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But atheists can be secularists

Jacques Berlinerblau just really dislikes atheists. I don’t know how else to account for this bizarre article in which he announces that Secularists are not atheists. Oh, yeah, I say? We know. I’m a big fan of Americans United…and I know full well that it is not an atheist organization. I also know that the history of church-state separation in the US, and that it was driven not by atheists (who were nearly nonexistent until the last century), but by diverse religious interests.

So why is Berlinerblau complaining? Because of two factors: fundamentalist Christians who want to make secularism synonymous with atheism to demonize the cause, and because atheist organizations have risen in strength and numbers enough to have built lobbying organizations that fight for secularism. Who is the villain Berlinerblau will chastise? Guess what: it’s not the Christian fanatics who abuse the term. It’s atheists who dare to speak up in support of secularism.

American secularism has lost control of its identity and image. That’s because the equation secularism = atheism is rapidly gaining market share. It is increasingly employed in popular usage, political analysis, and even scholarly discourse. This formula is muscling out an infinitely more accurate understanding of secularism as a political philosophy about how the state should relate to organized religion. If this association prevails, if secularism simply becomes a synonym for atheism, then secularism in the United States will go out of business.

Which is fine by the Revivalists and which may account for why they perpetuate this confusion. In these circles secularism has become another word for godlessness. As one journalist perceptively observes, “secular” is a “code in conservative Christian circles for ‘atheist’ or even ‘God-hating’ . . . conjur[ing], in a fresh way, all the demons Christian conservatives have been fighting for more than 30 years: liberalism, sexual permissiveness, and moral lassitude.”

Not only foes draw this link, but friends as well. The website of the Secular Coalition for America describes the group as “a 501(c)4 advocacy organization whose purpose is to amplify the diverse and growing voice of the nontheistic community in the United States.” This community, it points out, is comprised of “atheists, agnostics, humanists, freethinkers, and other nontheistic Americans.” An affiliated organization, the Secular Student Alliance, refers to its mission as “to organize and empower nonreligious students around the country.”

Right there, he notes the real source of the problem: that it’s the Christian revivalists who have an interest in perpetuating the confusion. But then he begins his elision into finding common cause with Christian fanatics by criticizing atheists for lobbying. You know, atheists have an interest in having a secular (not atheist) government; the SCA and SSA are perfectly reasonable organizations that, like Americans United, fight for less religious interference in government. That they represent atheist interests means…what? That they shouldn’t speak up?

Berlinerblau really needs to get some remedial math and logic. Maybe then he’d understand that “atheists can be secularists too” does not imply that “secularism = atheism”, an equation he uses frequently.

Also, maybe if he’d read beyond the first paragraph of the SCA’s about page, he’d have noticed this:

While the Coalition was created expressly by and for nontheistic Americans, we also enthusiastically welcome the participation of religious individuals who share our view that freedom of conscience must extend to people of all faiths and of none. Accordingly, our staff works in cooperation with a variety of other organizations and coalitions where common ground exists on specific issues, and our e-mail Action Alert system is open to all who visit our site.

Ooops. There goes his whole damn thesis.

But it’s ignored. His real target isn’t the SCA, but the New Atheists, and it’s to his advantage to pretend that the Secular Coalition and all atheists are equivalent to the New Atheists (there is a similarity here to how fundamentalist Christians try to paint all of modern secularism as an atheist plot—you’d think he’d notice, but I don’t think self-awareness is his strong suit).

Yet instead of honing their powers of critique on anti-secular Revivalists, the New Atheists advanced a mixed-martial-arts assault on religion in general. They gleefully (and catastrophically) set about pitting nonbelievers against all believers. They thus included in their onslaught the one constituency in whose hands the future of secularism lies: religious moderates. The New Atheist creed maintains that moderates are just as dangerous and misguided as their extremist co-religionists.

I sort of agree with bits of that. Yes, it’s true: I think faith is a vice, whether it’s practiced by a moderate Christian or a far-right-wing fanatic. It’s not a creed — we don’t have one — and I don’t think it’s catastrophic at all. Atheism is booming right now, concurrent with the rise of clear-thinking, aggressive atheism that questions the premises of all religion. What would be catastrophic is to treat only the symptoms of anti-secularism while allowing the root cause, widespread gullible acceptance of nonsense, to fester.

