Obama om sekularisme

Er der et håb for USA og derved for store dele af verden? Kan USA blive en primer for mange lande verden over igen? Det må selvfølgelig altsammen vise sig med fremtiden, men måske kan en tale af Obama måske indgyde et vis håb, på at der er en lysere tid i vente.

Given the increasing diversity of America’s population,
the dangers of sectarianism are greater than ever.
Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian
nation, at least, not just. We are also a Jewish nation, a
Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation and a
nation of non-believers. And even if we did have only
Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-
Christian from the United States of America, whose
Christianity would we teach in the schools? Would it be
James Dobson’s or Al Sharpton’s? Which passages of
scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is okay, that eating
shell-fish is an abomination? Or should we go with
Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he
strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the
Sermon on the Mount, a passage that is so radical that it
is doubtful our own Defense Department would survive
its application? Before we get carried away, let’s read our
Bibles now.
Which brings me to my second point. Democracy
demands that the religiously-motivated translate their
concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific,
values. What do I mean by this? It requires that
proposals be subject to argument and amenable to
reason. I may be opposed to abortion for religious
reasons, to take one example, but if I seek to pass a law
banning the practice I can’t simply point to the teachings
of my Church, or invoke God’s will. I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to
people of all faiths, including those of no faith at all.
Now this is going to be difficult to some who believe in
the inerrancy of the Bible, as many evangelicals do, but
in a pluralistic society we have no choice. Politics
depends on our ability to persuade each other of
common aims based on a common reality. It involves
compromise, the art of what’s possible, and at some
fundamental level religion doesn’t allow for compromise.
It is the art of the impossible. If God spoke then
followers are expected to live up to God’s edicts
regardless of the consequences. Now to base one’s own
life on such uncompromising commitments may be
sublime, but to base our policy making on such
commitments would be a dangerous thing. And if you
doubt that, let me give you an example.
We all know the story of Abraham and Isaac. Abraham
was ordered by God to offer up his only son. Without
argument, he takes Isaac up to the mountain top, he binds
Isaac to the altar, raises his knife, prepares to act as God commanded. Now we know the thing worked out. God
sends down an angel to intercede at the very last minute.
Abraham passes God’s test of devotion, but it’s fair to say
that if any of us leaving the Church saw Abraham up on
the roof of the building raising his knife, we would, at the
very least, call the police and expect the department of
children and family services to take Isaac away from
Abraham. We would do so because we don’t hear what
Abraham hears. We don’t see what Abraham sees. And so
the best we can do is act in accordance with those things
that we all see, and that we all hear, be it common laws or
basic reason. So we have some work to do here.
I am hopeful that we can bridge the gap that exists, to
overcome the prejudices that all of us bring to this
debate. And I have faith that millions of believing
Americans want that to happen. No matter how religious
they may be, or may not be, people are tired of seeing
faith used as a tool of attack. They don’t want faith used
to belittle or to divide because that’s not how they think
about faith in their own lives.

Tip: International Humanists News, November (kan downloades i PDF)

~ af sorensvendsen på december 11, 2008.

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