From the news desk comes this remarkable story about 300,000 Turks rallying in that country in favor of secularism, in opposition to Islamist elements in the government who want to undo all the work of Ataturk and drag Turkey kicking and screaming back into medievalism. Three hundred thousand! About the only thing you can get Americans to do in those numbers are watch American Idol, or attend a megachurch.
Turkey is a borderline case. Its government is ostensibly secular, and yet radicalized religion is becoming more and more prominent. Turkey ranks as the only country to score lower than America when it comes to acceptance of evolution. Not long ago there was the disgraceful news that three employees of a Christian publishing company had been tied up and murdered by Islamists who didn’t want them in the neighborhood. My gift for stating the obvious reminds me that people killing other people over differences in belief in an imaginary being is not a recipe for a healthy society.
The citizens of Turkey are getting fed up, and are fighting back. In the words of one brave woman, “We don’t want a covered woman in Ataturk’s presidential palace. We want civilized, modern people there.” It’s a quote she’d doubtless be imprisoned or killed for if the country’s Islamist Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul ascends to the presidency. And unlike guys like Donald Wildmon or James Dobson in this country, the Turks seem to have twigged to the fact that democracy has much stronger ties to secularist societies than theocratic ones.
A rally for secularism. The very notion brings a tear to the eye. Isn’t it high time we had one here? I know a few years back, American Atheists sponsored the surprisingly successful Godless Americans March on Washington, which a contingent of folks from the ACA attended. But while a PAC grew out of that, there really ought to be another follow-up public event, doncha think? With Bush’s poll numbers down around 28, and the rest of the nation slowly waking up to the folly of the war, the corruption of the administration’s most avowedly “moral” members, the demise of the Intelligent Design movement in Dover, and other changes happening in America’s political landscape, a second GAMOW ought to really take off in the way the first one never dreamed of.