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My Take: The five biggest misconceptions about secularism
Misunderstandings about secularists and secularism do a disservice to America, says Jacques Berlinerblau.
October 6th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

My Take: The five biggest misconceptions about secularism

By Jacques Berlinerblau, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Jacques Berlinerblau is associate professor of Jewish Civilization at Georgetown University. His book, How to Be Secular: A Call to Arms for Religious Freedom has just been released.

As far as the Republicans are concerned, President Barack Obama is secularism’s go-to guy in Washington. Newt Gingrich refers to him as a “secular-socialist.” Mitt Romney charges that his opponent advocates a “secular agenda.” And Rick Santorum frets that Obama is imposing “secular values” on “people of faith.”

The president, however, seems not to have received the whole him-being-a-secularist memo. American secularists have thrown up their hands in frustration over his supersizing of George W. Bush’s Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives. They roll their eyes at his God talk. As for his recent call for days of “prayer and remembrance” to commemorate 9/11, well, would the late Rev. Jerry Falwell have done it any differently?

After spending years trying to sequence the genome of American secularism, I have arrived at a sobering conclusion: no -ism is as misunderstood as this one. All of which is bad for secularists, secularism and America. Let’s look at some of the biggest misconceptions out there:

1. Secularist: Just another word for atheist: Not true! But that doesn’t mean there is any thing wrong with nonbelievers. Nor does it mean that secularists and atheists don’t share scads of objectives in common (e.g., opposing religious establishment, securing freedom from religion, defending free expression).

American secularism’s roots can be traced to Christian political philosophy (yes, you read that correctly). Its main architects were Protestant thinkers like Martin Luther, Roger Williams, John Locke and Thomas Jefferson.

What evolved was a political worldview deeply suspicious of entanglements between what these gentlemen called “the civil and ecclesiastical authorities.” They asked: “How can we configure our government so that citizens of different religious groups may all live in equality, peace and order?”

Atheists, by contrast, posit the nonexistence of God(s) and proceed to explore the implications of that intriguing premise. Let’s put it this way: While nearly all atheists in America are secularists, not all secularists are atheists. In fact most secularists are not atheists — but we are getting ahead of ourselves.

2. Secularism simply means total separation of church and state: Separationism is, undeniably, a form of secularism. But not the only form. Secularists need to accept this, if only because more and more state and federal governments are giving separationism the old heave-ho.

As conservative Christians like to point out, the Constitution never mentions separationism. That idea surfaces in Thomas Jefferson’s 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists in which he lauded “a wall of separation between Church & State.” It was not, however, until about a century and a half later that the wall was actually built. This occurred in a series of stunning Supreme Court decisions that briskly evicted religion from public schools and spaces.

The separationist worldview crested in the 1960s and 1970s. When John F. Kennedy talked about a country where the “separation of church and state is absolute,” he articulated post-World War II liberalism’s dream. Or delusion. Even Supreme Court justices whose decisions helped erect  Jefferson’s Wall conceded that total separation is impossible to attain.

That is because the United States is historically and culturally Christian. We rest on Sundays. We close federal offices on Christmas. We put the word “God” on our coinage. Most citizens are believers. The state cannot logically “separate” from them. As Justice William Douglas - no foe of secularism - once remarked, total separation would mandate that, “Municipalities would not be permitted to render police or fire protection to religious groups.”

Government and religious citizenry are entangled. This doesn’t mean we should endorse those entanglements. Rather, we must recognize separationist secularism as something extraordinarily difficult to achieve.

3. Secularism is for Democrats: This was increasingly true with each passing decade from the 1960s forward. But after John Kerry’s debilitating loss to George W. Bush in 2004, all of that changed. Party strategists now recognized the power of the so-called “values voters” — the conservative Christians whose energy and activism propelled the incumbent to his second term.

A few months before Kerry’s defeat, an obscure state senator named Barack Obama blew the roof off the 2004 Democratic National Convention with a speech in which he intoned: “We worship an awesome God in the Blue States.” It was a harbinger of things to come. By the 2006 midterms, stories leaked about Democratic consultants who advised candidates never to say “separation of church and state” on the stump.

By 2008, John Edwards and Hillary Clinton were Bible-thumpin’ with aplomb. Presidential candidate Obama, for his part, was promising to renovate George W. Bush’s faith-based Office. Separationist secularism, long in decline, was about to be rolled. What replaced it? Read on.

4. Secularists don’t make accommodations: Although few have noticed it, the Democrats have pivoted from “separation” to “accommodation.” This means the government can fund or assist religion; it just can’t play favorites. Thus, all religions are equal in the eyes of the faith-friendly state.

Is this approach secular? The jury is still out. Accommodation does respect the First Amendment principle of refraining from federal establishment of religion.

Consider the White House faith-based office. In theory, it funds all religious groups who provide social services (hence no establishment). In practice, however, things have not worked out so well (see complaints against both the Bush and Obama offices). Further, accommodation doesn’t really accommodate or take into account nonbelieving citizens.

5. Secularists are anti-religious: In recent years some have made secularism into a synonym for godlessness, possibly because a few extreme atheist groups have taken to calling themselves “secular.” Yet the idea that believers cannot be secular is incorrect and politically disastrous.

Secularism, as noted above, was born of Christian thought. Historically, its greatest champions have been those opposed to state support of one church or religious institution, such as Baptists, Protestant dissenters, and minorities including Jews, Catholics, Sikhs and others.

Secularism’s mission is to maximize freedom of and freedom from religion. But unless we start speaking of it in precise terms, and bringing secular believers and nonbelievers into coalition, it won’t be able to render this service to America.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Jacques Berlinerblau.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Church and state • Courts • Politics

soundoff (1,517 Responses)
  1. hinduism source of hindufilthyracism

    I am filthy hindu muslim turd, born in racist gutter land, Pakistan. I was raised to hate Hindus and anyone not Muslim. I was taught to hate Hindus so much that I call everyone Hindu to prove truth absolute, that everyone else sucks ass who is not just like me. I was taught that Allah is the only god. I understand that since the majority of the world does not believe in Islam, and since Great Shaitan would have it this way, therefore Allah (pbuh) must be real. I will continue to hate everyone not just like me. I will even hate myself, but perhaps Allah will show favor upon me if I randomly bomb some innocent people in an open market. 72 virgins must surely await me then! Allahu Akhbar!

    October 8, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
    • hINDUISM RACISM OF hINDU'S, CRIMINALS BY FAITH EXPOSED

      hinduism, absurdity of a hindu, denier of truth absolute from hindered, gutter of hinduism, illegality called india. Word hindu is based on Latin word hindered, negative, Hun, great, Han, to be in greatness, hin, to be negative to both of them, hindu, a noun in negativity, hinduism, way of negativity, to learn more about hinduism, illegality against humanity of hindu's, criminals visit limitisthetruth.com and click on word Choice to open file.

