After January 6, secularism is the important “rail” – and it is very weak in the US

The exercise of religious freedom – or more precisely, the exercise of freedom Conservative Christians religions – are increasingly assuming the cultural, and even legal, stature of an American inalienable right. In the name of “religious freedom,” district secretary, How many doctors? and Baker openly discriminate against LGBTQ citizens. Our Public Judiciary let’s worshipers gather during a pandemic; Religious devotion, obviously, outweighs the safety of the public.

To understand where this liberal fundamentalism can lead us, we need look no further than the fundamentalists last January and their boundless sense of right to be respected. teacher. Michael Sparks, one of the first to break the Capitol, passion on Facebook: “We’re ready to live through something biblical [sic] Please pray and be ready to defend your country and family. “Jacob Chansley, who is known as QAnon Shaman, conscious a prayer for America’s rebirth – on the floor of the Senate, where the evacuation he and his accomplices had just caused.

On January 6, 2021, a mob of religious extremists, among others, nearly toppled one of the world’s oldest and most stable liberal democracies. There could be any form of liberal exercise comparable in France or Canada or Uruguay or India, or any country with clear constitutional guidelines on the relationship between government and religion. teacher?

RELATED: How Christian nationalism fueled the uprising: A religious history of January 6

The unfortunate example of American exceptionalism has many interpretations. Let me draw your attention to one thing: the weakness of secularism in the United States. “Secularism” is a term so relentlessly maligned by enemies that its meaning is difficult to discern. Having recently written a profile on the subject, I would like to note that political secularism is, at its core, a philosophy of management.

Far from atheism, as its critics allege, the origins of secularism can be traced back to medieval Christian disputes over the expanding power of the pope. During the Protestant Reformation, the terms of the debate changed. The dilemma is no longer about curtailing the power of the church, but instead how a government can stop the unspeakable violence between church. Enlightenment thinkers concluded that religions – the forces that multiply human passions – needed to be governed.

In “A letter regarding tolerance“(1689), John Locke outlines the protocols of secular governance. The state must let its citizens believe whatever they want about the divine (this is called “freedom of conscience”). should never establish, favor, or align with one or more faiths (this is often referred to as “anarchism” or “state neutrality”). It must treat all equally. religions and religious citizenship (I call this the “equality” principle).

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Naturally, a secular state must allow citizens to freely practice their religious beliefs. However, here Locke added an important caveat. The right to exercise freely, he emphasized, not absolute. Free exercise cannot impair or jeopardize the rights of others, or the security of the state.

This location is not controversial and is not original either. That is common sense. 1663 Carolina’s Charter allowed to exercise for free as long as people “do not do anything wise to disturb the peace.” Following a similar grant, North Carolina’s 1776 constitution warned: “Nothing in this document shall be construed to exempt preachers of reasonable or ambitious sermons, from trial and punishment by law.”

Which brings us to the First Amendment, whose related provisions are simply: “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise of religion.” Our constitution fails to acknowledge what was obvious to legislators a century earlier, let alone most subsequent constitutions in secular countries: limit on the exercise of religious freedom.

Why James Madison omitted this obvious provision is beyond my understanding. I simply observed that his omission reduces the managerial function of secularism. It thus leaves American democracy vulnerable to the types of auctions we witnessed last January.

American secularism must confront the bad hand the Constitution has dealt with and draw up a new legal process. Secularists may invoke the “equality” principle mentioned above. For the 14th Amendment to question First Amendment, secularists could argue that unregulated free exercise deprives religious minorities of equal protection under the law.

Latter-day Saints were forbidden to practice bigamy in 1878 Reynolds case. Native Americans’ freedom to eat peyote was denied in the 1990s blacksmith decision. As for the “nones” – those who are not religious – can they even possess the right to exercise freedom?

For right-wing Protestants (and increasingly right-wing Catholics) freestyle exercise is a godsend. Through the Supreme Court, conservative Christian theological prerogatives are poised to shape every aspect of people’s lives on issues from reproductive freedom to education to gun legislation. Free exercise, as practiced today, is a boon for most.

Secularists should manage a more complex discussion of “religious freedom”. Politicians and lazy intellectuals alike describe the public display of faith as exponentially beneficial to the public relationship. Prayer circles at football matches, candidates making “God Speaks” on the campaign trail, Latin signs of the cross on federal property – all were supposed to make their nation we become stronger.

Perhaps, but the January uprising reminds us of a baffling secular intuition: Religious passion has a dark side, an upheaval that only the state can contain. Much is made of the condition of our democracy’s “handrails”; It is time to recognize secularism in action again as an important safeguard against what happened last January 6.

Read more about the status quo of America’s religious wars: After January 6, secularism is the important “rail” – and it is very weak in the US

Huynh Nguyen

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