FREEDOM FROM SECULARISM? — PART 2

What is this post about? It is a response to the following:

The post at the link above is Ben Berwick response to FREEDOM FROM SECULARISM? What is the history? In Religious Freedom: A Two-Way Street, I reblogged a post by Constitutional Insurgent. Then Ben Berwick decided to get in on the act with Freedom of – and from – Religion.

What do I think relevant in Berwick’s latest? Well, in an effort to be succinct I will try to “quote” Berwick (paraphrase if needed for brevity or sarcasm) and then respond.

Quote # 1.

I don’t seem to recall saying Christians couldn’t talk about their faith. Indeed, Christians of every denomination talk about their faith. They have locations dedicated to it, locations that in some cases, make huge amounts of money, and wield considerable influence in local politics. That is where the initial objection lies. The separation of Church and State is a bulwark against the dominance of any one religion (or version of a religion) becoming the format for everyone else’s lives. I wonder how Tom would feel if Islam, or Hinduism, or any religion other than Christianity, had the same sort of presence within US politics?

Freedom of – and from – Religion, P2

Liberal Democrats use lots of words, but often they don’t seem to know what they mean. Read the First Amendment.

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/bill-of-rights-transcript#toc-amendment-i

The so-called wall of separation between church and state is not in the Constitution (see WHY WE CANNOT SEPARATE STATE FROM CHURCH — A FEW MORE THOUGHTS). The Constitution does not prevent Christians from trying to influence the government as Christians. What the Constitution prohibits is the Federal Government from establishing a religion or preventing the People from exercising their religious beliefs. In fact, it is unconstitutional to silence people just because hearing them express their religious beliefs might offend us.

Quote # 2

The freedom (or lack thereof) of parents to send kids to such schools comes down to money, which is another major driving factor behind so many US problems (I’ve written about the differences between private and public education systems here). US churches often have a great deal of money (faith-based organisations, and even some individuals within these organisations, pay very little tax), yet also want state funding for private schools, which brings me back to the blurring of the lines I mentioned earlier. These organisations rally against what they consider to be an anti-Christian attitude within public schools, yet contribute very little to the purse, so to speak. 

Freedom of – and from – Religion, P2

I have condemned the government-run schools because I think these schools promote Secularism (indifference to a belief in God). I also don’t think most parents support the ideological beliefs that government-run school systems promote in the place of Christianity. Consider a couple of examples.

  • It is a good thing to teach children to respect and try to understand cultural heritage of other people. It is an entirely different thing to teach that all people have an equally good cultural heritage.
  • It is a good thing to teach children about environmental problems. It is not a good thing to make an apocalyptic religion out of environmentalism.

Therefore, I regard Berwick’s response as kind of funny.

  • The issue is giving parents, not churches, the power to decide the who, what, where, and how of their children’s education. Berwick’s reply is the usual red herring. I don’t have to prove that government-run education teaches things contrary to the beliefs of parents. All I have to do is point to the obvious. Parents, not government officials, have primary responsibility for the education of children. With the usual red herring, Berwick tried to avoid discussing the true issue, usurpation of parental authority by government officials.
  • Is anyone stopping Atheists from setting up non-profits to educate children in Atheism? No. However, since government-run schools already promote Secularism, setting up non-profit schools that promote Atheism would be somewhat redundant. That is why Atheists don’t want to both pay for these non-profits and taxes to support government-run schools.
  • Whereas the beliefs promoted by our government-run schools tend to be monolithic, there is little monolithic about US churches. Pick almost any issue, and we will find people who call themselves Christians on either side of it. In fact, Atheists often use the differences between Christians to condemn Christianity and promote Atheism. However, here Berwick needs a bogeyman. So, he speaks of US churches as a grave threat to Atheism, and he defends secularizing government-run schools because Christian churches supposedly don’t contribute their fair share in taxes. That’s a joke.

Why doesn’t our government tax churches? That is not a mystery. When we give our government the power to tax something, we give it the power to destroy it. The power of taxation is no small matter. Why else would so many people give up half of what they make to the government, and that includes a great many people who attend Christian churches?

Quote # 3

I’m not aware of anyone being worried by the freedom to choose schools. If someone wishes to send their child to a faith school, they have the freedom to do so. If faith schools are expensive, is that the fault of the state? The bottom line is, freedom of choice is catered for, and it’s up to faith schools to make themselves more accessible. After all, that’s the point of the 1st Amendment right? The government isn’t getting involved in the affairs of religious institutions. That means faith schools are on their own. You can’t have it both ways.

