Thursday, December 13, 2012

America's Big Lie: The Separation of Church and State

I'm not going to go on for long here, but instead simply ask one question:

If an atheist can sue because the presence of celebrating God and religion in the public square is offensive to his values, then why can't I sue because the absence of celebrating God and religion in the public square is offensive to mine?

The truth is that Christianity celebrates the presence of God and Christians are commanded to celebrate and exalt Him in every place, public or private, and therefore, the atheist is attempting to dictate what commands, which a Christian believes to be from God, can or cannot be obeyed in the public square. But one either celebrates God's presence or removes that celebration. There is no middle ground, and that is why there is no such thing as the separation of church and state. You can either have the adoption of one philosophical worldview under which all other views either are tolerated (as when Christian ideals were implemented) or under which all other views are obliterated in tyranny (as in atheism, as seen in Russia, China, Cambodia, and now in the West). Which one seems best to you?

33 comments:

  1. Separation of church and state is a bedrock principle of our Constitution much like the principles of separation of powers and checks and balances. In the Constitution, the founders did not simply say in so many words that there should be separation of powers and checks and balances; rather, they actually separated the powers of government among three branches and established checks and balances. Similarly, they did not merely say there should be separation of church and state; rather, they actually separated them by (1) establishing a secular government on the power of "We the people" (not a deity), (2) saying nothing to connect that government to god(s) or religion, (3) saying nothing to give that government power over matters of god(s) or religion, and (4), indeed, saying nothing substantive about god(s) or religion at all except in a provision precluding any religious test for public office. Given the norms of the day, the founders' avoidance of any expression in the Constitution suggesting that the government is somehow based on any religious belief was quite a remarkable and plainly intentional choice. They later buttressed this separation of government and religion with the First Amendment, which constrains the government from undertaking to establish religion or prohibit individuals from freely exercising their religions. The basic principle, thus, rests on much more than just the First Amendment.

    A word should be added about the common canard that this is all about people easily offended. We’re not talking about the freedom of individuals to say or do something others find offensive; each of us has that freedom. We’re talking about the government weighing in to promote religion. Under our Constitution, our government has no business doing that--REGARDLESS of whether anyone is offended. While this is primarily a constitutional point, it is one that conservatives--small government conservatives--should appreciate from a political standpoint as well. While the First Amendment thus constrains government from promoting (or opposing) religion without regard to whether anyone is offended, a court may address the issue only in a suit by someone with "standing" (sufficient personal stake in a matter) to bring suit; in order to show such standing, a litigant may allege he is offended or otherwise harmed by the government's failure to follow the law; the question whether someone has standing to sue is entirely separate from the question whether the government has violated the Constitution.

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  2. Which all assumes a particular worldview. It's based on the faulty premise of human objectivity, which itself assumes a particular religious and philosophical view of God and man. Man is up to his eyeballs in religion. Most Americans are just too philosophically ignorant to realize that the will of the people is the will of their
    religious beliefs.

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  3. In continuity with that, I can bring a lawsuit against government for promoting atheism, offended or not, as the government has no business supporting a religious/theological viewpoint. That's why it's a big lie, Doug. There is no such thing as objectivity, so everything said and done presupposes one's ultimate beliefs concerning reality.

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  4. It is important to distinguish between "individual" and "government" speech about religion. The constitutional principle of separation of church and state does not purge religion from the public square--far from it. Indeed, the First Amendment's "free exercise" clause assures that each individual is free to exercise and express his or her religious views--publicly as well as privately. The Amendment constrains only the government not to promote or otherwise take steps toward establishment of religion. As government can only act through the individuals comprising its ranks, when those individuals are performing their official duties (e.g., public school teachers instructing students in class), they effectively are the government and thus should conduct themselves in accordance with the First Amendment's constraints on government. When acting in their individual capacities, they are free to exercise their religions as they please. If their right to free exercise of religion extended even to their discharge of their official responsibilities, however, the First Amendment constraints on government establishment of religion would be eviscerated. While figuring out whether someone is speaking for the government in any particular circumstance may sometimes be difficult, making the distinction is critical.

    Nor does the constitutional separation of church and state prevent citizens from making decisions or voting based on principles derived from their religions. Moreover, the religious beliefs of government officials naturally may inform their decisions on policies. The principle, in this context, merely constrains government officials not to make decisions with the predominant purpose or primary effect of advancing religion; in other words, the predominant purpose and primary effect must be nonreligious or secular in nature. A decision coinciding with religious views is not invalid for that reason as long as it has a secular purpose and effect.

