Monday, April 06, 2015

Is separation of church and state a myth?

This writer says that "The people did not want freedom FROM religion, but freedom OF religion."

29 comments:

John Moore said...

And yet theists keep saying that atheism is just like another kind of religion. So which is it? You can't have it both ways. Either atheism is included in religious freedom, or else it's something qualitatively different from any religion. Please decide.

Papalinton said...

"Ditto"

Victor Reppert said...

I don't agree with this position at all, I think atheism should be part of religious freedom.

If we are talking about the freedom of people not to be part of theistic religion, then this should not be a problem.

toddes said...

"Either atheism is included in religious freedom"

John can you please expound on this?

You are free to be an atheist. There is no law requiring you participate in any religious activity or any show of piety.

You are no more forced to say a public prayer than you are forced to recite the Pledge of Allegiance or sing the National Anthem.

Papalinton said...

Toddes
Yet there are laws in many states that prevent atheists from holding public office still on the statute books.

John Moore said...

Forcing someone isn't a simple all-or-nothing kind of thing. There are so many subtle ways of "forcing" people.

When all the other third-graders are standing and saying "under God" in the pledge of allegiance, you aren't violently forced to do the same, but the social pressure is overwhelming.

And sure, you're free to say the pledge without believing it. You can just keep your heretical thoughts to yourself. But you know what Goebbels said - keep telling a lie often enough and they'll really start believing it.

Religious freedom should mean more than mere tolerance. It should mean actually celebrating diversity and encouraging everyone to be who they really are, whichever racial or cultural background they come from or whichever religious upbringing they had (if they want to hold onto that).

I live in a very homogeneous and conforming country, and when we think about freedom in America, we think about your incredible diversity. That's America's greatest strength.

B. Prokop said...

"When all the other third-graders are standing and saying "under God" in the pledge of allegiance, you aren't violently forced to do the same, but the social pressure is overwhelming."

Maybe yes, but more likely no. I went all the way through grade school seated and silent during the pledge, and no one ever said so much as a word to me. Never - not once. And this was in the 1950s-60s.

(In my case, I had no beef with the "under God" part. But I regarded the pledge as idolatry then, and I still do so today. And I say this as a US Army veteran who damn well earned the right to remain seated during the pledge. I do proudly stand during the anthem, however.)

Jezu ufam tobie!

B. Prokop said...

Digressing to a far more important topic, now that Baseball Season has (finally) begun. Here is John Allen's list of 10 reasons why baseball is the most Catholic of all sports (stolen from the "All Things Catholic" website):

1. Both baseball and Catholicism venerate the past. Both cherish the memories of a Communion of Saints, including popular shrines and holy cards.

2. Both feature obscure rules that make sense only to initiates. (Think the infield fly rule for baseball fans and the Pauline privilege for Catholics.)

3. Both have a keen sense of ritual, in which pace is critically important. (As a footnote, that’s why basketball is more akin to Pentecostalism, since both are breathless affairs premised largely on ecstatic experience. I’d go into why football is pagan, but that’s a different conversation.)

4. Both baseball and Catholicism generate oceans of statistics, arcana, and lore. For entry-level examples, try: Who has the highest lifetime batting average, with a minimum of 1,000 at-bats? (Ty Cobb). Which popes had the longest and the shortest reigns? (Pius IX and Urban VII).

5. In both baseball and Catholicism, you can dip in and out, but for serious devotees, the liturgy is a daily affair.

6. Both are global games especially big in Latin America. The Detroit Tigers are thought to have one of the most potent batting orders in baseball, featuring two Venezuelans, a Cuban, and six Americans of diverse ethnic backgrounds. Take a look at the presbyterates in many American dioceses, and the mix isn’t that different.

7. Both baseball and Catholicism have been badly tainted by scandal, with the legacies of erstwhile superstars utterly ruined. Yet both have proved surprisingly resilient – perhaps demonstrating that the game is great enough to survive even the best efforts of those in charge at any given moment to ruin it.