But you’ll also notice that the New Atheists write books and blogs. They don’t have a political arm lobbying the US government to ban religion, nor do they plan to have one, because that’s not our goal. We don’t plan to legislate religion out of existence, but simply to wake people up and get them thinking, and thereby allow them to leave religion on their own cognizance.

We are completely aware of the difference between secularism and atheism. The only people who seem to be confused and have an interest in blurring the difference are religious fundamentalists and Jacques Berlinerblau. And the other thing those people have in common is a willingness to shade the truth in their zeal.

Comments

  1. says

    It strikes me, perhaps terribly cynically and uncharitably, that there’s just so very, very little political cost to a religious or rabidly accomodationist* secularist dumping on vocal nonbelievers…

    I mean, sure, you slimy bastard. Do please feel free to throw us enthusiastically under the bus whenever you get the twitch in your arm. Hey, you really might as well jump up and say excitedly ‘oh, I’m so not with them!’ on endless loop. What will it cost you, really? I mean, it’s not like we’re going to be able to agitate against secularism to spite you in return.

    (*/Oddly enough, yes, I think the term makes perfect sense. You really can be a fanatical accomodationist. And I should probably put anyone who tries arrogantly to demand unbelievers be continually invisible ‘n silent firmly in that category.)

  2. Sastra says

    There’s some scholarly debate on whether the term “secular” comes from the Latin term “seclorum” (“of the age” or “of this generation”) or the term “secularis” (“worldly,” from ‘seclum’ = ‘world.’) Whatever. But there’s little or no debate among atheists that ‘secular’ has to do with the natural world/universe. Secular ethics are ethics based on the natural world; secular literature is literature based on the natural world; secular politics are politics based on the natural world. It would be as silly for us to say that religious people could not hold a secular political position as to say they couldn’t write anything which makes no reference to God, angels, and supernatural magic.

    They compartmentalize very nicely. They have to, because people of faith do live in the natural world and often want to make ordinary sense.

    As I understand it the word ‘secular’ in Secular Student Alliance is not meant to confine itself to a political or ethical position, but the grander metaphysical position that this world is the only world there is (world not meaning earth, of course, but natural reality.) Same for Secular Coalition for America — though since it IS a political lobbying group I do think Berlinerblau has a bit of a point. Just going by the title alone I would have assumed it consisted of both atheists and non-atheists, like Americans United. But I think it no more harmful than a Christian organization having “Religious” in their title. Yes, we know there are other religions, and the name might therefore be confusing. But it is what it is.

    “They gleefully (and catastrophically) set about pitting nonbelievers against all believers. They thus included in their onslaught the one constituency in whose hands the future of secularism lies: religious moderates. The New Atheist creed maintains that moderates are just as dangerous and misguided as their extremist co-religionists.”

    Here’s an experiment: join a group of religious moderates and don’t let on that you’re an atheist. Blend. Then, when the religious moderates are off by themselves, comfy and cozy and unconcerned about being overheard — ask them what the difference between an atheist and a person of faith is. Why does one believe — and the other doesn’t? How important is belief in God? How important is God? What would change if people who believe in God stopped believing in God? If you did? If God does not exist, what does that mean?

    The odds that this group will treat atheism and atheists as a reasonable view held by reasonable people, fine upstanding sensitive folks who have simply approached a hypothesis with restraint and have thus drawn a more cautious and skeptical conclusion is … well… pretty small, I think. I suspect it will turn out that it really, really IS important to not only believe in God, but be the type of person who is able, willing, and even eager to either believe in God or wish very, very much that they were and did. Not different conclusions — but different kinds of people. Good and bad; saved and damned, enlightened and unenlightened; worthy and worthless.

    This is not going to go away if we atheists just ‘agree to disagree’ and make a lot of comforting mewling noises about respecting people’s faiths and not trying to argue against them. Don’t attack religion. When we do that, it’s like we want other people to become atheists, too. The horror!!! Recognize and respect the fear!

    Bullshit. If they say they only like us when we don’t try to turn them into the kind of people we are, then they don’t really like us. And never will, and never will think inclusively — because faith matters and ultimately selects what and who matters.

    When “changing your mind” is translated into “losing your faith” and having and keeping faith is what defines you not only as you, but as human — then there is nothing “moderate” about the contempt you will have for those poor, pitiful, benighted disgusting empty others with whom you fail to have the most important thing in the universe in common. This will and must translate outside of the church and spill out into the secular world. It’s naive to think otherwise.

