Saturday, August 06, 2005

Dispatches from the Culture Wars: ACLU Archives

The ACLU has largely been mischaracterised as some form of evil organisation that seeks to restrict the religious freedoms of others (read particular sub set of Christianity, maybe because these groups are the most politically activist). So it might come as surprise to some that in the defence of Civil Liberties, religious freedom is a very very important part of it.

There is no dicotomy between being against school prayer but for school Children to organise bible study classes using school facilities. The reason is that the separation of Church and State simply means that the government will not attempt to establish a state religion or to promote or discrimate for or against one religion over another. In other words, a sort of neutrality based upon secularism. Thus as long as the activities pertain to religious freedom (particularly the freedom to worship which is what the original colonies are about) there really isn't a big problem.

The problem comes when there are religious activities (notably prayer or even the pledge of alligence) which clearly promulgate a statement of intent of faith in the judeo-christian construct. Imagine in Singapore if something along the lines of In God(Or Allah or Brahma) We Trust were to be inserted into our pledge. Even school prayer was a very touchy issue for me.

Of course one could refuse to go along, but classmates notice and comment and evengelise (today's ST forum involved a secondary school student upset at the evangelism of the Christian community in his school). I couldn't get out of chappel without my parent's consent despite the fact that I held no truck with the entire doctrine. All I ask is for those not of the particular faith to put themselves in our shoes.

At any rate, I believe that a line between Church(or Temple) and State is not entirely possible but we should try our hardest anyway. For if your arguments are going to be premised on a narrow subset of a particular doctrine, why should that be forced down my throat. Harm(or utility) is a good concept not matter how critics attempt to focus on one small section and blow up the controvesy. Sort of like anti-evolution critics.



Post a Comment

<< Home