Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A civic people rejects the label “secular” 8/27/16

            On March 12, 2015, The Advocate published my letter to the editor and captioned it “American society based on civic morality, both religious and secular,” effectively denying my opportunity to express my opposing opinion. The text is available online at theadvocate.com/news/opinion/11810570-123/letter-american-society-based-on . The was the second time The Advocate seriously rebuked or obfuscated my opinion; they exercise freedom of the press to deny freedom of expression.[1] A reader rebuked my recent objections, accusing me of inflexibility and ingratitude to The Advocate, who published my letter. The Advocate should be grateful for my contributions, and have said they were on some calls. I doubt I will trust them a third time, and so, this may be the last The Advocate entry in “Reference” on this blog. Future letters will probably be to other newspapers or the blog.
            The text of my letter follows, and below that, I discuss comments from readers. Further down, I report a study I did after sullen obstreperousness by some members of Baton Rouge Freethinkers. First the letter-to-the-editor, with bracketed revisions:

I once accepted that our founding principle, the preamble to the [Constitution for the USA], is secular, or nonreligious. However, the preamble is a civic[2] practice that is neutral respecting civil[3] religious beliefs. Neither the preamble nor this country is secular.
Kathryn Jean Lopez, in “Exemplifying Christianity in death and life” (The Advocate, column, March 2), would impose Christian morality on America’s civic morality. She vainly celebrates the 21 murdered Egyptians as martyrs for Christianity, and then disparages U.S. civic order as “secular.” Quoting Lopez, “The Bible told us to love our enemies and bless those who curse us (which) flies in the face of a secular society.” She strangely castigates three trivial American events that were contemporary to the murders. [She seems to write to alienate civic Americans from Christians.]
A people, in civic morality, lament [un-civic] behavior, “provide for the common defense” and influence civically immoral people to reform, but do not submit to religious morality.
Quoting etymonline.com, secularism is the “doctrine that morality should be based on the well-being of man in the present life, without regard to religious belief or a hereafter.” Secular is “living in the world, not belonging to a religious order.”
The preamble offers civic morality that is neutral to civil religious beliefs, accommodating believers and nonbelievers equally. The preamble is falsely labeled “secular.”
My neighbor* said, “I don’t use the word ‘secular,’ but ‘religion’ means connected.” It follows that “secular” means disconnected.
Born in Knoxville, I can neither disconnect from the preamble nor from civic morality. Believers who “dust” people according to the Bible[4] civically disconnect themselves. It’s wrong to divide citizens based on religion. A people must mutually provide civic morality in order to secure private pursuits of [liberty][5], whether [a person holds religious beliefs or not].[6]
A [Civic] People of the United States, unfortunately without celebration, continually uses [physics-based ethics] instead of the ethics of the supernatural and march toward domestic peace and civic justice. For example, in the Civil War, family kin warred over [morals] divided on the same Bible, but [physics-based ethics] prevailed: It is civically immoral for one person to take the benefits of another person’s work.
A [civic] people does not submit to the label “secular.” A [civic] people is civic, nonbelievers and believers connected. (End of letter.)
*That neighbor is Diana Dorroh, who introduced me to civic "connections."
Complimentary commenters
            Sarah Stravinska wrote, “It seems the more religiosity, the less civility.” 
            Doug Johnson wrote, “The people I am most afraid of are those who need the fear of a higher power to prevent them from harming me. Good letter, Phil.” 
            Michael Day quipped, “nailed it phil.”

My thanks for support and “no thanks” to freedom of the press.

            I thanked the above writers and rebuked The Advocate by suggesting a caption that reflects my message: “The idea that the preamble to the [constitution for the USA] is secular is a long-standing lie.” I listed seven ideas from the above letter that support my caption. One idea stands out: If “‘religion’ means connected . . . ‘secular’ means disconnected.” The Advocate seems disconnected from the preamble to the constitution for the USA.

