Kate Forbes’ Christian beliefs illustrate the limits of secularism
Certain perspectives are inherently disqualifying from public life
Until last week I had not heard of Kate Forbes, one of the candidates to be leader of the SNP and First Minister of Scotland. She has shot to the top of the news agenda over the last couple of days because of her commitment to the orthodox Christian position that abortion and same-sex marriage are wrong. Forbes is a member of the Free Church of Scotland, a relatively small denomination holding to the kind of austere Calvinist Protestantism that would be recognisable to a Parliamentarian trooper in Cromwell’s New Model Army.
Her beliefs have predictably drawn a good deal of hostility. One journalist tweeted that “you just can’t have these views and lead a modern party, faith isn’t an excuse for intolerance”, and he was not alone on Twitter in expressing such thoughts. Even the conservative-leaning columnist Alex Massie suggested that anyone in a leadership position in British politics should accept that abortion was “settled”.
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Obviously in a democracy politicians must make their appeal to the public and to their party electorates, and politicians with unpopular opinions run the risk of failing those tests. But there seems to be a different idea lurking in some of the commentary on the Forbes kerfuffle, in that certain perspectives are inherently disqualifying from public life. To this way of thinking, belief in the code that helped to define our civilisation for centuries, and has only been discarded in the last few decades, is now a serious moral failing which must not be tolerated in our leaders.
This raises an interesting problem with one particular aspect of secularism: its alleged neutrality on religious, philosophical and ethical matters. Secularists argue that strict government neutrality on such questions is both desirable and achievable.
The problem is that politics cannot avoid adjudicating metaphysical or ethical claims, even if it doesn’t want to and even if it does so implicitly rather than explicitly. Take Sunday trading laws, which restrict the number of hours for which most shops can open on Sundays. Many secular liberals would say that it is not for the State to tell businesses when they can and can’t open, to tell people what days they can and can’t work, and therefore that the proper government position should be one of total neutrality on the issue.
However, this is a kind of sophistry. To refuse to take a position on whether Sunday should be treated as a special day is, inevitably, to take a position on whether Sunday should be a special day. Even by refusing to take a position on this, there is still an implicit judgement being cast. The same applies to abortion; the secular liberal will say that it is not for the State to say exactly when life begins, or to interfere in individual decision-making, and that therefore the proper neutral position is the permissive one. But again, permissiveness is not neutrality. If there is no rule against abortion, then the State is objectively in favour of it.
Substantive arguments — that is to say, arguments about the core of moral questions, as distinct from procedural ones about how we should organise our deliberation — are ultimately inescapable. The “view from nowhere” is a myth. That is the reality that secularism seeks to obfuscate.
It is apparently not enough that abortion and same-sex marriage is legal, and certain to remain so. Anyone who holds a contrary view must be hounded from public life, and humiliated to boot. It is apparently intolerant to regret abortion while accepting that the majority support the law as it is. It is apparently tolerant to support placing males in women’s prisons notwithstanding that the majority oppose such a law.
It is ridiculous, if such a philosophy were to be used against the progressive’s pet groups, then they would be puffing themselves up like offended cats and howling about discrimination and injustice.
The modern position is you can kill all the babies you want, but do not even think of putting to death a sadistic mass murderer.
Thank God for the Asbury Revival, because today’s politics is really Satan’s.
This article highlights how a new code – a new ideology – has evolved since 2010 and the Equality Acts. It is NOT securalism. It is a State sanctioned set of de facto ‘Higher Laws’ which established a hierarchy of Nine victim groups who must be privileged and protected from a structurally oppressive white patriarchy. Hence our so called secularist country permits sharia law, turns blind eye to polygamy and lets a teacher who offended a mob rot away in hiding. Christianity is an easy touch. Its militants do not kick back as knife wielding psychos charging down London streets. It does not do terror now. So it will get trashed and bashed by the progressives in law media and government. A cowardly cult obsessed with equality and discrimination does not dole out criticism equally when it comes to religion.
I guess all Muslims, conservative Jews, Catholics and most followers of Christ are now unqualified for office? Only atheists need apply?
