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Old 01-02-2009, 08:22 PM   #16
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It is an ironic twist that for all the care that the framers took in having a religiously non-interventionist state, a genuinely enlightened concept, it has created some of the most unflinchingly religious movements in the western world (the sorts of sectarian morons who would persecute Muslims, Jews and Catholics); I still see a culturally religious society as better than a nominally religious state (although a strong secular culture of free inquiry and a secular state would be better still).
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Old 01-02-2009, 08:35 PM   #17
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It's pretty low on the scale of issues, but these arguments do a good job of raising awareness; when various groups make a grab for unwarranted influence of religion in government they justify it on the basis of cultural artifacts that hang around, even though lawsuits like this inevitably fail they let people know that it is a secular country with a diversity of opinion.
Yes, but you can't just wipe a culture clean of its history. It's there for better or worse. I'm all for the secular society, and in fact, I think people should be taught history in far greater scope than they are right now.

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As far as kids being made to pray in schools I fail to see how that isn't an important issue, in an Australian context it is evangelism and it is state sponsored.
No, I was referring there to the stereotypical religious right type of figure who would die in a ditch trying to achieve such an aim.

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When it comes to atheists being militant or fundamentalist (you know, the ones that don't believe in God 7 days a week), that equivalence with religious zealots is usually unjustified. I do get uncomfortable with people who drop God and treat materialism like a religion without thinking about the issues and implications, and I am well aware of the dangers that may be present in a Godless society. But when it comes to a secular state, which guarantees a freedom of choice and doesn't persecute any religions I think even the most rabid belief hating atheist would be promoting a good cause.
Sure, mostly agreed there. It's the get-god-out-of-everything mentality I have a problem with, because to me it speaks of a lack of critical thinking. Leaving aside the issue that many people do believe in a Christian God, even if one doesn't, a secular western society like ours has a history stretching back to medieval Christendom. For better or for worse we have evolved, if you like, out of that past.

I'm not articulating this very well, but.

The kind of symbolic gesture that a secularist should worry about, in my view, is the 'I'm ruling/going to war/whatever and God wants this'. That 'God Bless the Manifest Destiny of America' crap. Frankly, Obama is apparently a Christian. If he wants to say so help me God, then I haven't the slightest objection to that. Since in the context, he's speaking for himself, really, isn't he? As a human being occuping a certain office.

Here's my final attempt to articulate this right: the occasional nod to God in a society which genuinely held no religious belief (some hypothetical future nation of America perhaps) would of course be ridiculous. But that simply isn't the case in the present time.
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Old 01-02-2009, 08:41 PM   #18
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Newdow told CNN that he didn't name President-elect Barack Obama in the suit because in addition to participating as a government official at the ceremony, he possesses rights as an individual that allow him to express religious beliefs.
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If Obama wants to mention God during his inauguration, then that's his decision. Its his inauguration, not the atheists.
This lawsuit doesn't seek to prevent Obama from saying anything.
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Old 01-02-2009, 08:44 PM   #19
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No its perfectly true, if we ignored the bible it would undermine huge areas of scholarship; although this can be done without adopting supernatural claims.

The concept of a secular religious curriculum in schools is an idea that gets kicked around by different groups that I would be happy with.
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Old 01-02-2009, 08:55 PM   #20
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If I understand this right it's the Chief Justice who is tacking on the "so help me God" part of the oath, otherwise based on the article Newdow and company would have no problem with Obama arbitrarily tacking on whatever he wanted to say besides the oath.

Aaccording to Wikipedia strong records only exist since FDR suggesting that "so help me God" was added to the oath of office. The original oath as in the Constitution makes no mention of "so help me God". Much like "under God" to the Pledge, it sounds like religious types are arbitrarily adding God references then acting like their additions are great cultural artifacts that couldn't possibly be changed.
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Old 01-02-2009, 10:31 PM   #21
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Honestly, I don't understand what the big deal is. If a president-elect is a man of faith, the "so help me God" adds emphasis to the oath itself. It shouldn't be a requirement, but it shouldn't be barred from being spoken either.
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Old 01-03-2009, 01:49 AM   #22
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The inauguration ought to represent all Americans, including non-theists, the first amendment guarantees a separation of church and state; having a candidate use the taxpayer funded ceremony to endorse the existence of a God which looks after America could be seen as a violation of that.
By this logic, shouldn't all federal-level politicians be categorically forbidden from making any allusion whatsoever to their religious beliefs (or lack thereof) in anything but a strictly private context? Because their very position is by nature 'taxpayer funded' and 'representative of all Americans.'
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Old 01-03-2009, 09:28 AM   #23
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Oh my goodness, I am so offended....they said a prayer. Give me a fing break.
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Old 01-03-2009, 09:41 AM   #24
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By this logic, shouldn't all federal-level politicians be categorically forbidden from making any allusion whatsoever to their religious beliefs (or lack thereof) in anything but a strictly private context? Because their very position is by nature 'taxpayer funded' and 'representative of all Americans.'
I ought to clarify that point better, I think it is reasonable to allow politicians to make allusions to God and their religious convictions, and to vote for on issues on the basis of those convictions.