            Incidentally, Thomas Winn, denied that “secular” typically means “non-religious,” and objected to “disconnected.” I referred him to a much larger debate on the meaning of religion[7]; it seems each person has a definition of religion.
            The Advocate can’t seem to comprehend a people who have liberated themselves from Chapter XI Machiavellian, willful slavery to the supernatural.[8] A civic people may establish domestic goodwill based on civic morality using physics-based ethics rather than domestic alienation based on religious morals. Religious morals are divisive. Jesus even speaks of dividing family members as though infidelity to family or self can be justified.[9]

            I say to the people, including the media, politicians and the clergy: reform from 400 years enslavement to this country's religious tradition—civic Christianity, and let the generations of 2016 begin the easy task of establishing a super-majority who employ the literal preamble, physics-based ethics (the-indisputable-facts-of-civic-morality), candid civic discussion, Internet communications, humility, and national holidays to establish supervision of governance of by and for a civic people. Reform the focus on adult entertainment to provision of a way of living that is inviting to children and children to be born. Effect and celebrate A Civic People of the United States so that militant dissidents, criminals, evils, and the unaware know they are among a perhaps 35%, declining minority and need to reform or risk the law, whether they are rich or poor, humble or powerful, unknown or celebrity, divisive blogger or journalist/media-writer, or whatever domestic alienation they support.

            Thank you, The Advocate, for giving evidence for an opinion I have held for a long time: You have no respect for freedom of expression; with you it’s freedom of the press and you are willing to expose your agendumb[10]:  rejecting innovative ideas. Thanks to a people’s use of the Internet, 1) the era of media control has passed and 2) the era of national enslavement to theism, in particular Christianity and its divisiveness is passing[11]. We are entering the age of supervised governance of by and for a civic people. The train has left the station, so please board. I would like The Advocate to reform. The first step is to admit the need for reform so as to humbly serve a civic people.

Principle antagonist

            Unless you know someone who posted a comment, you have no idea whom you are responding to in an online forum, but taking the name as representative of a person, Gavin Coldwell has helped me greatly over the last couple years, by prompting me to do more that I was doing at each stage of his contributions (complaints). He’s sort of a phantom, in that he sometimes posts and then deletes the post. But I guess the posts are in cyber-space.

            His self-confidence or arrogance produces many mistakes about Phil Beaver, such as: seeks converts, incoherent to all readers, can’t accept that The Advocate is a business, thinks editors are professional, responds to dismissal, hopeful neologism “agendum” is humorless, responds to belittlement, has not the humility for library discussions, holds himself more important than a people’s theory, worries perseverance is monotony, concerned about The Advocate’s business problems, impressed with opposing opinion, forgiving of The Advocate’s civic privations and tolerant of their bias, intimidated by opinion, mistakes opinion for the objective truth,  fakes outrage, fears the objective truth can neither emerge nor sell itself, and is ungrateful.

            What Coldwell won’t accept is that Phil Beaver’s mantra is, “about matters I do not know I admit (to myself) that I do not know and think it is alright to wait for discovery.” That some people can neither read nor comprehend sentences like the last one does not bother me. Meanwhile, I have faith in the objective truth much of which is undiscovered and some of which is understood. I will not turn my back on what is understood. Again, let readers take responsibility for understanding. That others cannot understand my mantra and my commitment is none of my business. Their feelings about my opinion about me is not my concern. However, the theory, “A Civic People of the United States” exists and is emerging from a body of people. The theory will stand on its own--does not need me. There is no outrage, because the blog, promotethepreamble.blogsot.com records the development of a theory that is incomplete without a civic people, and a civic people must decide to emerge--want to emerge: there is nothing more Phil Beaver can do, even though he works tirelessly.
            I think and hope Coldwell will continue to contribute, because he seems to be an authentic person who does not agree with me; nothing wrong with that. The key to a civic people is candid expression of civic needs and authentic attention to civic provisions--willingness to either collaborate or understand why some practices are uncivic, but they'll do it anyway. For example, murder is uncivic and unlawful, but infidelity is often only uncivic. Religious morals are personal and often conflict with civic morality, so each person must candidly express her/his civic needs in civic terms; otherwise, a civic people cannot candidly consider the need, understand the physics of it, and negotiate beneficial civic compromise. I think Coldwell is frank if neither candid nor humble.
Objections from Christians

            Stephen Richard and Gary Focht spoke, perhaps, for both Christianity and rejection of my ideas due to boredom with them.

            First, my letter was incidentally motivated to assert: “Kathryn Jean Lopez . . . would impose Christian morality on America’s civic morality.” Richard, I think without reading Lopez’s column, asserted that he does not impose religion on others yet regrets that a Christian would “dust” me.[12] But he does not think about these issues as much as I do. In fact, he does not even care to look up the Madison quotation that was in my text. (Madison’s opinion would void my citizenship, since I am a non-believer.) Richard accepts the systematic oppression of a growing 25% minority who are either not believers or non-believers. Absent is regard for posterity—children and grandchildren and beyond. He suffers the standard hypocrisy that was established in this country when the citizens (non-slaves) were 99% Protestant, 1% Catholic, and other.

