Do we prevent somebody being hurt by superstition or faith by rejecting and challenging those things? 

Is it mistaken to support organised religion in membership or donations?

If people do good because they are human, not because God prompts them then is it right to risk giving God any credit when they alone own their good?

 


SECULARISM IS A FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHT

Secularism is a fundamental human right. It belongs to everybody as an individual and to society as a whole. It is as important as the right to travel or hold property or whatever.  In fact if you really own what you own and its nothing to do with what religion or God says then secularism underpins ownership.

There is no need for religion and politics to be one and the same. There is no need for the Church to rule or govern the nation. We need the state. So we need a secular state. A secular state is a basic human right. Without the right to secularism being granted to the nation, other rights are endangered and many will not exist. Forms of religion that oppose secularism need to be seen as cultic - that is, opponents of genuine liberty and underminers of human dignity.

Should all candidates for public office understand the philosophy of secularism?

Yes - whether they are religious or not. They should get no votes if they don't make any effort to learn what secularism is all about. They must undertake a briefing to make sure they understand what is involved in being a secularist.

Should all candidates for public office take an oath to uphold the state as a secular entity?

Yes when they claim to believe in a religion that opposes secularism or any major secularist principle. If they leave the religion, this oath will be unnecessary. It would be preferable and more honest to leave your religion rather than take an oath that violates it. The authentic secularist will be so committed to the state that she or he will do this.

Social workers, medical professionals etc and religion

Should they use their position to promote religion some penalty - dismissal in severe cases - must be considered.

When does the state come first?

The state should protect freedom of religious belief except where the belief opposes the common good. It should protect the right to freedom from religion, the right to leave religion. Freedom from religion is more natural. In a case of conflict, it should take priority. There is no need for religion. Those who need it have a self-inflicted need. We need food, water, shelter and self-esteem - those are real needs.

If one takes up a public appointment - eg civil servant, etc. - one must carry out the duties that the law prescribes and those duties will change from time to time as the law changes.

The state cannot look after every individual's problems - that would be unrealistic and impossible. So it has to look after the common and public good. That is why, for example, it was learned that if people with an alternative sexuality do wrong by having sex, as long as it is done in private its not the state's business. The nearest the state can get to looking after every individual is by looking after people in general. It does not mean the state thinks the individual should not be looked after. A religion is a collection of people - it is not the people. Looking after a religion and looking after the members of the religion is not the same thing. Looking after a religion would imply that you must protect the members from any knowledge or influence that may diminish or destroy their commitment to the religion or you make the religion tax-exempt so it has no tax to pay. Looking after religious people would mean that you treat them as people and give them the same rights as non-religious people.

Religious groups and churches and their employees

True secularism upholds the right of the religious groups and churches to employ who they wish. Equality legislation must not be used to interfere with the right of the Church or religion to choose whoever it wants as an employee, minister or otherwise. We cannot for example punish a religion that refuses employment to an atheist who wants to be say a Christian chaplain in a Church hospital. This is not discrimination for it is based on fact: the atheist is only trying to be an impostor.

However, the right of the Church to refuse employment to some does not imply it has the right to discriminate on racist or homophobic or gendered grounds.

Secularism and burials

Secularism recognises that religions should not restrict who can be buried in churchyards. Religion can exist without having the power to decide who is welcome to be buried in its graveyards. It must not be given the privilege to discriminate. Its refusal to let one be buried in its graveyards would be the lowest form of bigotry possible. Its a serious matter.

The state comes before the Church

The state comes before the Church. The state runs the police and the health service and makes the laws of the land. We hope that the state will remember the poor and look after them. Church and state often disagree. If there is a conflict with religion the state must put itself first and be put first. There would be no Church without the state and the Church must remember that. However the state must not interfere with religion unnecessarily.

Unless a person treats the natural world as the only world that person is treasonous and is showing contempt for the state and therefore the people. Religious affiliation to a religion of magic and miracle is treason.

Modern Catholics tend to believe that separation of Church and state respects the autonomy of both. It gives both the freedom to express their views. It supposedly frees the state from Church control and the Church from state control. This doctrine was condemned by Pope Leo XIII in Longinqua oceani in 1895. He called it Americanism. He stopped short though of formally declaring Americanism to be heresy.

Religious broadcasting - but only on state radio or television - should allow people of non-religious beliefs to have a say. It should not be limited to any religion but open to all religions and none.

It can happen that the needs of minorities will be ignored in a democracy that implements the wishes of the majority. If people keep religious assumptions and beliefs out of politics, it will be easier to look after minorities. There is enough to disagree about as there is.

Remember that to advance secularism is to advance the recognition of your own dignity as a free man or free woman.

