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A secular state, the ONLY way to freedom of and freedom from religion

Reader comment on item: Secularism - Will It Survive?

Submitted by Nick (South Africa) (South Africa), Oct 18, 2005 at 07:03

It's quite simple. There are different World views and different religious outlooks, some theistic, some non-theistic; many of these views contradict each other. In any state that purports to encourage diversity of opinion and not enforce one prevailing orthodoxy, separation of theology from the state is the only path, anything else lays the path to medievalism as per the recently deposed Taliban, mediaval Catholicism and present day Saudi Arabia.

In order to avoid conflict, religion or lack of it MUST be a private matter. The state should neither endorse, nor fund, nor favour any creed or indeed lack of creed. This neutral state approach will allow individuals to follow their chosen path; the only requirement being that all should grant this of others; that is to say tolerate anything but intolerance. This will allow all freedom to practice the religion of choice, or if one so chooses to be free from all religions and follow a purely rationalist, materialist World view.

So ironically the path to religious freedom is indeed a fully secular state. This was understood by the US founding fathers. Men who held differing religious views; by no means at all conventionally Christian.

Having a pledge of allegiance (introduced into the US in the 50s), a state sanctioned religion headed by a monarch (Anglicanism in the UK), and invoking a deity on a currency (US), having state funded religious schools (UK), having folks attempting to push a religious agendas into science classes (a trend in the US) all run contrary to this. The path to less conflict and religious freedom is indeed complete secularisation of the state.

Granting state sanction, special privileges or exemptions on the basis of lobbying by religious groupings may win some short term stability and peace but will ultimately on balance lead to increased polarisation, and conflict not less.
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