Open Letter to Karen Armstrong on 'The Myth of Religious Violence'

An open letter to Karen Armstrong on her Guardian article ‘The Myth of Religious Violence’. I invite Karen to either come out as a Secularist with a capital 'S', or come up with a better argument.

Go here to CFI logs for my post.


Victor Silva said…
Awesome blog! Now In anticipation of a follow-up …. Internet sex crimes lawyer
The points are really amazing which are arise in"The Myth of Religious Violence".
Stephen writes:
“However, political ‘secularism’ is something else. Contemporary political secularists are concerned with religious neutrality. They want the state to be neutral on matters of religion.”

That’s not how leading defenders of secularism such as Robert Audi define the term. Audi defines the position that Robert Audi argues that one should not advocate any “[policy] restrictions on human conduct unless one has, and is willing to offer an adequate secular reason for this advocacy or support”. By ‘secular reason’ he meant a reason that “does not depend on the existence of God (such as through a divine command) or on theological considerations (such as a sacred text)”. That doesn’t require neutrality regarding religious belief, it simply requires that whatever reasons refered to don’t appeal to religious belief, appealing to a controversial secular theory which opposed or rejected religious belief would meet this criteria. For example a person who appealed to Marxist philosophical ideas would meet Audi’s definition.

Moreover, according to the Stanford Encyclopedia article by Cuneo and Eberle this is the standard view referring to it as the doctrine of religious restraint:
“Third, the DRR places few restrictions on the content of the secular reasons to which citizens can appeal when supporting coercive laws. Although the required secular reasons must be “plausible” (more on this in a moment), they may make essential reference to what Rawls calls “comprehensive conceptions of the good,” such as Platonism, Kantianism, or utilitarianism. Accordingly, the standard view does not commit itself to a position according to which secular reasons must be included or otherwise grounded in a neutral source—a set of principles regarding justice and the common good such that everybody has good reason, apart from his own or any other religious or philosophical perspective, to find acceptable. Somewhat more specifically, advocates of the standard view needn't claim that secular reasons must be found in what Rawls calls “public reason,” which (roughly speaking) is a fund of shared principles about justice and the common good constructed from the shared political culture of a liberal democracy. That having been said, it is worth stressing that some prominent advocates of the standard view adopt a broadly Rawlsian account of the DRR, according to which coercive laws must be justified by appeal to public reason “

I don’t have much time for Karen Armstrong and consider some of what she write patent nonsense. But its not clear to me your conflation of secularism with neutrality or public reason is correct.