In the Los Angeles Times David Klinghoffer writes that secularism is really a type of religion; therefore, government secularism is really a sort of government imposed religion:
If you object that secularism has no deity, remember that other recognized faiths, for example Zen Buddhism, likewise lack a belief in God. What is a religion, then? Simply, a system of beliefs based on stories that explain where life comes from, what life means, and what we, as living beings, are supposed to be doing with our few allotted years. Judaism and Christianity have their sacred stories — the biblical account of creation, followed by Noah's flood and on through the entire narrative of Scripture — along with their codes of right conduct. For Jews and Christians, the meaning of human existence lies in communion with God in the context of eternal life.
Words seem inadequate to describe just how asinine the above is. Klinghoffer should be commended for at least recognizing that not all religions have gods, but that’s about the only thing he gets right in the entire article. Secularism is a philosophy about the role of religion in government and public life. Secularism has absolutely nothing whatsoever to say about where life comes from, what life means, and what we should do with our lives. Judaism does. Christianity does. Islam does. Buddhism does.
Secularism does not. Even a cursory reading of the history of secularism reveals this, so what does Klinghoffer do? He misleads readers:
For each element of Judeo-Christian faith, secularism has its counterpart. Like Christianity and Judaism, secularism promises eternal life — well, long life, which is the central point of the most common strain of secular faith and which explains the pop-cultural focus on moral commandments having to do with physical health: Thou shalt not smoke. Thou shalt not get fat. ... There is a secular creation account — evolution through random mutation and natural selection, a just-so story increasingly challenged by scientists.
Secularism does not promote “long life,” much less eternal life. The things Klinghoffer cite are not part of any “secular faith.” On the contrary, prohibitions against activities like smoking and eating too much are actually important parts of many religious faiths. I’m sure that Klinghoffer is aware of this. Evolution is also not part of “secularism,” no matter how much ignorant religious fundamentalists might try to portray it as such. Klinghoffer’s citation of so-called “Intelligent” Design and his assertion that it is increasingly challenged by scientists merely serves to demonstrate just how desperate he is to make his non-existent case.
By now, most readers have probably notice the not-so-clever rhetorical trick Klinghoffer is using to pretend that he has something serious to say. Notice how at the beginning Klinghoffer talking about secularism while later on Klinghoffer only uses the adjective secular. There’s a difference between the two — a different large enough to hold the gaping holes in Klinghoffer’s arguments.
Secularism is a philosophy. It can be used to describe several different things, but they all have in common the fact that they aren’t religious beliefs. As used today, secularism is a movement based upon the desire to establish an autonomous political and social sphere which is naturalistic and materialistic, as opposed to a religious realm where the supernatural and faith take precedence.
Secular, however, is an adjective which describe anything that isn’t religious. Klinghoffer’s column appears in the Los Angeles Times, a secular newspaper. My computer was made by Apple, a secular computer manufacturer. This site is run by About.com, a secular media company. What do all of these have in common? Merely that they aren’t religious — and they have nothing in common with the secularism movement in philosophy and politics. Nothing.
In the interest of honest debate, at the very least it would be of benefit to recognize secularism for what it is: an aggressive religion competing for converts, a faith lacking the candor to speak openly of its aims.
Honest debate? I‘m sincerely wonder whether David Klinghoffer would understand the meaning of honest debate if someone taped the definition to a two-by-four and whacked him in the head with it. Klinghoffer either doesn’t have the slightest idea what he is talking about (that would include the definitions of religion and secularism, the nature of evolutionary theory, and several more things) or he does understand them and has deliberately distorted reality in order to get people to believe that secularism could be a religion (which, as you have seen, is a contradiction in terms). It would be unwise of me to come out and call David Klinghoffer something like a liar, but it is a temptation I shall endeavor to resist. I do hope, though, that publications like the Los Angeles Times also endeavor to find columnists who are more credible and trustworthy.