      October 8, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
    • Anwar

      You are a BAD BAD muslman of whoring parents bringing disgrace to all good Muslims around the world. Why didn't you blow yourself up? We have no use of your type.

      October 8, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
  2. hINDUISM RACISM OF hINDU'S, CRIMINALS BY FAITH EXPOSED

    Word hindu is based on Latin word hindered, negative, Hun, great, Han, to be in greatness, hin, to be negative to both of them, hindu, a noun in negativity, hinduism, way of negativity, to learn more about hinduism, illegality against humanity of hindu's, criminals visit limitisthetruth.com and click on word Choice to open file.

    October 8, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
    • Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Moslems But Were Afraid to Ask

      Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Moslems But Were Afraid to Ask, follow Hiduism boy.
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      October 8, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
    • Achmed The Dead Terrorist

      SILENT I KILL YOU!!

      October 8, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Would the bunch of you just self-immolate already? Thanks in advance.

      October 8, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
    • Anwar

      There are too many demons are living inside his body, and all of them are trying to speak at the same time.

      October 8, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
  3. Sam Yaza

    secularism good; seriously people with how f4ck3d up America is right know; do you really what your faith @ss0c!@t3d with it?

    October 8, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
    • hinduMithra ism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

      hindu secular ism, filthy self center ism is of hindu's, criminals, having no place among civilized human but with their own kind, pan of hindu filthy pig's, self centered atheist.

      October 8, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
    • G. Zeus Kreiszchte

      hindu islam fucker: what is civilized about totalitarian islam, fear propaganda, forcing your whore women to dress in ghost costumes with eyeholes, permitting your irresponsible asshole men to rape them and then blame it ON them, causing the ignorant muslim townspeople to stone the woman to death as if it were her fault, beheading infidels and blashpemers (as if there were such a thing as blasphemy against a figment of imagination)? Get real monkey man! DOLT! Absurdity of Islam, denier of truth absolute, that there is NO GOD!

      October 8, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • hinduMithra ism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

      Nothing is new in your hinduism, filth about truth absolute, not today but hindu's criminals have been speaking of truth absolute like you, whoring around are your mother's and sister's, exposing themselves like a female dog at her time, chased by dog's to fulfill her desire. Go join your own kind, you may look like a human but not any better than a hindu ignorant animal by deed's, without limit, and no civility, hallmark of hindu's denier's of truth absolute, just lik their boy loving pot head hindu santan's, filthy goon's, with looks and way of hindu filthy pig's, secular's.

      October 8, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
    • Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Moslems But Were Afraid to Ask

      Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Moslems But Were Afraid to Ask, follow Hiduism boy.
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      .

      October 8, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • Anwar

      Don't push this fanatic muslaman too much. He is one of those wannabe terrorist chicken s!hit. I know my people. I am muslim and I don't support his types.

      October 8, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
    • hINDUISM RACISM OF hINDU'S, CRIMINALS BY FAITH EXPOSED

      Thee are no hindu. terrorist but hindu, deniers of truth absolute, committing hinduism, illegality against humanity and truth absolute GOD, deserving nothing less than their own medicine hinduism, terrorism to be eliminated from face of earth along with their hinduism , criminality to have peace, Islam among humanity.

      October 8, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
    • Anwar

      Idiot.

      October 8, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
  4. test

    CHAD: Did you not see my previous post refuting yours and so many other Christo-Fascists' claims that this country was founded on Christianity? Here is an excerpt from the Treaty of Tripoli, drafted under the George Washington administration and signed by John Adams in 1797. What about this quote indicates that the USA was or was not founded on Christianity? Can you spot it?

    "As the government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."

    October 8, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • G. Zeus Kreiszchte

      Sorry, forgot to change from my test alias. Oh well.

      October 8, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • Athy

      Do you think Chad will discover the well-hidden clue?

      October 8, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Being that the Chard is a complete and utter moron, no. He couldn't find his own azz if he were holding it in both hands and kissing it with his own lips.

      October 8, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
  5. The Justice

    @Chad
    A little history of yourself if you do not mind. You are articuate, intelligent and have the ability to process information rapidly, to great effect at times. I just wonder how your early education got you to the point that you are now at, as an apologist for christianity/religion? None of my business, just curious at what led you in this direction. the standard answer of faith would be pretty lame, please expand on what influenced you.

    October 8, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
  6. test

    CUM piss Porn qUeEr kOoCH

    October 8, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
    • Gee Knee Us

      😈

      October 8, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
  7. Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Moslems But Were Afraid to Ask

    Read "hinduMithra ism blah blah blah" posts.

    October 8, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
  8. test

    T

    October 8, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • Helpful Hints

      Are you having trouble getting your post to appear? If so, check the hints on page #11.

      October 8, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • test

      Thanks, no. I'm just perfecting my Naughty Words Converter program. Looks like it will work now! See above.

      October 8, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
  9. icon downloads

    I am am excited too with this question. Tell to me please – where I can read about it?

    October 8, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  10. The Justice

    @Chad
    Once more...
    I contend we are both atheists, I just believe in one less god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all other possible gods, you will undestand why I dismiss yours.
    Stephen F. Roberts
    Christian apologetics has yet to grasp that idea.

    October 8, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • The Justice

      Thought I had hit the reply button, Mia Culpa.

      October 8, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  11. Theen Allah Fat Mullah (the Original Hinduism Source..........)

    Religion's are ism, corruption of truth absolute by Theen Allah sanatan's, criminal goons and they are worshiped as man GAWD's by Mullah's, and by Mullah's Mullahs, and by Me, ignorant's under Theenism, corruption of truth absolute labeled as religion's, relegated by not by truth absolute GAWD, but Saudi criminal King's and their criminal Prophet' s fortune teller green parrot, flying carpet. nothing but Theen ism, scam to blinds, fool humanity, and Allah is Theen.

    October 8, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  12. JD

    Wow, ok, I guess I'm one step closer to being an atheist as this gentleman writes. Point #2 particularly. I firmly believe in the separation of church and state and do not believe we are a Christian nation just because the holidays and weekends line up.

    October 8, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      They were lined up in attempt to bring pagan followers into the fold. Christmas for example is a pagan holiday that has nothing to do with the birth of the Christ figure. Who biblical historians say was more likely to have been born sometime around June based on the description given in the bible.

      October 8, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      That just means your in favor of secular government and laws. Nothing to do with being atheist.