To undermine the state is to give the two fingers to the people and to yourself. People need to have a strong respect for the laws of the country. If they don't, cynicism and resentment set in and crime rates shoot up because of that. It is only right that people who are members of religion keep their religion out of public affairs if there is a conflict with secularist principles.

Secularism and proper self-esteem are co-dependent

What am I doing plugging secularism in the context of self-esteem? Secularism and self-esteem are inseparable. True secularism listens to individuals and is based on democratic principles. It does not listen to religion for religion is a system set up by people but it is not people. To oppose secularism is really to deny that you are more important than any system of religion.

The best governments are secular. The best people put the best governments in power. And these are the people with authentic self-esteem.

Be secular. If you can't leave your religion aside to do the job then look for another job and above all keep out of politics.

Democracy - the only reasonably healthy form of government

Political power gives so much scope for corruption that it is to be looked at and distributed very carefully.

The fat wage packets of politicians are a disgrace. Politics should be about service and not cash.

We detest communism for it means that nobody owns anything. Fair distribution of goods can be achieved without it. The fact that some people unfairly keep goods for themselves that they could share with others does not mean that our own system is wrong for they are misusing it. How could it be right to force communism on anybody when it is simply pushing equality too far? Progress cannot come about unless people have property of their own. Communism steals their right to freedom.

We abhor capitalism for it throws too much power into the laps of the rich and powerful.

We believe in democracy. That is better than having a few self-serving people in power who can do as they please when the country is stuck with them. Power corrupts. Democracy has its faults in that people are easily fooled and do not inform themselves right but the believer in democracy knows that that only happens when not enough has been done to assist them. Democracy should not be found deplorable just because it can be abused or poorly implemented.

It has been objected that democracy leaves itself open to the danger that it will be done away with if enough people decide to cease being democratic. This way democracy can destroy itself. But what is wrong with that? It is still a democratic decision and if the people decide to reverse it they can even if it means rebelling against the state which they have turned against democracy.

Should democracies allow parallel legal systems to suit say Muslims who want sharia law? The idea of setting up parallel legal systems in a democratic nation that are not subject to democratic control is ridiculous and a repudiation of democracy. The law must exist to protect people not religions.

Treating cohabiting couples the same as married couples obviously makes them all equal. The liberal may force this treatment into the law against the will of the people. Secularism requires that if a democracy votes for the Church to reign over the state, the will of the people will have to be ignored. Secularism then favours equality over liberty.

Religion tends to make rules about what to do and how to behave that we wouldn't have without it. We would be freer without it. So believers are putting their need to believe before their need for freedom. Too many believers in a nation mean that the nation will be inclined to limit freedom too much. Those who do not want to be free don't generally want others to be free either.

The state and other bodies should be kept totally separate from religion and spiritual ideas. They should pay no attention to religious rules and teachings - except when religion is thinking about ethical issues on the secular mundane and natural level and keeping the supernatural out of it. This is about keeping entities such as the health service and the government unbiased by religious influence. Here is an example. The state taking advice from the Church in relation to abortion is fine as long as the advice is based on science and reason. But to take it from the Church when the Church says, "God told us in such and such a book or told such and such a pope that it is wrong" that is improper and sometimes gravely so. Some people say religion has no business interfering with politics or trying to influence politics at all. That is only true if the religion is doing it as a religion and not as an entity that has a right to voice its views based on reason and science and evidence.

There should be no references to God or any religious references in state constitution

In Ireland for example, there needs to be referendum to remove religious references from the Constitution.

Suppose a constitution says we have the right to worship God. Suppose a constitution says that God has the right to be worshipped. The first is tolerable but seems to presuppose the existence of God. It would be better to have, "We have a right to worship a deity as we understand it." The second is seriously violating secular principles.

The right to vote and be informed

The electorate should be informed as well as possible before voting so that the chances of votes being cast because of misinformation and prejudice are reduced. Care should be taken that no organisation is scaring them into voting a certain way. The information should include attacking religious fraud for religion likes to manipulate the electorate for its own dishonourable and superstitious ends.

Everybody who is mature should have the vote and use it. It is an honour to be able to so the person is degrading himself for herself by not doing it. It is insulting those who do vote. It disrespects the future of the nation.

Public representatives must be trained in secular principles

Public representatives/politicians must take a course in secular principles and should have a sufficient knowledge of finance and economics and sociology.

To be neutral in relation to religion is to be against religion that says we should not be neutral. To be neutral sometimes requires that we be actively hostile to such religion. We would be hostile in our attitude towards it in the sense that we put the state before it. We put neutrality before it. This applies to voters and to public representatives in particular.

FINALLY

Secularism is a fundamental human right.  It is also the foundation of further fundamental human rights.  The right belongs to everybody.  One problem is that even if somebody rejects the right for the sake of religion we have to impose their right on them.  This is because rights and responsibility go together and they are stuck with the responsibility.