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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » The crumbling barrier between Church and State (Page 2)

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Author Topic: The crumbling barrier between Church and State
Kwea
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
By the way, all the other sub-topics are okay. Just not this one.
Well, this is the one topic they're not allowed to make laws about. [Smile]
But is is also the one topic they are allowed to have faith in, and discuss, regardless who disagrees with them.
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Kwea
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It depends......if they are up front about their beliefs against abortion, then employers should be able to screen applicants at hire for this as well. It isn't illegal, nor does everyone agree it is immoral, and if you go into a profession that requires it...and the employer is up front about it being a requirement, then the employer has EVERY right to expect you to do your job. However, if you were up front about your beliefs and they hired you knowing it, then I think the employer shouldn't be able to force you to do it....unless it is medically necessary for the mother to live.


If you won't, that is your choice. Your beliefs shouldn't impact the availability of care to a patient, regardless of why you believe what you do.


Tough call either way.

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katharina
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I could agree with that, Kwea, if it could be supported that it really is a requirement for that job at that time.

So, doctor at an abortion clinic? Definitely.

Sole doctor in an obscure Alaskan village? Probably.

ER doctor in a large urban hospital? Certainly not. There are other choices.

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Kwea
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Believe it or not, kat, that was the point I was making. [Big Grin] This conversation has a lot in common with the conversations Hatrack has had in the past about pharmacy's, and the right to carry/not carry the morning after pill.

There are clinics run/funded by religious groups where it wouldn't be a job description issue. There are also a LOT of non-surgical positions open as well.

However, if refusing to assist in a situation where a doctor does say it is necessary could place a patient's health at risk....then I am sorry, the medical worker's personal beliefs should take a back seat every time.


I personally knew a person who was a devout Roman Catholic who applied for a job at the Planned Parenthood clinic. However, she said she wouldn't "feel right" passing out condoms, or assisting (she was an RN) with an abortion.


When the clinic didn't hire her, she tried to sue them for religious discrimination.

For the record....I am now going back to school (providing I get the funding) to be an LPN, with plans to work my way up to an RN within 3 years, so I have thought about this type of situation very carefully. I know the medical field has some very nasty pitfalls for people who have strong religious beliefs, and I want to make sure I never place a patient at risk because their beliefs differ from mine.

[Big Grin]

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MightyCow
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quote:
Originally posted by katharina:
That is disturbing, Stray. I can't believe a law like that was needed - I can't imagine the horror of being forced out of a healing profession because you refuse to commit murder.

Is it Strawman day today? Nobody told me.
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Threads
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quote:
Originally posted by katharina:
Exaggerated? Maybe. Intellectually dishonest? Nope. With anybody? Clearly no - not Squicky and after your uncharitable and accusatory question, not you. Somebody else, maybe.

How charitable do you expect people to be when you intentionally make stuff up?
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Flaming Toad on a Stick
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What, exactly, did she make up?
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Telperion the Silver
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sorry for not replying more. Stuck at work without a computer and it's just too annoying to type very long via phone. Be back later!
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Threads
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quote:
Originally posted by Flaming Toad on a Stick:
What, exactly, did she make up?

Let's see...

quote:
Originally posted by katharina:
1. We hate Bush. Bush loves religion. Therefore, if you support religion, you love Bush. HOW DARE YOU.

The letter in the article explicitly separates religion as a whole from the religious right. Nowhere does the letter even imply that religious belief means supporting Bush.

quote:
Originally posted by katharina:
2. You are being bad Democrats if you discuss anything unless it is important to EVERYONE. The agenda for the convention will consist of Oxygen: Good or Bad and, of course, We Hate Bush.

The entire point of the letter is that the topic IS important to everyone but that not everyone is being allowed to participate. Nowhere does it say that the discussion has to be important to everywhere.

quote:
Originally posted by katharina:
3. Some people don't like non-religious people. I'm not saying that's you, just some people. You look like those people. You don't want to be like those people, do you? How dare you discuss something that excludes us? By the way, all the other sub-topics are okay. Just not this one. If you have a party where I am not relevant, you are just like that girl in high school who rejected me when she overheard me calling all religious people ignorant and dark. YOU'RE SO MEAN.