    The Constitution, including particularly the First Amendment, embodies the simple, just idea that each of us should be free to exercise his or her religious views without expecting that the government will endorse or promote those views and without fearing that the government will endorse or promote the religious views of others. By keeping government and religion separate, the establishment clause serves to protect the freedom of all to exercise their religion.

    It should not be supposed that the government, by remaining separate from and neutral toward religion in keeping with the Constitution, somehow thereby favors atheism over theism. There is a difference between the government (1) remaining neutral in matters of religion and leaving individuals free to choose, exercise, and express their religious views without government intrusion and (2) taking sides in matters of religion and promoting one view (whether theism [in one, any, or all its various forms], atheism, or whatever) to the detriment of others. It is one thing for the government to endorse the idea that god(s) exist or, alternatively, endorse the idea that god(s) do not exist; it is quite another for the government to take no position on the matter and respect the right of each individual to freely decide for himself.

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  5. Doug, I would strongly suggest taking a course in epistemology. Government is supporting a religious view. There is no such thing as neutrality. That is an Enlightment myth that has been continuously perpetuated in these arguments. There is no such thing as being neutral, since every idea and practice assumes a worldview. Hence, government isn't neutral on matters of religion. Furthermore, when that worldview comes into conflict with other worldviews/religions, you don't get the free exercise of religion, but the oppression the lesser to the greater in power. You're concept assumes that religion is always explicit and theoretical. Hence, you can neatly try to divorce an idea from its presuppositions, and talk about "secularism" as a grounds of neutrality. Yet, as I argued above, secularism/atheism (which is not explicitly denying that God exists, but merely the absence of belief in a deity) is not religiously neutral, but instead advances a very religious worldview. Hence, beginning from a position of the absence of belief in a deity (i.e., atheism) is to give full credence to a religious worldview and to deny the legitimacy of any religious worldview that conflicts with it.

    Second, your distinction between individuals and government is a bit odd, since the government is made up of individuals. If their religious beliefs dictate that they are to evangelize in whatever occupation they find themselves, and they are in a government occupation, are they able to exercise their religious freedom, or do they need to bow to the atheistic system, practice the absence of God in their official life, and deny their religious belief in order to appease the goal of a more secular worldview?

    In short, I think you seem to misunderstand the nature of our situation. Government is at all times taking a religious position and restricting others within their views. Only those who are blinded by Enlightenment ideals of neutrality are oblivious to their oppression of others and would thereby call it "freedom." I am free in so far as I stay within certain bounds decided by a government with an alternative religious viewpoint.

    The problem is, Doug, is that you're thinking in terms of an explicit oppression, as one might have in an Islamic or Communist State; but the oppression that has taken place within our country is ideological, not something for which one is imprisoned or killed, but one where repercussions are more subtly introduced.

    But have no doubt. Everything one says or does is an endorsement of a belief system and a rejection of those belief systems that run counter to it. You don't have to be explicit with it for it to be so. You'd have to prove your point on that, and I think you're going to lose that argument as well.

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    1. Yes, I could benefit from a course in epistemology--as well as several other philosophy and history courses. But I'm just a country lawyer, and I look at it as the law typically does--pragmatically.

      The law aims to protect the freedom of individuals to exercise and express their religious beliefs, and one way to do that is to constrain the government, to the extent possible, from taking "sides" in such matters by promoting or opposing this or that religion. Efforts at some such neutrality may strike some, including you, as (1) impossible and (2) implicitly promoting the "religion" of "no religion." To those who consider such neutrality impossible, I suppose the efforts may be rationalized as the closest we can come to not favoring any particular religion and, in that sense, the least worst approach. The alternative, I suppose, would be to accept the impossibility of neutrality and actively engage in political/governmental competition over the religion to be favored.

      With respect to the oppression of which you speak, I think you misapprehend the scope of free expression. Like all our freedoms, it is not absolute and boundless. Law, by its nature, involves an element of compulsion. Confronted by questions about the government requiring or prohibiting something that conflicts with someone’s faith, the courts have generally ruled that under the Constitution the government cannot enact laws specifically aimed at a particular religion (which would be regarded a constraint on religious liberty contrary to the First Amendment), but can enact laws generally applicable to everyone or at least broad classes of people (e.g., laws concerning pollution, contracts, torts, crimes, discrimination, employment, etc.) and can require everyone, including those who may object on religious grounds, to abide by them. (E.g., http://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/494/872/case.html)

      Wake Forest University has published a short, objective Q&A primer on the current law of separation of church and state–-as applied by the courts rather than as caricatured in the blogosphere--which addresses these ideas. I commend it to you. http://tiny.cc/6nnnx

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  6. Thanks Doug. I think the problem with our going round and round here is this:

    You said: "I suppose the efforts may be rationalized as the closest we can come to not favoring any particular religion and, in that sense, the least worst approach. The alternative, I suppose, would be to accept the impossibility of neutrality and actively engage in political/governmental competition over the religion to be favored."

