On June 12, 2008 in Toronto, Ontario MPPs voted unanimously to maintain the traditional Lord’s prayer but will add a moment of silence for non-believers and a rotation of Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic, Jewish, Baha’i, Sikh and First Nations’ prayers to ensure that public institutions reflect modern values and beliefs (choices based on Ontario census).

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Fraser Los (2007) reviewed recent publications by two “religious insiders with long political memories.” He describes Bill Moyer and Garry Wills as sober thinkers with mature experience. Yet they are both stating the urgency to revisit the issue of separating church and state. Debates between secular humanism and religions have been going on for decades but they have taken a strange and serious turn according to Moyer and Wills.

Wills (2006) is concerned with the most conservative fringes of evangelical Christians and Catholics who have aligned themselves politically under the Bush administration to promote extreme views on “education, the environment, the family, gun control and regulation of any kind (Los 2007).” Moyer (2004, 2006) primarily focuses his concern on the concept of the Rapture, a bizarre belief of fundamentalist evangelicals, who believe in literal, temporal and physical salvation and damnation. In their most extreme form this allows them to justify unsustainable ecological behaviour because divine intervention will protect them regardless of their environmental actions.

“As difficult as it is, however, for journalists to fashion a readable narrative for complex issues without depressing our readers and viewers, there is an even harder challenge – to pierce the ideology that governs official policy today. One of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal. It has come in from the fringe, to sit in the seat of power in the oval office and in Congress. For the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington. Theology asserts propositions that cannot be proven true; ideologues hold stoutly to a world view despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality. When ideology and theology couple, their offspring are not always bad but they are always blind. And there is the danger: voters and politicians alike, oblivious to the facts (Moyers 2004).

Monbiot, author and columnist for the London Guardian, published Manifesto for a New World Order (2004) which unsettled the concept of the new world order as proposed by the first President Bush in which he envisioned the future of the United States after the collapse of the socialist camp. Monbiot (2003, 2004) described how in order to understand the US attitude towards the Middle East you have to understand politics in Texas. Monbiot’s work has been compared to that of Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph E.Stiglitz, who published Globalisation and its Discontents (2002). Whereas Stiglitz is described as a disillusioned academic, Monbiot is described as a cool-headed revolutionary who calls for action (Morag 2003).

Where does this leave moderate civil religions according to Moyers, Monbiot and Wills?

Webliography

Fraser, Morag. 2003. “Review of The Age of Consent: A Manifesto for a New World Order. July 12.

Los, Fraser. 2007. “God and Government.” Alternative Journal. 33:1:36-7.

Monbiot, George. 2003. Manifesto for a New World Order. Flamingo.

Monbiot, George. 2004. “Apocalypse Please. ” The Guardian. April 20.

Monbiot, George. 2004b Interview with Monbiot about Manifesto for a New World Order.” Democracy Now.

Monbiot, George. 2004. “Religion of the Rich.” The Guardian. November 9.

Monbiot, George. 2005. “My heroes are driven by God, but I’m glad my society isn’t.” The Guardian. October 11.

Moyers, Bill. 2004. “On Receiving Harvard Med’s Global Environment Citizen Award.”t r u t h o u t | Perspective. December 1.

Moyers, Bill. 2006. Welcome to Doomsday. New York: New York Review Books.

Stiglitz, Joseph E. 2002. Globalisation and its Discontents. Penguin.

Wills, Garry. 2006. Bush’s Fringe Government. New York: New York Review Books.

Indifference to faith has left Europe’s churches mostly empty. But debate over religion is more intense than its been in many decades. Religion is re-emerging as an issue because of Europe’s growing and restive Muslim populations and a fear that faith is reasserting itself in politics. That is adding up to momentum for a combative brand of atheism.

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Webliography

Colbert, Stephen. 2007. Unquisition. May 3.

Delacroix, Eugène. Jacob Fighting the Devil. Lutte de Jacob avec l’Ange. Eglise Saint Sulpice Detail. 2005.1

Hitchens, Christopher. 2007. God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. Twelve/Warner Books.

“Jacob Fighting the Devil.” chapter 32 of Genesis

Kinsley, Michael. 2007. “In God, Distrust.” Sunday Book Review. New York Times. May 13.

Lacroix, Alexandre, Truong, Nicolas. 2007. “Nicolas Sarkozy et Michel Onfray: Confidences entre Ennemis.” Philosophie Mag. No. 8. >> Philomag.com

Onfray, Michel. Atheist Manifesto: The Case Against Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.

Higgins, Andrew. 2007. As religious strife grows, atheists seize pulpit.” Northwest Herald. >> nwherald.com. April 13.

Etzioni, Amitai. 2007a.”The West Needs a Spiritual Surge” >> Amitai Etzioni Notes. March 6, 2007.

Etzioni, Amitai. 2007b. L’Occident aussi a besoin d’un renouveau spirituel.” Le Monde. 7 avril.

Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. “Unquisition: Selling Nothingness.” >> Speechless. may 13.

The International Environment Forum shared ethical concerns of economic, social, and humanitarian burdens resulting from climate change. International law and norms, political and economic obligations are being rethought in anticipation of millions of climate change refugees. Panel members argued that moderate, civil religions (Etzioni 2007) can provide the motivation to ethical behaviour that is urgently needed.

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See also

Etzioni, Amitai. 2007a.”The West Needs a Spiritual Surge” >> Amitai Etzioni Notes. March 6, 2007.

Etzioni, Amitai. 2007b. L’Occident aussi a besoin d’un renouveau spirituel.” Le Monde. 7 avril.

Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. “Does the West Need a Spiritual Surge?” >> Speechless. May 4.
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