(I’m saving this here in case it ever is taken off from Alexandria – Unfortunately the comments won’t index here)
Nov 12th, 2013 by Alessandra Reflections
This is a topic I have been fascinated with for a long time.
In my view, there is a very profound conceptual problem with the ideological structure of the United States and its purported division between Religion and State. The minute that religion is deemed only a matter of the private sphere (which it has never been, or it couldn’t be properly categorized as a “religion”), something else will take over to dictate how life should or shouldn’t be. In the case of the present US, it is the religion of the State or “secularism.” This something else (secularism) is nothing but another religion with another name, the only fundamental difference is that it is a religion without a conceptual base formed around some divine entity.
What I find particularly fascinating is that secular religion (the dominant form today being liberalism) is spreading not through fire and sword, but through social conditioning, public education, and by indoctrination by the mass media and the entertainment industry. It does not surprise me, therefore, to see how upset and outraged that people with various traditional religions around the country have become to see their religions being cornered into something unacceptable, deemed evil even, as the secular religion comes to dominate the ideological mantle of society.
Liberalism is not catholic; it does not admit any other thought aside from its dogmas (normalization of homosexuality, for example). Every type of dissent must be maligned and discredited. It is clear this is another way that liberalism uses the same intolerance and suppression mechanism that other orthodox religions have used in the past.
The interesting thing is that people who follow this new religion (liberalism) don’t like to recognize it is a godless religion. It is obvious that this is partly because it would undermine the legitimacy of their dogmas, since they usually posit what they believe as the (absolute) truth; based on many false claims of indisputable scientific proofs, where none exists; and framing anyone who disagrees as a (kooky) believer in some superstition or outdated and obsolete religion or understanding of society. All of this in opposition to themselves, whom they posit as rational and coherent – a laughable thought given how profoundly out of touch with reality and often incapable of rational thought so many liberals are, not to mention issues involving lack of ethics.
In short, no state can exist without religion in the broader sense used here. If you separate one kind of religion (for example, Christianity) from the state, you inevitably replace it with another kind, e.g. liberalism. Thus, Church (as in the Catholic Church) can be separated from the state, but religion cannot. Now while it’s true that I took some liberty with the definition of the word “religion” above, encompassing within the term other Weltanschauungs or systems of cultural hegemony, this was done expressly to highlight how similar various systems of cultural hegemony are and how similarly they operate, independently of the fact if they include the notion of a god or not.
It is simply impossible to separate religion from the state. Therefore, I find that the topic of this false separation of religion and state in the United States is extremely fascinating, and it comes with an even more fascinating twist to it – most Americans hate to face that the separation doesn’t really exist on so many levels; it is an empty claim in very interesting ways. When liberals talk about separating religion from the state, what they are really doing is suppressing one religion (most notably Christianity) and implanting and entrenching their own religion within the state.
Rewritten post based on something I had reflected upon back in 2004, in reaction to some news of farcical homosexual marriage advancing in the United States. Another related past post: Church and state – Nazis and liberals
I had previously announced on my blog my Alexandria post here.
Posted in Culture, Politics
11 Responses to “Musings on the false separation of Religion and State in the United States”
Renee A. says:
November 12, 2013 at 10:10 am
Liberals never question the Church on the poor,immigration, or recycling/solar energy.
The Vatican released a statement on Marriage & Family at the parish level…. and how do you think the media spun it???
You can blame liberals to think what they think about the Church, journalism is a joke.
November 12, 2013 at 12:01 pm
You might be conflating ‘religion’ and ‘ideology’.
Given what you’ve written above, how would you distinguish a religion from an ideology?
November 12, 2013 at 9:07 pm
She might be, but not in this case. Joseph Campbell believed that humans needed myths to live by, i.e. a religious belief system that explained existence and its purpose. Liberalism has taken on the role for many. Obama is truly the Chosen One for many. How else do you explain the sickening videos of children singing the praises of Obama?
Liberalism postulates how we’re supposed to live, treat others, treat the world, what we believe in, morality, etc. Liberalism believes it is the one true way. Liberalism believes it is “right” as much as any religion ever believed it is “right.” This rightness justifies the persecution and destruction of all that opposes liberalism or refuses to convert.
November 13, 2013 at 1:56 am
“Liberalism postulates how we’re supposed to live, treat others, treat the world, what we believe in, morality, etc. Liberalism believes it is the one true way. Liberalism believes it is “right” as much as any religion ever believed it is “right.” This rightness justifies the persecution and destruction of all that opposes liberalism or refuses to convert.”
Perfectly stated and summarized. 🙂
November 13, 2013 at 1:54 am
As DADvocate wrote in reply, in this context, there isn’t a distinction, that’s the point. If we define ideology as a belief system, every religion is an ideology. Although normally the definition of religion is inscribed as a particular type of ideology (usually containing some deistic or supernatural notion), there is very little to distinguish it from other types of ideologies. Just as we can say that a religion is an ideology, the same is true for affirming that an ideology is a type of religion. The differences between them are quite irrelevant. My point is that it is disingenuous to treat “liberalism” as something very different than any other religion because it isn’t – and it functions the very same way that other religions function. In short, you can’t have a state without an ideology/religion, whether the ideology/religion is of one type or another, there will always be an ideology/religion.
November 12, 2013 at 4:38 pm
Religion is mostly ideology, John, even though religions have been used to advance specific moralities. The predominant moral/ideological struggle in the world today seems to be between the West’s Judeo-Christian morality and its “reverence for ALL life,” and the Sharia-based morality favored by Islamists, specifically those we like to call “Muslim extremists.”
I have never been very comfortable within the confines of Western morality, but acknowledge that Sharia morality goes too far in executing adulterers, homosexuals and perhaps even in punishing women for various offenses against modesty, even though I very much like and support their way of dealing with violent criminals…with some extremely grisly and very public spectacles.
is it possible that we are ultimately headed toward some “hybrid morality,” that seamlessly blends the best parts of both Sharia & Western morality, while tossing out the excesses of both…like the West’s over-permissiveness and Sharia’s punishing adulterers and homosexuals, etc?
STILL, I think the use of the word “liberalism,” DOES serve to confuse,l even though much of contemporary “liberalism” or “Leftism,” does have some basic “religious,” or faith-based overtones, as does the Religious Right’s brand of “Conservatism.” Certainly the argument could much easier be made that, “Atheism (once the predominant “religion” of the Left) is one of the most intolerant religions on earth,” rather than “Liberalism is…,” but there is a religious, or faith-based strain that cuts through most ideologies today.
New York City over the next few years should offer a final referendum on the efficacy of modern Western “liberalism.” I DO NOT anticipate a very favorable verdict. The new Mayor (Bill de Blasio) faces too many conflicting challenges, so the deck is very definitely stacked against him.
Even the media that endorsed him seems to have the torpedoes chambered and the knife ready to stick in his back. The NY Daily News endorsed him a few days before the election by lauding Lhota’s agenda, but declaring the charisma-challenged Lhota, the “wrong man with the right message,” while hoping de Blasio would see the light and embrace pragmatism over liberalism, then went on to recount Bloomberg’s crime reduction and improved graduation rates adding, “Any deviation from the direction of either would signal failure, while an uptick in violent crime and/or a down tick in graduation rates would signal disaster. ALL the stars are aligned for a “disaster.”
I don’t see de Blasio deviating FROM liberalism,” TO pragmatism simply because he’d be effectively excommunicated from the advocacy groups that have nurtured his entire career.
November 13, 2013 at 2:05 am
STILL, I think the use of the word “liberalism,” DOES serve to confuse,l even though much of contemporary “liberalism” or “Leftism,”
I agree that it is best to define what “liberalism” refers to when we use the word, because, it can generate confusion as you say. Much like “feminism,” another term that is used to refer to very different ideological positions, sometimes completely opposite to each other.
The problem with “atheism,” which is simply any ideology that does not include a belief in a deity, is that it’s too vast a term to be applied to modern US liberalism, which is much more constrained by time, space, and particular political positions.
I lean towards “liberalism” and then further defining “liberalism” in sub-categories.
I mostly use liberalism in opposition to social conservatism (not fiscal or foreign policy conservatism, not capitalism versus communism), that is, the “culture wars” type of liberalism in the US in particular. American liberalism is completely capitalist, in its most savage way.
So I totally agree, if one doesn’t take the time to define the term, it can only generate confusion!
November 15, 2013 at 7:18 pm
It is difficult to define “social Conservatism,” AND “social liberalism” adequately, given that they CAN be defined differently by different people.
I am more Libertarian than “Conservatism, but MOSTLY “Traditional” in my views and values, HOWEVER, I am pragmatic given the constraints of our existing welfare/warfare state.
Many Libertarians, and a good many “Conservatives simply deny or ignore the existence of the welfare/warfare state and pretend that the USA STILL has a “free (“FREE Market”) economy, when it has had a Corporatist one (a partnership between business & government for about 100 years now…this coming 23rd of December).
An “Open Border” immigration policy IS optimal absent such a “safety net,” as those who come ONLY come to work, assimilate and contribute…suffice to say, an “Open Border” policy within the confines of a welfare state is impractical and long-term disastrous as it attracts far more leeches than producers over time.
Likewise, an anti-abortion policy IS optimal under a free economy, BUT is impractical and fiscally disastrous and economically nonviable over the long term. The “dependent poor” should be mandated to focus on improving their own situations, and mandated contraception, etc. is the ONLY way to effect that.
In short, many of the exigencies of the Corporatist economy mandate a more practical approach to such “cultural” or social issues.
Is a more “fend-for-yourself” free market more optimal for MORE people? Yes, but it was long ago decided that more people prefer the greater stability of Corporatism over the vicissitudes of the free market.
November 23, 2013 at 10:03 am
JMK says: November 15, 2013 at 7:18 pm
It is difficult to define “social Conservatism,” AND “social liberalism” adequately, given that they CAN be defined differently by different people.
Have you ever tried? Where does your difficulty lie?
Most terms that have any political aspect are defined differently. The issue is not that different people may define terms differently, since this will mostly always happen; the issue is simply that this fact requires us to define terms if we want others to have a clear understanding of what we are referring to. Wouldn’t you agree?
November 15, 2013 at 6:24 am
I just posted on my blog a thread excerpt from TAC on this very topic: the impossibility of a pluralistic society.
I think several commenters made some very insightful comments:
“One of the best recent threads at The American Conservative – thanks to a few commenters who charitably bother improving the content of the site”
November 24, 2013 at 3:55 am
UPDATE: Lo and behold, I was surfing the Internet and came upon a short post* on this Patheos site (which caters to a very intellectually undeveloped audience). I posted a reference to my little article above and before I knew it, it was swarmed by a bunch of middle school liberals having a trolling fit.
* 9 years ago: Religious Liberty II – November 22, 2013 By Fred Clark
In any case, given that one commenter at least was capable of producing an exchange above the melee, the thought below materialized in front of my eyes:
When liberals replace a more Christian based system with liberalism, and given that liberalism is just a godless religion, they are effectively doing what the 1st Amendment says they aren’t supposed to do.
But the problem here doesn’t start with liberals. The problem, as my article started to get at, is that the very construct of the 1st Amendment is an impossibility. I stated in my article that this is impossible, but I didn’t get to this conclusion specifically related to how the 1st Amendment conceptualizes the problem.
A state cannot exist without establishing a religion, it’s own religion (that is, it’s own ideology, whether this religion/ideology involves gods or not).
Thus, the 1st Amendment in regard to religion is impossible, always.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; ”
Congress (the state) will necessarily do both of the above: it will establish its official religion/ideology and it will prohibit the free exercise of any religion/ideology that goes against the officially established one.
And, in the same thread, another commenter (Jenny Islander) asked: ” If there is a state religion, which one? And which denomination thereof? And must all members of government therefore adhere to that religion? How is this to be tested? And how are the precepts of the religion to be enshrined in law? And if there is a schism, what happens to the peaceful exercise of good government? And how are persons of all other religions (denominations?), or no religion, to be regarded under the law?”
To which I answered:
-If there is a state religion, which one?
Increasingly, it’s liberalism, which is replacing and suppressing a more Christian based system.
– And must all members of government therefore adhere to that religion?
The more it gets entrenched by laws, obviously. (well, it’s true that many govt officials don’t really care much about many laws, but let’s just say on the surface)
-How is this to be tested?
The way it has always been – by what people say and do
-And how are the precepts of the religion to be enshrined in law?
The way it was done before, by passing laws
-And if there is a schism, what happens to the peaceful exercise of good government?
That’s the good question. The bigger the schism, the worse it will be for the running of society
Carlo: “At some point, when a society is torn asunder between groups of people who have diametrically opposed views of what it means to live a decent human life, what freedom is about, and what basic human respect requires, the whole abstract liberal scheme falls apart. You can have oppression of one side against the other, you can have a civil war, you can have a secession, or the whole system can fall apart into chaos. You certainly will not have a Jeffersonian (or Stuart Millian) democracy because you have no demos.”