Freedom from Religion Foundation: "I'm Secular and I Vote" campaign, Part 1 of 3
By Debra Rae
Free thought and pride attract atheists, agnostics, and skeptics to the largest secular association in North America—the non-profit, educational Freedom from Religion Foundation. FFRF Co-President Dan Barker opines, "Much of the movement away from religion in America is being driven by Millennials, many of whom will be voting for the first time this year." Hence, Parker adds, "We need secular voters to be vocal about their beliefs, or lack thereof, while rejecting efforts to push religious dogma on the nation."
This, of course, is no small effort. The Foundation boasts 23,500 members, 20 chapters across America, not to mention secular student alliances. Nearly 8,000 secular voters are reaching out to educate the public about their beliefs. FFRF awards thousands of dollars in prizes for winning student essays; and they distribute "I'm Secular and I Vote" buttons, T-shirts, bumper stickers, and educational material.
What Exactly is Religion?
To be freed from something requires grasp of what is being discarded. So what exactly is the illusive concept of religion? Surprising to some, whether Judeo-Christian, Marxist-Leninist, secularist, or Islamic, all worldviews by nature are religious. Each defines an ultimate point of reference that dramatically influences every possible discipline from science to the arts, ethics to law, geo-politics to economics. All speak to an ideology, or movement, that offers some overarching approach to comprehend God (god), the world, and man's relationship to both.
"Freedom from religion" is better understood as switching religion from one brand to another. Allow me to explain. Classical orthodoxy, Christian or Jewish, broadly typifies "religion," as most perceive it, but so does secular humanism. By definition, religion sports its own distinctive vocabulary, sacred symbolism, grand metanarrative, exclusive truth exercised by faith, code of ethics/morality, creed, rituals, evangelism, and discipleship. Logically, to discard religion is to separate from the above; secularism instead exhibits all of them.
In The Church of the Holy Trinity v. U.S. (1892), the Supreme Court ruled that our civilization and institutions are emphatically Christian. In the early sixties, however, two landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases made way for secular humanism by giving the proverbial boot to traditional faith (in the form of school prayer and Bible reading). It was then that secular humanism emerged as a non-theistic religion whose organized system of beliefs is upheld devotedly by some 7.3 million humanists, and counting. Both Christianity and secularism have received judicial acknowledgement.
Keep in mind humanism may or may not center on a supernatural being. Cosmic- and secular- humanism both are organized systems of beliefs and rituals upheld or pursued with zeal and devotion. Their relativistic values exalt human worth based on self-determination through reason.
By censoring God-speak and pilfering biblical phraseology, secularists craft their own lexicon. Take the word, "conversion," meaning "a turning"—whether literally or figuratively, ethically or religiously. In the Bible, conversion is associated with repentance and faith. In the secular world, Harvard Professor Steven Pinker boldly testifies, "I never outgrew my conversion to atheist at thirteen."
Honorary FFRF Board member Julia Sweeny argues, "How dare the religious use the term ‘born again'?" Sweeney reserves the phrase for fellow freethinkers who, like her, have ostensibly thrown off the shackles of religion. The Greek word for "born again," used first by Jesus and plagiarized by Sweeny, means "to beget again into a new life." More specifically, "to be born from above."
In challenging the phrase "under God," born-again convert to secularism Mike Newdow complained to the U.S. Supreme Court, "I am an atheist. I don't believe in God. And every school morning my child is asked to stand up, face that flag, put her hand over her heart, and say that her father is wrong." Apparently, in Newdow's world, affirmations other than his own are personally demeaning and, thus, universally offensive. This freethinking father knows best when it comes to a god that, in his view, doesn't even exist.
Grand Metanarrative ("Big Story")
Defined by Huston Smith as "the clearest opening through which the inexhaustible energies of the cosmos can pour into human existence," the religion of secularism merges symbolism with mythology and Jungian psychology espousing the "higher self." By self-identifying as "Mother Earth's consciousness," cosmic humanists blur the line between physics and metaphysics. Theirs is a pseudo-Christian patchwork of spirit-ism and avant-garde, "fourth-force" psychology.
For these, all life is energy; composite energy is god; and the promised expectation is "life beyond the grave" by becoming god. Most often by means of meditation, achieving an altered state of consciousness enables the Imperial Self to give way to collectivist spirituality. Cosmic humanists attain to cosmic- or group- consciousness by aligning and then fusing with the universal life force. The spiritual climb upward (evolution from embryo-god to "Christhood" through multiple reincarnations) is one grand story!
Secular humanists embrace perhaps an even bigger story by reasoning there once existed absolutely nothing. Nothing happened to that nothing until it magically exploded (for no known reason) and thereby created everything and everywhere. A bunch of the exploded everything unpredictably rearranged itself (again, for no known reason) into self-replicating bits, which (to make a long story short) turned into dinosaurs. This constitutes yet another tall tale, or "big story."
Vision for a Utopian Ideal
Simply put, the overarching vision for a Christian is humanity united with (and conformed into the likeness of) God's Son, coupled with full restoration of the universe to its rightful order under God the Father. In contrast, evolutionary theory at the epicenter of secularism self-characterizes as an expression of "merciless hate." By specifically excluding "useless eaters," "miserable, degraded savages," and those deemed "unfit and defective," the progressive utopian ideal sidesteps the Golden Rule and Great Commission.
In the words of the Trilateral Commission's founding director Zbigniew Brzezinski, "Marxism represents a further vital and creative stage in the maturing of man's universal vision." American writer and editor Whittaker Chambers once fingered communism as the "second oldest religion." Understand that "non-sustainable non-producers" relegated to the low end of humanity's totem pole include the elderly, stay-at-home moms, and those incapacitated physically or mentally. In the Marxist paradigm, all human rights are granted, controlled, and/or withdrawn by government consisting of elitists deemed more highly evolved and enlightened than the masses.
Toward developing our thesis (Freedom from religion is better understood as switching religion from one brand to another.), we've established that secularism and religion are accompanied by judicial acknowledgement, a distinctive vocabulary, grand metanarrative ("big story"), and vision for an ideal—all of which inform voters and influence the course of a nation.
More to follow in Part 2.
Debra Rae is a regular contributor to The Intellectual Conservative and this publication. © 2016