      October 8, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • hinduMithra ism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

      Religion's are hinduism, corruption of truth absolute by hindu sanatan's, criminal goons and they are worshiped as man god's by hindu's ignorant's under hinduism, corruption of truth absolute labeled as religion's, relegated by not by truth absolute GOD, but hindu criminal King's and their hindu criminal Prophet' s fortune teller's. nothing but hinduism, scam to hind fool humanity.

      October 8, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • Chad

      We are not a Christian theocracy, but we are certainly a nation of predominately Christian people, founded by Christians, with the singular goal of being allowed to practice Christianity freely.

      October 8, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Theen Allah Fat Mullah (the Original Hinduism Source..........)

      @Hindu – stop your turd ism, ID thief, goon, your hind hurts.

      October 8, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Chad

      Wow you're getting better. There was the tiniest smattering of truth hidden in your idiocy this time.

      October 8, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      Actually Chad, The US was founded by deists not christians with the notion that everyone should be free to practice whatever religion they wanted.

      Read the first amendment. "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise there of."

      October 8, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Chad

      @religion "The US was founded by deists not christians with the notion that everyone should be free to practice whatever religion they wanted."
      @Chad "not true at all. No doubt there were a few in there, and a few that denied the deity of Jesus(thomas jefferson for example) but the overwhelming majority were Christians, ones that had a strong dislike for the "official state religion", and acknowledging Jesus Christ as the Son of God.

      =======
      @religion "Read the first amendment. "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise there of."
      @Chad "excellent idea.
      It means that the government cant make any law containing the types of religions that can be established and exercised.

      October 8, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • Chad

      "containing " should have been "constraining"

      October 8, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • The Justice

      @Chad
      Why is it so difficult for christian apologists to be more inclusive? You state "with the SINGULAR goal of being allowed to practice christianity freely." Again the tunnel vision, your statement should read "with the view to allow religions to be practiced freely." It is not all about your misguided belief in the christian god.

      October 8, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • Chad

      @The Justice "Why is it so difficult for christian apologists to be more inclusive? You state "with the SINGULAR goal of being allowed to practice christianity freely." Again the tunnel vision, your statement should read "with the view to allow religions to be practiced freely." It is not all about your misguided belief in the christian god."
      @Chad "are you stating what you want their goals to have been, or what they actually were?

      their goals actually were to be allowed to practice Christianity freely.

      October 8, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Chad

      Evidence for that?

      @The Justice

      Because to the Christian apologist, there is no such thing as a non-christian theist. Their world-view is so narrow and fucked up that they cannot conceive of freedom for EVERYONE.

      October 8, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      What is it with you, fake TTPS? While I agree with many of your points, why do you have to post them under my moniker? Why not use your own?

      October 8, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • mama kindless

      A big not-so-true to Chad:

      True that most founders were Christians, but Deism was what many of the intellectuals, including many of the politicians were into back then, even if they didn't completely abandoned the variety of Christianity that they grew up with. So when you are looking at the Const!tution, you are looking at something where the key contributors were mostly Deist.

      James Madison, the chief architect of the Const!tution was a Deist. He attended Episcopal church and helped it quite a bit, but he also saw how the early Anglicans were persecuting Baptists in his home state (my state by the way). This is probably what lead him to have an affinity with other Deists of the day and to write things like this:

      During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, supersti tion, bigotry, and persecution.
      –A Memorial and Remonstrance, addressed to the Virginia General Assembly, 1785
      and ten years later:

      Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other sects?
      –A Memorial and Remonstrance, addressed to the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of VA, 1795

      October 8, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • The Justice

      Just for arguements sake, do you think that maybe one of the founding fathers may have thought that it would be justice if the aboriginal tribes might want to practice their own religion(s)? Steal the land, put them in reservations, and do not let them the freedom to practice their own faith,; sounds like it wasn't very christian. The christian view would be to convert all the heathens to JESUS, your lot must be real proud.

      October 8, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      I have always found the following interesting.

      Nowhere in our U.S. Const itution does it say, nor even suggest anywhere the following: **

      *God
      *Lord God
      *God of the Bible
      *God of Abraham
      *God of the Christians
      *Our laws are to be based on 'Divine Law'
      *Our laws are to be based on the 'Bible'
      *Our laws are to be based on Christianity
      *Christian
      ***Christianity is the Official Religion of the U.S.***
      *Only Christians are allowed to be in the U.S.
      *You must 'believe' in God to be in the U.S.(Christian God)
      *Jesus
      *Jesus Christ
      *Jesus Christ -our Lord and Savior
      *You must 'believe' in Jesus Christ as your Savior to be in the U.S.
      *Bible
      *Bible is the 'literal' Word of God
      *Satan
      *Not believing in the 'God of Abraham' means your Satanic or possessed by Satan
      *The U.S. Consti tution is based on the Bible, Jesus, God's Words, etc...
      *Christian Bible is 'the' Truth
      ***Christian Nation***
      ***The U.S. 'is' a Christian Nation***
      ***The U.S. 'Consti tution' is -Founded- on "Christian Values/Principle's"***
      *Atheists and Non-Christians aren't 'real' Americans and should be denied access to live in the U.S.
      *If you don't accept Jesus Christ as the living God and one true Savior, you will burn in hell, and... you are probably possessed by Satan, etc... etc... etc... etc...

      I could go on, but no need. If... we are a "Christian Nation" etc... and our founders/framers were Christians, then to not have our Consti tution say any of the above, seems that it *may* be a huge mistake on their part, since a number of Christians attempt to make the claim that we are a Christian Nation, yet not much of any real evidence is given.

      Our Consti tution, regardless of what anyone 'believes' about the religious beliefs of our framers/founders, which certainly there was a varied mix, the Consti tution seems to be written as an extremely secular doc ument.

      It's not a perfect doc ument, but I'm pretty happy with it.

      Peace...

      October 8, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • The Justice

      @Chad
      Again as a christian apologist you imply what the founding fathers SINGULAR goal was, not that you can prove that, but it is why so many reject the spin you place on your posts. How presumptuous of you to interpret what the founding fathers meant since you are so btased in your christian point of view.

      October 8, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • mama kindless

      And for the sake of any kids out there reading these comments who sleep through their history class, I should have pointed out (in my response to Chad) that James Madison went on to become the 4th President of the U.S.

