First, to repeat the simple truth which all too many people either honestly are unaware of or purposely deny is that nowhere in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, or the rest of the Amendments to the Constitution does the phrase, or even similar phrasing, “Separation between Church and State” actually exist. Here are the actual words of the First Amendment with the sections on religious freedom and restriction of government from religion denoted in italics,
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ;or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
These concepts are divided into two components, the first being the “Establishment Clause” and the other being the “Exercise Clause”. So, what do each actually mean?
The “Establishment Clause” states that the Federal Government may not denote any religion to be the sanctioned preferred religion of the United States. It prevents there being declared an American Church, much like the feared Church of England or the Catholic Church served to subvert freedoms and placed those of other religions conceivably in peril of their life due to religious observance, depending which was ascendant during the period. The history of England displayed periods alternately where either the Catholics persecuted all non-Catholics or Protestants (Church of England) persecuting non-Protestants. The usual targets for Catholics were those who were leaders and congregants of the Church of England while targets for the Church of England was the same peoples who were Catholic. There were a few things which both groups agreed upon, namely that the Druids, Pagans, and Jews were nonbelievers under the persecutions of either church and thus always in fear of the State and the State Religion.
The “Exercise Clause” prevents the Federal government from restricting people from following and observing their religion and its dictates and customs as long as they do not harm or impinge upon anybody else and their freedoms of religion. This clause is the guarantor that the Federal Government is restricted from imposing restrictions upon religious observance nor makes demands which would force people to break with the tenets, customs and requirements of the observance of their religion. It is this section that is most often quoted when people refer to the United States providing freedom of religion.
The Establishment Clause is most quoted when people try to claim that it grants us freedom from religion when they attempt to claim that any public display of the Ten Commandments or a Nativity Scene on government property violates the First Amendment. Truth be told, the Establishment Clause actually forbids the exclusion of the Ten Commandments, Nativity Scenes, Chanukah Menorahs, and other such expressions of faith guaranteed by the Exercise Clause simply because forcing such from the public square is establishing an official state religion, namely Secular Humanism. Of course, when you define Secular Humanism as being a religion, the proponents of Secular Humanism cry foul and claim that Secular Humanism is actually the epitome of being the un-religion. So, who is correct?
Religion is defined in my dictionary as;
1) A set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
2) A specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion.
3) The body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices.
So, does Secular Humanism fit any of these definitions? I doubt there can be much disagreement that it fulfills definition 2 and 3 completely thus qualifying as a religion. But what about the first definition? Secular Humanism definitely is a set of beliefs concerning and defining the cause, nature and purpose of the universe. Secular Humanism also definitively contains a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs. One might even claim that it has a superhuman overriding entity which is behind all their truths, their beliefs which is called science, most often physics, astrophysics to be more specific. Their rituals are demonstrating in favor of a “woman’s right to choose”, recycling, alternate energy, and actions supporting any of the myriad of liberal doctrines. These also are the basic moral codes for the Secular Humanist. The only argument that takes a slight stretch is equating science as their superhuman agency or agencies, their deity. But would not having an actual deity actually preclude Secular Humanism from being a form of religion? What about Hinduism or Buddhism? Neither of these religions have a belief in a deity; they have the defining philosophy of the originator of their belief system. By the same definition, Secular Humanism has the same originators, namely Aristotle, Plato, Euclid, Galileo, Archimedes, Copernicus, Newton, Einstein, and Hawking along with numerous philosophers such as Hubbard and others.
Once we realize and get the courts to affirm that Secular Humanism is actually a religion, then we can proceed to prevent them from denuding our common areas of what the Secular Humanists currently denote are religious displays and therefore must be removed. With Secular Humanism recognized as the religion it is, removing the Ten Commandments, Nativity Scenes, Chanukah Menorahs and any other objects denoted as too religious for public inclusion, then we can also sue that displaying nothing during the many holiday seasons and the exclusion of the Ten Commandments replacing it with nothing is actually the observance of Secular Humanism. Perhaps we should begin to demand that Secular Humanism is no longer a reasonable reason for removal of community preferred displays as being the establishment of a State religion and thus forbidden by the Constitution of the United States. Maybe it’s time for a war against Secular Humanism and not make peace until the Secular Humanist followers agree to allow the display of other religious displays next to their religiously denuded spaces in front of city hall and elsewhere. Let them have their open space perhaps with a shrub or other display of Secular Humanism, whatever they might be, and we can have our beautiful displays of our love of our faiths.
Beyond the Cusp