Friday, September 16, 2011

Secularism, a qualification of the below post

I'm posting this because I came out quite forcefully in support of Paganism in that one. I believe that for the U.S. and everywhere else secularism is the best thing, and that no religion should officially dominate the public sphere. Secularism, however, does not mean the denial of religions but the official neutrality of society to them. Militant Atheism, a spectre of the Right doesn't have a lot of power in the U.S., and is not the way to go. Pursuing it would essentially replace one dogma, the dominant Christian dogma, with another, and wouldn't benefit anyone except the Atheists themselves. Atheism of this sort, that wants to ban all discussion anywhere of religion or of the supernatural, the kind that Sam Harris advocates, is a religion in its own right just like any other, with creeds and blind beliefs. Instead, having a recognition of religious diversity, sort of on the lines of multi-culturalism, is in my opinion a much better way to go.

Multi-culturalism cut the Gordian knot of denying particular cultures altogether or submitting to the dominant one, which in the case of the U.S. in the pre-war world meant English/Anglo culture. One could argue that the 1950s move to conformity was a backhanded way of Anglo assimilation, but that's another post. Instead of denying or assimilating, honoring all cultures became a better way to represent what the United States actually is. The same process can happen with religions.

Instead of denying religions altogether or only praising the dominant one, Protestant Christianity in our case, or even worse giving into the rabid demands of Fundamentalist Christianity, we should honor all religions within our society as well as the choice by many people to be either agnostic or atheist, or just not particularly religious. Multiculturalism does not require a person to join or identify with a particular culture; people in our society are free to define themselves in whatever way they want regardless of their background. The same should be the case with religion.

I think that while religion shouldn't have a place in our official culture that the media should not be so squeamish about portraying religion. I can understand why they wouldn't want to, but if equal, or almost equal, time is given to minority beliefs then having religious subjects on air occasionally wouldn't necessarily be that big of a deal. . Neither would having coverage of it in the papers. What would have to happen is something along the lines of the sort of coverage that critics of multi-culturalism in the media have complained about: having more time being given to smaller sects than is proportional to their size, including sects that other sects don't like. However, such is the way you have do it if you don't want to just be providing propaganda for the dominant forces in society. The point of this is to show the world what our society really consists of, not just to rubber stamp organizations and churches that already have a great amount of publicity. Even so, the fact of the non-presence of stories about religious subjects, regardless of the massive amount of belief in them by the people of the U.S., is a bad statement in and of itself. It deprives us of a recognition of some of the richness of our culture, which is a strength that we could offer the world.

The hardcore materialism that is stereotypically associated with the Left by some right wing forces hasn't been there for decades and decades. The New Left basically killed it. If it's brought up in the media now, it's mostly as a paper tiger to scare people, along with Secular Humanism..that very, very, scary doctrine…..and not as a reflection of actual currents within society.

In other countries, particularly in places like France where the Old Left has had much greater success, that may not be the case, but for the U.S. it mostly is.

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