There are a few cases in the U.S that’s sparked the secularism debate. The first is the much debated 40 feet tall cross in Maryland. The justices voted a 7-2 position to allow the cross to remain on public land. The American Humanist society decided that the ‘peace cross‘ erected in 1925 in Bladensburg violated the first amendment, which prohibits the government from establishing an official religion, or favouring one religion over others. The issue here was not all of the soldiers were of a Christian faith, so the peace cross should be replaced by something neutral.
Whilst I agree with the sentiment, the cross symbolises the fallen in World War I and to take it down would surely be disrespectful to them and their families? The second case to come up is the 92 year old Ten Commandments plaque that was situated at the Joseph Welty Middle School in Ohio. The freedom from religion foundation (FFRF) said it was a ‘flagrant violation‘ of the first amendment and it made children of other faiths, or non–believers uncomfortable and makes them feel like outsiders.
The (FFRF) said.
”We applaud the district for taking action to remedy this violation, students in our public schools are free to practice any religion they choose — or none at all. In America, we live under the First Amendment, not the Ten Commandments.”
I’ve read many Christians claim that it’s a sin, it’s persecution against Christianity , and America was founded with God in mind. All this is completely disregarding the first amendment which is essentially stating that the U.S is a secularist state and no laws, or priorities shall be given to any one religion. We all know that there are plenty of states that don’t adhere to this, and the removal of the plaque will set the motion for many more future cases.
The meaning behind secularism is often misinterpreted, and the religious seem to think it’s against them, but little do they realise that it also protects their religious freedom. When states are not secular, like Saudi Arabia for example, they obviously value Islam over any other faith. This means that Christians have few rights, if any. This is why secularism is important to all, as it guarantees the freedom of all religions.
Humanists U.K. say this:
”The communal institutions that we share (and together pay for) should provide a neutral public space where we can all meet on equal terms.”
Many religious people claim that giving the LBGT community rights and focus is destroying religious values that they believe their country is based upon, but in essence it’s all about equality and everyone has the right to express themselves. Despite this and other attempts to make the U.K. a secularist society, religion still has a firm grip on some areas. Assisted dying, religious state funded schools or Humanist weddings are a few key areas that need working on.
Below are the areas where Humanism U.K. are campaigning to promote secularism:
Have you, or someone you know ever been in a situation where something could have been prevented if you lived in a secularist society?
More information on secularism can be found at National Secularism Society