Again, the whole point of the letter is that the "party" IS relevant to atheists. Nowhere does it say or imply that religious people are ignorant.
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Glenn Arnold
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quote:
As an atheist, I have to say I don't really have a problem with atheists not being part of an interfaith gathering, at least not on face value. Interfaith gatherings are for religious people to talk about their religious traditions. Atheism isn't a religious tradition.
Atheism only exists insofar as it is a position that exists in relation to religion. If there was no theism, there wouldn't be a concept of atheism.

I once took a comparative religions class at a state college. We had to give a speech as a final project. Most people were allowed to talk about their religion (we were required to talk about how religion affected us) but I wasn't allowed to talk about atheism, because it isn't a religion. After some argument, she allowed me to talk about secular humanism. But she deducted a letter grade because I mentioned that secular humanism is like a religion that atheists can belong to. She said that I had agreed not to talk about atheism.

Interfaith organizations are (IMHO) supposed to be about people with differing religious viewpoints getting together to figure out how to get along. Non-religious people are larger in number than most of the minority religions that will be present at this event. We deserve a place at the table.

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T:man
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As an athiest I believe that this is faith in there not being a higher power. Therefore it is faith based and a religion. [Razz]
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Darth_Mauve
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Atheism is as much a religion as Intelligent Design is a science.
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katharina
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My exaggerated parody of what the article said is more accurate than your interpretation.

Seriously - "We should be invited to a forum to discuss something we have disavowed because Bush sucks"? *laugh*

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Blayne Bradley
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quote:
Originally posted by Glenn Arnold:
quote:
As an atheist, I have to say I don't really have a problem with atheists not being part of an interfaith gathering, at least not on face value. Interfaith gatherings are for religious people to talk about their religious traditions. Atheism isn't a religious tradition.
Atheism only exists insofar as it is a position that exists in relation to religion. If there was no theism, there wouldn't be a concept of atheism.

I once took a comparative religions class at a state college. We had to give a speech as a final project. Most people were allowed to talk about their religion (we were required to talk about how religion affected us) but I wasn't allowed to talk about atheism, because it isn't a religion. After some argument, she allowed me to talk about secular humanism. But she deducted a letter grade because I mentioned that secular humanism is like a religion that atheists can belong to. She said that I had agreed not to talk about atheism.

Interfaith organizations are (IMHO) supposed to be about people with differing religious viewpoints getting together to figure out how to get along. Non-religious people are larger in number than most of the minority religions that will be present at this event. We deserve a place at the table.

You should've complained and had her sacked.
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katharina
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Sure. Because that's exactly what happens when you explicitly refuse to follow the assignment.

I'm impressed she didn't do more. Atheism seems to be or not be a religion depending on the conveniences of the argument.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
We should be invited to a forum to discuss something we have disavowed...
Should pro-life activists be permitted to attend or speak at seminars about abortion and/or birth control? Why? They've disavowed these things.
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Glenn Arnold
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quote:
Because that's exactly what happens when you explicitly refuse to follow the assignment.
Please tell me what the assignment was. Apparently you know more about it that I do.

quote:
Atheism seems to be or not be a religion depending on the conveniences of the argument.
There is some truth to this. A more significant truth is that atheism has no defining principles. They say trying to get atheists to work together is like trying to herd cats. Most of us were raised in religious households, and came to our understanding of religion through independent thought, rather than acceptance of what we were told. There's no surprise that we should have differing views on whether atheism is a religion.
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katharina
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You imply that those who are religious do just accept what they've been told and their commitment to their system of belief is less thought out than yours.

I can't imagine why such a condescending and ignorant attitude wouldn't be embraced. Honestly - whatever the goals of the interfaith shindig may be, being patronized by self-congratulatory fools can't be one of them.

