Sunday, March 9, 2008

Multi-secularism: The New Agenda by Paul Kurtz

The battle for secularism has leaped to center stage worldwide; we find it being contested or defended everywhere. Of the world's fifty-seven Islamic countries, virtually all except Turkey and Tunisia attempt to safeguard or enact Islamic law (sharia) as embodied in the Qur'an. Radical Islamists wage jihad against the secular society. Pope Benedict XVI rails against secularism, portraying it as the major challenge to Roman Catholicism. There have been attempts in Eastern Europe to reestablish the Eastern Orthodox Church. In the United States, the religious Right and its spokespersons—among them Pat Buchanan, Bill O'Reilly, George Weigel, and Newt Gingrich—vociferously castigate secularism. Mitt Romney claims that freedom requires religion (since when?). He says nothing about the rights of unbelievers in America and accuses them of wishing to establish "the religion of secularism." Regrettably, leading Democratic candidates have thus far remained silent rather than defend the secular society for fear of antagonizing religious supporters. Nevertheless, secularism is growing; it is essential for flourishing vibrant, pluralistic, democratic societies and especially important in today's developing countries...

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