If she was a Muslim, the progs would have no problem with her views
Kate Forbes’ main opponent for the leadership race is a Muslim. As justice secretary, he piloted “hate crime” legislation through the Scottish Parliament. That legislation is as near to an Islamic blasphemy law as you can get in a secular state. The media would never dream of scrutinising his beliefs. I wonder why?
He is permitted to deceive: look up ‘taqiyyah‘.
I must say that I rather admire Kate Forbes’ courage in going public against abortion and same-sex marriage.
Everybody Knows that you are Not Allowed to bring such opinions into the public square.
Kate Forbes may not win the posts to which she aspires, but one thing is incandescently clear: if she doesn’t win as a result of being pilloried for having views that contradict the new woke mob, the real losers will be the people – and the children – of Scotland. For me, she exemplifies what comes to mind when I hear the rallying cry, “Scotland the Brave.” I wish her well, and Godspeed.
Some (many) Muslims believe that homosexuals should be killed by being thrown off high buildings, or strangulation-hanged on cranes. I wonder will anyone ask Kate Forbes’ Muslim opponent what his views are on this? And actually insist on an unequivocal response from him.
Well actually he’s said he is OK with all of it….
He will say anything that he thinks will advance his leadership bid. To see what he really thinks, take a look at his draconian legislation, from his days as Justice Minister, on so-called “hate crime”, which looks suspiciously like an Islamic blasphemy law.
He is permitted to say OK: look up ‘taqiyyah‘
”Some (many) Muslims believe”
Haha, great way to begin an argument. Some xxxxxaphobia going on here perhaps? I lived in Islamic countries and never saw piles of strangled gays laying in the streets – I must not have been paying attention……
I didn’t say that they pile the bodies in the streets. They don’t. So you wouldn’t expect to see them there.
If you want to watch the actual executions you often can. Personally I don’t feel the need – but if you’re running round looking for bodies, maybe it’s what you want. Your call.
Culture is a set of shared metaphysical claims. The Enlightenment tried to pretend that was not true (“man is born with has inalienable rights”) but still hedged its bets by sourcing those rights as “endowed by his Creator”. This means Enlightenment, secular, liberalism is incapable of proving its own central claim of human rights. Absent a transcendental source of some kind, your rights are built on sand.
This slight of hand went largely unnoticed for 200+ years. Then Nietzsche killed God and Mill deified individual autonomy (“my rights only stop at your nose”). Finally the postmodernists detonated a truck bomb through the middle of this giant philosophical hole in Western civilization, and we’ve ben living with the wreckage ever since.
Framing the debate as ‘secular’ vs. ‘religious’ is about 70 years out of date. ‘Secular’ just means having ultimate values that do not come from a historical religious tradition. Regardless whether you think your ultimate values originate in the Bible, in the Communist Manifesto, in observations of the natural world, or in the hallucinogenic musings of your local LSD dealer, doesn’t change that all of us will have some set of ultimate values. All humans have ultimate values, and groups of humans (societies) cannot function without sharing them – full stop.
So the first task for any society is to articulate what those values are (“We hold these truths to be self-evident” being one such attempt, admittedly no longer sufficient). The question for secularists in the West today is whether they are able to articulate a set of ultimate values for us, because it certainly doesn’t seem that their first attempt has worked.
The data are pretty clear that the revolution in sex/gender/family values of the past 100 years has empowered the smartest, richest, most powerful people, at the expense of the weakest and most vulnerable members of society. Do we want good virtues like ‘self-expression’ and ‘authenticity’ and ‘tolerance’ to trump other good virtues like ‘loyalty’ and ‘mercy’ and ‘duty’?
Just how much evidence has to come in – showing increasing psychological distress, childhood anxiety, educational failures, behavioral disorders, stagnating economies, etc. – before we acknowledge that no, we cannot have it all? People in general cannot have the richest and most rewarding family lives while (for example) simultaneously viewing sexual activity as a form of self-expression and authenticity. That’s just not the way humans are formed (by Mother Darwin or by Father God, as you like).
Put it this way: how many men, on their deathbeds, wish to be surrounded by their wife, children and grandchildren, and how many wish to be surrounded by that hot chick they banged in the summer of ’78? Thinking about ‘what really matters in life’ should help us rank order our competing values.
