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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE (2012), HUMANITY ENHANCED (2014), and THE MYSTERY OF MORAL AUTHORITY (2016).

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Yet more on #MTRsues

Whatever the merits of this one, I couldn't fail to notice the following:
The suggestion that one needs to scrutinise Tankard Reist further because of what she has identified as a "struggling spirituality", also suggests a suspicion and intolerance for faith.
Well, this suggests that there is something actually wrong with "suspicion and intolerance for faith". I don't, of course, want intolerance in the sense of advocacy of persecution, but I don't see how anything like that could be "suggested" - at most what is suggested really is just a kind of dislike or distrust of religious faith.

Now, why is it axiomatic that there is anything wrong with dislike, distrust, suspicion, etc., of religious faith, especially when it seeks to influence public policy? I would have thought that this kind of dislike and suspicion was actually perfectly rational and healthy. As I've said on numerous occasions by now, I don't know all that much about Melinda Tankard Reist, but one thing that's fairly obvious is that she cultivates her public image. She does not just provide data and arguments - as an obscure academic might do in peer reviewed journals - but is continually out there in the mainstream media, with photos of her and her books plastered everywhere. She's an activist and a public figure. She relies on creating an air of trustworthiness and moral authority.

Well, once you are that sort of person you can't get too much on your high horse if some other people might have a very different image of you if they knew your religious views. I'm not necessarily arguing that she has a duty to disclose them voluntarily - that's a tricky question - but this idea that we shouldn't speculate about them, that we mustn't connect dots, that they are irrelevant to the campaigns she's involved in or to her own trustworthiness and authority, and that in any event religious faith is not something we should be suspicious of ...

Well, sorry, but I'm not buying it.

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