Friday, December 7, 2007

What She Said: Kaminer Responds to Romney

Author of "Free For All: Defending Liberty in America Today," among others, Wendy Kaminer, responds to Mitt Romney's unfortunate misrepresentation of secularism. Read her piece, rather then my ramblings on freedom posted earlier. Unfortunately, Romney's concerns about secularism being a new religion are not new. I'm started to read, "In Defense of Secular Humanism," by Paul Kurtz. Right off the bat, in his book published in 1983, he quotes Tim LeHay. Who is Tim LeHay? Well, before he co-wrote the Left Behind series, he was a Baptist minister, founder of the Creationist Institute in San Diego, a leader of the Moral Majority, and Chairman of the Conservative Council, a group of 50 conservatives I'm sure are super fun at parties. Remember, this was all back in 1983, the time of Pac Man. His big claim? Humanists controlled America, from the TV to the schools. He warns in his book, "The Battle for the Mind," that "We are not free to send our children to school where they are safe from violence, drugs, and Anti-American teachers... In fact, to provide our young with the high-caliber education which includes an emphasis on basics and character building, we must pay tuition to send them to a Christian school or to other private schools while paying taxed to subsidize the religion of humanism in our public schools."

I couldn't read much more of Paul Kurtz book, but will provide a review later. What is shocking, is that the argument and dialog between fundamentalists and humanist, secularists, and atheists does not appear to have changed much. It's also apparent that the current conservative push in America has taken a long time to develop. I'm hoping something more sensible doesn't take as long to move it to the fringes.


JKC said...

You know, the ironic thing about this is that Romney is arguing for religious pluralism, that all religions have a place in the public sphere, and then calls secularism a religion, but argues that it has no place in the public sphere. What gives?

Personally, I have no problem with having the presence of any and all religions (subject, of course, to the caveat that they don't harm others) in our public spaces. The problem comes when there is endorsement, or apparent endorsement, by the government.

I think it's possible to allow free expression without crossing the line of endorsement. But it isn't done very well very often.

When it comes right down to it, though, I'd rather have a secular government than a sectarian government.

Bjorn Watland said...

Irony abounds with presidential politics, or all politics, depending on how cynical you'd care to be.

I have the hope that the United States is so rooted in the notion of tolerance, and respect for other philosophies and beliefs, that an ebb and flow may happen, but I don't see the country becoming sectarian, even if a majority of voters wish it to happen. Of course, this tolerance is at a fundamental level, not a practical one, so from time to time groups will be harassed and repressed, but their fundamental right to say what they'd like, think what they'd like irregardless of public opinion is fundamental.

Constitutionality of nativity displays, or Christmas trees on public land, I think, are silly arguments. Now, the law does say that Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or the free exercise thereof. Does that mean, that local governments are free to have Christmas trees in their offices? There is no law created respecting the establishment of religion in that case. However, judges have ruled in the past that governments, local, or federal, should not endorse, or support any one particular religion over any other. But if i were being a strict constitutionalist, I'd say, leave the trees up.

Of course, we all know the importance of Christmas, and the Christan faith. In case we forgot, the Representatives took the time to pen a reminder.