Their values are simple, “anything goes”. As long as it doesn’t offend me.
“ Framing the debate as ‘secular’ vs. ‘religious’ is about 70 years out of date.”
I agree, but for different reasons. Chief among them being that
religious belief is not monolithic. There are tolerant versions and intolerant versions.
Kate Forbes’ version is very much of the intolerant kind. For those who also adhere to an intolerant, fundamentalist type of religious belief – I can see why they don’t have any problem with Forbes. I am more interested in those who are not fundamentalists in matters of religion but still want to support her leadership bid on the grounds of defending freedom of expression.
I can see that there is a point of principle that should not be glossed over, but we are talking about a possible First Minister and party leader here, not just ‘someone in public life’. Should we expect tolerant people to give that much power to someone whose views are far from tolerant? And be happy about it? Just to defend freedom of expression? Never mind the practical political problems that would be certain to ensue? That is asking a heck of a lot of them!
“There are tolerant and intolerant versions [of religion].” What does “tolerant” mean here? Does it mean “being polite and respectful in our disagreements”? If so, then that’s a fine goal.
But I think you mean something very different from that – and I don’t think “tolerance” as you mean it really exists. No religions are tolerant – and neither is secularism. No one of any persuasion is tolerant of what they believe is really destructive. She’s not tolerant of some beliefs, and you’re not tolerant of hers.
All this means is that “tolerance” is a false summit in our hierarchy of virtues.
Good article, but I have to take issue with the Sunday trading laws point. The reason why Sunday trading laws were in place wasn’t religion (though the Lord’s Day Observance Society were a lobby group back in the day). It was actually the opposition to Sunday trading from USDAW, the shopworkers’ union, that made politicians, Labour and Tory, shy away from relaxing Sunday restrictions. USDAW saw it as a threat to ruin their members’ day off with their families. It had nothing to do with God.
And actually, Scotland relaxed its Sunday trading laws BEFORE England did, despite strict sabbatarian faith groups faith groups being higher profile here in Scotland.
I was teaching in an American university forty years ago as a professor who agrees generally with Kate Forbes. After a lengthy lecture from one of my colleagues on the separation of church and state I told him: “Separation means that you can share your deepest beliefs with students and I can’t.” It’s as simple as that.
“conservative leaning” Alex Massie? Funniest thing that I have read this week. The comments on this article and on Massie’s column in the Speccie though are heartening
‘…the conservative-leaning columnist Alex Massie’. Thanks for the laugh. Hilarious.
Were I a SNP supporter I should be more inclined to vote against her because of her fiscal policies than for holding fairly old fashioned religious views.
“Old fashioned”? Egad! What modernist hubris is this? Would “new fashioned” religious views somehow be more palatable?
My own religious views are fairly old fashioned so I have no personal objection but clearly the SNP supporters seem to prefer new fangled religious views that are keen to give God “fashionable” gender neutral pronouns or atheistic views. My point was that her fiscal policies- which after all is what she was employed to oversee rather than provide spiritual guidance – involved running up debt and raising taxes even higher than the Westminster government of profligates have.
“Old-fashioned religious views”?. In Scotland, the faith groups that go with the flow on social issues are in free-fall with dwindling congregations and closing churches. The faith groups with buoyant and increasing congregations are all aligned with Kate Forbes’ view: evangelical churches and mosques are expanding. The Roman Catholic church has its own internal problems, but it, too, is broadly aligned with Kate Forbes’ views, so it is not going down the tubes as fast as the go-with-the-flow churches.
What I find interesting about this is that abortion is illegal in the UK. Or more accurately it is unless certain specified criteria are met.
I think the vast majority of UK voters would NOT think abortion should be allowed for any reason and/or at any time up to and including during labour. Therefore it looks as if abortion will stay illegal unless it meets specific criteria.
It does not! just look at the wee free Orange power in Northern Ireland, and in parts of Scotland?
Unsurprisingly, i disagree with this analysis.
In ascribing an implicit lack of neutrality to the secularist view, the author misunderstands what secularists (and i’m one) would regard as the basis of this view.