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Glenn Arnold
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And yet you haven't answered my question.
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Flaming Toad on a Stick
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What question was that, Glen?
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MattP
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quote:
You imply that those who are religious do just accept what they've been told and their commitment to their system of belief is less thought out than yours.
Actually, the point that I think he was trying to make is that most religions have a template of beliefs, rituals, and cultural interactions that tend to bind the adherents together and promotes the organizational structure of their religion.

There is no such template for atheists. They share a single philosophical position (though even that position varies slightly from one to the next) and there are other philosophical positions that may be prevalent amongst atheists, but there is no structure around which atheists tend to organize.

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MattP
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quote:
Atheism seems to be or not be a religion depending on the conveniences of the argument.
Well, sort of. Atheism isn't necessarily a religion, but the freedom of religion also applies to one's freedom to not practice religion, so from the perspective of religious discrimination, atheism may be considered a religion.

Also, when one has to classify one's religion, atheism is what you state when you don't believe in a god, not because you consider it a religion, but for the same reason that someone would put "bald" in the "hair color" blank on their driver's license. It's like saying "not applicable"

Sam Harris makes an interesting point that we don't have a special name for people who don't believe in astrology so we should similarly not require a word to indicate non-belief in other supernatural ideas.

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Threads
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quote:
Originally posted by katharina:
My exaggerated parody of what the article said is more accurate than your interpretation.

I didn't give an interpretation.
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King of Men
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quote:
Originally posted by Darth_Mauve:
Atheism is as much a religion as Intelligent Design is a science.

While what you are saying is true in a strict sense, I feel compelled to point out that it's probably not a very effective argument for purposes of convincing that 30% of the population who want to believe in ID.
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katharina
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Sure, Threads. When everyone else in the world reads a text they come up with their own meaning for the words, but you, YOU, you alone can divine (heh) the truth and you alone are free from your own biases and experiences that color your understanding and you alone see the actual meaning with no interpretation occurring - a straight path from the symbols to englightenment.

No wonder you want in on the interfaith meaning! You're beyond this human ken.

*laugh*

-----

Glenn, if your question is "What was the assignment", then clearly one of the requirements, as reported by you, was to talk about an actual religion and not atheism, which you seemed to have failed to do.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
When everyone else in the world reads a text they come up with their own meaning for the words, but you, YOU, you alone can divine (heh) the truth....
Katie, your straw men are getting in the way of your argument; they're making you snide. Is that really how you want those conversations to go?

-------------

For my part, I believe atheists should have been permitted at the gathering -- not because atheism is a "faith," but because any meeting that is going to de facto function as a strategy session for government re: religion should also include a voice defending the merits of secular policy.

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Dagonee
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quote:
Atheism isn't necessarily a religion, but the freedom of religion also applies to one's freedom to not practice religion, so from the perspective of religious discrimination, atheism may be considered a religion.
This is fine, as long as one considers both aspects of freedom of religion - the free exercise clause and the establishment clause. Too often (not in this thread so far) I see atheists try to get the benefit of the free exercise clause without the burden of the establishment clause.

quote:
For my part, I believe atheists should have been permitted at the gathering -- not because atheism is a "faith," but because any meeting that is going to de facto function as a strategy session for government re: religion should also include a voice defending the merits of secular policy.
Tom, do you have any evidence that no such voice was present (will be present?) at the meeting?

quote:
Sam Harris makes an interesting point that we don't have a special name for people who don't believe in astrology so we should similarly not require a word to indicate non-belief in other supernatural ideas.
Sam Harris is confusing philosophy and linguistics.
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Javert
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quote:
Originally posted by Dagonee:
quote:
For my part, I believe atheists should have been permitted at the gathering -- not because atheism is a "faith," but because any meeting that is going to de facto function as a strategy session for government re: religion should also include a voice defending the merits of secular policy.
Tom, do you have any evidence that no such voice was present (will be present?) at the meeting?

