The Minimal Secular Agenda Regarding Religious Belief

G. Stolyarov II
Issue CLXVI - June 30, 2008
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Religion has existed for as long as recorded history can document, and it will almost certainly continue to exist for the foreseeable future, although the contents of religious doctrine will evolve in accordance with changing economic and societal circumstances and developments in prevalent understandings of morality.

A reasonable secularist does not seek to wipe out religion – as this would be an impossible task that would only meet severe resistance and endanger the prospects for the humane, peaceful coexistence of all persons. Moreover, revolutionary changes in any person’s worldview are undesirable, as they uproot him from sophisticated and decently functioning understandings of moral action that can develop on the basis of a wide variety of underlying philosophical frameworks. Any changes in a person’s philosophy need to be gradual and thoroughly considered – and thus nobody concerned with maintaining the peace of human interactions should wish for an instantaneous overhaul of all religious persuasions.

Instead of fighting the religious or “de-converting” them, the reasonable secularist needs to attempt to – in the course of discussion and argumentation – reach an understanding of proper this-worldly behavior that he and the majority of religious people can at least roughly agree on. In order for this to happen, it is not necessary for religious belief to disappear. Rather, it simply needs to be expressed humanely and tolerantly.

The following is a list of expectations that the secularist should be able to reasonably make on all religious persons. Many religious persons, in fact, already adhere to these points and thus should not be actively opposed in the expression and practice of their beliefs.

The Minimal Secular Agenda Regarding Religious Belief (MSARRB) 

To ensure the peaceful and harmonious coexistence of all individuals, all persons of religious persuasions should voluntarily adopt the following understandings.

1. A recognition that it is possible for non-religious people to behave morally and to behave just as morally, if not more so, as any religious person.

2. A renunciation of all coercive apparatuses – governmental or private – for the imposition of religious beliefs and practices on those who do not wish to receive them.

3. A renunciation of all coercive apparatuses – governmental or private – for the suppression of non-religious beliefs and practices. 

4. A renunciation of support for coercively obtained funding for religious or religiously affiliated institutions.

5. A renunciation of any religious criteria for the holding of leadership positions in public office or in private businesses which have no direct relation to religious or philosophical activity.

6. A recognition that lifestyles and behaviors which are objectionable on a solely religious basis can only be legitimately countered by private, non-coercive efforts and not through the use of governmental or private coercive power.

The adoption of the MSARRB will greatly de-escalate the current “culture wars” and facilitate maximum freedom for both the religious and the non-religious. Moreover, it will enable more civil, tolerant, and respectful interactions among individuals of a wide variety of philosophical persuasions.

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Learn about Mr. Stolyarov's novel, Eden against the Colossus, here.

Read Mr. Stolyarov's comprehensive treatise, A Rational Cosmology, explicating such terms as the universe, matter, space, time, sound, light, life, consciousness, and volition, here.

Read Mr. Stolyarov's four-act play, Implied Consent, a futuristic intellectual drama on the sanctity of human life, here.