Take the case of abortion. Gooch argues that secularists can’t take a neutral stance, and yet – of course they can! There will be some secularists who don’t agree with abortion on demand. The true position of the secularist is therefore that of seeking to eradicate the religious viewpoint from the legislative process. It would follow therefore, that a legislature that voted to stop abortion on demand – providing it wasn’t influenced by religious campaigners or indeed legislators – would be perfectly acceptable.
What i suspect the author has a problem with is precisely the attempt to eradicate religion from the discourse that precedes legislation. His claim that the “view from nowhere is a myth” is hypocritical. The secularist would argue that all those of a religious disposition are hidebound by myths!
Over the centuries, the vagaries of whichever religious creed was in the ascendant has provided us all with an historical record of the problems that arise when one view seeks to dominate another. The secularist wants none of this. So, is that another example of a viewpoint seeking to dominate others? Or is it an honest attempt to do away with those arguments which seek to dominate from a religious perspective? Well, there’s another article in Unherd today, about Islamists seeking to wrest control of the agenda in Western democracies. Give way to the argument put forward by Gooch, and you’re opening the door wide open to those whose intentions couldn’t care less for democracy.
The problem with secularism is that, when it is under threat, it turns politics into a religion. We see this today with secularists who topple statues, destroy art, censor books, change language, and cancel people. They do this because they believe they are morally correct and not burdened by hidebound myths and superstitious conventions. They consider themselves enlightened and therefore at liberty to tell others what to do.
There is this old idea that if humans could ever outgrow their religious impulses that they will become enlightened super-people able to re-arrange society in their image. The problem with this is that it leads to despotic thinking. Those who fail to fall into line are backward and bigoted, and therefore must either be re-educated or removed.
The intent of the Bible is not that it be followed indiscriminately and mindlessly believed, but for it to be examined and questioned. If you seek to understand there really is a lot to unpack that is relevant to modern audiences – more so now than ever I would say.
To your point about the legislative process, if God is removed from the law, it eventually becomes a tool for the powerful to use against the less powerful. The Old Testament is very adamant on the fact that judges should neither favor the rich, nor the poor. However, if you read many of the tenets contained within Critical Legal Theory, they express exactly the opposite of that.
Finally, secularism is often conflated with reasonableness and rationality, but we have had secular governments before which were neither reasonable nor rational, in fact they were downright cruel and terrible. I would posit that the purpose of religion is not to put people into a mental strait-jacket but to do the precise opposite of that – that without appealing to God’s grace and divinity we are far more susceptible to human error and folly.
You’re entitled to your views on religion, but the idea of “appealing to God’s grace and divinity” is for secularists just meaningless.
Human spirituality precedes religion, which is simply one manifestation of it.
How can ‘human spirituality’ be deemed secular?
“Human spirituality precedes religion, which is simply one manifestation of it.”
I’m not going to make a political comment here, Steve, but I am going to comment on your distinction between “religion” and “spirituality.” What you say is not wrong, but it’s also not clear.
By “religion,” I think that you mean “organized religion.” The two are not synonymous. Religion per se refers ultimately and specifically to a personal experience of the ineffable (often described as mystical). Organized religion, on the other hand, is a collective and institutionalized response to that experience–an attempt at making it accessible or at least partially accessible to the community from one generation to another. This is the origin of churches, doctrines, rituals, laws, customs and so on.
As for “spirituality,” that refers, as you say, to the universal search for meaning–that is, the meaning of life or of the human condition. There is a link between spirituality and religion, however, because religious experience, by definition, provokes spiritual questions (which is why every organized religion produces spirituality, notably in forms such as prayer, meditation techniques, poetry, art, music and so on). But the link is not necessarily either chronological or even inherent. After all, secular people are by no means immune to the quest for meaning; they merely don’t expect to find it by using the resources of organized religion.