      October 8, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Vulgar invective directed at Chard, vulgar invective directed at Chard,vulgar invective directed at Chard,vulgar invective directed at Chard,vulgar invective directed at Chard, MORE vulgar invective directed at Chard,vulgar invective directed at Chard,vulgar invective directed at Chard,vulgar invective directed at Chard,MORE vulgar invective directed at Chard,vulgar invective directed at Chard,vulgar invective directed at Chard,vulgar invective directed at Chard,MORE vulgar invective directed at Chard,vulgar invective directed at Chard,vulgar invective directed at Chard,vulgar invective directed at Chard, EVEN MORE vulgar invective directed at the Vegetable,EVEN MORE vulgar invective directed at the Vegetable, piled higher and deeper, and justly deserved.

      October 8, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • Chad

      @mama kindless, a great hatred of religious insti tutions does not a deist make.. that's what you see in those quotes.
      @Justice, no spin, just reality

      Dont mistake a hatred of the religious hierarchy that they had come from, with a rejection of Christ 🙂

      James Madison:
      "Cursed be all that learning that is contrary to the cross of Christ." – "America's Providential History," by David Barton, pg. 93

      "Religion is the basis and Foundation of Government." – "The Papers of James Madison," by Robert Rutland, pg. 299, 304

      "It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage . . . before any man can be considered as a member of Civil Society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governor of the Universe." – "The Myth of Separation," by David Barton, pg. 120

      "We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political inst itutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government; upon the capacity of each and all of us to government ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God." – 1778, to the General Assembly of the State of Virginia

      "Religion, or the duty we owe our Creator, and manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence;" – "James Madison and Religious Liberty," by Gaillard Hunt, pg. 166

      "The belief in a God All Powerful wise and good, is so essential to the moral order of the World and to the happiness of man, that arguments which enforce it cannot be drawn from too many sources nor adapted with too much solicitude to the different characters and capacities to be impressed with it." – "Madison and Witherspo on: Theological Roots of American Political Thought," by A.D. Wainwright, pg. 125

      "Christ's divinity appears by St. John, Chapter 20:2: 'And Thomas answered and said unto Him, my Lord and my God!' Resurrection testified to and witnessed by the Apostles, Acts 9:33: 'And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.'" – "Biography of James Madison," by William C. Rives, pg. 33-34.

      October 8, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • The Justice

      @Chad
      You last post maybe reality to you and your fellow christian apologists but is spin for the rest of us.

      October 8, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • redzoa

      30 seconds and wikiquote found many of Chad's quotes to be inaccurate. Anything coming from Barton is highly suspect. Barton is a demonstrable liar. So bad that fellow evangelicals effectively call him a liar and so bad that his publisher pulled his last work of pseudo-scholarship.

      That said, Chad's initial point is partly true and partly false. The early colonists did indeed arrive here hoping to practice a purer form of Christianity (although quickly reverting to clerical hegemony. See Anne Hutchinson). But is this the "founding" of our nation? No. The "founding" of our nation was in the ratification of the Const-itution. In addition to providing a structure for a federalized government and enshrining specific rights which were to restrict this federalized government (and later states as well under incorporation of the 14th Amend.), the doc-ument "const-ituted", that is, it "combined to form" a unity of states. At the time of the founding, religious liberty was a critical concern, but was simply one of many critical concerns. One need only read the bill of rights to see the founders were particularly concerned with rights as they relate to criminal proceedings (for example, the 4th, 5th, 6th & 8th amendments)...

      October 8, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • mama kindless

      Chad wrote: "a great hatred of religious insti tutions does not a deist make."

      True, but Deism starts off without the need for organized religion, so that's a pretty big step in the same direction as having those views. Plus, like I said, it was the in thing. That's why I used the word affinity. Now – first off, throw away the quotes that you got from the Mr. David Barton – everyone knows he's a crook for hire when people in congress need bullsh it. OK after that's gone we have some quotes left for which you gave no source doc ument or date. Those should be together if someone is to know both what it was from (like a doc ument such as a letter, speech, etc. not some biographer's name) and when (like how old was he when he wrote it?). After all that's gone there is ONE dated quote showing the source doc ument and it is date seven years prior to the two quotes that I posted (he was 27 years old at the time, and 35 years old when he wrote the first quote I used). So as far as I can see, you've got one quote that usable AND, in that one quote he's only talking about something in the OT.

      I think you need to do more research, Chad, and try your best to stay away from David Barton – he's just not reliable – they've even discussed that here. I think you'll find most historians accept the very strong deist leanings of the key architects of the Const!tution. And they were strong enough that many historians classify Madison as a Deist. I encourage people to do their own research on this.

      October 8, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • The Justice

      @Chad
      Do you christian apologist have some sort of manual that you can refer to when defending the faith? You did not make a comment on the as*similation of the Indian peoples into christian culture, not covered in you manual? Redzoa maintains that some of your quotes are from discredited sources, that sounds about right, spin by any other name.

      October 8, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Chad

      What you say here is indisputable: "We are not a Christian theocracy, but we are certainly a nation of predominately Christian people, founded by Christians"

      But this is woefully inaccurate: "with the singular goal of being allowed to practice Christianity freely."

      I was disappointed to see you quote David Barton in your responses to @mama kindless (though thank you for the references). His lies have created a cottage industry for a small army of people who are kept very busy discrediting him with accurately sourced research.

      He is at war with the doctrine of separation. His approach is revisionist whitewash, which, ironically is what he accuses "liberals and secularists" as doing. Clearly the founders were not atheists as we define the term today but nor were they the uniformly devout believers that Mr. Barton contends.

      October 8, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Chad,

      here are some comments on a couple of your quotes by James Madison, being:

      "It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage . . . before any man can be considered as a member of Civil Society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governor of the Universe." ('Governor of the Universe' is code for Deism)

      "Religion, or the duty we owe our Creator, and manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence" (emphasis is on the ending, being freedom of and from religion)

      These are both taken somewhat out of context. They are both from Madison's "Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments" in 1785. You can find this here:

      http://religiousfreedom.lib.virginia.edu/sacred/madison_m&r_1785.html

      This was written "in opposition to a bill, introduced into the General Assembly of Virginia, to levy a general assessment for the support of teachers of religions." – a clear example of an attempt at establishment which Madison vehemently opposed.

      Note that in paragraph 7 Madison takes a notably different tone:

      "During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superst'tion, bigotry and persecution."

      These words speak to me of Madison's views on Christianity.

      October 8, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
    • mama kindless

      That's right "I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV". I read quite a bit about that man and what he said while I was an undergraduate at Madison College in Harrisonburg before it became a university. And at the time, I was a bit taken aback because I just assumed he had the same crispy clean trinitarian views as I had at the time. And I really think from what I remember studying, is that, as a statesman, he might have been attracted to Deism because it allowed him to straddle the fence so to speak and try to make peace between non-Anglicans like the Baptists and the Anglicans. But evidently he did do a lot for the Episcopal church even if he didn't attend it regularly.

