Secular Baiting: Retake The Final Exam
I have been writing lately about how the Religious Right has for a generation, framed the principal struggle in America as one between Christianity and secular humanism. The wording varies, but the frame remains the same. Variations include faith vs. secularism; people of faith vs secular fundamentalism, and so on. We also hear a variation on the frame when we hear people speak of "secularists" or "the secular left," supposedly trying to drive expressions of faith from "the public square." The alleged perpetrators, whether individuals or organizations, are rarely, if ever named. Thus strawmen are repeatedly knocked down in colorful rhetorical barrages. These are not minor issues of phrasing, but reflect deeply held views. Unfortunately, the frame has been internalized by people who are not part of the Religious Right, most notoriously by author Jim Wallis, and by Sen. Barack Obama, in his speech at a recent conference sponsored by Wallis' organization Call to Renewal. Obama's usage in particular shows the way that that term and its variants are routinely used to disparage rather than to describe as the speaker works off of the frame.
After taking Obama and Wallis to task for their counter-productive contributions in this area, (while also acknowledging other of their good words and good works), I followed up with a two quizzes that sought to show the various ways that the terms are being used and abused. They may mean very different things depending on who you talk to. And we can see that sometimes it is difficult to tell the Republicans from the Democrats; and the religious right from the religious left. While I will have more to say on these matter over the next little while, I thought as long as I had collected so much interesting material, I would pull it all together as a Final Exam.
It is my hope that people will avoid the temptation to get knee jerk about this; the matter of seeing the way that the right has loaded the language is something for all of us to take very seriously. The religious right has been doing very well for quite a while, and if we are not careful in how we frame these matters, as George Lakoff has made very clear, we risk a great deal.
On that note, enjoy your exam. Good luck!
Some of you may have missed the relevant diary and the quizes. If so, you will just have to take the plunge and do the best you can. You have 20 quotes (5 points per quote) taken from a pool of 25 prominent Americans. Self-scoring -- Honor system!
David Brooks -- Columnist, New York Times.
1) "The greatest threat to religious freedom in America, are secular fundamentalists who want to ghetto-ize religious faith and make the wall of separation between church and state a prison wall keeping religious voices out of political discourse."
George W. Bush
2) "The secular fundamentalism of the left is as much a problem as the religious fundamentalism of the right."
3) "The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this [9/11] because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad.I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way - all of them who have tried to secularize America-I point the finger in their face and say "you helped this happen."
4) "I have no question the devil is behind what the apostle Paul called 'the wisdom (philosophy) of this world' and controls many of our courts and other areas of influence... in the nineteenth century this anti-God secular man-centered philosophy conquered the universities of Europe, trained journalists, educators, and entertainers, and today controls the countries where the church is impotent... Europe, once the center of evangelical Christianity, Bible translation and distribution, and even revival, has bought into the philosophy of secular humanism. That philosophy is based on atheism, evolution, autonomous self-centered man, and socialism."
5) "Today, there are new fundamentalists in the land. These are the "secular fundamentalists," many of whom attack all political figures who dare to speak from their religious convictions. From the Anti-Defamation League, to Americans United for Separation of Church and State, to the ACLU and some of the political Left's most religion fearing publications, a cry of alarm has gone up in response to anyone who has the audacity to be religious in public. These secular skeptics often display amazing lapse of historical memory when they suggest that religious language in politics is contrary to the "American Ideal."
6) "Similarly, many Jewish organizations and even many individuals of Jewish ethnicity who possess the title "rabbi" are not guided by the principles Judaism found in the Torah. Instead, like the NAACP and NOW, they are guided chiefly by the principles of secular fundamentalism. Nothing else can explain their dogmatic and ideological commitment to causes such as homosexuality and abortion."
7) "We contend today with both religious and secular fundamentalists, neither of whom must have their way. One group would impose the doctrines of a political theocracy on their fellow citizens. The other would deprive the public square of needed moral and spiritual values often shaped by faith."
