Saturday, June 02, 2007

The problematic alliance between religious skeptics and moderate Christians

Let us consider secularism as the belief in the separation of church and state. In that case, secularism and atheism are not the same things even though some would have us believe so. Secularism is the belief in the separation of church and state. Atheism is the belief there is no god. You can believe in one without believing in the other. Many, including religious leaders, would have you believe they are identical, different words categorizing the same sets of beliefs. If one takes definitions seriously, the conflation of the two appears a logical mistake.

One of the more interesting recent debates amongst religious skeptics is whether they should align themselves with moderate liberal Christians to oppose the conservative theocrats. The nonmilitant religious skeptic might say, “so long as the Christian left supports my Constitutional freedoms, I will join cause with them in opposing the conservative Christian theocrats.” The religious skeptic should be heartened to witness an increase in those secular Christian leftists and rightists whom more vocally oppose the excesses and illegalities of the conservative theocrats.

One, however, still hears far too many apologetics by moderate Christians for conservative Christian theocrats. Too many Christian leftists take any criticism of Christian political beliefs as an affront to their faith, or discount the threat of the conservative Christian theocrats. The record of religion policing the more violent and fanatical within their ranks is spotty at best. The secular religious skeptic might wonder, because of this, exactly whom one should ally themselves with.

One can be a nonmilitant religious skeptic or be a militant religious skeptic. Many nonmilitant religious skeptics believe that religion will not be gone soon, so one might as well contain its excesses via secularism. Militant religious skeptics often deem religion too dangerous to survive as a set of beliefs.

One cannot be a nonmilitant secularist. The value of secularism is either one you accept and cannot tolerate the loss of, or one merely is not secular. If one is a secular religious skeptic it makes better sense to make common cause with other secularists no matter where they stand on the religious spectrum. The history of religious skeptics persuading people from their religious beliefs has been a long slow process if it has worked at all.

Thus, for the secular religious skeptic, political alliances with secular Christians seem the better course when confronting the conservative Christian theocrats. It is better to secure one’s freedoms and contain the enemies of those freedoms than try to persuade the religious from their beliefs, dogmas, and doctrines—a project whose immediate chances of success are virtually nil.

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