Tag Archives: secular left

A Review of a Review

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I received an e-mail from Robert Meyer, who writes editorials on the RenewAmerica website. I have responded to a couple of his previous articles. One was concerning elected officials praying for the victims of Hurricane Katrina (see: Why should we care if the President asks everyone to pray?) and the other was his article about the “war on Christmas” (see: More on “war” on Christmas: writer wants special treatment for Christians). Earlier on Monday, I got a Google alert on “secular left” and found an article by Meyer, offering his views on this blog and my POV.

I think it is appropriate to give a review on his review:

He begins with this:

I would be the first to admit there are misrepresentations, name calling and incorrect assertions propagated by the right-wing at times. However, when Berger says that there are lies being told, he moves into an accusatory position that will cause me to demand a higher standard from his claims also. To call someone a liar, you must know something about the thoughts and intentions of the individual making the claim. In this era of reckless character assassinations, we have become impervious to the principle that if lying is despicable, then calling someone a liar gratuitously is proportionally as repugnant.

Misrepresentations by the “secular left”

Actually I don’t think I have ever called someone a liar unless there was evidence that showed a purposeful misstatement of the facts. One example was the article I wrote about Coach Dave Daubenmire, who basically posted a false bio on his website where it talked about the court case he lost (see: Coach Dave Daubenmire attempts to rewrite history again ) and the spin put out by the Mayor of San Diego and his religious right allies concerning the Mt. Soledad Cross, where they flat out lied about place the cross plays in the public park. (see: Religious Right lies about Mt. Soledad Cross)

If the facts of an issue are known and a person and group “spin” it the other way then they have lied. Their intention is clear.

Most of the time I do give people the benefit of the doubt and classify their misstatements as “myths”.

Next Meyer writes:

Berger goes on to identify his target audience.

“People covered by the label ‘secular left’ seem to include the entire Democratic party, those who support separation of church and state, those who support real religious liberty, those who support reproductive choice, those who work to lessen poverty, those who work for better world understanding, those who support sane environmental protection, and those who trust science as a tool for solving problems or answering questions in our world.”

And here is where our analysis will begin.

First off, I don’t consider the secular left to be the whole Democratic Party. The problem is the national democratic platform…

Meyer is slightly off his analysis. If one looks at the quote he uses from my About page in context you can see that I am not identifying my audience with those words. I am pointing out the label “secular left” as used by the political and religious conservatives:

The term “secular left” began to appear in 2005 when religious and political conservatives started using the term as a pejorative to pander to their extreme religious conservative base. The label includes anyone and any group who dissents against their extreme political conservative agenda, especially in regards to social and culture issues.

People covered by the label “secular left” seem to include the entire Democratic party, those who support separation of church and state, those who support real religious liberty, those who support reproductive choice, those who work to lessen poverty, those who work for better world understanding, those who support sane environmental protection, and those who trust science as a tool for solving problems or answering questions in our world.

Since the label is political it can include believers, atheists, agnostics, Freethinkers, liberals, and progressives.

About Secular Left

I will give Meyer a thumbs up for pointing out that not all religious and political conservatives are outside the points of view mentioned in the quote he used. I do try to avoid painting with a broad brush and I try to only point out specific ideas, views, or writings that are opposed to the issues I post about. My concern is the few if any voices being heard outside the shrill intractable extreme right on many of the issues.

Those views do cloud Meyer’s points. For example he writes:

I have always believed in ecology and sensible conservation. I demonstrate that in the automobile I choose to drive (should choice be applicable here?), the temperature setting of my house thermostat, and my affinity with nature. On the other hand, the belief that man is causing global warming seems to be a declaration of faith more than fact. The earth has warmed before without any combustion engines or factory smoke to help it along. This issue seems the equivalent of the “left’s” Armageddon.

Global warming isn’t based on “faith”. There is quite a bit of science out there and they pretty much say that the rate of warming is faster since humans reached the industrial age and has been even faster in the past 50 years of heavy world industry and clearing of rain forests. (see: Global Warming for a start)

Now it could turn out that Meyer is right – science is always tentative and changes as more or better information is found – and the warming is just a blip? No harm no foul I guess, however views like Meyer’s is always founded in other issues besides the science.

It seems more a result of short term economic and political policy. Basically conservatives don’t want to pay for it now but would rather pay for it later if needed. Kind of like Congress not wanting to pay for better security at airports until after 9/11 forced them to do it. Or the $27 million asked for the levee program in SE Louisiana before Katrina compared to the $9 billion needed to fix the system to get them to insurance certification after Katrina. (see: Levee Repair Costs Triple )

I much prefer prevention. Prevention always tends to be cheaper in the long run than paying a penalty later after the damage is done.

American Humanist President says religious and political dogmas should not trump science and reason

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The President of the American Humanist Association, Mel Lipman, spoke to a packed house at the Upper Arlington Library Theater on Saturday, July 29th. His talk was titled “Asserting Our Humanism” where is talked about the Humanist view and religion has infected our national government and its policy. Here are some bits:

The Humanist view does not include revelations interpreted according to the aims and whims of a chosen few–an authoritarian clergy. A clergy that allow religious and political dogmas to trump science and reason, that makes it acceptable to allow our president to continue to deny effective stem cell research. That makes it acceptable for this country to refuse to distribute condoms to fight AIDS in Africa. That makes it acceptable for some Ohio School Board members to even consider changing teaching standards by labeling as controversial such scientific facts as evolution, as global warming, stem cell research.

