Definition of Religion – Conventional Wisdom
The definition of religion, and what connotations come to mind when we think of religion, is very critical to our beliefs and how we view cultural issues. The predominant view and certainly the politically correct view is that religious and secular issues are completely separate and together constitute all issues. With this view, the definition of religion is the belief in a God or a supernatural power that relates to human destiny.
Secular beliefs are void of a God or anything supernatural. Therefore, many hold that secular humanism is not a religion. This predominant view holds that secular beliefs are supported by science, and religious beliefs are supported by emotion. Additionally, from a secular standpoint, religion is viewed as causing much of the evil in the world with the Crusades, the Inquisition, the witch-hunts, oppression, terrorism, religious wars, etc. Finally, the science vs. religion assertion places religion outside of science and into a mythological, touchy-feely realm of emotions that is irrelevant and obsolete -- an evolutionary feature that has yet to be completely discarded.
Definition of Religion –Responsibility for Evil?
Is this predominant and politically correct view the correct one? It is true that religions have caused much evil in the world. However, does that mean the so-called “secular realm” has not been responsible for even more evil? The fact is that far more evil has been accomplished in the 20th century in the name of secularism. Consequently, we should not single out religions as the sole source of evil and give secular beliefs a free pass. The evidence underlying the secular regimes of Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, and Mao speak volumes.
Definition of Religion – Is Humanism Really a Religion?
The key question is why doesn’t the current definition of religion and secularism include belief systems that do not believe in a God or supernatural things? According to some dictionaries, the U.S. Supreme Court, and many humanists themselves, religion is not limited to belief systems that believe in a God. Any non-supernatural belief system is equally religious and should be treated identically to religions that believe in a God.
In the 1961 case of Torcaso v. Watkins, the U.S. Supreme Court held that Secular Humanism is a religion. Secular humanist John Dewey described Humanism as our "common faith." Julian Huxley called it "Religion without Revelation." The first Humanist Manifesto spoke openly of humanism as a religion. In fact, claiming that humanism was "the new religion" was trendy for at least 100 years. Consequently, the Secular Humanist religion that is taught in our public schools and supported by our tax dollars should have the same constitutional “Establishment Clause” restrictions that the ACLU and the court system seems to be requiring of the Christian religion.
Definition of Religion – Is Christianity or Humanism Violating the Establishment Clause?
The historic evidence is clear. The “Establishment Clause” in the U.S. Constitution (1st Amendment) was designed to prevent what happened to the Separatists and Puritans in England. They came to America because of religious oppression. The denominational Anglican Church combined with the state became oppressive and coercive.
Simply, the courts that are eliminating all Christian writings, symbols, and speech from the public arena have it wrong. They are using the “Establishment Clause” to eradicate the doctrinal Christian religion from the public square, not a specific state-sponsored denominational religion with the power to be oppressive or coercive. The doctrinal Christian religion of the Ten Commandments and the “Behold I stand at the door and knock’” philosophy is not coercive and is not a threat by forcing ideas or requiring actions from people.
Alternatively, the courts also have it wrong when they do not require secular humanism and its ACLU denomination to conform to the Establishment Clause. This negligence allows the Secular Humanist religion and its beliefs to be forced onto the public. Consequently, the courts have it backwards. The ACLU denomination of the humanist church has joined with the state (judiciary) to oppress doctrinal Christianity to cease and desist in the public square in a similar way that the Anglican Church oppressed the doctrinal Christians in England. The doctrinal Christian church is not oppressing anybody. It seems the ACLU is in violation of the establishment clause, not doctrinal Christianity. Maybe the courts should apply their own Constitutional interpretation and require state-sponsored humanism to cease and desist.
Definition of Religion - Conclusion
The definition of religion includes both doctrinal religions and denominational religions. Doctrinal religions are defined by their religious documents like the Bible or the Koran. Denominational religions are actual organizations. They interpret their doctrinal documentation and add more rules, rituals, and structure.
True secularism should not include any religions, including the religion of secular humanism. Consequently, secularism should only include hard facts, not belief systems. The culture war is religion vs. religion, not religion vs. secularism.