Saturday, April 28, 2007

Religious conflict in US Society

This conference from features three religious leaders and formidable intellectuals. They spend the hour of their conference discussing religion in American society and politics today. There is much in what they say that is worth extensive discussion. What I choose here to mention, I choose more because it's what I remember from watching the video yesterday, than from a decision that its the most interesting point.

I thought Rabbi Michael Lerner's point about secularism as a religion was an interesting one. He argues that a secular, science-based world view is one religion among many. It isn't based on anything more fundamental than any other world view. Many have rebutted this point on the grounds that secularism a) doesn't preclude religious faith, and b) follows different rules for establishing truth (religious truths are established, and science is a recognition that scientific truths are mostly unknown)

There is a public sphere argument for distinguishing secularism and religion as well, and that discussion fits well here. A secular society, whose institutions do not give explicit preference of one religion over another, will be more successful in establishing a public sphere where groups of many faiths can interact on equal footing. A secular approach to governance is not a religious approach. Instead it can be a meta-religious approach, in that it allows the creation of a space for organizing how religions interact with each other within that space.

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