Um...the fact that no atheist or secularist was on the list of speakers?
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Dagonee
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quote:
Um...the fact that no atheist or secularist was on the list of speakers?
The voice Tom was speaking of wasn't to defend secular worldviews. It was to defend secular policy. One does not have to be an atheist to be an advocate of secular policies. See, for example, Lisa, kmboots, Tante Shvester, and a host of others.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
One does not have to be an atheist to be an advocate of secular policies.
Asking a religious person to advocate on behalf of secular law is fine, sure. But why not an atheist, whose perspective on this one is sorely lacking in that crowd? Consider Lisa, who only believes that secular law is the best compromise available until the Temple is rebuilt, at which point she'd expect a theocracy; is she really going to advocate from the same perspective?

--------

quote:
Sam Harris is confusing philosophy and linguistics.
I don't think so. Atheism isn't a philosophy any more than "disbelief in astrology" is a philosophy. There are atheistic philosophies, but that's not the same thing.
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Dagonee
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quote:
Atheism isn't a philosophy
Whether atheism is a philosophy or not (and I was assuming it was not) is absolutely irrelevant to my statement. My point is that how different types of beliefs and disbeliefs are categorized is a philosophical question, and there are enough obvious distinctions between disbelief in astrology and disbelief in God to immediately dismiss the analogy made by Harris.

Even if his actual conclusion is correct, his argument as summarized above provides no real support for it.

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MattP
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quote:
Too often (not in this thread so far) I see atheists try to get the benefit of the free exercise clause without the burden of the establishment clause.
Could you provide an example? Most of the overzealousness I'm familiar with from church/state issues has been in restricting free exercise *EDIT: or overly broad interpretations of establishment. I'm not aware of cases where atheists are attempting to get government endorsement of atheism contrary to establishment restrictions.

I'm not disputing your point, just looking for clarification.

quote:
Sam Harris is confusing philosophy and linguistics.
I think Sam Harris is acknowledging the fact that religion is so pervasive in our society that even those who are not religious are compelled to define themselves in terms of religion. I don't think that's a philosophical or linguistic observation, but a cultural one.

[ August 26, 2008, 09:39 AM: Message edited by: MattP ]

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Dagonee
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quote:
Could you provide an example? Most of the overzealous I'm familiar with from church/state issues has been in restricting free exercise.
I'm speaking of statements I've seen stating things like "the first amendment is on the side of atheists." More specifically, I've seen arguments that an expression of support for an idea based on secular humanism is not religious speech while a corresponding argument that invokes religious justification for its conclusions is religious speech. This can have obvious establishment clause implications.

I typically classify that error as overextending the definition of religious speech.

Brief aside: most of the overzealous advocacy by atheists about the first amendment has been trying to extend the establishment clause beyond its scope. Sometimes this equates to an attempt to curtail the right to free exercise of some, but more often it's an attempt to curtail the rights to free expression or free association.

quote:
I think Sam Harris is acknowledging the fact that religion is so pervasive in our society that even those who are not religious are compelled to define themselves in terms of religion. I don't think that's a philosophical or linguistic observation, but a cultural one.
As summarized above, his point was not merely descriptive of society but also normative: he was saying we should not require such a word.

The point is that there is a linguistic construct to identify people who disbelieve astrology. I've just used it in the previous sentence. Because it doesn't come up too often, we haven't coined a shorthand way to say it.

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rollainm
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quote:
Originally posted by Dagonee:
quote:
Atheism isn't a philosophy
Whether atheism is a philosophy or not (and I was assuming it was not) is absolutely irrelevant to my statement. My point is that how different types of beliefs and disbeliefs are categorized is a philosophical question, and there are enough obvious distinctions between disbelief in astrology and disbelief in God to immediately dismiss the analogy made by Harris.
Like what?
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Dagonee
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quote:
And of course all the religious leaders and parents are to blame. They have failed this current generation and have raised their kids/flock to think it's ok to openly mix religion and politics.
On the topic of the opening post, I have to say that I find Telp's desire to exclude religion from politics disturbing. I'm glad people haven't taught their children that it isn't OK to openly mix religion and politics. Politics extends far beyond the scope of government.
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Dagonee
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quote:
Originally posted by rollainm:
quote:
Originally posted by Dagonee:
quote:
Atheism isn't a philosophy
Whether atheism is a philosophy or not (and I was assuming it was not) is absolutely irrelevant to my statement. My point is that how different types of beliefs and disbeliefs are categorized is a philosophical question, and there are enough obvious distinctions between disbelief in astrology and disbelief in God to immediately dismiss the analogy made by Harris.
Like what?
Like the fact that we seldom need to say "people who don't believe in astrology." We do often need to say "atheist."
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TomDavidson
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quote:
there are enough obvious distinctions between disbelief in astrology and disbelief in God to immediately dismiss the analogy made by Harris.
I'm not sure I see any, at least not any relevant to Harris' comparison.

quote:
More specifically, I've seen arguments that an expression of support for an idea based on secular humanism is not religious speech while a corresponding argument that invokes religious justification for its conclusions is religious speech.
What is an example of an idea based on secular humanism? Is all ethical speech automatically religious speech?

quote:
The point is that there is a linguistic construct to identify people who disbelieve astrology. I've just used it in the previous sentence. Because it doesn't come up too often, we haven't coined a shorthand way to say it.
More importantly, though, we don't speak of people who disbelieve in astrology as a group of like-minded individuals re: other topics.
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rollainm
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edit: Nevermind. What Tom said.
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Dagonee
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quote:
What is an example of an idea based on secular humanism? Is all ethical speech automatically religious speech?
"Based on secular humanism" modifies "an expression of support for an idea," not just "idea."

quote:
More importantly, though, we don't speak of people who disbelieve in astrology as a group of like-minded individuals re: other topics.
Another difference justifying the existence of the word. And it's a difference you yourself have implicitly asserted in this thread.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
"Based on secular humanism" modifies "an expression of support for an idea," not just "idea."
So the argument "we should do X because we don't want people to starve to death" is religious speech, since not wanting people to starve to death is based on secular humanism?

quote:
Another difference justifying the existence of the word.
Actually, it's precisely this improper use of the word that is the motivation behind objecting to its use at all. By creating a class of people called "atheists," it becomes less obviously ridiculous to suggest that, say, all atheists have brown hair and horns. OSC uses the word "Darwinist" in a similar way.
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Dagonee
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quote:
So the argument "we should do X because we don't want people to starve to death" is religious speech, since not wanting people to starve to death is based on secular humanism?
Tom, if you would like something I've posted clarified, please ask for that clarification without substituting an interpretation of what I said that reduces it to an absurdity.

I'm sure you appreciate the difference between "we should do X because we don't want people to starve to death" - which is an essentially scientific argument based solely on whether X will, in fact stop people from starving to death and how efficient it will be at achieving that goal - and "reducing the number of people who starve to death is a goal on which we should expend our resources."

quote:
Actually, it's precisely this improper use of the word that is the motivation behind objecting to its use at all. By creating a class of people called "atheists," it becomes less obviously ridiculous to suggest that, say, all atheists have brown hair and horns. OSC uses the word "Darwinist" in a similar way.
And yet it's still a difference you've invoked in this very thread.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
I'm sure you appreciate the difference between "we should do X because we don't want people to starve to death" - which is an essentially scientific argument based solely on whether X will, in fact stop people from starving to death and how efficient it will be at achieving that goal - and "reducing the number of people who starve to death is a goal on which we should expend our resources."
Can you think of an ethical argument -- like your latter one, which I think you're trying to say is an example of "religious" secular humanism -- that you would not consider a religious argument?