    The new atheists want a fair debate; we want to knock religion off its high and mighty perch. It’s the only way to place God back on the ground of being a hypothesis, and keep the religious from maintaining that a higher ground of privilege automatically granted to people of faith.

  3. Q.E.D says

    Really Mr. Berlinerblau? “New” Atheists are the problem for secularism? Let’s revisit an exchange between The Pope and a UK Cabinet Minister during respective official State Visits:

    “Even in our own lifetimes we can recall how Britain and her leaders stood against a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society and denied our common humanity to many, especially the Jews, who were thought unfit to live.

    “As we reflect on the sobering lessons of atheist extremism of the 20th century, let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society and thus a reductive vision of a person and his destiny.[1]”

    Now let’s see what Baroness Warsi, Cabinet Minister, of the British Government said on a return Official visit to the Vatican:

    Baroness Warsi expanded on a speech she gave in Rome on Tuesday, and an article she wrote for The Daily Telegraph, that British society was under threat from a rising tide of “militant secularisation” and that Europe needs to be “more confident in its Christianity”.
    Speaking after her meeting with the Pope, she said: “Secular fundamentalists are saying that people of faith shouldn’t have a voice in the public sphere. I’m saying faith should be one of many voices, it should be part of the debate

    So the “spiritual” leader of 1.2 Billion (estimated) catholics and a Cabinet Minister in the UK government are in warm agreement that religion should have a privileged voice in politics and that atheists and secularists are evil enemies of religion but Mr. Berlinerblau thinks the threat to secularism comes from “new” atheists. Fucking dumbass.

    Berlinerblau is just another throw-atheists-under-the-bus motherfucker.

    [1] OT New Rule: Nobody who was a Hitler Youth then served as a soldier in Hitler’s army get to call anybody else a fucking Nazi. Ever.

  4. A+ Hermit says

    It’ a bit unfair to say he’s blaming the problem on atheists I think; Berlinerblau also says this:

    This is certainly not the fault of atheists, the vast majority of whom are tolerant, self-critical, and moderate in their outlook (that is, secularish). And were a true secular movement to be forged, it should make the eradication of anti-atheist prejudice integral to its platform.

    And I kind of agree with his criticism of Sam Harris; I’ll happily disagree with my progressive, liberal minded Christian relatives about the existence of God but blaming them for abetting religion’s worst excesses makes no more sense then the Stalinist crap that gets thrown at atheists.

  5. Q.E.D says

    A+ Hermit

    and just before your quoted section he says:

    This equation poses a serious public relations problem as well. The atheist movement is not just small, but it is also among the least popular groups in the United States. A survey in 2007 found that respondents viewed nonbelievers more unfavorably than any other cohort they were asked about. This included Muslims, whom the atheists somehow edged out by 18 percentage points. If atheists are perceived to “own” secularism, its approval ratings will plummet even further.

    so like I said, Berlinerblau is a motherfucking throw-atheists- under-the-bus accomodationist, scapegoating, motherfucker.

  6. Sastra says

    A+Hermit #4 wrote:

    I’ll happily disagree with my progressive, liberal minded Christian relatives about the existence of God but blaming them for abetting religion’s worst excesses makes no more sense then the Stalinist crap that gets thrown at atheists.

    Not quite. Your analogy would be more appropriate if atheists endorsed totalitarian states — but only if they are run by a wise, fair, benevolent dictator who always acts according to democratic vote. Someone criticizing atheism would then rightly point out that the office of “totalitarian dictator” doesn’t mandate any such open-minded course of action on the part of an absolute sovereign. If the person espousing such a “wise” form of dictatorship really just wants a free and open society run like a constitutional democracy, then they ought to cut out the whole “absolute dictator” crap and just endorse what they want to endorse. Otherwise, they’re just asking for trouble.

    The problem with progressive, liberal-minded Christians is that their position is similar to that of my hypothetical atheists. “Choose your faith beliefs and follow them, despite what the rational world may believe. You are above this world: God makes special sense only to those who have sought and found Him”

    There is nothing in this virtuous dictate which makes anyone keep it reasonable. So they’re endorsing a system without checks and balances — and then trying to reassure us that it’s okay because THEY put some checks and balances in. Or, rather — even better — GOD put it in. The liberal, progressive stuff comes from God … who can’t be checked on or checked.