      October 8, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Chad,

      and this quote:

      "We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all our political inst'tutions upon the capacity of mankind for self government; upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God."

      Is listed here as misattributed:
      http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/James_Madison

      "Attributed to Madison in The Myth of Separation Between Church and State (1989) by David Barton, he has since declared it a misattribution*, after Madison scholars reported that this statement appears nowhere in the writings or recorded utterances of James Madison."

      * Who better to say so than the man himself. Here he admits that it is at a minimum, "unconfirmed".
      http://www.wallbuilders.com/libissuesarticles.asp?id=126

      Unfortunately you can't believe everything you read – particularly when the author is David Barton.

      October 8, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Madison also helped George Mason (an Episcopalian) write section 16 of the Virginia Declaration of Rights (1776), some of which might sound familiar to quotes used above:

      SEC. 16. That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity toward each other."

      Mason also wrote this in the Virginia Declaration of Rights, shortly before the 'committee of five' worked on the declaration of independence. Some of this might sound familiar:

      SECTION I. That all men are by nature equally free and independent and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.

      Something is missing. I wonder what it is?

      October 8, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      And of course Madison/Mason's work on the Virginia Declaration of Rights (1776) leads us to the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (1779)

      "... no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of Religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge or affect their civil capacities. ..."

      As authored by Thomas Jefferson in 1777 and undoing the established Anglican Church in Virginia.

      October 8, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • mama kindless

      Oh I"ll make a note of those "I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV". Thanks for posting that. I mentioned before in one of my posts about living not far from Monticello and Montpelier, but I am a little closer to Gunston Hall and Mt. Vernon. The latter two are beautiful places to visit since they are on the Potomac river. And I have a great granddaughter that will start soon at George Mason U. A lot of history in Virginia. Now I'm wondering if they had any earthquakes back in Jefferson's time. That one that was around here recently originated very close to Monticello.

      October 8, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      And the David Barton hits just keep on coming:

      "Religion is the basis and Foundation of Government."

      Here the good Mr. Barton is compelled to admit that he actually fabricated this one and I quote from here:
      http://www.wallbuilders.com/libissuesarticles.asp?id=126

      "Taken from Madison's Memorial and Remonstrance, this quote has proven to be inaccurate."

      October 8, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @mama,

      I have had the pleasure of visiting both Mr. Jefferson's and Mr. Washington's home on more than one occasion. Charlottesville is a lovely college town. Perhaps next time I should visit Mr. Madison's home as well?

      Do you know for whom Mt. Vernon is named?

      October 8, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
    • mama kindless

      You know – I don't know where the name "Vernon" is from. I've been there a number of times. They decorate it beautifully for Christmas (and you must know by now I'm an agnostic–almost high atheist), but still it is nice there at the holidays. I'm sure I read it there and have since forgotten. Guntson Hall is not really located very close to a university like UVA, but it's a nice place to visit. Actually that whole area is beautiful near Gunston Hall – there is a lot of park land reserved there. Also near Mt. Vernon is Woodlawn Plantation and the Pope-Leighey House (Frank Lloyd-Wright). Just minutes from Mt Vernon. You know a very beautiful college campus in the Fredericksburg area to visit is Mary Washington U, if you like visiting different colleges. A few of my fellow alum from Madison College that I still talk to went on to William & Mary for graduate work - of course there is a ton of history there as well. Also a lovely place.

      October 8, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
    • mama kindless

      I'm gonna have to do some more research myself on that stinker David Barton. My goodness I'm glad someone caught up with him.

      October 8, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      mama, you must live pretty close to my stomping grounds in Rockville, MD. I agree that Charlottesville, Mt. Vernon, and Montpelier are beautiful sites. Living in the DC area has its benefits...and its drawbacks.

      October 8, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @mama,

      Mt. Vernon is named for the British Admiral Edward Vernon (from whom we also get the word 'grog').

      George Washington's older brother Lawrence served with Admiral Vernon on his flagship as a captain of marines in 1741 during the 'War of Jenkin's Ear'. It was Lawrence who named the estate after his former commander.

      Vernon was known to his sailors as "Old Grog" from a Grogham coat he wore. His watered down rum ration (later rum and lime juice) became known as 'grog' to the sailors.

      Isn't *real* history just grand?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Vernon

      October 8, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
    • mama kindless

      Yes Tom, Tom. My kids and grand kids have to deal with the DC traffic, etc., so these days if you have to work and can work from home, I say go for it. I have been to Rockville and places near there. I like many parts of Maryland as well. I used to go visit an old friend near Frostburg State years ago.

      And Not a GOPer, thanks for that – I'm not sure I ever did pick on the Vernon name – it's not ringing a bell.

      October 8, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Hi, mama k. Can't work from home, but my workplace is only about 7 miles away, so no biggie. For hubby, Metro is pretty good, though certainly far from perfect lately. We like a lot of things about the DC area. It's got drawbacks, but far more pluses.

      October 8, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @mama,

      perhaps you missed out on all the fun when the (Christian) publishers of Mr. Barton's most recent work of fiction ('The Jefferson Lies") pulled the book from shelves in the wake of a storm of scholarly work disputing many of Mr. Barton's 'assertions' about Thomas Jefferson.

      In all fairness, the publisher (Thomas Nelson) had just been acquired by Kohlberg & Company*. Perhaps the new owners weren't as keen to play so fast and loose with the truth.

      We had fun with this topic: Barton's 'Jefferson Lies' book yanked

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/08/10/bartons-jefferson-lies-book-yanked/

      * A private equity company. Think Bain Capital, only smaller.

      October 8, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @mama,

      "I'm not sure I ever did pick on the Vernon name – it's not ringing a bell."

      I suspect that the Mount Vernon Ladies Association don't like to remind everyone that (patriotic Virginian colonial that he was) Lawrence served his King, George II, in the Royal Navy. This is the extent of the reference on the Mount Vernon website:

      "Lawrence inherited Little Hunting Creek plantation (which he later renamed Mount Vernon in honor of Admiral Edward Vernon under whom he had served in the War of Jenkins' Ear),"

      Hopefully the docents know that grog and Mr. Washington's home are named for the same Englishman.

      October 8, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
    • mama kindless

      Thank you much Im not a GOPer – not it makes sense about the Vernon name. lol. And I did see that stuff I believe about Mr Baron when I first started looking at these comments.

      October 8, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
  13. Kit Hope

    Check your history – the U S Post Office delivered mail on Sunday until 1912.