It is fine for a Catholic politician to put forth an anti-abortion bill, and vote in favour because of her religious beliefs, but the proposition should be justified in secular terms.
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Old 01-03-2009, 06:42 PM   #25
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you can't just wipe a culture clean of its history. It's there for better or worse. I'm all for the secular society, and in fact, I think people should be taught history in far greater scope than they are right now.

It's the get-god-out-of-everything mentality I have a problem with, because to me it speaks of a lack of critical thinking. Leaving aside the issue that many people do believe in a Christian God, even if one doesn't, a secular western society like ours has a history stretching back to medieval Christendom. For better or for worse we have evolved, if you like, out of that past.

I'm not articulating this very well, but.

The kind of symbolic gesture that a secularist should worry about, in my view, is the 'I'm ruling/going to war/whatever and God wants this'. That 'God Bless the Manifest Destiny of America' crap. Frankly, Obama is apparently a Christian. If he wants to say so help me God, then I haven't the slightest objection to that. Since in the context, he's speaking for himself, really, isn't he? As a human being occuping a certain office.
You are articulating fine as far as I'm concerned, I (as a secularist) pretty much agree with your whole sentiment. I was secular even when I was religious but your statement about 'lacking' critical thinking is spot on. We have to account for our own cultures in some fashion.

I would add though, I did have a problem placing a Ten Commandments monument on State grounds. I am fine with Obama doing what he is doing, for the reasons you state but I also have to say there is certainly a difference between an indvidual's personal wishes and the State effectively signing off on something.

Let the individuals running the 'State' mouth off about God all they want (short of endorsing a war or someting on such grounds) but when it comes to State matters (not individuals but establishment) just keep it secular.

I don't have a problem with a nativity scene either. The Ten Commandments (which are for better or worse, religious laws) have no place on State grounds.

SO yeah, like you say, you've got to apply some critical thinking here. Right or wrong, I don't think we should categorically ban God from anything and everything, just where it matters.

Fight the fights that need to be fought, secular folk.
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Old 01-03-2009, 07:33 PM   #26
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The real point I was getting at is that atheists of the kind described in the original news story (which is yer usual holiday season beatup probably, but whatever), need to learn to distinguish between the kind of stuff that really does constitute a melding of religion and state, and the kind of stuff that is harmless, and frankly quite par for the course, given the history of our current culture.

Admittedly I'm trying to be broadminded here - like Awanderer I am Australian, and what I see of American politics is actually far more overtly religious in flavour than I'm comfortable with... but that is more encoded in the language of US rhetoric than in the legalistic structure of the state. So.

And I wonder if there is a bit of misunderstanding of terms in this thread, generally. A secular society is not a synonym for an agnostic society (in the sense of all the people living within a culture), it merely denotes a firm separation between the exercise of state power, and the practise of religious belief. If anything it is there for the benefit of religion as well as state - the genuine theocratic state hurts religion as much as it hurts politics.

People like them (whoops, the aforementioned protagonists), and the peta people who think their fucking hobbyhorse trumps everything else, and yes, the fruitloops who spend their days trying to get the Ten Commandments erected on some fucking stone tablet in front of a courthouse... all of them give me the royal shits.
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Old 01-03-2009, 09:08 PM   #27
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^ great post
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Old 01-03-2009, 10:35 PM   #28
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I don't care if Obama mentions God (or any religious being) in his speeches, but I don't have a problem with religious language being removed from oaths and such.
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Old 01-03-2009, 11:21 PM   #29
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I don't care what is said.

Side note. I have always found it very interesting that in court you need to swear on a bible to tell the whole true and nothing but the true so help you god. Is this a real thing people do, or just something in the movies/t.v? (I've never been to court) I just find that for all the people who don't believe in the bible, from atheists to Muslims/Hindu/Buddhism what does that mean? That i can totally lie because god is a figment of an imagination and who gives a shit because he ain't going to do anything since he's not real? What do they do for people who DON'T believe in god?
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Old 01-04-2009, 09:49 AM   #30
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I believe you just raise your right hand for the oath. I've never seen anyone swear on a Bible and did not have to so I assume that is outdated.
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