There are three particular topics that my blog tends to focus on fairly regularly…
- Promoting the Separation of Church and State (including making an argument for why organized religion should support it).
- Promoting AIDS awareness and stopping the bareback craze.
- Anything idiocy that pisses me off or any other topic I feel I need to rant about.
I had the great pleasure of meeting Sean Faircloth, Executive Director of the Secular Coalition of America (SCA), Saturday evening at Manuel’s Tavern in Midtown Atlanta during the Atlanta Skeptics meeting and again Sunday for his presentation to the Atlanta Freethought Society. Mr Faircloth spoke quite eloquently, thoroughly and passionately about the importance of the Separation of Church and State. He pointed out the numerous double standards where there general public has to abide by one set of rules… and organized religion by another. He gave several examples of school vouchers, childcare and healthcare.
Now.. on some of those particular matters… he and I somewhat disagree.
School Vouchers – The SCA is obviously against any sort of school voucher program. I see their point about tax dollars going to religious organizations. In that respect.. we are in full agreement. However, I personally believe that US education is sub par (mostly) due to lack of proper parenting. I think it’s the parents role to make sure their child is educated so they can become a productive member of society. They should foot the bill. So as far as vouchers are concerned.. I am all for it SO LONG AS the people who have children in schools are the ones paying the tax. Why should I have to pay taxes for an educational system I don’t have any children in nor do I have any influence over the students or teachers performance?
Childcare… specifically those in churches.. he and I agree. As I pointed out before he gave examples of where a public childcare operations are faced with greater (and necessary) minimum standards they must meet in order to keep their license. That is apparently not the case for church based childcare. Those particular operations should meet the minimum requirements of any other childcare operation. Most churches charge for that service… it shouldnt matter whether or not they are non-profit or not.
Healthcare… Ok. This one is personally very tough. Mr Faircloth quoted an example of a girl who had a sizable tumor growing on her body but because of her faith.. .they chose not to seek treatment. I differ with him here as well. This is a personal decision and one the government should remain absent from any sort of intervention. The only exception would be is if someone were not coherent enough to make the decision on their own or if there were signs they were being forced against their individual will. Now in the case that Mr. Faircloth presented.. I do not know for sure if that is the case. So lets assume for a moment that this was an individual choice, whether faith is involved or not. Only that person or their designate should have any say in the matter. My father is in a similar situation. He is currently in a nursing home with a myriad of what will eventually be fatal. My father has chosen not to seek treatment as well.. not that the doctors would probably approve of any measures due to the frailty of his health. But it was his decision, and as his designate I have, as painful as it may be, sworn to uphold his decision. No government, no doctor… no one… should have the authority to override that. It is true.. that using their faith as a reason to deny treatment is not very well thought out… but as long as it is their choice.. their decision… no other opinion matters. Their word is the final word. But I will give him super kudos for one comment… where is the pro-life crowd in those matters? We don’t see them out protesting (except maybe in Terry Schiavo’s case) over these matters.
Mr Faircloth, however, does have one thing going for him that is vitally important to maintaining a separation of church and state. He understands that those of faith… must also understand its importance to them. I asked him a very pointed question about whether or enough is being done to reach out to the faithful and I was delighted to hear.. that is one thing on his agenda. He stated he was reaching out to the more “liberal” religious organizations such as the Unitarian Universalists. That will obviously not be enough, but it is a good starting point – and its about time.