    The problem is that the impossibility of neutrality means that there is no possibility of not favoring a religion/non-religion over others. That's why it's the big lie. There is no such thing as absolute freedom of religion except for the reigning religious worldview of the government. Everyone else can exercise their religions in so far as they do not conflict with the government religion.

    I'm fine with that, but am tired of people thinking that this is a matter of religion versus objective neutrality. It is mostly a matter, in the West, between atheism and Christianity, and I am willing to live under an atheistic government. My fear, of course, is that when governments have historically adopted an atheistic stance, it almost always, if not always, leads to, not just a ideological oppression, but a physical one. We're only partially there now. One only suffers lawsuits and job loss over such matters, and this is the extent of our persecution by the state.
    That's nothing compared to what it could be.

    Regardless, however, I just want it to be recognized that there is a double standard, not because the laws are trying to practice a double standard, but because it's largely ignorant of these epistemic issues.

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    1. Have no fear of an atheistic state, just let it happen. The communist experiments of the 20th century replaced theocracy with state worship of people's ideology. We are not going down that road in the US. The problem with communism, among others, is that it is totalitarian - it allows one person to have total power - and if that person is crazy as Stalin was he'll do whatever he wants.

      As Doug said, secularism is a principle separating religion from government. We are not going to head down a road towards mass executions and gulags. We have culturally evolved more humanistic compassion. Secularism nor atheism are religions. By a government adopting secularism it is not promoting any religious world views, and no one is saying a religious person can't hold public office. Just because the government might not acknowledge god or religion, it can still allow religion to be practiced amongst its citizens.

      Trying to say that secular governments all become Stalinist regimes would be like saying all religious governments become Taliban theocracies. They all can - but they all don't. America is officially secular and has been its whole history, Western Europe is very secular and they have much less violence than we have. Since secular humanism is flourishing, it is very unlikely we'll be mass-murdering theists. So relax, the only mass murdering we'll be doing in America is to our school kids.

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  7. You're an idiot. The law doesn't stop you from personally praising Jesus. We just can't have government employees on the job doing so, like teachers.

    If you want to live in a Christian country go move to Uganda where they actually execute gay people like your beloved deity recommends. Tolerate the intolerant.

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  8. "You're an idiot."

    I think I'll let the readers judge who the idiot is by judging each of our uses of logic. You chose to:
    (1) Use the ad hominem fallacy,
    (2) Create a strawman,
    and (3)contradict yourself by saying I should move to Uganda if I don't want an atheistic country, and then go on to say espouse the ideal that one should tolerate the intolerant.

    You're far from a thinker, my friend.

    As for your "rebuttal," you didn't bother to address my question. Am I free, as a citizen of the country, to exercise my religious beliefs that tell me I must exercise them everywhere, including within my occupation, if I am a government employee, or does the government restrain me in some way from doing so?

    Thanks for playing.

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    1. OK, let's play.

      To take on your question directly: No you aren't. What if I am an extremely orthodox Mormon who still holds to the racist ideology that blacks are inferior and punished by god? Would I be allowed to openly discriminate against black people because my religion requires that I do so, especially if I have a government job? Of course not, I'd be fired. Religious freedom does not allow you to violate others' civil rights.

      So, if a Christian school teacher had to constantly profess her faith and proselytize, she would have to be fired if she didn't keep their religions to themselves. In some positions, you have to keep your religion to yourself. Public school kids shouldn't have to deal with being told their dirty sinners, they should be taught how to read and write. In many states, I cannot legally hold public office being an atheist, so we have to deal with restrictions too.

      But seriously, I recommend you move to Uganda.

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    2. There is nothing left for me to argue because you just conceded my point. My point wasn't that everyone should be able to practice his religion, and therefore, have freedom of religion. My point was that there is no such thing as freedom of religion because the dominant religion dictates the boundaries other religions are not allowed to breach. Hence, you admit that I am right. Thanks for forfeiting the game.

