It may sound extreme to refer to the current arguments between religion and secularism as a crusade, but if the same amount of vitriol and angst existing between two groups 900 years ago it definitely would have resulted in bloodshed. The Pope wouldn’t hesitate to call Christian’s to arms and lay seige to all secular institutions in the name of God almighty. After all, family values and moral society are at stake. With a few extreme exceptions, we can count on most confrontations between religion and secularism to remain between protest lines and court rooms.
The question though, is can secularism and religion co-exist? I believe they can and that you don’t have to choose one or the other. Being a secularist doesn’t mean you must give up religion. While the founding fathers had varying views on their personal beliefs, most scholars will agree that all of them were secularists. Having witnessed first hand the effects of a church run government, they wanted to establish a country that allowed freedom for all to worship in whatever capacity they wished without interference from the government. In order to accomplish the great freedom of religion, the government would remain religiously neutral or “secular”.
For those who would argue religion is necessary in government I ask, which religion? Islam? They seem to have a good handle on crime. Catholicism? That worked well for a thousand years or so. Buddhists? They have a good approach to peace. Baptist? Tao? Jew? Many individuals feel that without the involvement of religion in government, there would be a moral decline to society. That theory would suggest that people’s religious behaviors are politically motivated. Basically, if the government doesn’t enforce the 10 commandments they’re no longer relevant for life. So does your society dictate your religionsity or religiosity dictate your society?
My personal feeling is that Christian’s need to leave politics and goverment to secularists. The best way to impact the world in the name of Christ is not through government policy and intervention. It is through living out your beliefs and changing lives. This doesn’t mean that you can’t vote your beliefs. What it means is that you have to take a minute to understand how those beliefs impact others, and why it is good for society beyond the Bible, Qu’ran, or Torah says so.
Meanwhile, Secularists are losing an opportunity to show the true intent of secularism which is peaceful co-existence of all beliefs (religious and non-religious). The hardline responses of the ACLU or Freedom From Religion Foundation while well intended are simply creating “battle lines” instead of understanding and equality. While I agree that the US may be secularist in design, Christianity and religion are a major part of it’s culture. Can’t we call a truce on the war on religion?
Haven’te we progressed to a point where we can see the value to having both sides present in our culture? The United States is a melting pot of cultures. All peoples, races, and religions are created equal under the constitution. Atheism, Christianity, Islam, etc. cannot claim dominance without undermining the freedoms of a great nation that allows their existence to begin with. It’s not about a crusade for who will be right and who will be wrong. Rather, how will you SHOW how your beliefs bring value to society?