Greetings, all, and thank you for your comments.
Mr. Wolfer wrote: “My only question is why, in section 5, you don't want religious criteria used in the selection of leadership positions in private businesses.”
Again, this should not be a legal requirement, but rather a moral one for individuals in all lines of business that do not have to do with religion or philosophy. To understand why this is important, consider what would happen if a qualified applicant for the position of CEO in a tablemaking business (just to use an example) was rejected because he was not a Christian (or because he was a Christian, for that matter). That candidate might have been the best possible person to run a tablemaking business, and his religious beliefs or lack thereof have nothing to do with his performance at that particular occupation. If one’s occupation has nothing to do with one’s religious beliefs and one is the best at doing a particular task, then one should be hired to do that task.
The reason we do not want religious criteria used in private hiring is the same reason we do not want racial criteria used in private hiring. These criteria imply that something other than the individual’s personal abilities at the task in question determine whether he/she gets hired to do the task in question. A fully free market can lead to a solely skill-oriented approach in hiring, especially over time as companies that employ skilled individuals irrespective of circumstantial or ideological background earn more money than companies that do not. Racist and religionist businesses will simply lose in open, free-market competition.
Of course, organizations explicitly oriented toward religion and philosophy have legitimate moral grounds for discriminating on that basis. For instance, I would not expect Bob Jones University to hire an atheist, no more than I would expect The Atlas Society to hire a Christian. But both Christians and atheists can make good widgets.
Mr. Wolfer wrote: “And I would suggest adding a section calling for an agreement to never provide funding or any other form of support for any religious organizations that do not adhere to the MSARRB… I would also think about adding a section stating that all religious bodies affirming their acceptance of this document, and acting accordingly may claim the right to freely practice their religion in all private venues free from any government interference or coercive interference from other organizations.”
This is a good idea. Thank you for the recommendation. I will incorporate some version of these ideas in a later edition of the MSARRB, which I will release on Associated Content in the near future.
Mr. Wolfer wrote: “And I would rename it. The word 'secular' doesn't really fit, since these are agreements sought from religious organizations. Maybe call it something like the ‘Freedom of Belief Agreement.’”
The word “secular” in the agenda’s name refers to expectations made of religious organizations in a secular society, i.e., a society where religion and politics are formally separated, but also a society where religion is not inextricably tied to morality and culture. Achieving political secularism is just one part of the task; the other is to educate and persuade enough religious people to reject the many ill-founded prejudices that some of them hold about non-believers or people of other religions.
Mr. Henshaw wrote: “How about those religious beliefs and practices based on an understanding of what is moral, when that code of morality can also be derived from a secular philosophy? For example, someone else's code of religious morality includes "thou shall not kill", while a secular person's morality includes NIOF (the Non-Initiation of Force principle), which arrives at much the same moral code regarding murder?”
I agree with your view that many moral tenets of religious systems can be justified on objective, rational grounds. If a particular moral rule can be justified from a non-religious standpoint, then it can be implemented independently of religion. This includes many moral rules that might require force to prevent violations – such as the prohibition on murder. The fact that murder is coercive and wrong independently and irrespective of any religious beliefs is alone sufficient for governments to prohibit it. In clause 2, I only refer to those practices and beliefs which have only a religious justification and no ability to be justified outside of a religious framework.
Mr. Henshaw wrote: “there are few practices that are ‘objectionable on a solely religious basis’, since most if not virtually all religious codes of conduct can be viewed as non-rigorous attempts to codify the wisdom (or lack thereof) of a particular society in a particular time, and likely have thus been replicated by other societies in other times and circumstances.”
Much of the Bible’s Book of Leviticus stipulates severe punishments for practices which are largely considered innocuous today. Many of these punishments are justified simply by God’s say-so. Even in the past of the United States, there existed many prohibitions that were justified solely on religious grounds. Consider, for example, the laws that restricted both work and entertainment on Sundays. These laws were common in many parts of the United States into the late 19th century. As late as the 1950s, arguments were made (and accepted) in state courts that interracial marriage should not be allowed because “God put individuals of different races in different places on the Earth.”
Moreover, for those laws that have a non-religious, rational justification, the religious justifications should not even be cited in public discourse; they are irrelevant, as they cannot be binding on non-believers without establishing some religion as a coercive power.
Gennady Stolyarov II
Author, The Best Self-Help is Free: http://rationalargumentator.com/selfhelpfree.html