      As to your point about civil rights, it basically begs the question. One must have a view of humanity gained from his ideology in order to determine what those civil rights will be and to whom they are applied. In other words, it's not as though civil rights are self evident. You have to argue for them from the starting point of your belief system. But since you conceded my point that such a belief system held by the government restricts other belief systems that conflict with it, and therefore no one has religious liberty but the dominant religious class, there is no point to argue it further.

      Finally, you keep giving me a strawman. I never argued for a Christian nation. That would be great, but I clearly said in the comments preceding that I'm fine with living in an atheistic state. It's just going to get more difficult for those of us who will be persecuted for doing so as the hand begins to tighten.

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    3. I also need to just point out that espousing a belief is not a violation of the civil rights of others. That's another thing you would have to prove. If that's true, then anytime a government official said anything based upon his beliefs (i.e., pretty much everything that would come out of his mouth) would be a violation of my civil rights. Someone telling me his beliefs does not violate my rights. It would only do so by FORCING me to believe what he is saying. So I think your conception of American civil rights is a bit off.

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    4. Woa, why such an arrogant response? I thought Christians were suppose to exercise humility. You need to take a chill pill and perhaps read a little scripture. I sense anger in your words.

      First of all, as long as you are fine with keeping the US a secular nation as our founding fathers intended, we're cool. That's all I really care about. You can believe whatever fairy tales inside your head all you want.

      But - there is a difference between a belief and a religious belief. Not all beliefs are religious. Children in public school shouldn't have to sit through their teacher's religious beliefs, but if their teacher believes she sings better than Beyonce and mentions it, that's fine. That's a regular belief. School should be about learning facts, not their teacher's religion.

      The dominant religion is Christianity and that's why it needs to be kept on a leash. We live in a secular democracy where there is a wall between church and state. That means unfortunately for you, you may at times have to check your religion at the door. But in every day life, we sometimes have to silence our personal beliefs. That's life. Get over it, and thank our founding fathers for allowing the religious freedom you enjoy, albeit, with a few minor restrictions.

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  9. LOL. Why would you think I was angry? You conceded my point. I'm a happy camper.

    The problem is that you're trying to justify your beliefs by assuming your beliefs. You make a false distinction between "regular" beliefs and "religious" beliefs due to the fact that you see naturalism and atheism as normative and regular. That simply begs the question.

    My whole argument is that the atheism of the culture is the dominant religion. If it wasn't, it wouldn't conflict with Christianity at the government level, where I would have to "check my beliefs at the door."

    But, of course, after conceding my point, you just restated the same old position I just refuted. There is no wall of separation between church and state. There is a wall of separation between the church and the atheistic religion of the state. That's the whole point. You seem to be arguing what the lawyer did above, namely, that there is some sphere of objectivity and neutrality; but you only believe that because you assume your ultimate belief system as governing that sphere, and therefore, as the norm and arbiter of "regular" versus "religious" beliefs.

    Children are being forced to learn atheism in school by the mere practicing of the compartmentalization and absence of God in the classroom setting, so your idea that a religion is not being forced upon them by the state is absurd. You yourself are likely a product of that brainwashing. That's just the cult we live in; but like I said, I'm not looking to make this world into a Christian one, but rather look to the kingdom to come.

    I do appreciate America for allowing me to be somewhat freer with practicing Christianity than other nations might, but again, if I was a government employee, I might feel differently about that if my entire livelihood were ripped from me because I decided to follow God rather than man.

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    1. Cry me a river...

      As a person who went through 12 years of public school where religion was almost never mentioned, when one learns reading, writing, and math, I wonder - where is there a place to insert god? The topics learned in school should be neutral topics that have nothing to do with religion.

      If you think that learning without the mention of god is somehow teaching atheism, I think you need to learn what a religion is. Atheism certainly isn't in it. Neither is any political belief.

      I have this problem all the times with theists like you. If secularism is a religion, then its a religion to separate religion from government - which I suppose is a religion according to you too. So it's a religion to separate religion from religion. So you obviously cannot dilute the definition of religion like Bill O'Reilly does.

      Atheism is a religion like bald is a hair color. And no, learning math and how to read without god being mentioned is not "forced" atheism. The kids can believe whatever the hell they want, no one is forced. Still crying crocodile tears.

      So please stop this faux persecution complex, that is probably disguised to get others to think we ought put god in the classroom. It ain't working.

