do as a matter of making law, the influence of a religious element is moral and ethical. Coincidentally, the influence of secularism on the legislative process equally moral and ethical and is no less sectarian as a religious element. The debate about whether Christianity should have any role or voice in the public square is really misguided. This is really a debate about which set of moral and ethical guidelines should have dominance in the formation of laws and public life. It is in this sense that secularism is one of many worldviews that seeks to have an influence on issues like abortion, stem cell research, the nature of the family, etc. Just because you cannot find a Church of Secularism in the yellowpages to go worship at every week does not mean that they do not have an altar at which they worship - they indeed do. The god of secularism is the self, the self-appointed authority of what is supposedly right and good. Secularism is no less sectarian than any other worldview and we are long passed the point where this needs to be made clear.

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