Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Separation Of (Secular) Church & State

Now that more people are coming to see zealous intersectionality / Social Justice as a de facto new religion, the obvious question is, "what implication does this have for America's tradition of the separation between church and state."

See 1:39:09 in this video for a question

  1. Universities are supporting the promulgation of a specific religion.
  2. Human resource and Diversity offices should be very careful about whether their actions are de facto proselytization's of a specific religion.
  3. Government and private business are, in many cases, explicitly prioritizing a specific religion, albeit for "good ends".
  4. Some Critical Theory departments may best be integrated into Religious Studies departments.
  5. There should be clear distinctions between the study of certain topics and activism on those topics.
  6. How do you accommodate physical "safe spaces" (physical churches) into public post-secondary campuses?
  7. Can current Religious accommodation laws accommodate the needs / interests of this new religion.
  8. Religious and indigenous perspectives should be elevated in value.

I think the major issue is going to be how Universities use the insights from this class of de facto "religions". For instance, religious studies produce unique and valuable perspectives on ethical topics. Whitehead, one of the major proponents of this perspective was clearly influenced by religion. Modern process philosophy emerged.

Also, religious perspectives can, and often do, fertilize the contemplation of ethical questions about theory and practice.  

Similarly, arguments can be made that the quasi-factual nature of religious thinking can loosen system levels constraints which inhibit creative thinking (see Eric Weinstein's arguments in his discussion with Sam Harris). Basically, the allowance for crazy hypothetical holistically biased ideas ensures that systems don't become so oppressively rigid that they stifle idea generation & development.

This also relates to current foci on native knowledge traditions. Objective truth is objective truth, but different perspectives illuminate different aspects and questions. This process engenders greater creativity. It also has the potential to ground things differently. This is especially true around applicational aspects (which almost always intersect socially constructed considerations).

I can't see activism as being overly tenable in state sponsored post secondary institutions. To see this, ask yourself what level of Catholic activism you would be comfortable with from a Religious Studies department? Should these professors be encouraging students to protest Planned Parenthood? Should they be staging protests on campus which push people to follow Catholic specific teachings such as no artificial birth control?

While Critical Theory is fundamentally tied to action, I suspect religious categorization will force some hard exploration of what is and what is not acceptable for a religion to do when many of its priests/professors are directly supported by state funds.

Physical Accommodations
One sore spot with respect to intersectional religion is its racist tendencies. Safe spaces require both ideological purity (no offensive ideas or symbols) and racial/sexual purity (you should be of a non-offensive race, sex or gender construct).  Race and sex purity can, of course be mitigated by correct compensators: wokeness, virtue signalling and appropriate physical/behavioural markers (say the right clothes, piercings, hair colour etc.).  But, generally "safe spaces" seem slightly less publicly welcoming than most churches.  While churches can't discriminate based upon race, it seems safe spaces can.

To see how this might work in practice, imagine if an alpha looking male wanted to attend a "female survivors" of sex assault workshop. Many people would suggest this might not be appropriate. However, this is a clear case of sexual discrimination. Unless you carve out "religious" exemptions, it wouldn't stand fair application of law.

But in post-secondary space, religious exemptions for discrimination are few and far between. The space is public, not self-selected and private.  Thus I suspect safe spaces will not survive separation of (secular) church and state.

Personally, this is partly why I see one-directional oppression logic as all but inevitable. Without it, I suspect these nascent religious movements may find growth problematic. Opponents can easily challenge their dynamics by profaning their sacred tenets via free speech and physical inclusion rights. Thus I'm empathetic to these groups needs for protection (free speech limits, one-dimensional racism, safe spaces, etc.). I just don't think these stand up without purposeful state-sponsorship. The problem is that, from many angles, the state is sponsoring a de facto religion, not a simple social grouping.

Because many people consider the growth of these movements as inherently beneficial to historically marginalized groups, I think the state is willing to overlook the destructive & corrosive hypocrisy that comes from non-uniform rule application.  After all, the intentions are good.....

Unfortunately this is a good recipe for social disaster. As can be seen in the UK and Sweden, it requires increasing levels of "double downing". This inspires ever increasing levels of backlash.

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