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    2. It's the irrationality demonstrated in your beliefs that is one of the main reasons why religion is declining. Young people especially are embarrassed to be associated with beliefs like yours. So I guess keep being as irrational as you want, it makes more atheists!!!

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  10. I'm always amazed at how much atheists talk about others being irrational, and yet, it is they who use irrational arguments like yours.

    You've now begged the question a dozen times and used a strawman another half a dozen. You can't just name it and claim it. You actually have to show what is irrational. Your argument assumes atheism as a belief system in order to make a judgment as to what is normal versus what is religious.

    Atheism is an ultimate belief about God, the world, people, etc., and it has major implications for ethics. That is a religion, my friend. I don't care if you don't go to church on Sunday, you're full blown worshiper. You just aren't trained well enough in epistemology to know what a religious fanatic you are. That's the problem. That's the big lie. You name neutrality, but neutrality is a non-entity. I'm an aneutralitist. What is neutral to you, assuming your beliefs, is atheism. When atheism dictates that a person who believes otherwise cannot do X or Y when it conflicts with atheistic ideas of neutrality, then you have the beginning of an oppression of one religion toward another.

    You say it won't go that far in terms of persecution. Are you a prophet of your religion now? That is the constant mantra of every brainwashed kid from the university. You know what, you might be right. Maybe Americans will never fully realize their atheism and we won't go down that road, but every time it's been tried before, it usually, eventually, does go down that road.

    Again, I'm not making a slippery slope. I'm just saying that I see oppression progressing. How far will it go? Who knows. But that wasn't the point of my post. My only point was that there is no such thing as freedom of religion if you are not the dominant religion/philosophy/viewpoint/whatever nomenclature helps you sleep at night.

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  11. "Atheism is a religion like bald is a hair color. And no, learning math and how to read without god being mentioned is not "forced" atheism. The kids can believe whatever the hell they want, no one is forced."

    That's a false analogy. Hair color and absence of hair are different categories. The more correct analogy between belief systems would be the state of one's head--covered or uncovered with hair.

    You really seem to not be able to grasp the argument. Religion isn't just a set of explicit beliefs. In fact, that's just the base of it. The flourishing of a belief system is found in one's daily practice and thoughts. If a school trains a person to practice the absence of God and set his mind on things where God is absent, that is in fact training him to live and think like an atheist. Can he go home and believe something else? Sure, but he'll likely default into the religious practices, and eventually the philosophies that support those practices, in his life beyond school unless he has a strong will and home-based upbringing to counter his brainwashing (most kids do not).

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    1. Well why don't you provide your definition of religion then?

      You seem to be as ignorant as you claim I am despite your supposed epistemological education. If atheism is a religion we better be getting tax exempt status!

      Your argument about not inculcating god into PUBLIC school is as absurd as the bible is. Let me explain.

      Imagine you're a student who is a devout lover of football. But when you go to school there's no football field. You learn your ABCs and 123s without football being mentioned. When you go home you play football all you want on your free time.

      Are you telling me that somehow because the public school doesn't have football or doesn't teach it, or let the kids play it, that it is somehow going to prevent or "force" the kids from enjoying football on their free time and liking it? Of course not!!

      There is no need to believe or teach football to learn what you need in school, just as there is no need to believe in god. It is simply irrelevant. The kids can do & believe what they want at home.

      What is your logical alternative?: a picture of Jesus in ever classroom? Muslim teachers instructing prayers to non-Muslims students?

      You seem to not be able to grasp secularism. That is the form of government we have. Forcing atheism would be like a teacher forcing students to renounce their faith or be penalized. But teaching how to read without mentioning god is not "forcing" atheism on anyone. You're just plain stupid if you think that.

      On the neutrality issue, governments have to be political. Government is politics, they cannot avoid it. So govt. can adopt 1 religion, 1 or more religions, all religions, or no religion. Because our godless constitution doesn't adopt any religion, that means we have no official religion, but we've adopted democracy and secularism - because politics is unavoidable.

      Everybody gets other people's politics imposed on them. I had to live through 8 years of G.W. Bush. It wasn't fun, but I never said he has no right to impose his politics on me - unless it stems from religion.

      Besides, if you're so passionate about this, just send your kids to bible school or home school them, and stop crying about a fabricated non-issue.

      You're also only proving how higher levels of religiosity can cause so many unnecessary problems and conundrums.

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  12. You don't have a grasp on what I'm saying, yet you want to call me stupid for it. Fine.

