Secularism And Atheism

While it is not the end of the world if we do not use words about philosophy exactly as someone else does, these two words have some importance in arguments about religion.  I am guilty of not using the words precisely.

One of the funniest things Newt Gingrich said during his bungled campaign for the Presidency was his grandchildren may have to live in a secular, atheist country dominated by Isalam.  How any country could be secular, atheist and Islamic at the same time is beyond me.

Technically, secularism has nothing to do with people either being religious and being not religious.  It is about a government that is not religious.   Thus, the very successful  organization, Americans for the Separation of Church and State, is headed by a minister.  As I recall, it was founded by people who belonged to churches, not atheists.

It seems to be in the interests of some clergy and politicians like Gingrich to confuse people about the definition of secularism.  They do this by mixing it together with atheism, and, even the religion of Islam.

Some atheists mix them together also.  There are unbelievers who do not want religion to be available to anyone.  If this were the case, they say, we would have  a secular country.  It would be more accurate to call it an atheist country, hopefully with a secular government.

Thus, a secular country could be dominated by either religious or not religious people.  The founding fathers seemed to have this in mind.

10 Responses

  1. Mr. J. Lindgren again. Jon since you are a atheists, you must not be a Republican nor a Democrat, therefore you wouldn’t mine helping my write-in candidate for US Senator from ND. I am a freethinker, and don’t have big oil money pulling my strings.

  2. Michael Ross

    Every nation is a theocracy. That is not the question. The question is who or what is your Theo. Is it the state or is it the One true living God. The true founders of Christian America, Pilgrims, Puritans, and others believed in The One true God who revealed Himself in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. They did indeed believe in the separation of church and state, the formal organizations, but both under God and the authority of His Word, the Holy Scriptures. If your theo is the state, you have created an idol. Idols destoy those who worship them:

    They set up kings without my consent; they choose princes without my approval. With their silver and gold they make idols for themselves to their own destruction.(Hosea 8:4)

  3. Doubtful

    Did you change your mind while writing this or did you really misinterpret what Gingrich said? You claim Gingrich said “live in a secular, atheist country dominated by Isalam.” and then you state “How any country could be secular, atheist and Islamic at the same time is beyond me.”. Later you say “Thus, a secular country could be dominated by either religious or not religious people.” so you certainly have come to understand the secular and dominated by Islam parts of the statement. The only thing that remains is atheist. In early Rome Christians were atheists as they did not believe in the Roman gods. If Gingrich meant non-Christian by atheist the statement makes good sense. It could also be that in the heat of speaking he said something he would not have written and you are picking nits.

    1. doubtful 12:43 What I wrote might have been more clear had I said, “Thus, a country with a secular government could be dominated by either s religious or non religious electorate.”

      I have have no doubt Gingrich meant secularism is the same thing as atheism/Islam.

      1. Wanna B Sure

        Perhaps Gingrich should consider the “All hornets are wasps, but not all wasps are hornets”, and apply that to his definition of terms. (for example; yellow jackets and mud daubers.)

        1. Wanna B Sure

          In addition; All wasps are predators. Bees on the other hand are pollinators. All have their purpose, but let’s not confuse them.

  4. Doubtful

    It is interesting that you chose to ignore the point of the article you sited, as he seems to be writing about you.

    “Most atheists, of course, are tolerant to a fault and simply wish for religious folks to reciprocate (and most do). Yet as long as some celebrities of nonbelief continue to espouse radical anti-theism (in the name of “secularism,” no less) the future of secularism is imperiled.”

  5. Wanna B Sure

    The Huffpost article was well written, when one considers the seperation of, (yet the relationship between) church and state. Other terms available are; “The two realms / spheres.” And.. there is the distinction between the sacred and the secular, which includes limitations and responsibilities, for both the institutions and the individual.
    I believe that much of the confusion comes from not seperating the individual from the institutional Church, or religious, non-religious, tradition, (whatever that may be).

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