Reason and science are not trumped by the Humanist view. In the Humanist view, reason would dominate the public square, science would be respected in national policy and debate.

In 2003, speaking to the Christian Coalition, Alabama Governor Bob Riley, spoke about a “more important war than the war in Iraq”. He said the war against secular humanists is “a war for the absolute soul of this country”. He called for a “crusade” to restore the Christian character of America.

In June 2002, responding the the 9th Circuit’s courageous decision concerning the Pledge of Allegiance, George Bush, the second, our president, said “I will only appoint judges who know their rights come from God.” Now Article VI of the United States Constitution specifically prohibits the use of any religious test for any public office. But I guess *our* president can legitmately claim complete ignorance of the Constitution as an excuse.

You can read a complete transcript at The Religious Left Blog. Thanks to Renee who recorded and transcribed the speech.

Atheist Activist Newdow and Humorist Sweeney Join Secular Lobby

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For your information, from my inbox to yours:

For Immediate Release

April 26, 2006

Atheist Activist Newdow and Humorist Sweeney Join Secular Lobby

Washington, DC – The Secular Coalition for America is pleased to announce the addition of Michael Newdow and Julia Sweeney to its advisory board. The Secular Coalition for America is a lobbying organization representing the interests of atheists, humanists, freethinkers, and other nontheists in the nation’s capitol. The Secular Coalition made headlines last September when it hired Lori Lipman Brown, a former Nevada State Senator, as the first full-time lobbyist for atheists at the federal level.

Michael Newdow, a medical doctor and lawyer, is best-known for his Pledge of Allegiance case, Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow (2004). The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that the phrase “under God” in the pledge constituted an endorsement of religion, and therefore violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider the case based on its merits and overruled this decision based on procedural grounds. Newdow has since filed a similar suit on behalf of three unnamed parents and their children. On September 14, 2005, U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton, citing the precedent set by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Newdow’s previous suit, ruled that the pledge was unconstitutional. In November 2005, Newdow filed a lawsuit to have “In God We Trust” removed from U.S. coins and currency. Information on the progress of his lawsuits can be found at www.restorethepledge.com.

The actor and comedian, Julia Sweeney is most well-known for her roles on Saturday Night Live, particularly her androgynous character Pat. She was also won critical acclaim for her one-woman shows God Said, Ha! and Letting Go of God. In the latter play, Sweeney discusses her Irish Catholic upbringing, early religious beliefs, and the life events and internal search that led her to the realization that the universe works fine without a God in charge of it. She is currently writing a book “My Beautiful Loss of Faith Story” for Henry Holt & Co. This book further explores her journey from religious faith to philosophical naturalism. You can find more information on Julia Sweeney at her official website www.juliasweeney.com.

Lori Lipman Brown, the Director of the Secular Coalition for America, stated “I have long admired Dr. Newdow’s courage, integrity, and intellect and Ms. Sweeney’s bravery, humor, and artistry. They have both publicly presented themselves as atheists at a time when the religious right has left many fearful to speak up. I am especially proud that Michael Newdow and Julia Sweeney have agreed to join the advisory board of the Secular Coalition for America to further our mission of increasing the visibility and respectability of nontheistic viewpoints in the United States and in protecting and strengthening the secular character of our government as the best guarantee of freedom for all.”

For more information contact Lori Lipman Brown, Director, Secular Coalition for America at 202-299-1091 or Lori@secular.org.

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A basic definition of “Secular Left” in context

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In a previous post someone commented that secular left people were not centrists as they would be in Europe. Basically I want to post here what is meant by “secular left”.

First off it is not a political party. The word “secular left”, as used in the context of this blog, is from the pejorative used by extreme political conservatives to pander to their extreme religious conservative base. The label includes anyone and any group who dissents against the extreme political conservative agenda in regards to social and culture issues.

People covered by the label seem to include the entire Democratic party, those who support separation of church and state, those who support real religious liberty, those who support reproductive choice, those who work to lessen poverty, those who work for better world understanding, those who support sane environmental protections, and those who trust science as a tool for solving problems or answering questions.

Since the label is political it can include believers, atheists, agnostics, Freethinkers, liberals, and progressives.

“I think that was an injudicious thing to say, but that the secular left has behaved imperialistically–there’s no other word for it. They have subverted the democratic process by taking their issues to the judiciary. What the so-called religious right has done has taken their petition and their concerns into the democratic process, into the public square. They organize and they try to affect legislation, as opposed to being the subverted process of democracy which is what the secular left does.” — Mary Matalin, conservative commentator, on May 8th 2005 “Meet the Press”.

This weblog exists to take back the word from the conservatives and to express what is being demonized by people like Mary Matalin and to expose their lies and myths. I would not call myself a “secular leftist” but the topics and issues printed here are what I agree with and many included under their label would agree with as well.