    October 8, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • Oldster

      Sunday mail delivery in Loma Linda, CA continued until 2011!

      http://www.pe.com/local-news/san-bernardino-county/san-bernardino-county-headlines-index/20110418-loma-linda-residents-say-goodbye-to-sunday-mail.ece

      Apparently, it is left up to local postmasters. I remember back in the 1950s in Los Angeles having Sunday deliveries during the Christmas card rush.

      October 8, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
  14. hinduMithra ism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

    Hitler was nothing else but a hindu, racist follower of hinduism, racism by faith and so are hindu Jew's, criminal self centered, atheist, denier of truth absolute GOD, blood brother's of Nazi's, foundation of hinduism, illegality around the globe. Visit limitisthetruth.com and see it your self.

    October 8, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Amniculi

      Don't you ever get bored with this? How about actually contributing something to the conversation for once? You must have a sad little existence.

      October 8, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • hinduMithra ism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

      And you do not have a brain to comprehend some thing very simple, right on front of you, TRUTH ABSOLUTE IS UNDENIABLE AND MOST POWERFUL, AND TRUTH ABSOLUTE IS GOD.

      October 8, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • Amniculi

      Which god?

      October 8, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • hinduMithra ism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

      Truth absolute, The constant, essence of every thing in existence. Neither of a body nor of any form and no one exist's without "HIM", Proven by science.

      October 8, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • Amniculi

      Again – which god? And what proof are you talking about?

      October 8, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • hinduMithra ism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

      Can any thing exist without a constant by knowledge of science? Yes or NO.

      October 8, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • Amniculi

      Can you form coherent sentences?

      October 8, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • hinduMithra ism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

      Answer my question please, Yes or NO ?

      October 8, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Amniculi

      I would, but your question makes no sense.

      October 8, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • hinduMithra ism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

      By knowledge of science, nothing can exist without a constant, or every thing in existence has to have a constant, as in computers, a flow diagram, or a quantified criteria, for computer to be functional to it's expected task. So again, can any thing become a reality without a constant, YES OR NO?

      October 8, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • Amniculi

      According to the current knowledge of the scientific community – no. Now, answer my question: which god?

      October 8, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • hinduMithra ism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

      Truth absolute, constant hold's power over every thing, because nothing can exist without truth absolute, all mighty and all powerful is truth absolute, constant for ever and to be present for ever, THE LORD AND THE GOD OF UNIVERSE, ALLAH, AL, THE LA, LIMIT ABSOLUTE 360* H, MOST HIGH OR ABSOLUTE. TRUTH ABSOLUTE IS THE LORD AND THE GOD OF UNIVERSE, neither can be divided, nor can be drawn, having no body nor a formation, but essence of every thing in existence. hindrance to truth absolute is hinduism, denial of truth absolute and way of hindu's, denier's of truth absolute all mighty GOD.

      October 8, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • Niknak

      Most religious people are creepy, but you are at the head of the class.
      Hope I don't work or live anywhere near you as like a Pitt bull, one day you will snap and start killing.
      Bet you have some sick fantasies you creepy fundie.

      October 8, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • hinduMithra ism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

      Thank you for your hinduism, absurdity, typical hindu, denier of truth absolute, hindu, looser. By the way I do not believe in hinduism, corruption of truth absolute. religion's.

      October 8, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
  15. William Brooks

    Wheterh one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, whether one believes, in many gods or none, there isn't anyone who doesn't appreciate kindness and compassion. Stop the hate, even if you have to make love your "religion." Focus not on the word religion, cult, or sect, but on the lifestyle and appreciate those that practice kindness and compassion regardless of your walk in life. Enjoy "our" journey together.

    October 8, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  16. guildsbounty

    Don't you just love fallacies of composition and ad hominem, not to mention arguments from ignorance and Reductio ad Hitlerum? If you are trying to argue a point, please use functional logic.

    I definitely see the point that the author of this is trying to get across, however I feel that the largest conflicts that occur against secularism is when the government supports or allows something that a particular group views as evil, not just that they are trying to be friendly to all religions or non-religious folk. To use an obvious (and oft argued example) a Secularist government may see no problem with abortion (it's just a lump of tissue, not a fully functional human being) while many Christians (and other folk as well) see abortion as murder. Please don't pick up an argument about abortion here, this comment thread is derailed enough.
    But the point stands...while I recognize that he is saying that Secularism is the way that the government can fully respect the rights of people to believe what they want to believe (from Christianity to Atheism to Pastafarianism), they will always run into trouble when they are attempting to legislate on anything that anyone views as a 'moral' issue. So even if people fully understand the point of secularism, they will still fight against it if it leads to legislature that they believe is immoral.

    October 8, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • Amniculi

      I think what it boils down to is that people need to learn to mind their own damn business. If you don't like abortions, don't get abortions – but don't tell people who have no problem with abortions that they can't. If you want to pray in school, then pray in school – just don't force everyone to practice your form of religious belief. The way I view secularism is that it should be a neutral stance. That doesn't mean you have to be neutral in your beliefs, or lack thereof, you just can't act on them in a public capacity.

      October 8, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      So you support my decision to advocate the withdrawal of federal funds from Planned Parenthood?

      October 8, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • Amniculi

      No. You are advocating that for religious purposes, so they are therefore invalid. Besides, I don't understand why people are so against Planned Parenthood. You say it is because of abortions, but that is a very small amount of what happens there. Planned Parenthood focuses on providing low-cost medical care for women's issues and it provides a wealth of information for smart family planning and safe-se'x education.

      October 8, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I think the point he is making is not that secularism will make everyone happy… but that it is the best option for making the MOST people happy. It is neutral ground. Something that theist view as anti-religious. They see it this way because unless it is Pro-(fill in the blank religion) ..then its persecution with no thought to others believes or non-beliefs. The biggest difference I can see is that secularism offers options, rights and freedoms. This doesn’t mean one must take advantage of these but they are there none the less. That’s where the theist gets their pant!es in a knot. If others don’t live as the theist whishes them to..then somehow you are oppressing the theists religious freedom.

      October 8, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • guildsbounty

      Ah yes, Amniculi. But the issue with that is again the key of morality. As a pro-lifer would put it "Abortion is Murder a child". In their eyes, abortion is no different than murdering a seven year old little girl. It's impossible to just 'mind your own business' in a case like that. Child-killers are generally regarded as the lowest of criminals, even by other criminals. It's much the same in other moral areas. It's nigh on impossible to just stand by when something that you deem 'evil' is happening around you.

      October 8, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • Amniculi

      That's fine. Let them protest abortion all they want. They cannot, however, ask that their morality define public policy.

