The Manifesto for Secularism
by Paul Hazelden


Introduction

In October 2014, 250 delegates gathered in London for the international secularism conference. After the conference, Peter Tatchell posted the 'Manifesto for Secularism' on his web site: External link - Manifesto for Secularism Manifesto for Secularism, along with some commentary which includes the following paragraphs.

Secularism - the separation of religion and the state - is a vital precondition for democracy, equality and human rights. It protects people of all faiths and none; creating a level playing field where no religion has legal privilege and no faith can abuse its influence to victimise people of different beliefs.
Wherever religion has political power, human rights are attacked and restricted - as in Saudi Arabia and Iran. Even when religion has little or no formal political power, such as in the UK and US, the Religious Right has often sabotaged women’s reproductive rights and equality for LGBT people.

Of course, there is a great deal of good in the manifesto and elsewhere on that web page. But some of the content needs a response and some of it (I would suggest) needs some revision. This is a person contribution towards that end.

Details

  The Full Text of the Manifesto

Our era is marked by the rise of the religious-Right – not because of a “religious revival” but rather due to the rise of far-Right political movements and states using religion for political supremacy. This rise is a direct consequence of neo-conservatism and neo-liberalism and the social policies of communalism and cultural relativism. Universalism, secularism and citizenship rights have been abandoned and segregation of societies and “communities” based on ethnicity, religion and culture have become the norm.

The Islamic State (formerly ISIS), the Saudi regime, Hindutva (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) in India, the Christian-Right in the US and Europe, Bodu Bala Sena in Sri Lanka, Haredim in Israel, AQMI and MUJAO in Mali, Boko Haram in Nigeria, the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Islamic Salvation Front in Algeria are examples of this.

For many decades now, people in the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and the Diaspora have been the first victims but also on the frontlines of resistance against the religious-Right (whether religious states, organisations and movements) and in defence of secularism and universal rights, often at great risk to their lives.

We call on people everywhere to stand with us to establish an international front against the religious-Right and for secularism. We demand:

  1. Complete separation of religion from the state. Secularism is a fundamental right.
  2. Separation of religion from public policy, including the educational system, health care and scientific research.
  3. Abolition of religious laws in the family, civil and criminal codes. An end to discrimination against and persecution of LGBT, religious minorities, women, freethinkers, ex-Muslims and others.
  4. Freedom of religion and atheism and freedom to criticise religions. Belief as a private affair.
  5. Equality between women and men and citizenship rights for all.

  Comments on the commentary

Secularism - the separation of religion and the state - is a vital precondition for democracy, equality and human rights.
It protects people of all faiths and none;
creating a level playing field where no religion has legal privilege and no faith can abuse its influence to victimise people of different beliefs.
Wherever religion has political power, human rights are attacked and restricted - as in Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Even when religion has little or no formal political power, such as in the UK and US, the Religious Right has often sabotaged women’s reproductive rights and equality for LGBT people.

  Comments on the manifesto

Our era is marked by the rise of the religious-Right – not because of a “religious revival” but rather due to the rise of far-Right political movements and states using religion for political supremacy.
This rise is a direct consequence of neo-conservatism and neo-liberalism and the social policies of communalism and cultural relativism.
Universalism, secularism and citizenship rights have been abandoned and segregation of societies and “communities” based on ethnicity, religion and culture have become the norm.
The Islamic State (formerly ISIS), the Saudi regime, Hindutva (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) in India, the Christian-Right in the US and Europe, Bodu Bala Sena in Sri Lanka, Haredim in Israel, AQMI and MUJAO in Mali, Boko Haram in Nigeria, the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Islamic Salvation Front in Algeria are examples of this.
For many decades now, people in the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and the Diaspora have been the first victims but also on the frontlines of resistance against the religious-Right (whether religious states, organisations and movements) and in defence of secularism and universal rights, often at great risk to their lives.
We call on people everywhere to stand with us to establish an international front against the religious-Right and for secularism.
We demand:
Complete separation of religion from the state.
Secularism is a fundamental right.
Separation of religion from public policy, including the educational system, health care and scientific research.
Abolition of religious laws in the family, civil and criminal codes.
An end to discrimination against and persecution of LGBT, religious minorities, women, freethinkers, ex-Muslims and others.
Freedom of religion and atheism and freedom to criticise religions.
Belief as a private affair.
Equality between women and men and citizenship rights for all.

 

 


Copyright © 2015 Paul Hazelden
 
http://hazelden.org.uk/gr02/art_gr079_secularism_manifesto.htm was last updated 15 January 2015
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