Freedom of – and from – Religion, P2

The issue is whether Berwick is aware of the issue?

Our government taxes us — takes our money away from us. Then our government offers us a “free” government-run education, and that fact is not relevant? Frankly, it is scary how utterly indifferent we can be to facts we don’t care to know about.

The following is too good to ignore.

Quote # 4

Secularism is defined as the separation of religion from civic affairs and the affairs of the state. It’s not a subject in and of itself. The US federal government places education into state hands, so there isn’t a ‘government monopoly’ as such, and the US education system’s biggest weakness would be a lack of funding (or funding that fails to rise with inflation). I’m not sure what precisely leads Tom to conclude the US education system is ‘woke’ (nor why being woke is such a bad thing), because stuff like critical race theory is worth discussing. Environmental issues will be among the most critical issues of the next generation. Informing children about the reality of the world can only be a good thing.

Freedom of – and from – Religion, P2

Here is the definition of secularism.

secularism

noun

sec·​u·​lar·​ism ˈse-kyə-lə-ˌri-zəm 

indifference to or rejection or exclusion of religion and religious considerations

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/secularism?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=s&file=secula04

When we put our children into an environment that actively works to exclude the discussion of religion, we teach them that the subject — God — has no importance. Nevertheless, what we believe about our reason for being has been part of the education of human beings for long as we know, and that does not change just because the government runs our education system. Politicians and unelected bureaucrats merely take it upon themselves to teach children what they should be doing with their lives.

Berwick’s statement apparently reflects his view of the USA as a citizen of the UK. From an outsider’s perspective, I suppose it does look like we don’t spend enough money on our schools. They don’t do a very good job, but we spend gobs of money on our schools. So why the bad job?

  • Each of our school systems is run by four different committees: a school board, a local government, a state government, and the Federal Government. That’s a management nightmare. It is the epitome of making everyone responsible so that no one is accountable.
  • Our schools are government monopolies. They don’t have any competition.

Quote #5

Science deals with facts. It supports only facts. Religion tends to be more about believing what one wants (or has been indoctrinated) to believe. Tom believes that God created the universe, and believes in the Biblical account of this. I know people who argue the Bible is corrupt, and superceded by the Quran, which is the ‘truth’. There’ll be others who take a different view, as per the lens of their holy texts. There are even plenty of internal disagreements among Christians (some for example, insist the Bible is literal truth, the earth is a few thousand years old, and they hold to that, in the face of numerous forms of scientific evidence that says otherwise).

Freedom of – and from – Religion, P2

What science actually teaches is theories about facts. Ideally, we take observations — facts — and we model cause and effect relationships using the scientific method to verify and validate our models. That is, we perform laboratory experiments to test our models, and our models are not much better than the laboratory experiments designed to test our models. Since we cannot perform good experiments with respect to the weather, the evolution of life, the formation of galaxies, the creation of the universe, and God, much of what passes for science tend to be highly speculative. Nevertheless, that does not stop believers in science from believing in speculative theories and teaching their “science” to other people’s children as completely factual.

So, which religion is the one, true, true religion? I believe that it is Christianity, and I have written many posts explaining why. That said, everyone has to do their own research.

Quote #6

In what manner do people pay for abortions against their will? 

Freedom of – and from – Religion, P2

We have this organization called Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood exists to perform abortions, and it receives government funding.

Conclusion

Berwick’s post continues. He tries to justify aborting babies as if getting pregnant is the same as getting some kind of sexually transmitted disease, and abortion is just an ordinary and wholly appropriate medical treatment. Some of the things people say….

Next, Berwick reviews Reviling Christian Fundamentalism. Since I have already written more than I intended, I won’t write much more. I will just quote the beginning of his comments on Reviling Christian Fundamentalism.

Indeed, all Christians share certain traits. All believe that Jesus rose from the dead after being crucified. All believe he was virgin-born. All believe in an all-powerful God. As something of an aside, the differences between different forms of Christianity are relatively minor, yet they have been enough for centuries of violence between them (just look at the conflicts between Protestants and Catholics).

Freedom of – and from – Religion, P2

Seriously? I suspect that paragraph would leave a great many Christian pastors dumbfounded. Virtually all Christians use similar translations of the Bible, but not all who call themselves Christian believe the Bible. I suppose that is one reason Jesus spoke these scary words.

Matthew 7:21-23 New American Standard Bible

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; leave Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

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