Thursday, September 23, 2010
By “secularism,” he means a movement that “seeks to defend the absolute freedom of religious and other belief, seeks to maximise freedom of religious and other expression and protect the right to manifest religious belief insofar as it does not impinge disproportionately on the rights and freedoms of others.”
Most of what follows is unexceptionable, but then there’s goal number three, “End unjustified religious discrimination by” and his first example:
• Stopping faith schools from sacking or rejecting a teacher based on his/her religion or marital status.
So: to prevent discrimination, he demands discrimination. Faith schools aren’t allowed to propagate their faith by hiring only teachers who share it, which would seem to be a right implicit in the idea of a faith school. He evidently intends faith schools to become secularist institutions, in the usual sense of secularism. So maybe, even on his own grounds, the characterization and attacks aren’t so unfair after all.
The pope, by the way, is a subtler student of what might better be called “secularity” than this writer.
Pope Benedict XVI has, in recent months, expressed his admiration for the “American model” of religious liberty and church-state liberty. For example, during his trip last spring to the United States, the Pope noted, and seemed to praise, America’s “positive concept of secularism,” in which government respects both the role of religious arguments and commitments in the public square and the important distinction between religious and political authorities. . . .