The need for strong secular governance institutions in our democracy could not possibly be clearer than it is now. Among many other things, freedom of religion and belief would not be possible without it.
— Since the above is true, it follows that there has never been a stronger need for strong secular organizations in civil society. That is because we understand better than most what secular governance is, and how vital it is. That being true, we will work hard for secular government. (Numerous faith organizations who fully understand that their well-being depends mightily on strong secular government will also join us.)
— For related reasons, JEWISH organizations also matter greatly today. First of all, Jewish support for social justice, minority rights, and human rights over history has always been grounded in the belief in, support for, and indeed in the FACT of our secular Constitution. Indeed, Jews have often been in the forefront of actions for the rights and justice found in our Constitution. So, for similar reasons as above, we understand just how much rides on secular governance and how especially vital Jewish support for that is. Our belief in evidence-based argument put forward with sound reasoning gives us exceedingly powerful tools with which to make our case for justice and rights — and democracy — in the public square.
Our secular democracy depends on all of us trying to live as public citizens and not just as private individuals. We should all be involved in the public square.
The United States is, by force of its Constitution, a thoroughly secular nation-state with secular organs and institutions of governance at every level – from the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of the Federal government, through the same institutions at the state level, to local constables, alderpersons, and Justices of the Peace.
There is no specification that “men (sic) of the cloth” by virtue of being men of the cloth have any kind of role in governance, and no specification that one must belong to a certain religion or be a religious figure at all. In sum, ours a “Christian country” only in the sense that the secular nation-state houses a majority Christian culture. That can, and in practice often does, mean that a person with strong Christian values may be elected, just as in other electoral districts an observant Jewish or Muslim person may be elected.
The importance of civil society in a secular democracy is an important way for citizens’ voices to be mobilized and heard, and as a check on government power.
Democracy can only be democracy if it remains secular. Since democracy is a process that allows differing voices to be heard, that process must not be welded to any one of those political or religious ideologies. By definition, democracy declines to the extent that a single ideology, other than democracy itself, begins to prevail.
Dr. Richard D. Logan is a volunteer leader of Jews for a Secular Democracy; board president of the Society for Humanistic Judaism; and a retired Professor of Human Development. He has a BA in Anthropology from Harvard College and a PhD in Human Development from the University of Chicago where he studied under Bruno Bettelheim and Lawrence Kohlberg. Most of his career was at UW – Green Bay but he also had appointments at the University of Nairobi and Vassar College, and a sabbatical at the University of Kent in Canterbury England. He has published on adolescent identity, American individualism, the emergence of the self through Western history, and the state of higher education. He also authored a book on the psychology of solitary ordeals, and another on the true survival story of a young girl lost at sea. He also chaired the Faculty Executive Committee. Since retiring he has served on several non-profit boards.
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