Reflections From A Secular Humanist

Harry Elger

Harry Elger


What Is Religion’s Role in Government?

There are 4,543 words in the Constitution — none of them are Jesus, Bible, God, or Christianity.

America is not a melting pot of Christian denominations. America is not literally or figuratively a Christian nation.

America’s constitutional blueprint is multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious and secular. There is freedom of religion and freedom to be free of religion. There is no moral high ground or privileged position for any particular religious or non-religious beliefs.

Many of the key founding fathers, such as Jefferson, Washington, Madison, Franklin and Monroe were deists, atheists or agnostic. They didn’t necessarily reject Christianity, but many didn’t accept Christian claims of miracles and supernaturalism.

The Constitution’s Establishment Clause, Free Exercise Clause, No Religious Test Clause and supplemental writings outline the separation of Church and State. Christianity has blurred this separation with religious invocations at public events and “In God We Trust” on money (1954, not 1776). Public and government properties have been co-opted with nativity scenes, religious statues, plaques, Bible distributions and Ten Commandment displays. Imposed symbols of Christianity and intrusions into the public square are often unconstitutional. They exclude citizens of other religions and secular citizens.

Religions and ancient scriptures are spectacularly inept and outdated models for making complex, modern-day moral and social policy decisions. The primitive morality in the Bible, Koran, Talmud, etc. have religious literalists twisting themselves into pretzels trying to explain how bad is good, wrong is right, and unprovable claims are objective truths. Ancient scriptures are full of contradictions, violence, cruelty, patriarchy, misogyny, slavery, barbaric immorality and blasphemy persecutions. Religious beliefs often prospered from deception and fear mongering rather than love and universality. Ancient scriptures often lack clarity and consistency. They seem strongly influenced by superstition, mythology, naivety, blind faith and ideological bullying.

According to Episcopal Bishop John Spong, prolific author and Biblical scholar, “The Bible is historically unreliable and factually inaccurate.” In an interview about his 2006 book, “The Sins of the Scriptures,” Bishop Spong said, “The Bible is being used to justify almost any evil you can imagine.” Spong says that hell is an invention of the church and that, “Religion is in the business of producing guilt and control.”

There are hundreds of bizarre scriptural dictates about morality and social policy in the Bible, Koran, Talmud and other “sacred” texts:

“For everyone who curses his father or mother shall surely be put to death.” (Leviticus 20:9)

“I do not permit a woman to teach or assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.” (1Timothy 2:12)

“ . . . you may buy male and female slaves. Moreover you may buy the children . . . .” (Leviticus 25:44-45)

“ . . . if evidences of virginity are not found . . . men of her city shall stone her to death . . . .” (Deuteronomy 22:20-21)

“ . . . slay the idolaters wherever you meet them . . . .” (Koran 9:5)

“Men are the maintainers of women . . . admonish them . . . and beat them . . . .” (Koran 4:34)

“ . . . I will instill terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them.” (Koran 8:12)

“Jews may rob and kill non-Jews.” (Talmud: Sanhedrin76a)

“Non-Jews aren’t humans. They are beasts.” (Talmud: BabaMezia114b)

On Sept. 15, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 172 weakening the enforcement of the Johnson Amendment. This law prohibits tax-exempt churches from endorsing candidates. Should churches involved in partisan politics forfeit their tax-exempt status? Should churches be permitted to financially support candidates, even when lacking the support of all their members?

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