8. Both have a complex farm system, and fans love to speculate about who the next hot commodity will be in “The Show.”

9. Both reward patience. If you’re the kind of person who needs immediate results, neither baseball nor Catholicism is really your game.

10. The American League is more Catholic than the National because it permits a designated hitter. The National League’s refusal smacks of a quasi-Calvinist fundamentalism, while the American League better embodies what Cardinal John Henry Newman called the development of doctrine.

toddes said...

"Religious freedom should mean more than mere tolerance. It should mean actually celebrating diversity and encouraging everyone to be who they really are, whichever racial or cultural background they come from or whichever religious upbringing they had (if they want to hold onto that)."

That's not religious freedom that's progressive propaganda. Your own definition is a form of shaming. That is, it's not enough to be tolerant and live and let live but we have to celebrate our differences and encourage everyone to be who they are. I suppose even NAMBLA and the KLAN.

Yet, Skep and Linton are here, telling us how barbaric and pathetic religions and religious people are. So much for tolerance and celebration.

John, what you appear to want is a judgement-free society.

If it feels good, do it.

Do what you will shall be the whole of the law.

As long as it doesn't hurt anyone else.

In those days, there was no King is Israel....

B. Prokop said...

John,

I think this observation by John Goerke is apropos, when thinking about your take on "diversity":

"It is no criticism against a house to say it is upwardly limited by its roof or outwardly limited by its walls. The roof and walls keep out the rain and keep in the heat. Only in a house can a group of friends find the warmth of a home."

Or this, by Frederick the Great:

"He that would defend everything ends by defending nothing."

And finally, this by G.K. Chesterton:

"The purpose of an open mind, like that of an open mouth, is to close it on something solid."

Jezu ufam tobie!

im-skeptical said...

toddes,

"Yet, Skep and Linton are here, telling us how barbaric and pathetic religions and religious people are. So much for tolerance and celebration."

You are a liar, sir. I said that any religion that teaches bigotry and intolerance toward other people is barbaric. It was a statement about some (not all) religions, and it was not a statement about religious people.

oozzielionel said...

Atheism is barbaric. This is no reflection on atheists.

toddes said...

Linton,

"In the United States, seven state constitutions include religious tests that would effectively prevent atheists from holding public office, and in some cases being a juror/witness, though these have not generally been enforced since the early twentieth century.[52][53][54] The U.S. Constitution allows for an affirmation instead of an oath in order to accommodate atheists and others in court or seeking to hold public office.[52][55] In 1961, the United States Supreme Court explicitly overturned the Maryland provision in the Torcaso v. Watkins decision, holding that laws requiring "a belief in the existence of God" in order to hold public office violated freedom of religion provided for by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.[52][56][57] This decision is generally understood to also apply to witness oaths.[58]"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discrimination_against_atheists#United_States

Seven states not many. State Constitutions not statutes. All of them rendered moot by the Supreme Court decision in 1961. Got anything else?

toddes said...

"I said that any religion that teaches bigotry and intolerance toward other people is barbaric. It was a statement about some (not all) religions, and it was not a statement about religious people."

From the Skeptic Zone:

"Fortunately, there is an easy solution to this problem. Dump the barbaric religion that is the basis for all this hatred, and flush it away. If your religion requires you to treat some people differently from everyone else, to refuse to render services for them in the same manner as you would for anyone else, or to violate their civil rights, then that religion is the problem. The religion teaches you to hate people and treat them differently. You may protest that this isn't what your religion teaches, but you would be lying to yourself. This is what your religion teaches. And it is barbaric."

http://theskepticzone.blogspot.com/2015/04/public-accommodation-vs.html

Another case of Heads I Win, Tails You Lose from Skep.

Skep decides what my religion teaches or doesn't. If I attempt to defend my religion I am "lying to [my]self". Skep is a god unto himself. Only he knows what my religion teaches. Only he knows where hatred and bigotry originates. Please excuse my language but Skep you appear to one of those who believes that their own shit don't stink.