My point here is that people live on more than one level simultaneously. This is why trying to isolate law from religion works better in theory than it does in practice. The Americans, for example, have never reached an enduring consensus on how to implement the constitutional separation between church and state. Even the founders, who created that “wall of separation,” did not assume that the new and democratic republic would be filled with secular people (either indifferent or hostile to religion). On the contrary, they assumed that it would be filled with people who relied on whatever moral instruction they found in their own non-established churches–and made laws accordingly. The founders barred established churches, not religious discourse in the public square. That distinction keeps getting lost, which has left the nation with more conflict, even polarization, than harmony. In France, secularization has assumed the absence not only of an established church but also of any religious discourse (including everything from public holiday decorations to personal clothing)
I don’t know about you, but I would surely be more inclined to live in a society where our laws and morals are derived from the God of the Bible vs. whatever mankind can gin up every few centuries.
You say that “of course” secularists can take a neutral stance on abortion. But how? You’re either pro- or anti-. And either one of those is a stance.
Liberal society permits abortion because one of its fundamental principles is “individual freedom”. Traditional Christian society didn’t allow abortion because one of its fundamental values is the sacredness of life. Those are irreconcilable differences. You can’t have both at the same time.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re religious or secular, you can’t disentangle politics and morality (or a ‘worldview’). Every political decision is an expression of implicit values. And the values that are upheld through law take precedence over other values. Some win whilst others lose. You never magically “do away with those arguments”, as you put it.
You’re missing the point, which is that secularists are looking to take the religious point of view from the legislative sphere. The neutrality comes about from accepting the outcome of the legislative process (with religion removed). Read the sentence in the context intended.
I made the specific point that, for instance, some secularists might support the abolition of abortion, but not on religious grounds. I don’t mind comments disagreeing with points i’ve made but for goodness sake, why waste your time disagreeing with points i haven’t made?
OK, maybe I’ve missed the point. Perhaps you can explain. What does it mean to “take the religious point of view from the legislative sphere”?
Kate Forbes said she’s against same-sex marriage because of her Christian beliefs. But also said she would respect the democratic decision that led to it becoming legal.
Is she “removing the religious point of view from the legislative sphere” by doing this two-step?
Thanks for your reply. This is where i think the article goes wrong. You’re perfectly correct in saying that if Kate Forbes can work in the legislative sphere without using her religious beliefs to prevent her from fulfilling her duties as a political leader, she should be allowed to do so. I disagree with the social media hounding of politicians for their religious beliefs.
In fact, if those of a religious persuasion weren’t allowed to work as legislators, we’d have a much more limited pool to choose from! Take Jacob Rees-Mogg for instance, a staunch Catholic. He simply gets on with the job without his beliefs interfering.
The article, however, takes aim at secularists, as if we’re somehow being unreasonable in requiring our politicians to act in a way which allows their work to remain as free from religious dogma as humanly possible.
You say you’d like politicians’ work to “remain as free from religious dogma as humanly possible.”
If I’ve not misunderstood you, this is the nub of what I’m questioning.
Kate Forbes is an avowed Christian. Her views on same-sex marriage etc. come from her faith, and so are *explicitly* religious.
But a non-religious person with a view on same-sex marriage still has implicit beliefs which their view is based on. They may not be ‘religious’ beliefs, but they are still a set of axioms that make up a worldview.
So what, really, is the difference, and where does the problem lie? Are you saying that religious people don’t think enough for themselves, but just blindly follow doctrines, whilst secularists do (think for themselves)?
…requiring our politicians to act in a way which allows their work to remain as free from religious dogma as humanly possible.
Even if a secularist’s beliefs are free from religious dogma, they will still be informed and governed by some dogma … just not dogma expressly calling itself religious.
Secularists – no less than religious people – believe in values which they think should be imposed on others, with the force of law if necessary. (Oh, yes, they do.)
This debate generally is above me, but you say that ‘Traditional Christian society didn’t allow abortion because one of its fundamental values is the sacredness of life’. So how is it that such societies all allowed capital punishment and took part in wars which killed people?
The debate is far from being above you. You’ve just made a perfectly valid point which those of a religious persuasion have been tying themselves in hypocritical knots over for centuries.
Looks like it’s above me too. I’m not versed in the intricacies of Christian theology, but there’s a doctrine of just war, when it’s against an unjust aggressor. Maybe capital punishment falls into a similar category.
