30 April 2006

Sunday Sermons

Over at Pharyngula, PZ has an excellent post up. I'll admit that PZ is sometimes a bit too militantly atheist for my tastes, but I agree with him on this one. He's discussing the difference between maintaining a secular government and forcing society to be secular.

He's reacting to an earlier article (linked to in the post) which defined secularism as, essentially, equivalent to atheism. It's sort of amusing, to me, to read articles of this nature, because they've got this black/white spectrum going, and I'm on the green axis instead. I don't care for the extremists on either side.

On a related note, Positive Liberty has one contributor who regularly posts about the beliefs of the founding fathers. The most recent post is less overtly secular, but is very critical of anyone who justifies theocratic tendency with the "Christian Nation" rhetoric.

What's my take? Sometimes secularism is taken to an extreme. I have never seen the point of removing, for instance, the ten commandments from public property. They are a historical example of a set of laws. Also, most of them are abrogated by our own Constitution's first amendment, so I find it pleasingly ironic to leave them where they are. Even during my brief stint as an atheist, I found the notion of removing them to be a bit silly. I have no problem with public Christmas displays so long as they do not deliberately marginalize non-Christians, and so long as public displays of non-Christian holidays are allowed.

I do have one major holiday pet peeve with the Christians. It happens every seven years or so (sometimes jolted off or on by a leap year). It's when Halloween falls on a Sunday. They make all sorts of lame excuses (it's a school day being favorite), but what it really boils down to is that they can't tolerate having a semi-pagan holiday celebrated on their holy day. If it was really about the next day being a school day, the same arguments would come up when it fell on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. But no. It's only Sunday that's the problem.

This may not seem like a large issue. And in some ways it's not. But one year when this happened, we gave out candy on the designated Saturday, and had the light on Sunday night as well (the true Halloween date). We got one ring at the doorbell. One little girl and her father. I gave out the candy, and the father gave me a pathetically grateful "Thank you." I don't know what had happened at other houses, but just based on his facial expression and gratitude, I am certain it was NOT pleasant. Ever since then, I've despised the paranoia that far too many Christians have about Halloween falling on Sunday.

No comments: