Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The war on Secularism

At its core the ongoing culture war should be seen as a war against Secularism. A secular world view is reguarlly denounce by most of the right wing,  from the Pope to Rick Santorum to Pat Robinson, as the ultimate evil. But what is Secularism?
In political terms, secularism is a movement towards the separation of religion and government (often termed the separation of church and state). This can refer to reducing ties between a government and a state religion, replacing laws based on scripture (such as the Torah and Sharia law) with civil laws, and eliminating discrimination on the basis of religion. This is said to add to democracy by protecting the rights of religious minorities
Overall the above sounds like a damn good idea. Based on my study of history it is what our founding fathers wanted and how this nation was created; so why does the right opposes this building block of the nation?

My view is conservatives see secularism as a threat to what they view is their right to hold power over others. The right likes the idea of forcing people to pray like they want them to, they like the idea of punishment for sexual activity they do not approve of. The right wants their faith to have priority over all others. In secularism they see their ability to impose their values on others being restricted and they don't like not having that power.

Is this too harsh of a review? Consider these three points.

The right likes the idea of forcing people to pray like they want them to. School prayer was an early battle ground in the culture war and one that is still quite active. The right wing has never forgiven the courts preventing them to make kids pray to their god. The right wing constantly distorts the law, and is constantly breaking the law by trying to sneak religion into school. When you look at the ruling the rights position becomes more absurd. The court said that schools cannot impose prayer on kids. It never said kids (or staff) can not pray, just that they cannot be made to participate in religious events. Here is the law as it now stands: If a student wants to pray, and it will not disrupt instruction, they are free to do so, but the school and its staff are not allowed to engage in any activity that promotes religion.

You see the student, not the school has the power to determine how and when and even if they want to worship, and the right doesn't like letting the kids have that power.

The right wing likes the idea of punishment for sexual activity they do not approve of. Both the abortion and contraception issue fit in here (as well as the rights refusial to address the AIS epidemic when it first arose). Bad girls have sex, and because they are bad they should be punished and through history that punishment has been to get pregnant. Contraception and abortion allow women to avoid this punishment, so these cannot be allowed. Just consider this  Santorum quote:

“ One of the things I will talk about, that no president has talked about before, is I think the dangers of contraception in this country. Many of the Christian faith have said, well, that’s OK; contraception is OK. It’s not OK. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”
Rick has expressed, quite clearly, the reasoning behind the American conservatives anti contraception (and Abortion) movement. Modern society has advanced to the point where women can have better control over their bodies, and the right don't like it.... so it must be stopped.

The last point to look at is that the right wants their faith to have priority over all others. You see this almost daily now, their faith has to be given special rights (or the rights of other faiths must be repressed) to assure its dominance. In the Pledge of allegiance on currency and  Liscense Plates there has been a constant push to get the state to endorce and promote one faith. If one looks they can seen these efforts almost daily, but this effort to get endorsement is not the only actions taken. There are also efforts to assure that other faiths have obsticals thrown up in their path.

The culture war is actually a war on Secularism that the right wing has been fighting for decades, in the effort to overturn the will of our founding fathers and to find a way to maintain or gain power over individules and force them to accept a power structure that favors the collective over the individule and the statis quo over advancement.


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