Secular Humanism is not about Silencing Belief

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Sometimes I wonder what getting a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard University entails, or even a Ph.D. in Religion and Literature from the University of Virginia. Alas, if the Rev. Dr. David Fekete is any indication, it entails not being required to actually know what you’re talking about, and to just blather any old thing without consequence.

Fekete recently penned a screed in the Edmonton Journal claiming that prohibiting prayer as part of government business privileges the belief system of Secular Humanism. From this single erroneous claim, he moves on to declare a number of falsehoods, such as “Secular humanism would have a world evacuated of religion”.

If this is the tripe that the Edmonton Journal prints, then I guess we also have the measure of that rag, in addition to Harvard’s Theological Studies department….

Fekete’s claims are a litany of falsehoods that could only be penned by someone profoundly ignorant of secular humanism, or of someone intentionally lying in order to scaremonger. His claims like “in Edmonton, traditionally, the voices of religions had been permitted in public spaces” are false in that “the voices of religions” are *still* permitted in public spaces in Edmonton: the only prohibition is to have them as part of government meetings. Now, of course, it’s entirely possible that Fekete doesn’t understand the difference between ‘a public space’ and ‘a government meeting’, but that hardly seems like a better alternative to the other two possible conclusions available.

All that fundamentally matters is that Fekete’s claims are entirely false, and that the publication of his falsehoods (lies?) is a black mark.

To clarify (with sources, because it’s not hard), Secular Humanism typically aims to strive for an improvement in the lives of all humans. To quote from the Harvard Humanists (because I like irony….)

The Humanist Hub is a place where you can connect with other people, act to make the world better, and evolve as a human being. We are a center for humanist life — a nonreligious community committed to the power of connection to help us do good and live well. We use reason and dialogue to determine our highest ethical values, we act on those values with love and compassion, and we help one another evolve as individuals, as we work to improve our world.

Or to take a more local organisation, the BC Humanists:

Humanism is a naturalistic philosophy that affirms the value of humanity without the need for supernatural explanations or dogma

It’s a long walk, indeed, to go from ‘we can do this without supernatural explanations’ to ‘let’s ban all religion in public-places’, but that is the walk that Fekete insists that we take.  Surely the readership of the Edmonton Journal is better than to be taken in by this tripe?

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