From the Mailbox “Church and State”

Posted by on January 26, 2011 in From The Mailbox | 1 comment

This was a question sent to me via my mailbox. If you have any suggestions, questions or comments, you can leave your own here.

Blamer asks: What would be your message for Australians who self-identify as religious and are unaware or unconvinced of the desirability of secularism and church/state separation?

Ooh that’s a tough one. How long have you got?

It would be tough to convince a religious person that religion shouldn’t be part of every facet of life for everyone. That’s part
Of the point of religions, to get everyone on board so they encounter less resistance from the people to have their point of view, and the wants of the Church or Mosque in public life. With less resistance comes easier control over people. But that’s not really the point is it?

The fact is that many of the ideas of religion, when foisted upon the unwilling can be harmful or even fatal to them. This is not the kind of world that is beneficial to people, or the planet. Control over thoughts, women’s bodies, personal decisions, sexual orientation etc. are just the beginning. When we factor in the fact that religious people are convinced that what they want is right, we have a bigger problem again.

We see in Australia a tendency for governments to pander to the wishes of the Christian groups, simply because politics will go after whatever votes they can, and the Christian groups seem to hold a fair bit of sway over the constituencies here. We also recently had a leader and opposition leader whose decisions and choices were based upon “Christian morality” whatever that is. Even with an atheist leader, the decisions still seem to pander to this morality. And while we see an ever increasing number of atheists and secularists appearing from the woodwork, religiosity is actually on the rise worldwide, so no matter what happens, they aren’t going away any time soon.

For politics to do its job properly it needs to be free from personal bias. Unfortunately for the religious, every aspect of their lives has some form of personal bias in it. Biased decisions only help those for whom the bias is held, and while 25% of Australians freely admit to “no religion”, the rest seem to hold on to their beliefs, be it Christian, Muslim or otherwise.

So what could I say to convince someone that church and state must be separated? Well, I’m not really sure that there is anything I could say to convince someone of something other than that which they already strongly believe. I guess we could try and convince people that secularity doesn’t threaten an individual’s rights to worship, or that secularity is desirable for all people because it looks at society’s wants, needs and ills independent of the dogma set up by the churches. I’m not convinced that any religious person who believes that God is the guiding hand would stand for this though.

For me though, the single most important thing to try to convince a religious person of is secular education. If we were to educate the children secularly, with information of religion as a part of human history (all religions) then I think the blinkers of religion would fall by the wayside eventually as children make their own decisions based on the facts presented.

I’m not sure I really answered your question, but it has got me thinking there is a full blog piece in here somewhere. What are your thoughts?

Don’t forget, if you want me to answer your question, or have a topic you’d like to see me cover on the blog, send me a message here. And stay tuned for more “From the Mailbox” coming soon to this blog!

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1 Comment

  1. I find Martin’s response to be well argued. This leaves open the question of how to respond to the arguments of those who are totally blinded by their own faith.

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