Is Secular Humanism a Religion?<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
By David A. Noebel
The February/March 2007 issue of Free Inquiry magazine maintains that Tim LaHaye and I were grossly mistaken in our book Mind Siege regarding whether or not Secular Humanism is a religion. Mind Siege argued that Secular Humanism is just as religious as Christianity with this major difference: the religion of Secular Humanism can be taught in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />America's classrooms while the religion of Christianity cannot.
While Ann Coulter prefers the expression "liberalism" to Secular Humanism she has come to the same conclusion: "Liberals love to boast," says Coulter, "that they are not 'religious,' which is what one would expect to hear from the state-sanctioned religion. Of course liberalism is a religion. It has its own cosmology, its own miracles, its own beliefs in the supernatural, its own churches, its own high priests, its own saints, its own total worldview, and its own explanation of the existence of the universe. In other words, liberalism contains all the attributes of what is generally known as religion." (Godless: The Church of Liberalism, p. 1)
The following open letter to Free Inquiry is my response to their charge that LaHaye and I mislead our evangelical brethren into thinking that Secular Humanism is a religion. On the contrary, it now turns out that the author of the article, Mr. Tom Flynn, frankly admits that Humanist Manifesto I (1933) is indeed religious and was meant to be religious from its inception. It is merely our contention that Humanist Manifesto II (1973) and III (2000) are also religious. As Fox News would say, we'll let the audience decide who is speaking the truth and who is covering up "a dark little secret."
Jan 28, 2007
Letter to the Editor
P. O. Box 664
Amherst, NY 14226-0664
I was disappointed that D. J. Grothe (FI, Feb/March 2007) failed to mention the "rest of the story" about our radio conversation regarding the religion of Secular Humanism. He only mentioned one aspect of Ian Markham's work A World Religions Reader. While it is true that Markham said, "Secular Humanism then is not a religion," he went on to say immediately, "although curiously it does share certain features with religion."
In fact, Markham makes it clear on the preceding page (p. 5) that "religion for me is a way of life which embraces a total worldview, certain ethical demands and certain social practices." During the radio broadcast I pointed out to Mr. Grothe that Markham's definition of religion fits Secular Humanism to a "t." Secular Humanism embraces a total worldview, suggests certain ethical demands and advocates certain social practices!
Markham obviously included Secular Humanism as a religion in his book on world religions because he did not want to exclude it because of a too narrow definition of religion. Buddhism, for example, has no God in its theological dogmatics, yet, on Markham's broader definition of religion, Buddhism is included as a world religion. And it was Secular Humanists who insisted their beliefs were religious when seeking to exempt atheistic conscientious objectors from the military back in 1965. Of course, the U. S. Supreme Court in 1963 had already identified Secular Humanism as a religion in Torcaso v. Watkins.
Being British, Markham might not have known how touchy this issue is with Secular Humanists in the United States. If it became widely known that Secular Humanism is a religion, then their religious dogmas such as philosophical naturalism, atheistic evolution, and ethical relativism (which are the assumed religious truth for much of what passes for public education in the U.S.), must be thrown out of America's classrooms due to a consistent interpretation of the separation of church and state doctrine. Every sentient humanist knows this in his heart and seeks to keep this "dirty little secret" from being exposed to the public.
But we don't have to take Markham's word for it. Archie J. Bahm, a true-blue Secular Humanist (he founded the Southwestern Regional A.H.A. in 1954), has written a book on The World's Living Religions in which he places Humanism alongside Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Taoism, and Buddhism among others, and point blank says, "Humanism is a religion. Some Humanists claim that it is not only the major religion of Western civilization, but of all mankind."
However, the rope gets tighter. In a number of cases, United States courts have ruled that atheism is a religion. One of the more recent cases was handed down from the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (Case No. 04-1914 decided August, 2005). The ruling stated, "The Supreme Court has recognized atheism as equivalent to a 'religion' for purposes of the First Amendment on numerous occasions." The court continued, "We have already indicated that atheism may be considered, in this specialized sense, a religion." And again, "Without venturing too far into the realm of the philosophical, we have suggested in the past that when a person sincerely holds beliefs dealing with issues of 'ultimate concern' that for her occupy a 'place parallel to that filled by God in traditionally religious persons,' those beliefs represent her religion."
As far as the U. S. Courts are concerned the issue is settled: Secular Humanism, based as it is on atheism and its attendant beliefs and practices, is a religion. Secular Humanists even have their own religious symbol sold in the pages of Free Inquiry magazine: it's a fish with Darwin's name inscribed and two little feet protruding under its belly.
Is it any wonder that Secular Humanist Richard Carrier in his Sense & Goodness Without God entitles one of his last chapters "The Secular Humanist's Heaven." Richard insists his first job in heaven is to defeat death! Good luck and Good night!
David A. Noebel
Note from Christian Worldview Network.com: We highly suggest you purchase a copy of Noebel's Clergy in the Classroom which proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Secular Humanism is a religion. You can purchase this book by click here:
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