A problem (among many) with you is your elevation of the State. Governement is father, government is mother. Civil rights trump all other rights. Civil rights over freedom of association. Civil rights over religious liberty. Civil rights over freedom of speech.

Another problem is that your BS detector is unidirectional. On your own blog, by my count, of the last 24 entries all but one are directed against religion or conservative and Republican politics.

And even that one "Quentin Smith is Wrong" that is directed toward an atheist is related to Smith's statement "I expect the most probable outcome is that the naturalist, wanting to be a fair and objective referee, would have to conclude that the theists definitely had the upper hand in every single argument or debate." So even this one is connected to theism.

toddes said...

"You are a liar, sir."

If an inveterate liar accuses you of lying does that mean you are telling the truth?

toddes said...

"Atheism is barbaric. This is no reflection on atheists."

Beautifully succinct and on the mark. Thank you, oozzielionel.

im-skeptical said...

toddes,

The quotation from my blog only serves to confirm what I said. I have no idea what YOUR religion teaches. I don't even know what your religion is. But IF it teaches you to hate people, then I say again, it is a barbaric religion. This is not "Heads I Win, Tails You Lose". If your religion doesn't teach you that, then my comment doesn't apply.

As for your criticism of my blog, it is true that most of my posts make commentary on religion and conservative politics. They are indeed fertile grounds for bullshit. However, you are wrong about the post on Quentin Smith. I called him out because he used demonstrably false logic that any philosopher should be ashamed of. The fact that it related to theistic arguments was completely beside the point.

Papalinton said...

Toddes
""In the United States, seven state constitutions include religious tests that would effectively prevent atheists from holding public office,..."

But they are still there, egregiously lurking, signalling the very dark, intolerant, hegemonic history of malevolent christian tribalism.
How short the memory of christians that deny their history against diversity.

oozzielionel said...

There is a new tribe hunting the heads of those who resist their new dogma. Beware of their spears. Their hegemony denies a diversity that would embrace all moral convictions. Their hegemony threatens financial ruin to those heretics that would resist their new doctrines of sexual morality. If one dares to disagree, label them haters and bigots and intolerant. Drive them from the public square. Turn the tables. Call up from the past all atrocities to justify the new.

Papalinton said...

oozielionel, you are such a drama queen. :o)

oozzielionel said...

I pale in the shadow of your greatness.

B. Prokop said...

How can one pale in a shadow?

Victor Reppert said...

If an omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good were to command someone to be bigoted against someone, would that make it justifiable bigotry?

Victor Reppert said...

Or does the term "bigotry" entail that it is morally wrong?

Victor Reppert said...

Or does the term "bigotry" entail that it is morally wrong?

im-skeptical said...

"Bigotry is a state of mind where a person obstinately, irrationally, unfairly or intolerantly dislikes other people, ideas, etc.[1][2] Some examples include personal beliefs, race, religion, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, or other group characteristics."

- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bigotry

B. Prokop said...

Victor,

The term bigotry in most dictionary definitions includes quite negative modifiers such as unfair and hate. Therefore, in practice the word seems to be primarily a way of shutting down a conversation from the outset. After all, you don't need to actually argue your case if your opponent is a "hater" or "unfair". Just label him a bigot, and voila!, case closed. And all without any heavy lifting - how convenient. Its usage is generally a red flag that one is engaging in the logical fallacy of argument by definition. Simply define the opposing viewpoint as bigotry or hatred, and who needs reason or logic?

Example:

A - "Adultery is a sin, and people should not engage in it."

B - "You're just displaying your bigoted hatred against adulterers, and therefore no one should listen to anything you have to say."

So in conclusion, I think your question falls into the same category as "Can't God create a rock so heavy that even He can't lift it?"

Jezu ufam tobie!

im-skeptical said...

Better example:

A - "Bigotry is hateful, and people should not engage in it."

B - "You're just displaying your intolerance against Christians, and therefore no one should listen to anything you have to say."

Am I right? You bet.

im-skeptical said...

But getting back to the topic of the post, the "myth of separation" is a myth.