Sunday, April 08, 2007

Blog against theocracy

Having been away, I am behind on my normal blog reading, including Greenbelt, where I only now see that this weekend there has been a Blog against Theocracy. See here. (Check it out just for the graphic ... and there's a ton of great images out there; the one on the right is from there.)

Let's be clear: While my own views are close to those of the great country songwriter Robbie Fulks (see here), or classic Freethinker values if you want a Wisconsin reference (here), you are utterly welcome to your own religious views and values, and I will defend your right to hold them. But the boundary is clear: Religion and particular religious principles are not and cannot become the basis for how our society is run.

When I talk to thoughtful people of faith about religion in public life, most agree on the key point, that religious freedom is crucial for all of us. I fear that a lot of people don't realize how far we have slid in recent years toward theocracy.

6 comments:

Joe said...

Wow, a Robbie Fulks song I didn't know!

The Ridger, FCD said...

Thanks - and I'm glad I was able to make your day with the Freeman thing!

Anonymous said...

Although I agree with your main point, that church and state should be separate, I have trouble agreeing with you when you say Americans have a right to their own religious beliefs and values. This seems to be a common belief among liberals, but might I point out the inherent danger of this view. Once we start allowing anyone to believe anything and hold that belief sacred, we have effectively created an environment in which the wildest, most unfounded beliefs are protected behind a wall of religion. These beliefs then are beyond the scope of reasonable dialog and are in effect sanctioned by the public and untouchable. This means that religions restricting the rights of women, condemning homosexuality, challenging the fact that the earth is round, etc., are all acceptable. My contention is that, just as one cannot say "I don't believe the world is round" without being subject to the counterarguments of all within earshot, so too should all beliefs be subject to this dialog. I very much doubt you would say to a person calling into question the earth's shape "I don't agree with you, but I'll fight for your right to believe it." I think the same should be true for religion. Not all are entitled to believe whatever they want; this only leads to a lot of unfounded beliefs being treated as fact (that is, they are not open to argument). Just look at our president and the wacky beliefs he holds. Do we really want a world full of George Bushs, where no one will say anything against them since we are all 'entitled' to our own beliefs?

Mr. Verb said...

Thanks. This raises some important issues, probably worth a full post, but here are a few key points for now.

First, my position here isn't particularly 'liberal', but rather libertarian -- it's simply not my place to force my views in some realms (see point two) on others.

Second, if people want to believe the world is flat in private, that's fine by me. I'll argue the point with them on evidence and hope to bring them around, but I can't argue that they don't have a right to believe that as private citizens. I don't see that a right to hold particular religious views precludes dialogue on them.

Third, following on that, core religious beliefs, as I understand it, are basically a matter of faith. The belief that Jesus was who the New Testament says he was (or is) is not really subject to the kind of verification that the shape of the earth is. Christians don't need, as far as I can see, 'proof' about the story in the sense we expect it in everyday life.

Finally, the dangers you speak of are extremely real and we suffer under them every day. That is PRECISELY what I had in mind in saying "Religion and particular religious principles are not and cannot become the basis for how our society is run." It's tragic that our society is now governed on many fronts by religious principles.

My personal view is that many Christian values would be infinitely superior to those we suffer under at present: take care of the poor and sick, turn the other cheek, etc., rather than creationism and homophobia (if that's what we should call the evil afoot on that front), not to speak of somebody who believes his god has told him to start an uttterly insane war. (I know Christians who'd argue that the latter ones are not even arguably their values while the former are, but I don't have a dog in that fight.)

If faith-based views intrude into the realm of fact, as happens, we have conflict. And in that conflict, religion loses and facts win. People who disagree with the principles of a free society vehemently enough can (and sometimes do) withdraw from it, in various ways and to various extents.

Does that clarify things a little?

Anonymous said...

Yes, it does, thanks. But of course I don't read this blog for its religious content...:)

Mr. Verb said...

That's good, I suppose, since I don't WRITE for religious content!