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Atheism vs. Secularism

It is kind of funny sometimes when religious fundamentalists claim that America is an atheist nation. Sometimes they even say that in the same breath as when they tell me that America is a Christian nation. Of course I have to inquire.

Sometimes religious people don’t understand the difference between atheism and secularism and as a result they often use the terms interchangeably. America is a secular nation. That is true. Does that make America an atheist nation? Well, yes and no.

Both atheism and secularism deal with a lack of deities. This is perhaps where the confusion occurs. Atheism is the lack of belief in deities but secularism isn’t a belief. Secularism is more like a lack of pertinence.

For example, public schools are secular in that they don’t pertain to gods and supernaturalism. People in the schools are free to either believe or not believe in those things. The schools themselves are not entities that are capable of beliefs. The educators and administrators are the ones capable of beliefs. The policy is that belief or lack of belief are not pertinent to the material that the school is trying to teach. That material is best left to others. In some instances, the terms secular and atheist can be synonymous, but they are slightly different terms.

The separation of church and state does not create an atheist state, but rather affirms that beliefs or lack of beliefs are not pertinent to the state. People can believe or not believe as they wish.

Christians love to feel persecuted and that is why some fundamentalists will mix up the terms atheist and secular. In this way, they can justify their persecution complex and claim that public schools and the nation as a whole are atheists oppressing God.

Of course God is helpless to fight back against the atheist schools and the atheist government so Mr. All-powerful God needs Christians to fight back against the persecution. Maybe God is helpless because he doesn’t exist. Just a thought.

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  • Paradox ROT

    Awesome post!!

  • http://theperplexedobserver.blogspot.com/ TPO

    Yep, you nailed it.

  • John

    Nailed it? He completely misdefined Secular. Secular doesn’t mean without God, secular simply means separate. Ironically secular government is a distinctly Christian belief, not found in any other religion.

    • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

      Actually John, I said that secular is that “beliefs or lack of beliefs are not pertinent.” And to claim that secularism is found in Christianity is a joke too funny for words. Think about that one for a moment. How can religion not be pertinent to religion? Secularism is a concept of modernity brought about through the enlightenment philosophy of our founding fathers.