For my part, I think confusing ethics with religion is extremely problematic.

quote:
And yet it's still a difference you've invoked in this very thread.
I haven't invoked it except to point out that it's often wrongly invoked. [Wink]
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Dagonee
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quote:
like your latter one, which I think you're trying to say is an example of "religious" secular humanism -- that you would not consider a religious argument?
I'm not saying what you seem to think I'm saying, probably because you've missed the context of this subtopic. Someone argued that atheists should receive protection under the free exercise clause of the first amendment even though atheism is not a religion (a conclusion I entirely support) because "from the perspective of religious discrimination, atheism may be considered a religion."

Everything I've said in this regard has been from the perspective of religious discrimination (more precisely, from the perspective of constitutional limitations on religious discrimination.

I am trying to say that the argument "we should feed the hungry" should receive the exact same treatment under the First Amendment whether it relies on the premise "because feeding the hungry creates a more stable society" or "because whatsoever you do for the least of my brothers...".

quote:
I haven't invoked it except to point out that it's often wrongly invoked. [Wink]
So you were wrongly invoking it when you said that the crowd sorely lacked an atheist's perspective? [Wink]
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Occasional
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It is just silly that Atheists want to be included in a "faith" conference of the Democrats. On the other hand, I am surprised that the Democrats didn't let them in after the ranting and raving. After all, it is more of a secular party.

After years of atheists claiming they aren't religious, they want into a meeting specifically geared toward the religious. You can twist the meaning of "faith," but the implications are straight forward. This was a meeting for those who belong to religious organizations or believe in a supreme being; mostly on the left side. I would understand the athiest's arguments if they complained it was getting held at all. Personally, I think they should have held a conference of their own.

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twinky
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quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
Also, when one has to classify one's religion, atheism is what you state when you don't believe in a god, not because you consider it a religion, but for the same reason that someone would put "bald" in the "hair color" blank on their driver's license. It's like saying "not applicable"

That's a good way to put it, actually. I like that.

quote:
Originally posted by Dagonee:
quote:
For my part, I believe atheists should have been permitted at the gathering -- not because atheism is a "faith," but because any meeting that is going to de facto function as a strategy session for government re: religion should also include a voice defending the merits of secular policy.
Tom, do you have any evidence that no such voice was present (will be present?) at the meeting?
Although I'm not concerned about atheists not being invited to an interfaith meeting, I do think that having atheists or agnostics present is the only way to guarantee that a voice defending the merits of secular policy will be present. There could easily be such voices at an interfaith gathering without atheists or agnostics, yes, but it isn't certain that there would be.

Added: To clarify, the core of my lack of concern about atheists and agnostics not being invited is that I don't think a voice advocating secular policy in governance is really needed at this particular interfaith meeting.

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Occasional
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Why should there be any atheist voice of secular policy at an Interfaith gathering? It kind of defeats the purpose of having the gathering in the first place. Including atheists would have been irrelavant and in fact counter-productive. Again, I think it would have been better for athiests to disagree that this took place rather than try to muscle in where, frankly, they don't belong.
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katharina
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This argument that someone should be there to talk about something not on the agenda is basically the earlier objection that the party should be about them and not about what it is actually about.
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dkw
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The original post linking the article about the interfaith gathering and some of the discussion since is inaccurate. Atheists are welcome at the gathering. There is no atheist speaker on the program.

There's a huge difference between a meeting that atheists aren't welcome at and a series of speeches, open to all, from religious viewpoints.

Query: Since atheism isn't a religion, and atheists don't have anything in common except lack of belief in God, how should the organizers have chosen a representative atheist speaker? And what would that speaker have talked about?

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Javert
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quote:
Originally posted by Occasional:
Why should there be any atheist voice of secular policy at an Interfaith gathering? It kind of defeats the purpose of having the gathering in the first place. Including atheists would have been irrelavant and in fact counter-productive. Again, I think it would have been better for athiests to disagree that this took place rather than try to muscle in where, frankly, they don't belong.

Why should there be an interfaith gathering at all?
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katharina
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It's a convention? There's something in common? It's relevant to constituents?

Do those who object to this have the same objection to the Congressional Black Caucus?

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