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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019); AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021); and HOW WE BECAME POST-LIBERAL: THE RISE AND FALL OF TOLERATION (2024).

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Sean Faircloth's Ten Guiding Principles of a Secular America

These are worth listing, especially since Meredith Doig, Graham Oppy, and I will soon be doing a gig about equivalent principles for a truly secular Australia.

Here is Sean Faircloth's list:

1. Our military shall serve and include all Americans, religious and nonreligious, with no hint of bias, and with no fundamentalist extremism coloring our military decisions at home or abroad.

2. Any federal- or state-funded program, whether offering services domestic or foreign, that relates to reproductive health and sexual decisions shall be based on science and public health, not on religious bias or the denigration of women or sexual minorities.

3. Health-care professionals shall fulfil their ethical and professional oath to address the needs of patients, and they must do so with no hint of religious bias in respectful service to the patients they are sworn to serve - or they must find another job.

4. There shall be no bias based on religion or lack thereof in any land-use planning or environmental laws, and discrimination based on religion or lack thereof shall be prohibited in any employment setting.

5. While marriage can be defined by a religion as that religion chooses for the purposes of its internal ceremonies, our government shall never impose a religious bias on its definition of marriage.

6. When facing the end of life, all Americans shall be guaranteed control over their own bodies, without beng thwarted by religious bias.

7. America's youth shall never be subjected to religious bias in education. If there is one penny of government funds involved, there must not be one iota of religious bias or propaganda.

8. The composition of our Congress and legislatures shall include Secular Americans, and there must be no political bias against secular candidates.

9. There shall be one consistent standard pertaining to the health and welfare of children, no matter the religion of a child's parents, school or child-care center. Religious extremists can do whatever they want to their own bodies, but children shall be treated as human beings, not as pawns to be sacrificed in the name of religion.

10. Medical, technical, and scientific innovation shall be dedicated to the health and advancement of our fellow citizens and must never be impeded by religious bias.

I do, indeed, feel a need to tweak this ... but it's a pretty good starting point.


Anonymous said...

Spelling error in point 6. I'll let you find it.

March Hare said...

This is exactly the kind of extremist (in the softest sense of the word) that the religious fear. It attempts to shut all religious motives for anything, good or ill, from the public dialogue. Some of the things mentioned are subjective, or open to opinion and interpretation and to say an opinion doesn't count because it is coloured by religion is wrong. It allows racist views to influence public policy but not religious!

Like you said though, it is a starting point.

Russell Blackford said...

There's a difference between the public dialoge and politics - though your last comment suggests that you actually do mean the latter. There are some pretty strong constitutional limitations in most countries on how far the state can act on a racist theory.

Russell Blackford said...

Typo in point 6. corrected - thanks.

Charles Sullivan said...

I like it overall, but perhaps I misunderstand this one:

"8. The composition of our Congress and legislatures shall include Secular Americans, and there must be no political bias against secular candidates."

What's a political bias? If it's not a bias built into the law or a government policy bias, but rather a personal political bias (i.e. personal preference),then that seems quite reasonable in a secular society. As an ideal principle it may be fine (sort of, maybe, I think). All but #8 seem like they have legislative solutions, so that's why it stands out (or at least on one interpretation).