Let’s Stop Drinking From The Lethal Cup Of Secularized Religious Laws!

By Donald A. Collins | 15 November 2023
Church and State

(Credit: YouTube / screengrab)

Drive through any city, large or small, and you’ll see countless places of worship.

As adherence to these many options, one can’t help but wonder about the massive work involved in setting up such a phalanx of seemingly similar Christian denominations which use obsequiousness to Jesus to hone their reasons for getting the observance of their parishioners.

The innumerable numbers of places where people worship, from massive structures to humble edifices would suggest the supply could well be exceeding demand.

One expert offers sound reasons for this sudden drop in more affluent countries. He is Ronald F. Inglehart, Lowenstein Professor of Political Science emeritus at the University of Michigan and author of Religion’s Sudden Decline: What’s Causing it, and What Comes Next? (Oxford University Press). Available on Amazon, from which his views are repeated here.

His summary:

1. Secularization Accelerates in High-Income Countries
Ronald F. Inglehart, Oxford Academic Books, 2020

2. Religion’s Sudden Decline: What’s Causing it, and What Comes Next?
Ronald F. Inglehart et al., Oxford Academic Books, 2020

3. What’s causing it? The rise of Individual-choice norms
Ronald F. Inglehart, Oxford Academic Books, 2020

4. The Shift from Pro-Fertility Norms to Individual-Choice Norms
Ronald F. Inglehart, Oxford Academic Books, 2020

These facts are well described in the article you can read here.

This Church and State website has since its inception offered its readers numerous reasons to be skeptical of believing in the truth of any religious belief. The testimony of Sportin’ Life in the Gershwin brothers’ opera Porgy and Bess or the comedic routine of George Carlin on religion will be dismissed by those who embrace without proof the validity of their brand of religions which number in the thousands.

As an admitted nonbeliever in any religion, the terms atheism or deism are definitionally useful to me, but the uncertainty of exactly what forces instigated these vast universes which surround our planet will never be discovered and that those universes are somehow there because of God defies any proof.

So powerful secular leaders fill in the fantasy of their choice and make dangerous any aberration from their fantasy and you have the basis for their behavior.

Some sexually violate small boys under their supervision, others demand “groupthink” or they expel members who don’t believe. Those expelled as history so perfectly demonstrates they then can spawn new forms of fantasy which offer their leaders new options for money, power and even good works like feeding their poor or aged, as long as you stay in their fold.

Hence the opportunity for getting unwary people to believe in some GOD of their leaders’ imagination is unlimited.

So, what on our planet should guide human religious behavior?

Let me make clear here that the value of religious observances can be consoling and energizing as personal experiences. The honoring of the deceased is often allied with a belief in the hereafter and those observances should take place in whatever form families and friends feel appropriate, so long as no violence accompanies politically troubled exits.

In the case of the adverse treatment of minorities, such as the racist treatment of African Americans, their churches are even now and certainly for generations before places of refuge from white biases.

So, let’s be sure this OP ED is not interpreted as an attack on religion as a personal choice. However, without exception all religions lead their adherents to political attempts to insert unsupported spiritual beliefs into secular political decisions of governance. Killing Roe and restricting choice on abortion is a prime example.

And let me not forget to admire the myriad of accomplishments of religions in good works of wide benefit, just as we regret the evils which were also discovered in such institutions.

As I was taking my morning walk recently, I suddenly with no prompting or inspiration began humming the first verse of that powerful hymn Amazing Grace. That first verse has always grasped me emotionally not intellectually, but its beauty when listened to captivates me.

Amazing Grace how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

Read all the Lyrics of this 1725 hymn by John Newton here.

My interpretation of that verse was not what the author intended. Amazing Grace was a phrase that said to me how fortunate I was to have parents, grandparents, cousins, uncles, and aunts so dedicated to me and my sister and the children of my aunts and uncles. I never thought of myself as a wretch, but always for years gave credit to smart people, often too much credit, in approaching people who seemed smarter or more able than me.

At close range those who seem so high and mighty are not except in their own minds. But they don’t hesitate to take secular advantage and are happy to wrap themselves in the fantasy of religion if it works politically. Mr. Trump for example.

In short, being lost in uncertainty is a standard human condition and I felt that in many ways I was not lost or blind and that I could not immediately see sometimes the many ways forward. Just never giving up, losing a sense of your self-worth, being humble and grateful at your good fortune. These are the perfect incentives that do not require giving yourself to the spiritual control of anyone.

I frankly never used the other Newton verses which embrace submission to an unknown entity who never fed me, clothed me, or educated me or in anyway reached outside the circle of those who I relied on.

Preaching salvation from one’s sins if you submit to fealty to God’s grace (forgiveness) are the pathways which those like the current US House of Representatives Speaker demands us accept the Christian religion’s alleged truths. He and his group seek to make their version of religion into legally mandated form called Christian Nationalism!

My parents were community oriented and involved civically so belonging to a Christian church in an almost all small white city whose citizens were not open to socializing with its small Jewish community. I couldn’t understand why a Jewish boy of about my age in our neighborhood was harassed by others my age. My own family often did socialize with Jewish friends.