    But aren’t we atheists lucky this is the way their faith fell out? So let’s leave well enough alone. It could have been worse: they might have discovered in their faith-search that God wants them to follow a different will — one that is not so liberal and progressive. They might have chosen to believe in a God that was NOT a humanist. But they didn’t! Why is that not enough?

    Method, method, method….

    They’re not directly to blame for the actions of others, no. But I think they are to blame for fostering a respect for a system which can so easily go out of control. It HAS to go out of control. The whole point of religion is that people must believe and do things which no atheist would. This means they’re either going to 1.) go off the rails on what is reasonable or 2.) insist that reasonable things are very un-atheist things. Either way, we’re screwed.

  7. David Marjanović says

    from ‘seclum’ = ‘world.’

    Wait, wait, wait. No.

    Saeculum = era, century.

    Saecularis (m/f), saeculare (n) = adjective thereto.

    Because every saeculum comes to an end, theology came to use these words as opposites of “eternal/eternity”. Of course, that which is holy is eternal, and that which is profane is limited in time = secular.

    The genitive plural of saeculum is saeculorum. That’s on the dollar bill in medieval bad spelling, as novus ordo seclorum, “new order of the ages”.

    Read this post and its 4th comment for an explanation where novus ordo seclorum and e pluribus unum and annuit coeptis come from.

    When “changing your mind” is translated into “losing your faith” and having and keeping faith is what defines you not only as you, but as human — then there is nothing “moderate” about the contempt you will have for those poor, pitiful, benighted disgusting empty others with whom you fail to have the most important thing in the universe in common. This will and must translate outside of the church and spill out into the secular world. It’s naive to think otherwise.

    See also: Fearless Flightsuit staying the course straight into the iceberg and expecting praise for it.

    [1] OT New Rule: Nobody who was a Hitler Youth then served as a soldier in Hitler’s army get to call anybody else a fucking Nazi. Ever.

    Neither of those things were voluntary.

  8. gregpeterson says

    From my review of his new book, on Amazon.com:

    Advocating a sort of atheist accommodation to (moderate) religion that falls somewhere between the appeasement of a Neville Chamberlain and the outright perfidy of a Vidkun Quisling, Berlinerblau seems to think the little boy in “The Emperor’s New Clothes” should have kept his damned mouth shut or risk note being invited to future parades. No atheist should disagree with the well-argued and carefully defined version of secularism Berlinerblau presents in the book. But he goes on to make the case that the so-called “New Atheists” who are more vocal and less willing to give in to religious privilege, are hurting the cause of secularism.

    As PZ points out, that is simply not the case.

  9. dami says

    who were nearly nonexistent until the last century
    I’d amend that to “were nearly invisible”, closeted, and hence powerless, which doesn;t change your argument. I’m pretty sure there were atheists everywhere, long before that.

    # A+ hermit #4:
    the vast majority of whom are tolerant, self-critical, and moderate in their outlook

    Where did I already hear that? Women asking for suffrage, or the right to study, work, and own property were not moderate. Colored people wanting to share buses, schools and drinking fountains were not moderate. Gay people wanting the same rights as everyone else aren’t moderate.

    F*ck moderates, and f*ck Berlinerblau.

    OT: Berliner means of course inhabitant of Berlin, and blau, besides blue, means drunk. I could perhaps find such arguments tolerable in a Kneipe near Alexanderplatz.

  10. Q.E.D says

    slightly OT

    David Marjanovic @8

    Neither of those things were voluntary.

    True and I never claimed they were. In fact, in the past, I have studiously avoided blaming Ratzinger for being conscripted into the Hitler Youh and Military. He was young, I cannot know his mind at the time and there was conscription. Still, I note that he did not refuse on the grounds of conscience (he deserted after the allies invaded Germany, was caught and served time in a POW camp). So maybe not blameworthy but no moral hero either.

    That said, Ratzinger, having lived through Hitler’s Germany, knows full well that something over 90% of people wearing a Nazi uniform were christians. He also knows that the perpetrators of Nazi horrors were christian. He also knows that the vatican signed a Concordat with Hitler. So, given his experience and knowledge, for him to project Nazi ideology onto atheists is a particularly scandalous and mendacious lie which he should be called out on every time.

  11. Sastra says

    David Marjanovic #8 wrote:

    Wait, wait, wait. No.

    Ok; I’m (almost certainly) wrong then. I’ve never taken Latin. I was relying on something I saw and noted several years ago, from a source I no longer remember.

    gregpeterson #9 wrote:

    … Berlinerblau seems to think the little boy in “The Emperor’s New Clothes” should have kept his damned mouth shut or risk note being invited to future parades.

    No, I think Berlinerblau would have thought it okay for the little boy to say the Emperor was naked only if he made it clear that the important thing was that the Emperor wasn’t wearing armor. Doesn’t matter then if you “see” the Emperor wearing kingly robes, an ascot, pajamas, a bathing suit, a clown outfit, or a dress like something on a showgirl in Vegas. As long as it’s not armor, then your special vision counts as correct enough and bully for you.

  12. says

    “Silenced,” a habitual idiot on Salon comments, is repeatedly calling Berlinerblau’s critics in the thread “Lenin” and also left this tiresome assertion:

    And “New Atheist” means someone who casually degrades the humanity of everyone but co-believers.

    With a privileged attitude, of course, because we know that NA’s are white, male and upper middle class.

    Dami, you can say “fuck” here without censoring yourself, you know.

  13. says

    Yes, I think they go hand in hand. If you abandon the doctrines of gods you are denying the supernatural and embracing the natural. Secularism deals with worldly things and not other-worldly things. The absence of supernatural events or evidence maintains that billions of people live secularly until they wish to mumble to themselves without being c

  14. says

    “With a privileged attitude, of course, because we know that NA’s are white, male and upper middle class.”

    Oh no, I’m fading awaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay

    Yeah, atheism as a whole has problems on this shit, but seriously now…

  15. stonyground says

    Baroness Warsi:

    “British society was under threat from a rising tide of “militant secularisation” and that Europe needs to be “more confident in its Christianity”.”

    She then explains what this “threat” actually is and why people of faith should be afraid of it:

    “Secular fundamentalists are saying that people of faith shouldn’t have a voice in the public sphere. I’m saying faith should be one of many voices, it should be part of the debate”

    But this a straw man. The Secularist movement in the UK actually says nothing of the sort. The NSS agrees that People of faith should have just as much right to have their voices heard as anyone else. What the NSS is against is religious people having the privilaged access to the corridors of power that many of them enjoy at present. What the NSS is against is religious people being able to bypass the democratic process, the Bishops in the House of Lords to give one example, and Baroness Warsi to give another.

  16. says

    As the author of both “clips” PZ has quoted from the Secular Coalition website, I can vouch for the fact that the SCA Board and staff went out of their way during the organizing years to build bridges with coalitions and interests inclusive of (and in some cases led by) people of faith with a shared commitment to secular government. We saw a distinction between the missions of SCA member organizations who promoted skeptical inquiry/criticism of religious dogma and the mission of SCA to achieve secular public policy in a pluralistic nation. For what it’s worth, Mr. Berlinerblau’s views on secularism are not new; his writings were discussed by the SCA Board and staff on several occasions.

  17. A+ Hermit says

    But aren’t we atheists lucky this is the way their faith fell out? So let’s leave well enough alone. It could have been worse: they might have discovered in their faith-search that God wants them to follow a different will — one that is not so liberal and progressive. They might have chosen to believe in a God that was NOT a humanist….

    I’m not sure it’s that simple; it seems to me that people are drawn to the kind of religion that reflects their personality; often it’s not so much a case of religion shaping the person as it is the person shaping their religion.

    Gods are human inventions after all so they tend to reflect the qualities of the people who invent them.

    That’s not to say there’s no danger in basing one’s actions on superstition, but the liberal types at least tend to be more prone to admitting they may be wrong. Religion in their case is often more of an art form than an ideology.

  18. says

    So full of fail I got a headache reading PZ’s excerpts. I’m pretty sure I’d have a brain hemorrhage if I read the whole thing.

    if secularism simply becomes a synonym for atheism, then secularism in the United States will go out of business.

    [Citation needed.] Also: secularism is not a business. (Yes I realize it’s a metaphor. It’s a terrible metaphor.)

    In [Revivalist] circles secularism has become another word for godlessness.

    It is godlessness. In government. Why is this hard?

    As one journalist perceptively observes, “secular” is a “code in conservative Christian circles for ‘atheist’ or even ‘God-hating’ . . . conjur[ing], in a fresh way, all the demons Christian conservatives have been fighting for more than 30 years: liberalism, sexual permissiveness, and moral lassitude.”