    But the problem is that your football analogy only shows how little you understand life and how ideas of God, whether existent or not, govern every single thing you think and do. That's why everyone is religious. You're confusing having a religion and having an organized and publicly declared religion. Everyone has a view of God, the nature of the world in terms of both physical and metaphysical aspects, what man is, etc. and ethics stem forth from those theologies/philosophies of life. So Math, Reading, Writing, and everything in between has everything to do with God and acknowledging the presence of God throughout the day, even apart from the subjects being learned, to a Christian.

    Again, for the umpteenth time, you only think there is neutrality because you don't understand that religion is more than some publicly proclaimed organized institution that talks about a positive belief in God. That's a convenient definition that allows you to legitimize the oppression of your religion within the empire. You just don't get it, and without a further education, I don't think you're going to.

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    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    2. Well, if reading can be done without God, you sure haven't shown me that you're capable of doing it, as you keep saying that what I've written here is about wanting teachers to evangelize in schools, etc. Reading skills are important, but apparently they evade you.

      In any case, I do homeschool my children, precisely because I don't agree with the state religion. But since you think that people who need to glorify God whatever they do are like pedofiles, I can only assume that your brainwashing is so complete that you are incapable of even becoming critical of the cult in which you were raised.

      Thanks for commenting, but I don't allow foul language on the blog, and even more so, bad logic, so I'm going to have to delete anything else you write. I'm sure you understand, as I'm just doing what your religion does to us in the classroom.

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    3. Grow up and learn to accept the system of government we have. I'm sick of hearing theists complain about secularism.

      If you don't like it, move somewhere else, otherwise accept it.

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    4. "Everyone else can exercise their religions in so far as they do not conflict with the government religion.
      I'm fine with that, but am tired of people thinking that this is a matter of religion versus objective neutrality. It is mostly a matter, in the West, between atheism and Christianity, and I am willing to live under an atheistic government."

      "Finally, you keep giving me a strawman. I never argued for a Christian nation. That would be great, but I clearly said in the comments preceding that I'm fine with living in an atheistic state."

      "But that wasn't the point of my post. My only point was that there is no such thing as freedom of religion if you are not the dominant religion/philosophy/viewpoint/whatever nomenclature helps you sleep at night."

      Again, reading is a privilege, "The Thinker," so I suggest using it rather than abusing it. You've argued and argued, as opposed to actually give an argument, with someone else this whole conversation (perhaps you're still assuming you're in an argument with all of those theistic giants you've "debated"). In any case, atheist or Christian, you need to learn some cognitive thinking and reading skills, and your above statements that have zero to do with my argument displays that deficiency.


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    5. Well again you are diluting the definition of religion to mean things like atheism & secularism, which are clearly not religions. And you never offered to define what you mean by "religion". You must define what you mean before a discussion is meaningful, otherwise we'll be shouting past one another.

      I think I've outlined a pretty good argument that:

      1. Secularism & atheism are not religions.
      2. Government must be political at some level and choose a political ideology.
      3. If govt. chooses to be secular it is neutral on religion or at least it should be in theory.
      4. Simply by not endorsing a religious world view in the public domain, govt. is not choosing one religion over another religion, it is choosing the political principle of secularism over theism.
      5. Secularism provides some restrictions on religion that are necessary.
      6. One can be a theist an a secularist at the same time - no conflict.
      7. The absence of endorsing religion does not at all "force" atheism on anyone.
      8. Any attempt to think secularism is a religion gets you into logical conundrums.

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  13. "I think I've outlined a pretty good argument"

    Outlining an argument and making one are two different things. You argued about these, but you never made an argument for them.

    I did give you a definition of religion, but you chose to ignore it in order to argue about something else. You're confusing religion and organized and publicly confessed religion. Here is my definition again:

    Religion - a belief about God (whether existent or nonexistent), the world/reality (whether made up of the purely metaphysical, purely physical, or a combination of both), and a subsequent view of the nature of man (i.e., what he is) that affects one's view concerning other human beliefs and ethics (i.e., what is logically consistent to believe and practice because Ultimate Beliefs X, Y, and Z are true views of reality?).

    "1. Secularism & atheism are not religions."

    You've given no argument why they are not. According to the very logical definition above, they are religions.

    "2. Government must be political at some level and choose a political ideology."

    A political ideology is based upon one's religion, which means the governmental adoption of a political ideology is the governmental adoption of a religion. That was my entire point in the post.

    "3. If govt. chooses to be secular it is neutral on religion or at least it should be in theory."

