Sunday, 6 May 2012

What are you doing to effect the absolute separation of church and state?

I hadn't considered the full impact of the numbers of percentage of people that state non-religious views too much before know, but looking at the data collated in this Flash graphic - and thanks to the fragmentary nature of Christianity -  this non-religious group accounts for a good proportion of the population even in the most pious states.

Indeed, as a bloc, the non-religious constitute similar figures to Catholics and are often the second largest group in total.

USA Today
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Now I know that organising this group into a cohesive and functional voting bloc is not easy, but is it not important that  - considering the amount of religious infestation in America today - such a potentially powerful demographic be given a voice?

Various religious lobby groups have done just this and today wield considerable influence in the political realm. Of course, having a theology and doctrine to unite under makes their task so much more the easier. But I fail to grasp why - despite tips o the hat to herding cats - that we have nothing to unite under ourselves.

When considered in a democratic context, there is only one thing which we non-believers can unite under, namely the absolute separation of church and state.

I do not suggest fielding candidates who will run for office on this issue alone - their campaigns will necessarily falter the second they are asked a question on any other issue - but as a lobby group we have a lot to learn from our religious brethren (I hope I don't sound too accommodationist or much like Alain De Botton on this!), as the likes of Pat Robinson, Jerry Falwell, the Catholics and their respective lobby groups will surely attest to.

Neither do I suggest that any particular organisation need necessarily be formed to rally around. No, the power we wield need only manifest itself in our own actions - not just at the hustings and voting booths - but at all times and at any opportunity. By courting prospective candidates that openly and decisively make a stand for the absolute separation of church and state, we bring our position to the forefront of the debate. By hounding incumbents to make a statement on the issues important to us, we remind them that we are out there and we are not going to vote for anyone that does not openly and decisively make a stand for the absolute separation of church and state.

The power lies not in an organisation, but in you the individual. It is your vote politicians court, so hold them to account. Engage in all areas of your democratic rights from the mundane local councils to your congresspeople and senators.

I myself live in the U.K., but look to Americans to lead the way on this matter, but I do not shy away from responsibility on this side of the pond. In a recent exchange with my M.P., he assured me that he was wholly against the increase in number of clergy in a reformed House of Lords. His reply;

RE: LORDS REFORM Thank you for your recent email and I am grateful to you for your comments regarding Government proposals for Bishops to continue sitting in a reformed House of Lords.

I agree with you that there is no justification for patronage nor ‘reserved’ places for certain select clergy from a particular faith group in the Lords. This has long been the policy of the Liberal Democrats.

Generally, I start from a position of seeking to clarify what we want a second chamber for. A chamber which could compliment the Commons with revisory powers and sober second thought does not imply the need for reserved places for any particular faith group, nor propped up by the hereditary principle.

It also doesn’t necessarily mean that the representatives are best elected – possibly a patronage free Appointments Commission which should select on merit. Some church, synagogue, mosque representatives may emerge from that process but that would be on their merit – not as of preserved entitlement.

With every good wish.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew George MP
I shall continue to write to Mr. George for clarification on his position on issues important to me. I am not a Liberal Democrat, but I appreciate how hard he works for the good of his constituents. So long as he continues to support equality and oppose privilege, he is likely to retain my support. If he flip-flops, I'll do everything in my power to get someone to oust him for someone that has more depth of character and a stronger spine.

This is only my first encounter with my local M.P., but I fully intend to push him further on a number of issues.

What do you think you could do to further the absolute separation of church and state?

And what are you going to do about it? 

Tris Stock is a secular atheist, sceptic, pop-philosopher and writer trying very hard to build up a following with a view to one day make an income from doing what he loves. Please follow him on Google+Twitter and Facebook.

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