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Aug 08 2013

The best kind of America there is

This is what we should be fighting for in the next election.

I’m going to be staffing the DFL booth at the Stevens County Fair tonight. I think one of our problems as a country is that I fear even our more liberal political party would be uncomfortable with spreading that particular message…but hey, maybe they’ll surprise me, someday.

17 comments

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  1. 1
    anchor

    good stuff

    Its there somewhere…

  2. 2
    Sastra

    Excellent video.

    One small nitpick, though, regarding equivocation. From what I can tell some of the speakers use the term “secular” to mean “non-religious” or “atheist” — and some of the speakers use the term “secular” to indicate a position on church/state separation. So which is it?

    This ambiguity is a problem in the wider culture, too. If “secular America” contains many religious people who don’t want anyone’s personal beliefs about God to influence politics (including their own), then we simply have to stop using the word “secular” to indicate that somebody isn’t religious. Pick a horse and ride it.

  3. 3
    fulcrumx

    My shields go to full alert every time I hear the words ‘believe in.’

  4. 4
    Bicarbonate is back

    WOW ! I’ll contribute to that campaign !

  5. 5
    anchor

    Sastra: that’s a good point. Eons ago when I first encountered the word ‘secular’ as a youngster, it came from a religious source and I had regarded as a religious term for a long time thereafter. It seemed to be yet another example of how religion dictated to society. Despite its increasingly common usage, I’ve never gotten comfortable with it to this day.

  6. 6
    boskerbonzer

    Sastra – I’m not seeing why there would ever be a problem using the term secular to describe either a personal stance or to describe the practice of governing without religious interference. The definition of secular is something along the lines of simply ‘not religious,’ or something or someone not influenced by any particular religion.

    The only problem I can think of is if religious people in general equate secular with atheist, then they start getting hysterical if you talk about secular government; but that’s more a problem of their ignorance, not a real problem with the term itself.

    Anyway, great video.

  7. 7
    John Horstman

    I fear even our more liberal political party would be uncomfortable with spreading that particular message…but hey, maybe they’ll surprise me, someday.

    It’s not likely to be any day soon. :-(

  8. 8
    Sastra

    boskerbonzer #6 wrote:

    I’m not seeing why there would ever be a problem using the term secular to describe either a personal stance or to describe the practice of governing without religious interference. The definition of secular is something along the lines of simply ‘not religious,’ or something or someone not influenced by any particular religion.

    How would you label a deeply religious, pious person who fervently believes in God — who also just as fervently believes that religious beliefs should stay strictly away from science and politics? That any argument which involves worldly matters should keep to reason and evidence?

    Is this person “secular?” “Religious?” A “secular religious?” What?

    The only problem I can think of is if religious people in general equate secular with atheist, then they start getting hysterical if you talk about secular government; but that’s more a problem of their ignorance, not a real problem with the term itself.

    Yes, technically that’s not a problem with the term, but with how it is used. So how are we using it?

    I don’t think it’s fair to blame the religious for misinterpreting the word if we can’t even get our act together on a video designed to promote ‘secularism.’

    “…include all our soldiers — secular and religious.”

  9. 9
    boskerbonzer

    Sastra @ #8 (sorry, I haven’t learned the block quote skills yet)

    I’m approaching this from a different perspective I think. I’m kind of hung up on just using secular to mean ‘not associated with religion.’ So, on a personal level the religious person would be religious, full stop. Their political and social views would favor secularism. I assume we all know people who fit this description.

    “…include all our soldiers — secular and religious.” Again, I don’t see a problem with this. To me it reads, ‘include all our soldiers — those who are non-religious and those who are religious.’

  10. 10
    rq

    That was a lot of men. And a few women.
    Great message, though!

  11. 11
    Bicarbonate is back

    It’s true that “include all our soldiers — secular and religious” is VERY confusing. Here in France “secular” (laïque or laïc) means “outside of religion”. So, if you have the separation of church and state, then the state is by definition secular. Secular is everything that has nothing to do with religion like, for instance, paving a road, taking an airplane, walking your dog… these are dumb examples I admit. When you call a person “secular” in French it means they are not a member of the clergy.

    Here’s what Dictionary.com says :

    Secular, adjective
    1.
    of or pertaining to worldly things or to things that are not regarded as religious, spiritual, or sacred; temporal: secular interests.
    2.
    not pertaining to or connected with religion (opposed to sacred ): secular music.
    3.
    (of education, a school, etc.) concerned with nonreligious subjects.
    4.
    (of members of the clergy) not belonging to a religious order; not bound by monastic vows (opposed to regular ).
    5.
    occurring or celebrated once in an age or century: the secular games of Rome.

    It would be better, of course, if the word were used consistently and unambiguously in the video. But it’s also true that even if you try to set up standards within an organization or any group of people as to how words should be used, you can’t control how people are going to understand or use those words.

  12. 12
    F [is for failure to emerge]

    I’ve never heard the term “secular” to describe a person, ever. Regarding the above, a person either supports a secular state, or does not.

    But I may be missing the usage in question here, in which case I would suspect an incorrect usage.

    “…include all our soldiers — secular and religious.”

    If that is the example, it’s incorrect usage.

  13. 13
    aidanclark

    I’m totally on board with this – except I can’t help but cringe when people describe themselves as “agnostic”. I mean, who isn’t agnostic? Only fundies, surely? It’s not a useful description of yourself, unless you’re using it in the “I’m exactly 50/50″ sense, and that must be pretty rare.

  14. 14
    Thomas Lawson

    A “secular America” simply means a USA that does not: give money to churches, start every session of Congress with a prayer, discriminate against military service members by calling a lack of faith a “red flag” for mental health issues, or keep ObamaCare (TM) from covering birth control. Right now, it would appear that the US is not a secular nation, although it was originally.

    .

    The only persons that described themselves as secular, were the Secular Jew and Secular Humanist, because there are religious Jews and religious humanists. Replace “secular” with “non-religious” and it clears things up…

    .

    “Non-religious” Government
    “Non-religious” Social Club (like Rotary International)
    “Non-religious” Education
    “Non-religious” American
    “Non-religious” Humanist (to diff. between Unitarian Universalists, Buddhists, Wiccans, etc.)
    “Non-religious” Jew (culturally)
    “Non-religious” Muslim (culturally)
    “Non-religious” Christian (culturally; think Scandinavia and, eventually, the USA)

  15. 15
    cervantes

    Hey PZ, are you gonna cover the Mr. Paul Aints? Secular baseball is a pretty cool concept too. (And do you have anything to do with this?)

  16. 16
    David Marjanović

    My shields go to full alert every time I hear the words ‘believe in.’

    Seconded.

  17. 17
    vaiyt

    A secular country is a good thing, but only at the most trivial level. It prevents certain institutions from abusing their power, and that’s all.

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