[FoRK] Ross Douthat on Secularism (vs. Atheism)

Stephen D. Williams <sdw at lig.net> on Fri Jun 1 09:00:53 PDT 2007

Dr. Ernie Prabhakar wrote:
> I hesitate to bring this up, but I do think this is a worthy
> distinction. I wonder how many FoRKers are really more concerned about
> encouraging secularism than atheism per se...

Both, almost independently.  Secularism, which is a key part of the founding of
the US and has been corrupted periodically in weak eras with bad leaders
(McCarthyism, Bushism), is right regardless of your supernatural belief, or the
lack thereof.


> -enp
> http://rossdouthat.theatlantic.com/archives/2007/06/what_is_secularism.php
> There are two strains of secularism, I would argue, which are usually
> intertwined but philosophically distinct: A soft secularism that argues
> for a legal separation of church and politics - no school prayer, no
> federal funds for churches, etc - and a hard secularism that militates
> for a complete separation of religion and politics, and shades easily
> into hostility toward organized religion in a general. But neither form
> precludes private belief in the supernatural. A perfectly "secular"
> society would be defined not by universal atheism, but by a
> religion-free politics in the short run, and probably a long-run
> "decoupling," as Razib puts it, of supernatural beliefs from religious
> institutions.
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