    This is the statement I've already argued to be fallacious. Secular humanism isn't neutral on religion. In fact, very few educated secular humanists would argue that it is. It assumes a religion and prohibits the free exercise thereof when it comes to other religions. This is a fact and you already conceded this point to me, so why you're bringing it up again I'm not sure.

    "4. Simply by not endorsing a religious world view in the public domain, govt. is not choosing one religion over another religion, it is choosing the political principle of secularism over theism."

    This is rhetorical nonsense. You just contradicted yourself. You just stated that the government is "not endorsing a religious worldview in the public domain" but it is "choosing the political principle of secularism over theism." Your attempt to use the word "political" doesn't guard you from the contradiction. As I think is obvious to all thinking people, a political principle assumes a religious one, secular or otherwise.


    "5. Secularism provides some restrictions on religion that are necessary."

    Necessary to secularism because it is a religion. Of course it restricts other religions. Again, that was my whole point. If it was not religious in nature and said nothing about religion, it would restrict nothing.

    (cont.)

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  14. "6. One can be a theist an a secularist at the same time - no conflict."

    One cannot be a Christian theist who is good standing with God and be a secularist at the same time. The Bible commands Christians to "pray without ceasing," speak about the Word of God continually throughout the day, glorify God in every thing we do (that definitely includes within our occupation), to make disciples of those around us, etc. So there is no conflict to you because your religion compartmentalizes religion, which is why you come up with your convenient definitions. As long as we follow the assumptions of your religion, we can all deceptively believe there is such a compatibility.

    "7. The absence of endorsing religion does not at all "force" atheism on anyone."

    Of course it does. As nothing is neutral, practicing the absence of God is atheism, and kids don't have a choice if they enter that classroom to be taught in a Christian manner that acknowledges God in all things.

    "8. Any attempt to think secularism is a religion gets you into logical conundrums."

    Hahaha. Yes, I know it does. Yet it's true. Hence, the logical conundrums are for secularists who think that there is such a thing as neutrality and freedom of religion in the public square. That was my whole point.

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    1. Well thanks for finally giving a definition. Under YOUR definition of religion, you would make sense. But your definition of religion I don't hold. Religion is simply defined as "the belief in and worship of a deity or supernatural force."

      Now under my definition everything I said makes sense, because secularism and atheism are not religions. This highlights a common problem that I've had debating "fundis" like yourself about politics, that's why I asked you to define religion early on.

      So that takes care of your rebuttal for points 1-5. On point 6 Christians are supposed to "render unto Ceasar what is Ceasar's". So you must obey the law of the land. And doing that means respecting the limitations of a secular democracy.

      The Bible also commands homosexuals, adulterers and witches be put to death. So before you respond, go out and kill one of them as your Christian duty.

      On point 7 last time I looked we were a Christian majority country, I think this is pretty evident no one is being forced into atheism. Any kid wanting to be taught in a Christian manner can simple go to private school or be home schooled. Why force every kid to be taught in a Christian manner when Christians disagree on everything and there are millions of non-Christians? Public school has to teach under some method, and the secular (non religious) method is how we do it.

      Point 8 under the definition of religion I have provided, which is the definition accepted by most people, and by our government, I am right and I never conceded anything.

      I guess I can expect more crocodile tears being shed by people like you over perceived unfairness. Wahh! Welcome to the age of secularism.

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  15. The problem is that you have to assume secular humanism in order to define religion that way, so unless you can support your definition of religion, it's merely a means to define your way out of corner. You've made no argument. My definition of religion is self evident. You can backpeddle if you want, but the fact of the matter is that you're merely arguing semantics. You hold to an ultimate belief about a deity, about metaphysics, and about humanity that results in your other ideas presented here, as well as ethics for living. That's a religion by any standards.

    But I can also argue that secularism is the worship of man as deity, who interprets the world according to himself and does all things for his pleasure (i.e., the worship of himself). Hence, even under your bogus definition I can declare secular humanism a religion. BTW, if everyone who defines religion this way, and includes secular humanism as a religion, is a fundy, then you can include a lot of secular humanists in that, because the more educated secular humanists than yourself will agree with me. It's just your ignorance of epistemology that causes you to argue like an adolescent.

    None of your other points are established by anything you said. You're merely reasserting your propositions, and then, as usually, need to lift yourself up by insulting your opponent. As you can tell, I don't think you've "debated" anyone. I think you probably position yourself as a smart guy to people who can't see right through it. But your Jedi tricks don't work on me, Boy.

