Secularism Is a Civilizing Force for Democratic Societies

Greek ruins

When it comes to secularism, my views have evolved over the years. I used to think of it as little more than church-state activism. It was reactive because it had to be. The separation of church and state was always under threat. Religious extremists sought to destroy it. Defending it required a reactive sort of church-state activism. We'd seek to quell each new threat that popped up and then move along.

I'd later realize that secularism was broader than this. It was also about how governments handle religion. Do they support pluralism or privilege? Does one religious tradition always seem to receive special treatment? How do government officials talk about religion? Do they understand that they aren't supposed to be clergy? Does it seem like they are often trying to persuade us to share their religious beliefs?


I'm Not Convinced Most Atheists Choose Atheism

 woman faced with a choice

The question of whether atheism is a choice comes up often. Many people believe that it is a choice, including some atheists. This has long puzzled me. I've never experienced it as a choice. Not only that, but I did everything in my power to resist when the doubts first surfaced. I sought help from family, friends, and even clergy. I prayed. I re-read the Bible. I was desperate. I wanted to keep believing. I wanted to remain a Christian. None of that mattered. It all slipped away.

When I've had this discussion with others, this is what I've focused on. I've explained how I fought against it and how that didn't help. I've explained that I never chose to be an atheist but ended up one anyway. But that's only half the story. It might not even be the best illustration of why I'm not sure that atheism is a choice.


Shouldn’t Easter Be a Much Bigger Deal?

Colored Easter eggs

It has long puzzled me that Easter seems to be so much less important to Christians than Christmas. Everyone who's ever lived was born. Celebrating someone else's birth has never made much sense. I haven't bothered to celebrate my own since I was a child. But a resurrection? That seems pretty special! Shouldn't Christmas pale in comparison to Easter?

I went to the grocery store this morning. It was open. The same store is never open on Christmas. But I'm not sure if I would have given this a second thought if I hadn't noticed something else on my way home.


Doing the Same Thing Long Enough to Tire of It

Man running on a treadmill

Sometimes the pattern is so obvious we can't believe we didn't see it. Hell, we may have participated in it for years without more than a vague sense of what we were doing! It wasn't that we were completely oblivious to what we were doing. We may have sensed that something was wrong, but we kept at it anyway. It sometimes seemed like we had little choice. At times, it felt like a moral duty.

What's the pattern I have in mind? It involves pointing out egregious examples of our opponents' bad behavior. "Look at what those Christian extremists are doing now! Can you believe it?" We'd hope that this would lead to action of some sort, knowing that it rarely does. We'd wonder why others didn't see the threat for what it was.