    That sure is one perceptive journalist. Why anyone concerned with secularism should care how secularism (or atheism) fares in “conservative Christian circles” is best left to another perceptive journalist, I guess.

    Yet instead of honing their powers of critique on anti-secular Revivalists [citation needed], the New Atheists advanced a mixed-martial-arts assault on religion in general [So what?]. They gleefully (and catastrophically) [citation needed] set about pitting nonbelievers against all believers [citation needed]. They thus included in their onslaught the one constituency in whose hands the future of secularism lies: religious moderates [citation needed].

    I haz to go lie down rite nao.

  19. says

    @mary ellensikes:

    For what it’s worth, Mr. Berlinerblau’s views on secularism are not new; his writings were discussed by the SCA Board and staff on several occasions.

    Did he always sound like David Brooks?

  20. michaelpowers says

    To me Secularism was, and is, a tool of good governance and a free people. The wisdom of keeping church and state separate is evidenced by the mistakes of past (and present) theocracies. These mistakes are inevitable. One can be either religious or an atheist, and still be able to recognize the value of being a secular nation. It’s one tool among many that keeps the rights of individuals safe.

    Atheism can’t be legislated, nor should it be. For me, it was a personal decision arrived at by both reason and conscience. If one values simple belief over logic and evidence, then it’s unlikely that they will be swayed by those things. It’s unfortunate and frustrating, but in a free society one has the right to delude one’s self, as long as the delusion doesn’t harm them or those around them, and isn’t forced upon anyone else.

  21. says

    Was anyone else reminded of Geometry when reading through Berlinerblau’s lapse in logic? I remember the concentric circles used to illustrate ideas about the converse, inverse, and contrapositives. I can picture secularists as the big circle, and atheists as the smaller circle contained within, so that a point inside of “atheists” is also within “secularists,” though a point within “secularists” is not necessarily inside of “atheists.”

  22. John Phillips, FCD says

    A+ Hermit, the problem is, that while the moderate at some level might discuss their beliefs, at the end of the day, like the less moderate, they fall back on evidence free faith to bolster their beliefs. Thus, even when they do criticise the less moderate or extremist, it doesn’t hold much weight as both use faith to bolster their belief. The only difference is on which the parts of the bible they cherry pick to support their interpretation. It is this reliance on evidence free faith by both groups that is the reason we say that the moderates are enablers for the extremists.

    Much like we say on other matters, e.g. the person who ignores the sexist, homophobic or racist joke or behaviour, by saying nothing, can be seen by the racist/sexist/homophobe as endorsing their viewpoint. It is also the reason we don’t ignore trolls on here as we don’t want it to appear to lurkers that we, by saying nothing, acquiesce or even agree with their garbage.

  23. says

    In the exceedingly long term, it’s true that people of faith are enablers for the bigger asshats among the religious. But in the short and long term, that opposition to the asshattery is far more useful to me than their support of faith itself is harmful. The latter is part of the deeper root, but it’s only part of it, and some of us rather need the opposition to -isms right now, not in a couple hundred years.

  24. John Phillips, FCD says

    ruteekatreya, ‘in the long term’, like over the last two thousand years :) Note, I have no problem working alongside believers when we have issues in common. Hell, with how some of the asshats in the atheist community have shown their true colours over the last year or so, I would rather have any of my Xian friends manning the barricades with me than any of them. Then again, I am in the UK were the moderate believers are the norm and very many who generally share my social justice values. In fact, apart from not being atheists, many of my Xian friends agree with the stand of A+ on social justice issies.

  25. julietdefarge says

    Not all secularists are atheists, but all atheists (with Very rare exceptions) are secularists.
    If I were a Copt in Egypt, or a Pagan in Alabama, I would certainly be a secularist, because my religious community is too small to dominate, and a wholly religious government would be hazardous to my survival.

  26. mepmep09 says

    [Surprised to see that comments are open almost one month later, so will leave this here (already left in comments at the current ‘Lounge’ post)…]

    FYI/FWIW, for those who follow this sort of thing, I just heard Jacques Berlinerblau, advocate of secularism – BUT NOT ATHEISM, NO-NO-NO! – being interviewed on (Sr.) Maureen Fielder‘s Interfaith Voices radio program (link). PZ discussed this guy last month, and a few others at FTB have as well (also, Berlinerblau wrote a book, natch). During the interview he did devote a few sentences to addressing Gnu Atheism, though with no trace of adoration.