The Secular Church

After channeling Jonathan Haidt in a post titled "Why Moral People Vote Republican," Chris Yeh re-surfaces our idea of creating a secular church:

…Democrats appeal strictly to adherents of a Millian view, while leaving Durkheimians with the impression that they ignore the majority of what makes a society moral.

This ties in neatly with some of the thoughts Ben Casnocha and I have had about the secular church; specifically, that secular humanism needs a stronger foundation for expressions of self-control, duty, and loyalty than the small beer of lengthy philosophical discussion. Indeed, were the Democrats wise, they would try to create the equivalent of a secular church based on American patriotism, this providing themselves with both a moral foundation and the means to dispute the Republican monopoly on flag-waving.

Of course, the most important feature of our secular church will be adequate leg room in the pews.

9 comments on “The Secular Church
  • Interesting analysis. Some thoughts:

    – The Unitarian church is in some ways the church of political liberalism (as it is called in the US).

    – I don’t know how far you’d get with the flag-waving thing. My impression is that liberals cringe at any symbolic display of patriotism – it feels like mindless jingoism to them.

    – I also see a strong tendency in the liberal mindset to “favor the little guy” – independent of any other moral/political consideration. In other words, if the practical effect or outcome helps people with handicaps, or limited resources, or even just bad fortune, then it’s *good* and the reverse is *bad*. Furthermore they have a lot of difficulty assigning any responsibility to the little guy, both retrospectively and prospectively.

  • If you start with the U.S. population, subtract out the fundamentalists, self-identified liberals, and apathetic people, I think we already all know each other.

  • It would be better just to excise the idea of religious affiliation with party affiliation in general. It would be nice if candidates ran on their politicized issues and keep their religious convictions to themselves. Many of our early Presidents (who the Republicans like to claim as their own) would abhor the amount of religiosity, not matter its form, in our politics today. I don’t think setting up a ‘secular humanist church’ would really help the forward progress of such thinking over that of the more religious.

  • “Indeed, were the Democrats wise, they would try to create the equivalent of a secular church based on American patriotism, this providing themselves with both a moral foundation and the means to dispute the Republican monopoly on flag-waving.”

    Wow… just wow!

    Perhaps this church would be called the The United Church of America?

  • I think vying for the attention of “secular humanists” fails to understand the issue. There just aren’t enough options in the United States.

    I don’t trust Republicans or Democrats. I believe in small government and great personal freedoms. Republicans want me to live by their crazed opinion of the bible (a lack of freedom) and Democrats want the government to play daddy (big gov)… They’re both scarey, disgusting, and shameful for the world’s superpower.

    Rather than liberals appeal to even more crazy religious zealots (crazy liberals scare me equally, if not more), I think it’s nigh time for the US to be more friendly to other parties. It’d be nice if my vote for a 3rd candidate actually mattered.

  • I don’t mean this in a nasty way, but this sounds like something they would have in the Soviet Union or North Korea (is there a Stalin corollary to the maxim that the first person to invoke Hitler in a debate loses?). A beautiful building filled with intellectual and patriotic idols would seem a lot like elitists mocking the idea of god and has the undertone of “god is dead, and we’ve replaced him with the state.” Such a structure would nicely sum up every fear that certain right wing fundamentalists have about elites. Perhaps there could be a black helicopter parking lot in the back.

  • I’ve thought about this a lot. The sense of community that religious people get from going to church on a regular basis just doesn’t exist among secular people and it’s very important for contentment. We try to replace it with amateur sports clubs or going out for beer or wine with a few friends, but it’s just not the same. The main problem is that going church is set in stone while getting together with others depends too much on everyone’s other commitments. Church is also what helps the fundamentalists organize which gives them a lot of power in our politics. That causes a very skewed political environment where every politician has to pretend to be religious to have any chance of getting elected. Imagine what we, secular, like minded people could do if we got together for a couple of hours every Sunday regardless of what else is going on in our lives.

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