8) But what I am suggesting is this - secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square... To say that men and women should not inject their "personal morality" into public policy debates is a practical absurdity; our law is by definition a codification of morality, much of it grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition."
9) "The most alarming thing about this pair of rulings is that the decision to accommodate a Ten Commandments display donated by a nongovernmental source only won 5-4, which shows the degree to which this court has embraced secular fundamentalism as its religion... The Kentucky courthouse decision shows that, as Justice [Antonin] Scalia said in the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas opinion [striking down state anti-sodomy laws], the majority of this court has 'taken sides in the culture war,' and it's the side of secular fundamentalists."
10) "But unfortunately, secular humanists very often act as though they have no tolerance - except that of a person on a higher plane looking down at the poor inferiors below them who happen to have a different religion than their religion. So the criticisms that I have... are for those who are "secular humanist fundamentalists." The fundamentalists are those who think they have all the truth, and that nobody else has any truth. Just as I'm very critical of Christian fundamentalists, Jewish fundamentalists, Muslim fundamentalists, and Hindu fundamentalists, so I'm also very critical of secular humanist fundamentalists."
11) "Secular nations have one thing in common - mass graves, and the reason is that they believe the government is the final arbiter of right and wrong and good and evil."
13) "Like many countries . . . Canada is today suffering from the pervasive effects of secularism... One of the more dramatic symptoms of this mentality, clearly evident in your own region, is the plummeting birth rate."
13) "And the question was, "Are you promoting religion by using people's, taxpayers' money?" And I said, "No, I'm promoting lower recidivism rates, and we will measure to make sure that that's the case."
A results-oriented world says "let's achieve some common objectives and some common goals," and if teaching Bible study or the Qur'an is a method that works, we should welcome it, so long as it's a voluntary program and people, of course, there is going to be a secular alternative that's called 'regular jail.' But so long as the prisoners can pick and choose."
George W. Bush
14) "I would like to see him [Bush] level the playing field and eliminate the mood that's been inflicted on America... that the struggle in America is between an aggressive dangerous Christian theocracy and a benign secularism that's good for everybody. That isn't true.
And I think George W. Bush, not in any way that will make anyone uncomfortable, except perhaps those who were desperately eager to see more secularism in America, all he's going to do is say the struggle in America today is between two competing faiths: the faith of the Judeo-Christian traditions, and the faith of aggressive, fundamentalist secular liberalism."
15) "Now, America is a divided country. We are fighting a fierce war on terror overseas, and an intense culture war at home. No longer is the "American way" something to be proud of... It is also the product of the rise of a well-funded and well-organized secular-progressive movement in America.
The secular-progressive philosophy would rattle even Superman. Led by moneymen George Soros and Peter Lewis who have bought enormous internet access, the secular-progressives are selling the theory that the USA needs radical change, a complete overhaul. Think about it: Almost every day, the secular-progressive press bombards us with messages that America violates human rights, that it is bigoted against gays and other minorities, that the rich control everything and don't pay enough tax, and that the rights of women are trampled if any restrictions are placed on abortion."
18) Next has come the effort to expel [Sen. Joe] Lieberman from modern liberalism. In a dark parody of the old struggle between Eugene McCarthy and Hubert Humphrey, the highly educated, highly affluent, highly Caucasian wing of the Democratic Party has turned liberalism from a philosophy into a secular religion, and then sought to purge a battle-scarred warhorse on the grounds of insufficient moral purity."
19) "God forbid that we who were born into the blessings of a Christian America should let our patrimony slip like sand through our fingers and leave to our children the bleached bones of a godless secular society. But whatever the outcome, one thing is certain: God has called us to engage the enemy in this culture war. That is our challenge today."
20) The Left is dominated by secular humanists who do not believe in God and have advocated for a misinterpretation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution's prohibition against the establishment of religion by the federal government as a "wall separating church and state." No where in the Constitution is there any mention of a wall separating church and state."
Secular Baiting: Retake The Final Exam | 2 comments (2 topical, 0 hidden)
Secular Baiting: Retake The Final Exam | 2 comments (2 topical, 0 hidden)