Friday, December 07, 2007

In the public square

As the NYT editorial on the subject pointed out this morning:

The other myth permeating the debate over religion is that it is a dispute between those who believe religion has a place in public life and those who advocate, as Mr. Romney put it, “the elimination of religion from the public square.” That same nonsense is trotted out every time a court rules that the Ten Commandments may not be displayed in a government building.

Is it true, that religion has been eliminated from the public square or that there are people who want to eliminate it from the public square? What is the "public square" and what is religion's role in it?

This got me to thinking about all the hand-wringing that has surrounded the recent release of best-sellers from a spate of New Atheist writers (Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens) and the occasional presence of the same on the teevee and in press. The New Atheists are portrayed as particularly angry and why after all are these people trashing religion anyway?

But haven't Harris et al been doing what the New Calvinists say they want? They're putting religious belief front and center in the "public square".

Religionists claim they want their faith, and even faiths they profess not to adhere to, to have a place in the "public square", put on display so that...I don't know. So that people of faith will feel secure? So people will be united (even while excluding those of minority faiths or no faith at all)?

Being in the public square necessarily entails having your ideas the subject of discussion, challenge and debate. But by their shreaks of fear and vitriol, the Christianist religionists are giving ample evidence that they really don't want their faiths challenged or subject to discussion and debate.

Too bad. You want the public square? You got the public square. For better or worse.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hittchens is wrong about Iraq but right on about Romney's speech.

Me likey Christopher H.

Funny how in the US those that proclaim the most religiousity are actually those that would be "least religious" in the eyes of their so called god. Those nasty so-called pious evangelicals in Republican party are more likely to :

-be racist
-like bombing (look at M. Romney for this)
-be nativist
-like guns
-hate social programs
-hate gays
-hate intellectuals
-hate city folk
-talk in stupid 2nd grade level cliches about freedom and religion.

Note that, there is a race twist/element here in US context. Seems like highly religious black leaders - ie. black southern baptist side with the progressives, so they tend to
question:
-war
-guns

and they like social welfare state... generally speaking (oh yea, i bet black southern baptists read more too).