Re: [atheists-27] Secular Values???

From: Mathew G.
Sent on: Friday, September 6, 2013 8:42 AM
We, like the SCA, will criticize any congressional hearing that inappropriately seats clergy or theologians as expert witnesses on secular topics.  We, like the SCA, will criticize any statements by any elected official that cites the bible as evidence for favoring any government policy position.  My argument is that we as a group should consider following the SCA approach of not focusing on the single most important issue, or the top ten most important current issues.  Instead we should specialize in secularism even though these are mostly not the most important issues, mostly not the most glamorous issues, mostly not the most popular current issues.  Criticizing any elected official who does what was done at that hearing or says what was said by this elected official falls entirely within this secular focus that I am advocating we adopt.

On Sep 5, 2013, at 11:53 PM, Don Wharton <[address removed]> wrote:

Martin,
 
Yes this is a truly frightening video.  Bringing the Bible into an area that should only be decided by the science as Shimkus does is quite bizarre.
 
Don

From: Martin <[address removed]>
To: [address removed]
Sent: Thursday, September 5,[masked]:01 PM
Subject: Re: [atheists-27] Secular Values???

Mathew,

It is FAR MORE than just "likely that some global warming denialism is anchored in religious beliefs" as you put it. In fact global warming denialism is a loose unholy-holy alliance between the "carbon industry" and religious fundamentalists. And although most funding is from the former, the impact of the latter is not to be underestimated. For instance, Rep. John Shimkus (Rep, Ill) is an influential majority member of the United States House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and the chairman of it's Subcommittee on Environment and Economy. Watch in horror as he expounds his learned opinion on global warming to that very important committee on March 25, 2009...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5yNZ1U37sE

It is speeches like this that should send a chill down any secularist's back and put global warming firmly on the agenda of any secularist organization.

Martin.

On 09/05/[masked]:24 AM, Mathew Goldstein wrote:
Any policies that cannot be reasonably justified on secular grounds, which would usually include the policy agendas opposed by the NCSE, can be considered non-secular.  It is likely that some global warming denialism is anchored in religious beliefs, although much of the financing behind that movement has been documented to come from wealthy individuals and corporations who work in polluting industries.  Since both the religious right and industry linked opponents of regulations against pollution tend to associate themselves with the same political party they have an incentive to try to share their policy agendas.  Targeting global warming denialism is not what I have in mind, however, and solar panel regulation is a few steps removed from global warming denialism.  Even the NCSE takes no stance on solar panel regulations or the availability of reproduction options.

One of the reasons for keeping the focus on religious privileging by government is that most other policy issues already have a broad constituency with established and well funded advocacy groups, but those constituencies are often not entirely secularist.  So those advocacy groups tend to shy away from advocating against government privileging of religion.  With this particular policy specialization there will be opportunities for coalitions with other groups, but the coalitions will change depending on the particular issue.  For example, when the focus is protecting child health from laws facilitating the practice of faith "healing" by parents on their children then the potential partner groups can include health and child welfare oriented organizations, whereas when the focus is government sponsored discrimination against non-theists then the potential partner groups can include civil rights oriented organizations, etc.

On Sep 4, 2013, at 11:57 PM, Don Wharton <[address removed]> wrote:

This is an excellent list of secular issues.  However, is does raise a great many questions about what is included or should be included.
 
The NCSE has chosen to go after global warming denialism as a central issue.  I agree with them that the deniers on this issue are a major menace to conducting science and should be included on the list of concerns that we share.  My recollection of your problems with NCSE have nothing to do with this issue of science.
 
Solar energy, properly supported, can be the least expensive source of energy.  The installed costs in Germany is about $2 per peak watt.  If we accept the science on global warming a logical conclusion is that we should as a matter of science be very supportive of renewable energy.
 
It seems to me that women's reproductive rights (including access to abortion services) are under relentless attack from the religious right.  This list does not seem to include this as an issue of central importance to them.
 
Obviously, there are many more issues not specified on this list that may or may not be included if we start with science and logic as foundational concerns. 
 
Don
 
 

From: Mathew Goldstein <[address removed]>
To: [address removed]
Sent: Wednesday, September 4,[masked]:53 PM
Subject: Re: [atheists-27] Secular Values???

I favor the agenda of the Secular Coalition of America (SCA) as shown below.  This requires adopting the discipline of keeping the focus exclusively on opposing government privileging of religion.  This means avoiding taking positions on most current issues and as a result this agenda can be adopted by people having opposing political party affiliations.  Topics like free wi-fi, marijuana legalization, solar energy regulation, vegetarianism, and the like would be off of our group agenda.  This is not because those are not important issues, it's because we as a group will commit to promoting secularism.  Here is an outline of some of the issues that such a specialized focus entails:

  • Health and Safety: The health and safety of an individual should not be compromised by the religious beliefs of another person or group. 
  • Education: Children should not be subjected to religious education or exercises in our public schools.
  • Tax Policy: Religious organizations and individuals should not be exempt from the requirements and restrictions of tax policy.
  • Discrimination: Personal religious beliefs do not justify prejudicial actions that violate discrimination laws.
  • Government Actions: The government and officials acting in their government capacity, should not endorse religious beliefs, one religion over another or religion over non-religion.
  • Military: The taxpayer funded U.S. military must serve the beliefs of all service members without privileging one belief over another.
  • International: Even abroad, U.S. government funds, policies, or actions should not endorse religion.

On Sep 4, 2013, at 9:55 PM, Don Wharton <[address removed]> wrote:

I have proposed the following as the broad topic for our discussion group this Friday.
 
A secular world view creates a strong motivation toward the use of science and logical thinking to define the cultural assumptions of our secular group. We do not have the 'word of God' to abort the use of the more effective tools to understand our universe. A good general question is what can we assume to be shared among other secular members of our community by virtue of our shared world view? There is general support for evolution, the science of global warming, standard scientific notions of cosmology, effective sex education in our schools and gay rights to name some of the more obvious. In each of these areas the religious right makes Bible based claims that directly contradict what is scientifically known. As a community, I do not think that atheism is intrinsically left leaning at all. We will vote more with the liberal left just because so much of the right is based on appalling anti-science lunacy.
 
What other values can we assume to be shared in our secular community? While it seems that we have decent general support for feminism in our local community, it is most certainly not unanimous. Religious communities often strongly support not having any children until marriage. Science very much confirms the notion that outcomes for children are better if there are two adults sharing the child rearing. Single parenthood is increasingly accepted in our secular community. Given the conflict with the data from science, should this be the case? What about the broad area labeled social justice?
 
The Atheism+ movement is seen by some as being divisive because it seeks to include values such as feminism. Their reply is that the secular movement is strengthened by expanding the understanding of secularism to include values that we wished to see expressed. We once had a regular member of our Rockville Discussion group who came out against gay marriage. He got a rather ferocious push-back from the rest of the group. Shortly thereafter he ceased to find our meetings to be enjoyable. I have had a number of others assert that we should focus primarily on the criticism of religion because that is what we know we have in common. This leaves us with the question, how do we best nurture our secular community if we have an understanding of our shared values?
Don




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