            Foch also demeans my writing and states unequivocally that Christianity is the worlds’ best political system, imperfect as it may be. What Foch is blinded to is the benefits of physics-based ethics in competition with the ethics of the supernatural; some people just can't consider new concepts. Foch is bemused by long-standing politicians’ principle means of preserving their power over Foch and other believers.[13] Efficiently benefiting from discovered physics makes the pursuit of personal freedom possible for each person, whether religion is involved/not. Moreover, the-indisputable-facts-of-reality empower each human to perfect his or her person. In other words, civic morality can be determined from physics, whereas religious morals will never be settled unless religion yields to physics. Governance under physics-based ethics has never been tried by a people, perhaps excepting perhaps the native Americans who responded to nature and made their environs the objects of worship.

            Christians would do themselves a favor by considering the metaphor of an office worker who objects to a boss's behavior and calls it sexual abuse. For example, if the worker says, "Don't touch me like that again," the boss had better respond, starting with understanding the behavior that was referred to and documenting the information and incident. In the same way, if a citizen says, "I do not want to suffer the imposition of your god in my civic governance," the believer ought to pay attention. The believer ought to seek connection instead of insisting on disconnection, because inhabitants are connected by ineluctable civic needs. The claim that these are difficult concepts is pretense. Dr. Foch does not realize his pretense, but he is so informed by me.

The chief audience for my message rejects the message, too

            The point of my essay is that even the leaders among some 70 million Americans, for example, the Secular Coalition for America (SCA), proudly submit to the label “secular.” Perhaps their submission comes from pride in being self-righteous “people of reason” instead of people of faith. The folly of reason is most exhibited by religion, so why would "secularists" claim they rely on reason? What people need is reproducible evidence. I have tried to reason with them that they are people of faith--faith in the objective truth, whatever the objective truth may be. Regardless, I want 65% of them, along with 65% of Christians and 65% of every real-no-harm faction acting to establish A Civic People of the United States, so that their respective factions, together, may flourish in domestic goodwill and influence the world to mimic A Civic People of the United States.
            Likewise, I have tried to reason with SCA that they should not submit to the label “secular,” because “secular” has no meaning, except perhaps areligious, until the user defines “religion.” I suggested in a letter to them that a better word is “civic.” On April 17, 2015, I shared with SCA representative, Austin Cooper, the thought, “I am personally non-religious and civically non-secular.” For clarification, that second phrase means not-non-religious, which means I do not civically oppose a person’s religion, even though I have no interest in religion. It’s OK with me if SCA is non-religious and secular (seems redundant), but I think eventually they’ll need to find their own cause: Stop letting religion define SCA.
            Also, I found similar insistence among some Baton Rouge Freethinkers that they are "secular." It inspired an antonym study. I found[14] for “secular,” religious and sacred. “Religious” has three aspects.[15] First, antonyms for “spiritually religious” are: nonreligious, profane and secular. Ouch! Second, for “devotedly religious” there’s antireligious, faithless, godless, impious, irreligious, ungodly, and unholy. Most freethinkers insist they are both faithless (anti-faith) and antireligious, so if they insist, I have to accept their claim about themselves. My argument that freethinkers have faith in evidence has always been greeted with sullen obstreperousness, which I assume comes from their religious fixation on reason. But the objective truth does not respond to reason. Some freethinkers are definitely anti-relgious. I guess anti-religious and anti-faith are the two words in this study that characterize some freethinkers. After a discussion with Rich, I would add anti-doubt. Thirdly, for “emotionally religious” there’s cold, cool, dispassionate, emotionless, impassive, unemotional. Maybe some freethinkers are like that, but so are some people who are religious. Freethinkers can enjoy the label “secular” till their hearts’ content.

            In an online discussion on July 7, 2015, Christine Kooi wrote "'Secular' means areligious, not antireligious. See article 6 of the Constitution (no religious tests for public office)." OK, but I promote the preamble as a civic sentence. Its goals must be negotiated in civic terms--neither religious nor areligious.

            I won’t brook "secular" for myself and wish no one liked it. I think it is a civic curse imposed by religion itself.. I have not discussed my opinion with A Civic People of the United States, so don’t know that they’ll agree with me.


