Some sobering secular thoughts on President Obama

Although I am very excited that Barack Obama will be our next president, I share the concerns voiced in an article from Ronald Lindsay published in a recent newsletter from the Council on Secular Humanism (CSH). Some excerpts:

But just because Obama has won the election does not mean that humanists can relax and let down their guard. […] Obama may be able to preserve the current balance on the [Supreme] Court; he is unlikely to be able to engineer a more favorable balance.

This, of course, assumes that Obama will appoint justices who favor church-state separation. That is not entirely clear. Granted, his choices are unlikely to be as bad as McCain’s would have been, but during the campaign, Obama did not exactly hold himself out as a firm believer in strict separation. To the contrary, Obama stated that he not only did not intend to eliminate President Bush’s faith-based funding programs, he actually planned to expand them. Furthermore, Obama expressly stated that the values manifested “in our churches and synagogues” should be reflected in our policies and laws. In other words, religious values should inform public policy.

These views of President-Elect Obama, shared by many Democrats, show why it is a mistake to think that this election represents a victory for humanism. CSH is not a wing of the Democratic Party nor a liberal cause organization. CSH wants religion out of government — and government out of religion. We want the secular state guaranteed by our Constitution. The government should not support, financially or otherwise, religious beliefs and activities. Discourse about public policy should be framed entirely in secular terms, and decisions about public policy should be based entirely on secular considerations. These goals are not likely to be realized soon, and certainly not in an Obama administration.

(Ronald A. Lindsay is President and CEO of the Center for Inquiry and Executive Director of the Council for Secular Humanism.)

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