What does the principle of a secular state mean to you??? - U2 Feedback

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Old 02-10-2004, 08:18 AM   #1
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What does the principle of a secular state mean to you???

We all know a secular state is a state which has a separation of church and government. It personally means to me that my secular government isn't going to base legislation on religious convictions. It also means to me that law- and policymakers aren't going to make specific laws that are made in order to promote or abolish religions or anything affiliated with religion unless this is against other laws (for instance a ceremonial sword which goes against weapon legislation). I also think that being a member of a certain religion shouldn''t grant anyone special rights over people of other religions or athiests/agnostics.

What's your take about a secular state, and maybe even more important that definitions, how do you value it? Do you think it's one of the most important aspects of a 'free' country or do you think you could do without?

Disclaimer; this thread is inspired by and dedicated to the gay-marriage and French head scarf threads but not meant as a place to discuss these particular topics again.
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Old 02-10-2004, 11:15 AM   #2
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The "not promoting religion" principle has turned into the biggest form of censorship in the US. Private individuals are regularly gagged from making expressions of their own faith if done in a public forum (consider graduation speeches as an example).

There is an enormous gap between a government "establishing" a religion (i.e., the Church of England) and what is considered as "promoting" a religion.

A pure secular state does not guarantee the citizens any more liberty than a state that accommodates (not establishes) religion. It merely shifts power to those who reject or limit living by faith.
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Old 02-10-2004, 12:04 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader
The "not promoting religion" principle has turned into the biggest form of censorship in the US. Private individuals are regularly gagged from making expressions of their own faith if done in a public forum (consider graduation speeches as an example).

There is an enormous gap between a government "establishing" a religion (i.e., the Church of England) and what is considered as "promoting" a religion.

A pure secular state does not guarantee the citizens any more liberty than a state that accommodates (not establishes) religion. It merely shifts power to those who reject or limit living by faith.
I see where you are coming from, but I'll have to disagree. I think there's a difference in the individual promoting his or her faith and a government organization. The example of the high school speech to me is more of a result from PC going overboard. In a secular state an individual who's giving a speech at a graduation and isn't representing a government office of any kind should be allowed any freedom to promote their faith, but a government building shouldn't house a symbol of any paticular religion(i.e. the commandments).

How would a shift of power result in a purely secular state? Can you give an example?
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Old 02-10-2004, 12:28 PM   #4
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Oops. Double post. See below.
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Old 02-10-2004, 12:30 PM   #5
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Unfortunately, both cases are considered "promoting". And I agree, religious symbols as a focal point in a government building rapidly approaches an "establishment" of religion (i.e., the Ten Commandment in the center of the rotundra of a state courthouse).

France seems a fairly clear example of a power shift (the headscarfs matter). By adopting a secular government, the power shifts to those who want to keep religion out of the public eye.
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Old 02-10-2004, 12:47 PM   #6
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Re: What does the principle of a secular state mean to you???

Quote:
Originally posted by DrTeeth
It also means to me that law- and policymakers aren't going to make specific laws that are made in order to promote or abolish religions or anything affiliated with religion...
Censorship with regards to private persons like when a student graduates is against my definition of a secular state so does nbcrusaders theory of power shift. for me a secular state means that religion has no place in any goverment, regardless if they want to impose a religion or ban it from the public eye. France would not fit my criteria.

Feel free to add your own definition of a secular state, mine is purely subjective.
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Old 02-10-2004, 01:04 PM   #7
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Originally, the secular state had its raison d'etre as not having a state church. Up until the eighteenth century there was *no* separation of church and state, and there were horrors like torture of alleged heretics and such. Understandably, alot of people wanted to stop this. Well, they completely flipped out during the French Revolution and even changed the names of the months because the old names were allegedly religious in some way. There's something inherent in human nature to go to extremes, and that's what has happened in France. They've pushed the secular thing too hard. There is a difference between not torturing "heretics" (under France's "ancien regime", the monarchy, these could be Protestants) and banning Islamic headscarves, Jewish skullcaps and "large" Christian crosses. Another example of a strictly secular state is Turkey. They've overthrown some governments that were judged by the highest court in Turkey to be too Islamicist, the latest incident of this was a coup in 1998. This was originally done in the 1920's to abolish the sharia, Islamic religious law. They thought they had to do this to extend religious freedom to non-Moslems and establish equal rights for women. There is a huge controversy over the wearing of headscarves to government functions, and other issues that concern public expression of religion. These controversies are not going to go away. Generally, secularists are people who don't want religious mandates in their lives. This is fine, but they have a problem respecting people who *choose* to live by religious mandate. That's my problem with a completely secular state--it's too repressive.
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Old 02-10-2004, 01:12 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader


France seems a fairly clear example of a power shift (the headscarfs matter). By adopting a secular government, the power shifts to those who want to keep religion out of the public eye.
Yeah, see this wouldn't happen in my definition of a secular state.
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Old 02-11-2004, 02:18 AM   #9
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Give unto God that which belongs to God, and give unto Caesar that which belongs to Caesar.

