I hear the phrase “secular society” thrown around a lot. Usually the people I hear using it are saying it with a tone of disgust in their voice, as if the secular society was keeping their religion from breathing easy, free from scrutiny or any kind of restraints.
So what exactly is a secular society? Well when I asked google to define it, all it did was point me to ” Consumer Behavior: Building Marketing Strategy“, a textbook. According to the textbook, a secular society is
“A society where the educational system, government, and political process are not controlled by a religious group, and most people’s daily behaviors are not guided by strict religious guidelines.”
So does America fit that profile? Sorta. Currently the educational system in this country is under attack by the “Intelligunt [sic] Design” people, or christian creationists in wolves’ clothing. Instead of teaching our children critical thinking skills, they rather have them stop questioning, give up, and say “god did it.” They purposely misuse the word “theory” and have no testable hypothesis of their own….but I digress….
As for the government and the political process, while they aren’t official theocracies like Iran, religion plays a big role, especially since the days of the Reagan administration. While Article VI section 3 of the U.S. Constitution clearly states “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States” none the less, religious tests specifically baring Atheists were written into the state constitutions of Arkansas, Maryland, Texas, Massachusetts, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. While the 14th amendment to the Constitution also prohibits these, it is damn near impossible for an Atheist to get elected to public office if they are open about their Atheism. (Only 1 congressman is openly Atheist, Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) and I doubt he was openly Atheist when he was running)
According to a study done by the University of Minnesota in 2006, Atheists are the least trusted group in American society…..our “secular society”…. Perhaps the bible should read “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for an Atheist to to get elected in America.
The funny thing about this “secular society” is that the majority of the people who make up society aren’t secular. According to the CIA World Fact Book , 84% of the country is religious, and of that 84%, 78.5% is christian! Of that 78.5%, over a full third go to church every Sunday!
The scary thing is that the Republican Party has been taken over by the christian right. Slowly ever since the Reagan years the christian right has infiltrated the party, moving it farther and farther into the right. We just go over 8 years of an Evangelical christian president, arguably one of the worst presidents in history. Just this past election season Gov. Sarah Palin, another christian fundamentalist, ran for vice president. Had McCain been elected, she would have been a heart beat away from running the most powerful nation on earth……this coming from a person who doesn’t believe in evolution, thinks the world is only 6,000 years old, and that the Iraq war is “God’s will“…. Even scarier, this woman, if you can call her that (her view’s about a woman’s rights are atrocious) isn’t going away any time soon. Something tells me she’ll be back. “Huckabee/Palin 2012″…..*shudders*
So what is “secular” in this “secular society”? Well the courts perhaps. They do require empirical evidence before they convict someone of a crime, and until then the people making the charge/claim have the burden of proof….so I guess that’s secular. You can’t really just walk in as say “I have faith that the defendant is guilty!” That type of reasoning might work with the religious, but not in the real world. Unfortunately, the same christian right that has taken over the Republican party has slowly been working to “infiltrate the profession [of lawyers and judges]” as the bigot Jerry Falwell pointed out when talking about “liberty” “university’s” “law” “school”.
The same logic and reasoning behind requiring observable evidence is the cornerstone of science, so I guess that makes science secular too. (But not if the ID idiots have their way) Science is everywhere in our society…well almost. It’s given you everything you use, from the computer you’re reading this on, to the fiber in your clothes, to your car, house, electricity, and medicine that makes you feel better and can even save your life. Yet nobody remembers that when they’re trashing our “secular society.”