Contact: Nathan Bupp
Amherst, N.Y. (October 10, 2005)—The Council for Secular Humanism today
announced their surprise and appreciation for remarks made by President
Bush as he addressed the National Endowment for Democracy. Bush
used the speech to clarify his present strategy for bringing democratic
secular humanist principles to the world, saying, “We’re making our
case through public diplomacy, stating clearly and confidently our
belief in self-determination and the rule of law and religious freedom
and equal rights for women; beliefs that are right and true in every
land and in every culture.”
Spokespersons for CSH noted that these are among the most important goals of secular humanism, a philosophy dedicated to the fulfillment of the individual and all humankind. History and reason have shown repeatedly that democracy and religious freedom are foundational principles when creating laws that guarantee personal liberty and human rights.
For the Council, admittedly, there is a concern that the President’s words are just that— words. Mr. Bush is well known for using words that sound good, but do not accurately describe his actions. As an example, they cited the many contradictions in the proposed Iraqi constitution. In his speech, Mr. Bush said, “democratic federalism is the best hope for unifying a diverse population, because a federal constitutional system respects the rights and religious traditions of all citizens.” Ibn Warraq, CSH research fellow and author of Why I’m Not a Muslim, noted, however, that while the current Iraqi constitution claims to create a democratic, representative republic, it also rejects all laws that would contradict the undisputed rules of Islam. “This Islamic Sharia law discriminates against women, religious minorities, and nonbelievers and is in direct opposition to the free and equal society that Mr. Bush envisions for the Middle East. Clearly, without the separation of religion and state, no one’s rights will be guaranteed,” said Warraq.
Mr. Bush spoke of the inherent danger of what he called a “radical ideology with unalterable objectives.” Historically, secular humanism has recognized the danger of fundamentalist religious ideologies and spoken against theologies of violence, preferring instead the inspiration of exploration and discovery. “Mr. Bush spoke of the importance of emphasizing our common humanity rather than our ideological differences,” said David Koepsell, Executive Director of the Council. “This is, by definition, the focus of secular humanism.”
In the past, this administration has promoted a Christian worldview nominating only conservative Christians to the bench at home and using terms like crusade and infinite justice to describe American military efforts abroad. “We are heartened by this apparent evolution in the President’s thinking,” concluded Koepsell. “It’s reassuring to hear that Mr. Bush favors secular democracy in the world. Now maybe he’ll start to support it here.”
The Council for Secular Humanism is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization promoting rational inquiry, secular values, and positive human development through the advancement of secular humanism. The Council, publisher of the bimonthly journal Free Inquiry, has a Web site at www.secularhumanism.org.