    Since you've given me no substance, chosen to insult me rather than engage my devastating arguments to your ridiculous stance, and I don't have time to get into anymore fights with overgrown three-year-olds, I can't bother with your irrational fits of rage anymore.

    Tootles.

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    1. Why don't you stop trading insults and have a real debate? All you are doing is patting yourself on the back and declaring victory when you have to warp the definition of religion in order to make your ideology make sense. The definition of religion I've provided is the most common one.

      Religion is much more than an opinion about a deity. There are no churches for determinists, we don't worship man and we don't acknowledge deities. Hence, not a religion. Religions worship deities and therefore must believe in them. That is pretty self-evident. The guy who disbelieves in god and goes about his life like normal is not by any means religious. If he starts worshiping a rock thinking it has supernatural powers, then becomes religious.

      So I stand correct, you have to water down the definition of religion to make sense. That gets you into the logical conundrums I mentioned before. Perhaps you should learn a thing or two about circular reasoning.

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    2. OK, here you go.

      You're argument is an ad populum fallacy. It doesn't matter what the "most common" definition is. It only matters if that definition is correct. My entire point of the post above was to say that this is the big lie of American thinking: i.e., it defines religion falsely. Hence, you cannot address my objection by begging the question.

      You're also wrong in your attempt to appeal to standard definitions. Websters defines religion the way you do only as one of its definitions. The other three (and I would even say the first definition) is according to the way I defined it:

      2. a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices

      3. archaic : scrupulous conformity : conscientiousness

      4. a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith

      But, as I said, I can define secular humanism as belief in and worship of a deity, since its deity is self. You didn't bother taking this last argument into account, but merely reasserted your proposition without making an argument as to why or how it's true.

      "Perhaps you should learn a thing or two about circular reasoning."

      LOL. You've taught me a lot about it. You've assumed your position the entire time without engaging why mine is false.

      So let's look at how well you fared in the argument above in order to determine the status of your debate skills:

      You committed the ad populum fallacy: -1
      You're begging the question, another fallacy: -1
      You're wrong on your factual data: -1
      You did not take your opponents argument into account in your rebuttal: -1

      You're at negative 4 with no positives. There is an objective way for us to determine how you fared throughout this whole debate, and this is just an assessment of your last reply.

      Our view of God determines our view of reality and determines every single thing we think and do. It does not matter if you are an atheist, agnostic, deist, theist, pantheist, panentheist, etc. When X conflicts with Y, and the Y is a religious statement or belief, then X is a religious statement or belief. Otherwise, it would not counter it. Hence, when X and Y conflict, it displays that both are making equal claims concerning the same subject, and are therefore of the same category of statement. You did nothing to address this argument.

      As I said, I don't have time for this. I need to get a book done. I suggest you think about the above statement rather than simply trying to argue, so that next time you can actually bring a substantive argument, or better yet, not quibble over what should seem obvious.

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    3. I had no idea arrogance was a Christian virtue. I better read my Bible again.

      There is a logical reason why the govt. & I use the definition of religion I mentioned. Not only is it the most popular definition, if you dilute the definition of religion to mean any world belief that opens the door to philosophy and politics to be included as religions.

      If you do this and make secularism a religion, the definition of secularism will be "a religion to separate religion from religion." No rational person would except that as a definition of anything.

      That's why in order to make logical sense of a secular govt. religion must be defined as the belief in and worship of a deity or deities.

      Secularism also says nothing about whether there is a god, and Christianity has secularism built into it. "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's." So a Christian can obey god and the state separately allowing secularism. You never addressed this and it defeats your whole argument.

      And in order for secular humanism to be defined as a religion, you'd have to water down the definition of a deity to include man instead of "the rank or essential nature of a god".

      So the only way you can be right is if you use your own definitions of the terms necessary or the ones that will create your own problem. Hence your problem is a product of your own devices.

      If I say "Jim is very religious" no one assumes from that he's an atheist who goes about his life without praising god in every breath - except you that is. So no your world views are only obvious to you and a few other fundis. Why don't you all start a church together?

      I cannot preempt what your watered down or warped definitions will lead to so it's impossible for me to assume you'd define a deity as a human being. Clearly not supernatural. And we secular humanists don't worship man, we respect reason and science to best lead our lives, not divine command theory.

      But let's just agree to disagree on the definition of religion. I say it's the belief in and worship of a deity, and you say that it's having an opinion on whether god exists. We'll see how popular your version gets.

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