source: Stephen Law tweet
“Interfaith” and Inclusion: Another View | Center for Inquiry centerforinquiry.net/blogs/entry/in…Tom Flynn of Center For Inquiry, USA says...
— Stephen Law (@stephenlaw60) April 22, 2013
"On my view, those of us in the movement who are not comfortable with the "religious humanist" identifier should not be seeking entry to interfaith events. Instead, we should be boycotting them, then demanding something more inclusive in their place.
"When they say interfaith, they really mean interfaith." Really, though, who should find this surprising? Sometimes words mean what they say. Dictionary.com defines interfaith as "relating to, between, or involving different religions." Why should non-religious people want, much less expect, to be included in an event whose stated scope is only to bring together representatives of different religions? Why should atheists and hard secularists who actively disdain religion want to play any part in something like that?"
"I don't appear on interfaith panels anymore. When invited, my stock reply is "Sorry, this is an event for representatives of various religions, and I do not represent a religion. When you plan an event that's not narrowly restricted to persons of faith, be sure to call me."
"In my view, it's the real message of inclusiveness that most of us in the movement should be emphasizing -- a message we cannot credibly send while some of us are begging to be included onstage alongside the priests, ministers, rabbis, and imams."
There's a popular impression that "interfaith" is the acme of inclusiveness, that when you want to stage an event that's designed to encompass an entire community, an interfaith observance is the way to go. That impression is decades out of date, and more of us ought to be saying so. Because an interfaith event embraces only members of religions, and does so frankly and openly, in a nation where twenty percent of adults don't belong to any religion, "interfaith" is not the last word in inclusivity. Interfaith events, by definition, exclude twenty percent of American adults. They exclude a third of the young."
"If, after some traumatic event such as the Boston bombings, officials want to hold an event that includes everyone, from now on they need to do better than interfaith. They need to develop events that do not draw most of their architecture from religious services that no longer speak to the identities and aspirations of one adult American in five. Except in situations where representatives of different churches legitimately do want to just talk to one another -- wrangling out differences in how they interpret the Bible, or some such -- "interfaith" is an idea whose time has passed."
"Of course, it's difficult to maintain that principled position when you're begging for grudging admission to what amounts to the back seat on the church bus."
"To my mind, leaders of atheist and secular humanist and other strong-freethinker groups shouldn't complain that they are being excluded from interfaith events. They shouldn't campaign to get in. No, we should stay out even when asked, and use whatever spotlight that casts our way to press the argument that in a nation that is home to growing numbers of post-religious men and women, real inclusion demands something way better than an interfaith event ... something that is radically more inclusive than a church service with the points of doctrinal disagreement sanded down."
"Traditional believers acknowledge the pain of loss, but cover it over with the ointment of beliefs in the afterlife. Unbelievers are confronting a starker reality: the deceased is truly, achingly gone and will never, ever be seen again. To put it more flippantly than I probably should, when believers and unbelievers sit side by side at a memorial event, they are two discrete groups doing two very different things. The unbelievers are there to say "Good-bye forever"; the believers are there to say "See you later." I don't know if it will ever make sense to try to achieve two such disparate objectives at a single event."