It does indeed, Toby. There’s a huge moral difference between killing in self-defense (personal or collective) and pre-meditated murder. And this difference has long been acknowledged everywhere on legal grounds. And some armies (lamentably, not all armies) acknowledge on legal grounds the moral right to conscientious objection). Moreover, many communities or traditions translate this moral ambivalence into symbolic terms by governing the killing, preparation and consumption of animals. Many religious traditions allow even abortion in the relatively very few cases that can be defined in terms of maternal self-defense.
”fundamental values is the sacredness of life”
Not really – innocent life is sacred maybe…
Other life really should not be killed because then you have removed the agency of the person to find their way to God and atone for their trespasses against others.
That is the problem – if you blow someone away before they could have changed their ways and made amends, you caused them to miss salvation – and that is very bad.
But then death for horrible crimes – well, they have their chance – and Society Must Function for the sake of all people, and allowing crime to wreck honest people is wrong.
Religions have nothing against death, religions are concerned with ultimate – they just do not like you taking someone else’s chances for salvation away.
Many reasons depending on the time, culture and the particularly branch or sect involved.
For wars, you can see Thomas Aquinas and ‘just wars’. There is also the argument, for wars between sects and so forth, that allowing a rival sect to attempt to convert people puts their souls in jeopardy. Going to war to wipe out that sect or reduce its influence makes sense as you are saving the souls of people who could potentially fall under its influence and be led astray, risking their eternal salvation.
For capital punishment, it broadly comes down to an eye for an eye, but may depend on what the crime is (see witchcraft, for example).
For abortion, many Christian societies assumed that from ‘quickening’ the unborn baby has become ‘ensouled’ and he or she needs to be baptized in order to enter heaven. For this reason in the Middle Ages a midwife was allowed to baptize a newborn child if the child was in danger of dying quickly, in order to save the child’s soul. This doesn’t apply to many protestant groups (Free Church no doubt included) as the sacrament of baptism is something given when the person is older.
In general, when it comes to death and punishment for the Christian the world is not the be and end all – eternity is, losing your life in this world is not viewed in the same way as it probably would be for a secular person.
A neutral stance means neither pro- nor anti- … not either/or.
I am not sure why you think the religious should not be entitled outsource their ethical moral decisions to a body of those wiser than them to advise on just as many, indeed perhaps most, secularists outsource their thinking on moral and ethical dilemmas to secular gurus even if these are merely the shallow thinkers of the media and internet chat rooms. As a secularist it is surely just a matter of opinion as to whether the latter is better than the former. We know that secular regimes can be every bit as intolerant, brutal and murderous as any religious regime of the past.
The reason they can be just as intolerant, brutal and murderous is due to human nature. This gets to the crux of the issue as far as i’m concerned. Whilst we continue with false beliefs (i.e. belief in a god) we’re denying ourselves the opportunity to understand our true natures.
It’s time to be brave enough to take our place in the universe with full responsibility for our actions, without reliance on an imaginary entity to act as a backstop.
I know how that will come across to someone with religious belief, but please understand i’m not here to be offensive. I’m making the case that we should work to improve ourselves, not for heavenly reward or to gain “grace”, but simply because we and the universe around us are all that exists. It’s far from being bleak, either. there’s a great deal of beauty to be derived from our lives, and not one single jot of it requires a god.
”It’s time to be brave enough to take our place in the universe with full responsibility for our actions, without reliance on an imaginary entity to act as a backstop.”
haha – so it is being done – read up on Transhumanism – this is what all is headed to, the WEG, Gates, Bezos, Musk…..sounds like you side with their line of reasoning
Read ‘That Hideous Strength‘ by CS Louis – he explained all this perfectly in the 1950s
The problem is when you are too clever to believe in good – well, they you will be claimed by evil.,…
We should work to improve ourselves because we and the universe are all that exists? Well, for sure then! I’ll get right on it. Because of the universe and stuff!
Ah but … given human nature … having a God or Gods does seem to provide better odds for civilising potential.
really though – the ‘Secular gurus’ you allude to – the ones in the Entertainment Industries, the Social Media Elites – and the general Elites who own the Politicians and run the Education systems…
It is not that are shallow thinkers – it is they sold their soul to the devil – so you are outsourcing your Ethical dilemmas to Satan via his minions. This is very problematic.
