Saturday, August 18, 2012

On Being Religious AND Secular (and maybe too concerned about labels)

I’ve been thinking about semantics lately, and the words “secularist” and “religious”.  I’ve been wondering if I am living in some sort of dichotomy or false dichotomy. Can I be religious and secularist (or is it just secular?) at the same time?  Yes, of course I can, but how do I explain that, especially when I think most people equate the word “secular” with “non-religious”?

Secular doesn’t just refer to non-religious. The AmericanHeritage Dictionary offers the deifinition,  “Relating to or advocating secularism”. Secularism, in turn, defined by the same source is “The view that religious considerations should be excluded from civil affairs or public education.”

UUs definitively support secularism. We even have a statement on the matter (of course)-

Religion and State

The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) has long expressed our support of the separation of church and state in relation to public education, partisan politics, free exercise and religious pluralism. For this reason, the UUA works to ensure that federal dollars are not used to fund religious discrimination, to combat government endorsement of religious beliefs, and to ensure freedom of religious expression.
Tim Minchin (somewhat) recently tweeted a couple videos about secularism and humanism. He is in the humanism one. The secularism one has a lot relating to British government, but I love that within the first minute, there is a thorough explanation of secularism as we UUs use it, AND it then clarifies that it benefits both the religious and non-religious and should be supported by atheists and believers alike, showing these various terms-

I love seeing the term “religious atheist” there. I recently changed my blog description to describe myself that way, and I worried I was making up some crazy term that no one would understand.
If you are interested in understanding more about secularism and humanism, these videos are good introductions or good summaries to share. Mary- the Universalist Unitarian Secular Humanist Religious Atheist

Humanism (with Tim Minchin)-

1 comment:

  1. We have that issue with homeschooling too. so many homeschooling groups are religious based (even requiring a statement of faith to join) so when you state your group is a "secular" homeschool group so many people don't get that it just means the group is about education, not religion, but that the members can be any religion (or not) that they like.

    Our current group uses the term "inclusive" instead of secular which people seem to understand. But there are many cases -- government being one of them in which secular is the proper word and people need to understand the definition.

    Thanks for linking to the videos.