An open letter to Rev. Dr. David Fekete
It is somewhat unsettling that someone that is permitted to use the title ‘Dr’ can be so wrong from so many angles. It is confounding that someone with the title ‘Dr’ can misunderstand the basic dictionary meanings of words, when free dictionaries are available to anyone with an internet connection. And it is unforgiveable that someone using the title of ‘Dr’ would attempt to misrepresent the values and intentions of others in support of his own bias towards a shaky dogma. So, ‘Dr’ Fekete, let’s address this mess of overripe tripe…
Let’s start with “revealed knowledge”. What “knowledge” is this? Revealed to whom? Knowledge is what is known. What is known can be demonstrated or explained to others. It can be tested. It can be confirmed by experiment, or through logic. And perhaps most importantly, it can be ARGUED. Now you don’t have the courage to describe your ‘revealed’ truth, but I think it a reasonable assumption that you are referring to oral traditions of illiterate desert tribes. Their stories were originally written in ancient, dead languages, on clay tablets, pottery, parchment or animal skins. This eventually coalesced into ancient Judaism. Successive generations continued to add to these stories. These were then translated and transcribed to Greek or Latin, with missing bits filled in as a best guess. This was centuries before the earliest Chinese printing methods, and at least 1400+ before the Gutenberg press, so every copy was done by hand, with every successive iteration introducing more possibility of error. Eventually, centuries later, the remnants of the Roman Empire adopted these traditions as their own. Centuries after that, the ROMAN Catholic church, a legacy of a great military power, convened First Council of Nicaea to decide what version of all these stories they should use going forward. This is the beginnings of ‘standardized’ Christian dogma of today. There is no revelation. It is not knowledge, nor is it testable, nor logical. It is dogma and dictation. You believe or else… The stories for other religions are similar. The mere fact that there are so many competing versions should give a reasonable person pause. They obviously can’t all be right, however they CAN all be wrong. And in light of all the knowledge accumulated through scientific discovery (a process religion fought desperately, and often to the death), the second possibility is infinitely more likely.
So let’s now look at your paranoid diatribe against secularism and humanism:
Secularism strives for a secular state; the separation of church and state. Keeping religion and governance separate benefits both; government isn’t distracted from its day to day duties, and religions are free from the heavy hands of theocratic dogma that might be imposed by another religion getting the upper hand. (There is a reason we have the word ‘theocracy’.) The state will not give the appearance of favor or endorsement to one , or any, or all religions. Freedom OF religion necessitates freedom FROM religion. It does not dictate that you can’t worship, that you can’t assemble in worship, or what form of worship you are permitted.
Humanism, in simple terms, values the wellbeing of humans and humanity above the dictates of ideology and dogma. That anyone could possibly construe this as a negative speaks to the devastating effects of religious indoctrination on the human psyche; the victims consider themselves and other humans as worthless. It also speaks volumes about the frailty of religions that they demand protection from reasoned thought, and dominion over the innocent, in return for protection of a nonexistent second life. No. I won’t allow you to speak against humanity in favor of an invisible dictatorship without challenge. If your religion has any value, it places the dignity of human wellbeing above all else. And if your god disagrees, he can tell me in person. YOU have no authority.
And let’s address some remaining points…
Secular humanism makes no assumptions other than the church and state function best separately, and human wellbeing should not be assumed secondary to any ideology or dogma.
Secular humanism denies no one a voice, and AFFIRMS pluralism by assuring all that they are on equal footing, with none favored over others.
Secular humanism makes no statement about what is “an acceptable system of knowing”. Reason and logic do that.
Now to address the most obnoxious and distasteful paragraph:
“For believers, including believers in secular humanism, faith is perhaps the deepest value held. It matters most to believers. Silencing the voice of a person’s most deeply cherished values does a great disservice to human expression. It disallows discourse on what matters most.”
Belief in secular humanism is grounded in logic and reason, as outlined previously. Religious beliefs are grounded in indoctrination with dogma, superstition and fear. These are not equal ‘values’. Nor is anyone silenced. You can stand on the steps of city hall and express yourself to your heart’s content. You can attend church with others of your faith. You can read scripture at home, on the bus, in the library, etc… You can write letters to publications expressing your faith, or your dismay in the lack of faith. You are not in ANY way silenced, or prevented from practicing or expressing your faith, except as an extension of the state. In fact you aren’t arguing for discourse, you are arguing for the opposite… the right to state unfounded opinion, unopposed, from a bully pulpit. Discourse is what happens in council when they DEBATE issues, like the decision to discontinue prayers.
Lastly, I very much doubt you stand by your statement that “every perspective on faith should be represented”. Should the likes of Jim Jones be given a platform in council? Mullah Omar? Kim Jong-Un? Segregationists? David Koresh? Satanists? Richard Dawkins? Scientologists? Snake handlers? Are their perspectives on faith worthy or not? Would you invite them to speak before your congregation?