In other words, anyone who thinks his piety gets my vote can go jump in the lake. I'm surprised more small-government conservatives don't follow this tack, as religious faith is surely one of the most private and personal spheres of life.
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Old 02-11-2004, 03:16 AM   #10
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i agree with kieran.

i think the church fails when it tries to push legislation... if the church could have more influence on the people around them (business community people, neighbors, etc. etc.), a lot of social/moral issues wouldn't become a problem. Playing a part of the political struggle won't do much, except to divide.
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Old 02-11-2004, 05:31 AM   #11
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Interesting question which is thus poised in this thread. I am quite new to all of this banter in regards to the 'secular state' debate, I guess living in Australia, a country where once you get out of the major cities, religion in all of its diverse colours is not easily visible. Also I guess that I have taken for granted (now I hope this is true) that our more recent governments are not dictated to by religion, although at the same time I do know that our present PM is religious and I have to wonder if maybe the whole Tampa and refugee incidents that have happened over recent years, if they could actually be linked to a form of secularism- the your not like us in all facets of your life, so go and spend some time in a detention centre.

I do understand that issues such as these can be extrememly blurred, I would hate to sound ethnocentric, personally I probably wouldnt understand what it would be like to live in Saudi Arabia- their way of life is not in keeping with what I believe and am used too, but am I right and they are wrong???? who knows!!!

I'm not a religious person and I would like to think that at least in my country, which is supposed to be a democracy and a multicultural society, that decisions by our parlimentarians are not being made under the rule of thumb of what I believe to be archaic doctrines. I could go on here, but I really do think that it is all too subjective and where does one draw the line, without ones society ending up like an almost totalitarian regieme devoid of culture, faith etc, etc...... blah, I'm stopping now



oh and on a side note, Kieren Mc, I am sure that you are from Toowoomba so if you dont mind me asking who did you vote for in the election, I'm just curious. For anyone who knows a bit about me, well you dont have to be too smart to know how I went- Greens 1, Labor 2 and the Libs 3
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Old 02-12-2004, 06:22 AM   #12
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Hello Oz Aurora. You have a good memory. Well, I voted for the limited choice on offer... 1 to the National Party (I am no fan of them and they do not deserve government, however a solid oppposition is important, also the sitting Nats member is, like most on the Darling Downs, comfortably ensconced), 2 to the ALP (an 18 year old kid) and 3 to One Nation.
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Old 02-12-2004, 06:25 AM   #13
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I can't say it enough, Australia is the secular state par excellence. Apart from a few rightwing cranks and (yes, ok) a handful of ethnic cranks, religion is not a force to tear this society asunder. At least, I thought so until Tampa... mostly I still do think so.
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Old 02-12-2004, 06:36 AM   #14
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Also, I'm far from anti-religion... I actually believe that any church with a mission in this world should pursue its mission. But it should NEVER expect, in a secular society, to dictate the agenda.

It's not about banning religion (or pretending that elected politicians do not carry their own God-inspired view of the world, which I would not pretend for a second). God is in the picture, there is no doubt.

But a secular society is one that is protected from the worst excesses of god-mongering. Yes, you are free to practice your religion (DON"T compare it to the USSR), but society is also free from all the little quirks, enshrined in law, that so upset us about some of the more repressive 'Muslim' nations. Gay marriage ban, anyone? In a secular society, I can say quite comfortably, 'I am a Christian, but this is not a Christian country... it is a human country with many blessings and faults, and - let's just admit it - many gods. And unless anyone does me harm, that is just fine.''
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Old 02-12-2004, 06:37 AM   #15
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Been meaning (not really) to start a thread on Latham Vs Johnny...asking what you all thought. Its only going to get more interesting watching Latham dig himself into a very large hole, and likewise to watch Howard not treat him as a suitable opponent, which I really dont think he is but then Howard is due to be put out to pasture anyway.

/sidetracking
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