For me going to my parents’ church was boring! I would stay quiet in my bedroom on Sunday mornings, hoping my parents would not awaken in time to drag me along to attend services.

They certainly didn’t offer me or my sister any sustained or memorable bible instruction even though my paternal grandmother was a believer in its literal word, whatever that phase means! She gave me a bible with my name printed in its fancy leather cover when I was 9, a year before she died of cancer. I have kept the bible as a symbol of my affection for her. I seldom read it then except to know it contained the Old and New Testaments the latter with those famous 10 commandments, which Geroge Carlin so delightfully reduces in number in his hilarious routine on religion.

World history before the 20th Century gave credibility to religious powers which science, war, mass media and exposure of its blatant hypocrisy and venomous racism and intimidation have not been adequate to cause the extinction of the major religions who numbers you can read below. I suspect the “unaffiliated” number are far greater than 15 percent and certainly in countries which treat women as slaves will in the decades ahead not keep them in hostage as their numbers migrate and/or get enlightened, avoiding the burden of repressive behavioral wasted time consumption.

Read here for numbers about the major ones.

The problem which inevitably arises and exists everywhere has taken the spiritual beliefs of the major faiths to become mandatory and enforceable subjecting those of smaller faiths and nonbelievers to secular penalties as we have seen forever worldwide.

That was indeed a seminal genius of our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution that offered a brilliant first draft which we have amended 27 times and need to constantly keep trying to improve it. The so called originalists represented by Justices such as Antonin Scalia wanted few changes even ignoring such obvious failures of the 18th Amendment on Prohibition or protecting women’s rights to privacy by killing Roe saying that’s not in the Constitution.

The First Amendment of our Constitutional specifies that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Today at least two of our governing bodies, our Supreme Court and our US House of Representatives are heavily committed to acting on secular matters based on their beliefs in Christianity.

The danger and absurdity of such a condition as I noted above were exemplified by the Court’s 6/24/22 Dobbs decision and the stated beliefs of governance of House Speaker Johnson and his very thin House majority colleagues.

These actions could start to be rescinded at the ballot box in November 2024! But clearly not if Trump is elected to a 2nd term.

Vast numbers of people such as the new US House of Representatives Mike Johnson will continue their fidelity, which only should be a spiritual personal matter but so far has always featured the tyranny of religious leadership. As noted, there are thousands of religions and as new ones arise that same pattern of male patrimony seems always to prevail although Mary Baker Eddy is one exception.

Some reasons for Trump’s election include the votes of Christian Nationalists, or some whites fearing replacement by minorities, or pro-life voters, and those inspired by Trump’s use of hate, and racism but there are other reasons! For example, the stated goal of the new House Speaker Mike Johnson is closing the Constitutional gap between church and state which this web site so effectively opposes. But again, that is not well understood by many voters.

Among the consoling recourses for us wretches who don’t kiss rings or bow on altars is humor. Evolution will surely change or mute the tyranny the present-day religions, but Andy Borowitz has jut offered a temporary recourse with his New Yorker piece entitled “Johnson Promises to Be Greatest Speaker of the Seventeenth Century”!

Borowitz’s further comment–“When a reporter pointed out that there was no such thing as a Speaker of the House in the seventeenth century, Johnson replied, “I see you’ve been reading history books. Enjoy them while you can.”

Read his entire satire here.

So, believe what you want, but don’t allow our elected or appointed officials in the future to drink from the lethal cup of secularized religious power as our highest judicial body has done with Dobbs and our House of Representatives might do by installing Christian Nationalism as our officially sanctioned religion should Trump be given a 2nd term.

Absent religion many would argue leaves them bereft of an emotional refuge from the host of assault to which humans are too commonly subject!

As our knowledge expands like our ability to see via the James Webb telescope into the deep extent and composition of galaxies we know there are other matters to be explored and embraced.

Saving ourselves will need better governance, better education, better communication and better environmental actions, goals which are only impeded by religious biases.

Former US Navy officer, banker and venture capitalist, Donald A. Collins, a free lance writer living in Washington, DC, has spent over 50 years working for women’s reproductive health as a board member and/or officer of numerous family planning organizations including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Guttmacher Institute, Family Health International and Ipas. Yale under graduate, NYU MBA. He is the author of “From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013”, “Trump Becoming Macbeth: Will our democracy survive?”, “We Humans Overwhelm Our Earth: 11 or 2 Billion by 2100?”, “What Can Be Done Now to Save Habitable Life on Planet Earth?”, “Vote”, “Can Homo Sapiens Survive?”, “Will Choice and Democracy Win?”, “Can Our U.S. Survive 8 Plus Billion of Us”, “Economic Growth: A Cancer on all Earthly Life” and “On the Precipice of Political Disaster in 2024”.

Religion’s Sudden Decline: What’s Causing it and What Comes Next, with Ronald Inglehart

The Growing Threat Of Christian Nationalism

‘Very dangerous’ for someone like Mike Johnson to be in charge says Capitol Hill reporter

Inside The Pro-QAnon, Pro-Trump, Christian Nationalist Roadshow To ‘Save America’

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