Unholy Alliances and the Monolith

April 11, 2006

Edit: Hello hello, visitors from Pharyngula! Take your shoes off, make yourselves comfortable, take a look around. We just vacuumed, so try not to spill.

A significant chunk of the recent debate among Democrats (or, more accurately, among non-Republicans) has been about how exactly we should be dealing with religion—specifically evangelical Christianity—from a political standpoint, which is to say from a public relations standpoint. With midterm elections rapidly approaching and campaigning for 2008 off to an early start, questions of policy and principle are, as is usually the case, taking a back seat to political maneuvering to satisfy the religious majority. Amy Sullivan’s Washington Monthly article a while ago about the interaction between evangelicals and the Democratic party was the catalyst for the most recent round of debates on this subject. Professor Myers and others came down hard on Sullivan (justifiably so) for what they saw as her willingness to abandon the principles of secular government for strategic purposes that almost completely miss the point. In particular, Sullivan and others have left the impression that atheists and agnostics ought to sit down and shut up for the sake of the team, a suggestion to which a number of us don’t take kindly. With little to no concern for self-preservation, I’d like to dive into this little debate.

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Enlightenment, Not Obscurantism

March 1, 2006

Via Ed Brayton: Jyllands-Posten, of recent cartoon-related infamy, has published a manifesto entitled “Together facing the new totalitarianism” and co-authored by a dozen “writers, journalists, [and] intellectuals,” including such notables as Salman Rushdie, Ibn Warraq, and Bernard-Henri Lévy. It is a powerful and succinct statement about the global relevance of Islamism (as distinct from Islam, insofar as such a distinction can be made—Islamism being basically the projection of the Islamic belief system into the political and social arenas, i.e. the imposition of Sharia as governmental policy) as the latest in a series of totalitarian threats to human rights and freedoms, and the necessity of defeating that totalitarianism. I endorse the manifesto with as much enthusiasm as I can possibly muster. Full text below the fold.

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