      October 8, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • Dark Forest

      Ah, yes. Amniculi made a very good point, but we have to draw the line somewhere. Yes, we should not tell others that their religion is evil and they should stop participating in it. Yes, if you are against abortions, then don't get one and mind your own business. However, if you are against homicide, should we just say don't commit homicide and mind your own business? I think not! It's all about where we draw the line between opinion and "moral absolutes" (I use that term cautiously because when you really think about there is no such thing as a moral absolute... But that is also a matter of opinion, HAHA).

      October 8, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • guildsbounty

      You are contradicting yourself. It is 'okay' for them to protest, but not to ask that the law be changed? Isn't demanding change the very purpose of protesting? What is the purpose if not? Just imagine the reaction you would get if you walked up to someone protesting against a business for not paying them enough and said "It's fine that you are protesting, we don't mind. But you aren't allowed to let your belief that you are underpaid influence company policy."
      Doesn't make sense, does it? So which is it? Can they protest against something that they view as a crime on par with murder in the hopes of changing the laws about it or not?

      October 8, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Abortion is a poor example for your point. It’s already been proven by scientific fact and law that early term abortion is not murder. Late term could be argued and is illegal is most states. look up the term murder if you need to brush up on the actually definition and not your opinion of what it means. Then again.. well all know that science and education in general are just tools of the devil…right?

      October 8, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Amniculi

      The deciding question should be on the order of "Can society function with/without this?" Secondary to that should be "Will our society be improved with/without this?" Society cannot function if you are allowed to kill anyone you please. Society cannot function if you are allowed to steal whatever you please. People have known this since the beginning of human history and it didn't take religion to figure it out.

      October 8, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Amniculi

      @guilds – I don't see that I have contradicted myself. They should be allowed to protest and have their opinion known. That does not mean that the law should be changed because of their opinion. In my previous comment I should have said "expect" rather than "ask".

      October 8, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • Amniculi

      @Dark – I could say that the sky is red and claim that I have all the personal evidence I want – doesn't make it true.

      October 8, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Amniculi

      Oops, wrong spot.

      October 8, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Under what mechanism then should the law be required to change? In secular society, I suppose the majority rules right? Whatever the most people agree on is considered the common good. What if that common good is demonstrably nothing more than self aggrandizement at the expense of say future generations (stimulus debt anyone?). In the absence of majority rules do we "elect" a strong personality with the "vision" to choose what's best for us all? I maintain that the church provides an indispensable function as the voice of reason against the tyranny of either the mob or the elite.

      October 8, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • guildsbounty

      And you are completely missing the point of this. The point is not whether or not some scientists have declared that early term abortion isn't murder, the point is that other people believe that it is murder (see: their beliefs on the fact that life is dictated by presence of a soul, rather than presence of a pulse/brain activity). This applies to any policy that has a 'moral' application to it, I picked abortion because it is a famously controversial topic in this region of public policy. The issue is simply this. Everyone has a 'moral compass' of some sort, a belief of what is right and wrong. Whether you derive that from a believed moral absolute, from an internal sense of justice, or from what is 'best for society, everyone has one to some extent. When dealing with an issue that strikes against ones moral compass (for example, Animal Cruelty) people are driven to support what they believe is right. You cannot expect them to not fight for what they believe is right. And there is where, while Secularism may be a solid idea (and perhaps the closest thing to 'fair' that we're going to get) it will never cease to be under attack.

      (Also, I'm terribly amused that you assume my position on the subject as I have not stated it, and jump straight to the generalizations and insults. I'm arguing for logic and coherence here, not any particular side of an argument)

      October 8, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Agreed, the abortion topic is so hot as to send folks off on a tangent (gay marriage is next). You are sticking to the principle which is, if I may surmise, "whatever my values and whatever their source, I have the right to advocate in my own benefit before the law". This would seem to support the preacher's case in terms of advocacy before the state power. The taxation issue should probably be held separate since there are, no doubt issues of double taxation and corporate law involved.

      October 8, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • guildsbounty

      @Bill
      Right, and commenting on the fact that in many 'moral' rulings, there is no 'neutral' ground. In many cases, to chose a position is to take sides. Again, in the abortion issue. If the law dictates that abortion is okay because it isn't murder, they are taking the side of the scientists who say 'early term abortions aren't murder,' and are thus taking the side against those who say 'Yes, it is murder.' This is one of the great challenges facing public policy, and is part of why there is such an outcry against secularism.

      October 8, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Typically we see conservative religious segments of society holding to the "truth" of their religious convictions as handed down through the ages in religious text and tradition while secularists embrace their views as "advancing" the human condition by virtue of intellect and demonstrable science. Religious types fear deviation from what they see as divinely offered morality while secularists decry control by theocracy. It's a very old problem.

      October 8, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • ME II

      I would suggest that secularism is not just the fairest but the only fair way to govern in a multi-religious society. Inevitably, I think, religious mores of different sects/religions will conflict and unless there is "neutral" secular reasoning behind the laws, then neither of the viewpoint will be "fair".
      Additionally, and perhaps what the author is saying, is that in order to have any "real" religious freedom, the laws of the society must meet on the neutral ground(s) of secular reasoning.

      October 8, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
  17. Atheism is key

    HITLER was a catholic you know?

    October 8, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • uh...no.

      Yeah so were a few of our presidents. I don't think it matters so much. You just want to attack religion because its something you dislike. You know that that makes you a bully, right?

      October 8, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • Michael Johnson

      Christians murdered 100,000,000 Native Americans over 500 years.

      October 8, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • Atheism is key

      ALL CHRISTIANS ARE STUPID. HOW CAN YOU BELIEVE IN SOMETHIGN YOU CANT SEE??

      October 8, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • MDAT

      I disagree with religion.It should be kept to yourself.

      October 8, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • Michael Johnson

      I believe today that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator.

      – Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Vol. 1 Chapter 2

      October 8, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      I'm actually going to call poe on Atheism is key.

      October 8, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • Harin

      Michael, there was never that many people of every culture on the entire continent during that time frame.

      October 8, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • Mike

      You can't see gravity, but I'm pretty sure it exists

      October 8, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Amniculi

      The difference is that there is supporting evidence for the existence of gravity. The same can't be said for "God".

      October 8, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • mfk

      Jefferson's own words make it clear that he thought the wall had ALREADY been built and doing just fine at the time. Read him again- "the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & State." What happened 150 years later was that secularist made it higher and thicker and put gun turrets on the corners- aimed outward. I'm pretty confident that Jefferson was aware of regular worship services held in official government building when we wrote that. I'm not advocating that necessarily, but this talk of no wall being erected until the 1960s reflects more about Berkeley's vision of American than the Founding Fathers'

      October 8, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      "You can't see gravity, but I'm pretty sure it exists"

      LOL we see gravity working everyday. Hence evidence of gravity.

