Michael DeDora - "Inclusive Secularism:A New Approach to Religion and Politics."

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Join us at our October "Freethought Day" meeting where we will be joined by Michael DeDora, executive director at the thinktank Center for Inquiry (CFI) in New York City, for his talk entitled, "Inclusive Secularism: A New Approach to Religion and Politics."

The broader debate over the relationship between religion and politics is a long-standing one in which Americans have reached no consensus. Many religionists see government as the place to pass their beliefs into law. Certain secularists respond that religion is inherently private, and should be kept completely separate from politics. Stronger secularists employ prickly rhetoric to argue that religion is irrational by nature, unfit for political discussion. In response, some moderates complain about the rancor, asking everyone to hold back critique in favor of tolerance. As these disagreements continue, religion persists in substantially impacting social and public policy, and quality discussion is hard to come by. What we need is a common understanding on how to talk about religion’s influence on politics.

In this talk, Michael De Dora will propose an inclusive secularism, a new approach to the relationship between religion and politics that promotes open, maximal, evidence-based discussion focused on moral beliefs and values. Our open, pluralistic, democratic system allows people of all beliefs and values to interact with the public, and interact they will. This means their beliefs and values will shape social and public policy – and us. We must meet this challenge with new rules of reasoning and conversation. People may never have common moral values, but at the least they can have common standards as to how to speak about moral values.

Michael De Dora is executive director at the New York City branch of the secularist thinktank Center for Inquiry. He has a Master's degree in political science from CUNY-Brooklyn College, and a Bachelor's degree in Rhetoric and Communication from SUNY-Albany. De Dora regularly contributes essays on moral and political philosophy to the Center for Inquiry’s blog, Free Thinking, and philosopher Massimo Pigliucci's blog, Rationally Speaking. He was previously a news writer and editor at both FOXNews.com and the City University of New York.

The program is scheduled to start at 7 at the UU Church of Worcester, with doors opening at 6:30 for socializing and conversation. Please watch this page for changes.