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Humanist Hypocrisies

Why do people tolerate and forgive the hypocrisies of non-Christians but not those of Christians? Why don't we publicly condemn an avowed humanist who acts religiously as we do a religious person who acts "irreligiously"?

Case in point: Paul Kurtz, prominent atheist and editor of Free Inquiry has called on humanists to express their humanism in very religious ways. Of course he makes great efforts to deny that what he advocates is religious, but then hypocritical religionists make similar rationalizations.

In recent promotional literature for his magazine, Kurtz emphatically states that "Secular humanism needs no clergy, no house of worship....It's not a religion but a way of living."

Such defensiveness aside, Kurtz explains in the most recent issue of Free Inquiry, how humanists must adopt, if they are to be successful, a host of ostensibly religious qualities and establish secular humanist "centers" [read "churches"]:

Fellowship: Humanists should provide "counseling services for all age groups," be "concerned with alleviating...suffering," and offer groups which provide "fraternal bonds of solidarity...a setting for shared experiences between like-minded friends."

But remember humanists are not religious.

Rituals: Humanists should not miss out on rites of passage -- humanist centers should "make note of these joyous moments by some kind of ceremony: a wine and cheese party, a birthday cake, the giving of presents, singing, and poetry." At sorrowful times, "Commemorative ceremonies may soothe the aching heart and provide some solace in truly naturalistic terms."

But remember humanists are not religious.

Clergy: These centers need leaders who "can help crystallize beliefs and values and provide some direction...Morally decent persons with integrity."

But remember humanists are not religious.

Moral Values: "[H]uman rights must be respected by everyone;" "common moral decencies'...are part of our heritage of humankind; they have their roots in our nature;" "all human beings should be considered equal in dignity and value."

But remember humanists are not religious.

Evangelism & Salvation: "We need to develop thoroughly humanistic centers of learning, focusing on educating the full person, liberating him or her from ancient dogmas and fears."

But remember humanists are not religious.

Faith: Humanists express their religious faith in terms of commitments -- "committed to the good life here and now;" "presupposing that the examined life is worth living;" "commitment to separation of church and state...and civil liberties;" "committed to a naturalistic worldview." Such centers would "reject religious interpretations of reality." But of course humanists are not in any sense close-minded.

Absolute Authority: Every worldview has its absolute authority. Kurtz bows before the god Reason. The god Reason enables one to appraise all "truth claims in religion, morality, and politics." Since, Christians oppose such distortions of reason, they can justly challenge the humanist's Authority: What is the basis for trusting your Authority? How did your Authority originate? What kind of thing is your Authority? How do you know that what your Authority teaches is accurate? Why should I trust something I cannot see? And so on.

Hypocrisy reigns in the humanistic arena. Such half-hearted humanists should resign from their ministries and be publicly humiliated on Nightline. Nevertheless, their sheep will continue to follow them wherever they lead. But whatever you do, please remember humanists are not religious.


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