Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Secularists are often clueless about the real world

Too often I hear people complain against the involvement of religious voices on public issues. Some not only trying their best to prevent religious citizens from speaking out in the public square but call for the eradication of religion altogether.

When religious people speak their mind on public issues, they are automatically being perceived by secularists as attempting to draft religious doctrine on the nation's constitution. One simply can't find a worse illegitimate caricature.

That said, I'm not saying that there is no religious people who want to set their religious belief as civil law. I'm from Malaysia, and so I know there is such situation. The point I'm making is that the attempt at eliminating religious voices without considering the real concern underlying these voices is a haphazard, uncritical and mindless hegemony. Caricatures are not representation of the real.

I have witnessed this in Singapore in recent years.

Such antagonistic counter-productive suggestion go against the very foundation of democracy where citizens, regardless of religious affinity, are expected to participate in the governing polity of the society in peaceful manner.

Not only that. These missionaries of secularism have a deeper issue: They are basically ignorant of the basic characteristic and nature of contemporary modern politics, including the one--secularism--which they are dedicated to propagate.

I shall just copy and paste what John N. Gray, the Emeritus Professor of European Thought of the prestigious London School of Economics and Political Science, has so perceptibly made clear:
"Those who demand that religion be exorcized from politics think this can be achieved by excluding traditional faiths from public institutions; but secular creeds are formed from religious concepts, and the suppressing religion does not mean it ceases to control thinking and behaviour. Like repressed sexual desire, faith returns, often in grotesque forms, to govern the lives of those who deny it. [...]

If religion is a primary human need it should not be suppressed or relegated to a netherworld of private life. It ought to be fully integrated into the public realm, but that does not mean establishing any one religion as public doctrine.
"
(John Gray, Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia [UK: Penguin, 2007], p.190, 209. Emphasis added)
The militant secularists do not have to agree with the religious. But the least they can do is to come out from their coconut husk to face the real world (with its deep concern and character) as it is, and really understand the nature of the cause (i.e secularism in contemporary politics) they are fighting for.

2 comments:

gweek said...

I think cluelessness is pretty much universal.

Sze Zeng said...

Hi gweek,

Thank you for commenting. You know what? I agree with you on that :)