Religious fascism or equal rights?

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I’m completely in favour of the separation of Church and State. These two institutions screw us up enough on their own, so both of them together is certain death.” George Carlin.

Why is there so much talk about the separation of Church and State and why do people get so up in arms regarding this topic?

Years ago I promised myself not to get mixed up in politics, and since I am not a religious person, I saw no reason to allow either of the two to rent too much space in my head.

In 1997 the Constitution of the Maldives designated Islam as the official State Religion. This obviously undermines the civil rights of every Maldivian, since the government imposes that every citizen be a Muslim, that non Muslims be precluded from the voting process, foreign residents are prohibited to worship publicly or of discussing any other religion with Maldivian Citizens, the President is required to be a Sunni Muslim and to head the propagation of the Religion of Islam, and one cannot obtain citizenship or run for public office if one is not a Muslim. This state of affairs opens the doors to discrimination, social abuses and possible religious persecution.

Everything makes politics … particularly religion. The freedom to worship as your heart and mind desire, to the labeling of secularization as a Christian heresy, to declaring that if we are not a nation under God that “we will be a nation gone under”, that tsunami’s are caused by allowing other beliefs and practices to exist within the borders of one’s country, when religious institutions use the government in power to support themselves and vice versa, when any of these lead to corruption and the undermining of the rights accorded under a Constitution that guarantees freedom of religion for all, then religion becomes a political matter. As Robert Heinlein wrote, any sect, cult or religion will legislate its creed into law, if it acquires the political power to do so.

As a Naturalist, or Pantheistic Atheist, one who “believes” in the abstract intelligent construct of the All, who does not believe that God is on anybody’s side, that the Divine All is not equipped with personality, likes and dislikes, preferred modes of being worshiped and connected with, as one who rationally sees the fundamentalist threats to all freedoms by certain propositions and hypothesis, I now sit down to write this article.

I believe Clergy should have no right to tell a President how he should act or tell their spiritual flock whom to vote for, or that any politician should be denied the right to be elected, or be labelled as corrupt or evil, because the religious beliefs he holds are not mainstream.

I stand up for a country where the threat or injury to one religion is seen as a threat and injury against all religions, I stand up for freedom of thought and expression, for no distinction being made or favour being given on account of creed or the absence thereof, for a country where the persecution of spiritual minorities does not become the preferred sport of mainstream religion and the scapegoat for the natural circumstances of life.

“Christianity may be good and Satanism evil. Under the Constitution, however, both are neutral. This is an important, but difficult, concept for many law enforcement officers to accept. They are paid to uphold the penal code, not the Ten Commandments … The fact is that far more crime and child abuse has been committed by zealots in the name of God, Jesus and Mohammed than has ever been committed in the name of Satan. Many people don’t like that statement, but few can argue with it.” Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark.

Why would anyone trade Freedom of Religion for the threat of State Religion? Can we not see that although persecution is not openly written into any religion, it becomes a recognized feature of all religions which are established by law?

“When the government puts its imprimatur on a particular religion it conveys a message of exclusion to all those who do not adhere to the favoured beliefs. A government cannot be premised on the belief that all persons are created equal when it asserts that God prefers some.” Harry A. Blackmun

Would we not get involved in the politics that religion creates, the fundamentalist reactions that are sanctioned by Law when the two are legally mixed, when the harmonious fabric of tolerant and accepting society is completely destroyed and human rights are denied based on religious injunctions (e.g. the abolition of Gay and Lesbian Marriages), when the real threat of a totalitarian form of government (whatever it may be) infringes on the basic human rights of its citizens?

What righteous purpose is there in sacrificing the rights of all, for the hatred of the ways of others and the love of their own, for the small minded bigotry of sanctimonious superstitions where the individual is denied the right of personal conscience and bound to act against the liberty of his fellow man, in accordance to the dictates of Law?

Secularism is not the enemy of Spirituality. Legalisms rule the material, the obvious, whilst neglecting to address the internal spiritual reality of each and every one of us. Fundamentalisms ensue, and where the hard fast rules of fanatic thinking take root, indoctrination and the bitter thorny fruits of persecution are the unavoidable spiritual harvest.

Ask yourself if you would give up democracy for a cosmic monarchy at the hand of men of prejudice, whatever their denominational provenience?

I say no to Theocracy; the dichotomy between sacred and profane is my right to determine. God(s) do(es) not punish secularization with diseases, natural disasters, terrorist attacks, poor economy, droughts, floods, etc. I stand up for the reaffirmation of humanist values and the separation of Church and State and solidarity with the libertarian independent all.

Religion and Spirituality are not irrelevant to the common way of life, but they are personal paradigms with which society and governance have nothing to do. People appointed by people should not have the right to interfere with the intimate and inner workings of individual law-abiding citizens, nor be allowed to determine that such inner workings be legal or illegal, desirable or less so.

“Religious institutions that use government power in support of themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths, or of no faith, undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of an established religion tends to make the clergy unresponsive to their own people, and leads to corruption within religion itself. Erecting the ‘wall of separation between church and state,’ therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society.” Thomas Jefferson

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