            Inhabitants should enjoy civic morality so that they can pursue the real-no-harm private liberty they perceive, not subject to James Madison’s religious "morality." His religious morality is at least civically immoral and perhaps just plain immoral; no one knows either that there is a "Governour of the Universe," or what that-is if it-exists. There are people who deny that the objective truth exists—radical skeptics, but I disagree with them.
            (I plan to continue to remind The Advocate that their business plan calls for freedom of the press to restrict a people’s free speech and that they should reform in this regard. They are my hometown newspaper, and I want them to earn their keep by serving a civic people. Yet I accept that it is only my dream.)

Copyright©2015 by Phillip R. Beaver. All rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted for the publication of all or portions of this paper as long as this complete copyright notice is included. Revised August 27, 2016.

[1] The Advocate’s first offense against me was in their caption, “We need freedom from religion,” on November 30, 2012. I would not say that to this day. Quoting my letter, “Religions offer believers comfort in an uncertain world, but justice offers everyone freedom to live without civic harm. If Americans will embrace justice, perhaps they’ll lead the human community to freedom.” See online at http://theadvocate.com/news/opinion/4538778-123/letters-we-need-freedom-from . After considering their opinion, I might agree to the caption, “We need freedom from theism,” as representing my letter. Regardless, based on these two experiences, I oppose freedom of the press as The Advocate practices it and am happy to have a blog. My opinion with a circulation rate of 2/day is far better than their opinion obfuscating mine with a circulation of 400,000 or more.
[2] I use “civic,” because “public” does not represent behavior to contribute to domestic goodwill and personal liberty private-liberty-with-civic-morality. “Public” includes those who want or accept civic alienation and crime. Society is un-civic in that it coerces/forces people using doctrinal morality, alienating real-no-harm private liberty.
[3] “Civil religions” refers to the ones with canon that does not conflict US law.
[4] Matthew 10:14. “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.”
[5] Heretofore, in this usage I have written “happiness,” influenced by American literature. The term has always bothered me in this context, and Austin Guidry, LSU ChE student helped me understand why, by objecting to the “fatherliness” of it. “Pursuit of happiness” was imposed on us by the Declaration of Independence, and before that from John Locke, that Christian Conservative whose phrase in “A Letter Concerning Toleration,” 1689, was “eternal happiness.” Thank you, Austin, for freeing me from John Locke in this respect.
[6]Michael Polanyi, in Personal Knowledge, 1958, makes his case that Christianity is a valid pursuit of "ultimate liberation" which in the context of personal knowledge might equate to personal liberty. I accept that for him, but do not accept his seemingly negative assessment of my faith in the objective truth. I am grateful to Ed Smith for recommending the book.
[7] A TED conversation on the meaning of “religion,” online at www.ted.com/conversations /5801/what_view_of_religion_might_a.html . Note: This URL seems inoperative. I have the conversation on file for those who want it.
[8] Nicolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Chapter XI, 1513. Machiavelli claims people who believe in a god are slaves to political officials and the clergy, and only a rash person would try to explain this phenomenon. This dreamer wants to influence reform from the practice: Make religion a private practice rather than a civic imposition.
[9] Luke 14:26. See www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke%2014:25-35 . See also explanation at bible.org/seriespage/lesson-70-cost-discipleship-luke-1425-35 . Everyone who reads Luke 14:26 should decide for themselves: I do not want to influence persons. I don’t know the truth, but my opinion is that no god I would respect is so weak as to perceive the need to suggest “hate,” respecting family members including self.
[10] “Agendumb” is hopefully a neologism for action that is so obviously false it is amazing anyone would practice it.
[11] Consider US v Windsor, wherein the Supreme Court voids DOMA based on Judeo-Christian tradition. See online at www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/12-307 . The Congress could easily establish DOMA based on the ethics of physics, but, like The Advocate, Congress is too indoctrinated to think—does not even think it needs to think. That’s an agendumb.
[12] Matthew 10:14: "If anyone will not . . . listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet."
[13] The most enslaving statement I know of in US literature is from James Madison’s “Memorial & Remonstrance,” June 20, 1785. Madison said, “Before any man can be considered as a member of Civil Society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governour of the Universe.” Madison could only get away with this in a society that was 99% Protestant, 1% Catholic, and the rest Deists (slaves and non-believers were in purgatory and damned forever, respectively). Only 6% of free-persons could vote. But today, 100% of non-criminals can vote, including the perhaps 25% non-believers. To me, Madison is like a dark god because of the woe he has brought.