Not to decide is to decide. It’s a fundamental principle of logic. Dodging the question by claiming “neutrality” is intellectually dishonest.
A secular government may still oppose abortion if it’s mandate is from a sufficiently anti-abortion, religious base.
Individuals may hold any beliefs and use them to inform their voting habits and may even run for a political position.
Also, I find it odd that many seem to be oppose the notion of an agnostic secular state on this issue but suddenly get upset when neoliberal, globalist policies, or culturally “woke” policies are pushed without any voter mandate.
The issue with both examples is not that the politicians have a degree of faith, whether traditional theistic or a contemporary secular ideology, it’s whether they go beyond using it as guidance or to subvert the political system.
“Over the centuries, the vagaries of whichever religious creed was in the ascendant has provided us all with an historical record of the problems that arise when one view seeks to dominate another. The secularist wants none of this.”
Your comment deserves much attention… as an example of the problem critiqued in the article: “We disagree. So obviously, we have to do it my way!”
In 2023 most careful observers can see there is no neutral approach to any moral question. Atheism, for example, is a religious perspective. It takes a position on religious questions: It denies what theists affirm.
(And would you pretend that atheistic Leninism/Stalinism, for example, didn’t attempt to dominate religious dissidents?)
“The true position of the secularist is therefore that of seeking to eradicate the religious viewpoint from the legislative process,” you say.
But the religious viewpoint is constitutive of the identity of religious people; it’s who we are. So you wish to eliminate us from the legislative process.
No thank you, we’re not leaving. Reconcile yourself to it: We will all just have to find a way to live together, and one that doesn’t privilege your prejudices.
“We will all just have to find a way to live together, and one that doesn’t privilege your prejudices.”
Nor yours, and that’s the whole point. Don’t agree with gay marriage? Don’t marry one, it’s that simple. Gay people are not leaving either and won’t give up their rights so you can live in your religious lalaland of choice.
Surely secularism allows Governments to pass laws based on moral judgements, just not in obedience to the doctrine of a particular religion. I have never understood why the Church has not drawn a distinction between blessing “Holy Matrimony” for breeding and celebrating civil marriage for partnerships.
and also marriage to our sex dolls, why is that not allowed? And to pets? Anything goes, Right?
Secularism allows governments to pass laws based on subjective, ever-changing moral judgments. Catholic doctrine is objective. Surely in your open-mindedness you can see the appeal of the latter.
If you take a glance at the Catholic Catechism you will find that Holy Matrimony is a Sacrament. It involves man, woman and God. It’s not just “for breeding.”
The family is the basis of society. If you contest this merely because it’s God’s plan, then you might try to imagine it as a “secular” claim and evaluate its merits.
An attraction of secularism is that the state is not beholden to a religion that you disagree with. Whilst you might prefer a state to be beholden to your religion, in a democracy with more than one religion you have to have a majority wanting it to be beholden to your religion, failing which secularism is the second best option for you. In the UK there are not enough Catholics to vote in a government beholden to the Catholic Doctrine.
The two forces necessary for evolution are nutrition and reproduction. They inevitably form strong themes in religions. They often favour rules for behaviour that support nurture. Those rules may be derived from a higher authority or a pragmatic view of human behaviour. My use of the term breeding proved provocative but religious doctrines do appear historically to focus on relationships that involve reproduction. For me holy matrimony is a religious concept and can only be defined by a religion. Partnerships are a civil concept that is defined by the state for a variety of purposes. There is an overlap but they are essentially different. Whatever your personal views, and I have not given mine, in the UK a government has not been voted in to follow a religious doctrine so religions should focus on the concept that is important to them and let the state define its civil concept. Insisting both concepts must be the same creates a pressure to change the religious doctrine to the whims of the electorate.
To refuse to take a position on whether Sunday should be treated as a special day is, inevitably, to take a position on whether Sunday should be a special day. Even by refusing to take a position on this, there is still an implicit judgement being cast.
Only someone who is religious would claim this.
By asking the question in this manner it is forcing a position, unless the respondent is aware enough to advise that one does not have to answer within those limitations.
Seriously? Methinks the “only someone who is religious” canard smacks of intellectual smugness. The statement is perfectly valid, religious considerations notwithstanding.
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