      October 8, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • Scott

      uh no: Only ONE of our presidents was Catholic (Kennedy). You might want to learn your history before criticism another poster on similar grounds.

      October 8, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      @ uh...no.
      I agree his comment is rather pointless here. However that doesn’t make him a bully. People like you and that fat reporter use the word bully anytime someone says something you don’t like. You should be ashamed, every time you cry wolf you are lessening the response people will give to REAL bulling.

      October 8, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • Dark Forest

      Evidence for religion/God is personal!

      October 8, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Personal evidence is not evidence at all. Look up the definition if you must.

      October 8, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
  18. Amniculi

    For all you people saying that atheism leads to war and violence, let me ask you this: when was the last time you saw an atheist terrorist? When was the last time an abortion doctor was killed or an abortion clinic blown up in the name of atheism? When was the last time an atheist father "honor killed" his daughter for dating someone outside his faith? When was the last time atheists protested at a service member's funeral because "science hates f'ags"?

    October 8, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • Norm

      Add all those up and youre still not close to the millions and millions that your buddies Mao and Stalin killed.

      October 8, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • MDAT

      Ha.You try and link atheism to psychopaths.Stalin did not kill because of atheism.

      October 8, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • Worried Christian Mother

      Atheist secretly kill everyday. They are the devil's children sent here to torment the faithful.

      October 8, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • rizzo

      Worried Christian Mother, I understand you wash your hands daily. You've got to stop that! You know who else washed their hands daily? Stalin!

      October 8, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • MDAT

      I cannot argue with your stupidity.Christians also kill.remember the crusades?The inquisition?

      October 8, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • Amniculi

      Way to avoid the question(s), Norm. Also, I suggest you brush up on your history. The vast majority of the millions who dies under communism was was due to massive famine brought on by failed political policies. Furthermore, in communist regimes, the ideology becomes the religion, with their "dear leaders" taking the place of gods. You need to look no further than North Korea to see that this is the truth.

      October 8, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • MDAT

      And the devil is not real.

      October 8, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • .o.

      "Atheist secretly kill everyday. They are the devil's children sent here to torment the faithful."

      Uh oh, someone's done woke up Carrie's grandmammy!

      October 8, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • Michael Johnson

      It was Christians who murdered Jews in the Middle Ages.

      October 8, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Amniculi

      Worried, how is it that you even manage to get enough brain cells to rub together to operate a computer? You are a modern miracle of science.

      October 8, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • Cook

      Norm, what about Hong Xiuquan, leader of the Taiping Rebellion. He thought he was Jesus younger brother and lead a fanatical christian cult in China in the mid 19th century in the Taiping Rebellion. The estimated death toll of this Religious nuts rebellion is between 20-100 million dead.

      Or the religious war in Germany between Catholics and protestants known has the 30 years war, which killed 3-11.5 million war, this was a greater loss of life as a percentage of the total population than WW2 was for Germany.

      October 8, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      @Norm
      Nether of your examples k!lled in the name of atheism. Way to add to the stereotype of ignorant theists.

      October 8, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  19. Adnan

    Say: He is Allah, the One and Only! Allah, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not nor is He begotten. And there is none like unto Him.

    October 8, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • Worried Christian Mother

      It's these heathens worshiping their false god and the forsaken atheist that are ruining this country. Behind every murderer ther is an atheist.

      October 8, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      Idiotic Christian Mother, 99.8% of all prisoners beleive in a god. 0.02% are atheist. Which makes you an idiot.

      October 8, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • MDAT

      I am still wondering Why you Christians have no logic.Atheists are not murderers.How about the people like you who bomb clinics?

      October 8, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • Worried Christian Mother

      They can't possibly believe in god if they are criminals. They are atheists just like you!

      October 8, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • MDAT

      Wow.You are rather stupid if you believe that.Hitler was a catholic.

      October 8, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • uh...no.

      "people like you who bomb clinics" uh no if they were like me they wouldn't bomb clinics. These are people with mental disorders...oh wait now you will say no Atheists with mental disorders have never harmed anyone? Please lose the ability to communicate. Thanks.

      October 8, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • MDAT

      All people kill for reasons.But I can say I do not like badmouthing others but saying we are all murderers is wrong.You have to accept that.

      October 8, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • MDAT

      Also people with mental disorders do.But sometimes it is normal people.

      October 8, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • MDAT

      Also,Christians did kill.Don't try and hide that.

      October 8, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      I'm calling poe on worried christian mother.

      October 8, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • truth be trolled

      "It's these heathens worshiping their false god and the forsaken atheist that are ruining this country. "

      I smell a disgruntled ex "Evangelical Fortune Cookie Co. "writer".

      October 8, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • Mike

      Worried Christian Mother, reading your posts I can't tell if your just a weak Forum Troll, or actually an idiot. Can you please elaborate so we can tell whether to laugh at you, or ignore you? Thanks. Signed: probably 80% of the people reading this.

      October 8, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
  20. keyser

    If you think that then you'd better start reading your history. Who do you think blew up the World Trade Center. Do you think it was atheists? I might remind you that Hitler was a Catholic.

    October 8, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • Worried Christian Mother

      For shame. Hilter was a godless man just like those who blew up the world trade center. No one with jesus in their hearts could ever do such things.

      October 8, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • Norm

      A Hitler reference? What are you 12? That would seem to be about the intellectual age of most atheists.

      October 8, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Amniculi

      Worried, I suggest you look up the "No true Scotsman" fallacy.

      October 8, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Norm

      Considering that you actually responded with an ad hominem, I'd say you really have no place to talk about the intellectual age of anybody else.

      October 8, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • Worried Christian Mother

      The only thing I need to look up is the bible....maybe you should try it and learn something true.

      October 8, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • you are a dummy

      Yep I guess all Christians are hitlers and all muslims are terrorists. Idiot.

      October 8, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • MDAT

      If you look in the bible for answers you will not learn.

      October 8, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • Amniculi

      The Bible is just as truthful as Grimm's Fairy-tales...and much less entertaining.

      October 8, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • mama kindless

      That's true, "Amniculi". Gullible's Travels.

      October 8, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      "The only thing I need to look up is the bible....maybe you should try it and learn something true"

      LOL the bible was written by numerous human beings over a long period of time to control people. Then more humans edited the book later on to control more people, convert pagans and to gain wealth. Anything written and manipulated by man needs to be taken with several grain of salt.

      October 8, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Including the Johnson Law?

      October 8, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.