TimesLIVE reports that Julius Malema has roused the ire of several religious leaders by pulling a political John Lennon and comparing his party to Jesus.
As I’ve said before, I’m an atheist. I am also a secularist.
Now what secularism means to me is that religion and government should be kept strictly separate – government has no business in governing your morality or your metaphysical beliefs.
State atheism tends to devolve into personality cults, which isn’t really any better than anything theocracies do. When politicians think they can tell you what you’re allowed to believe, somehow believing reports about the bad stuff they do doesn’t land on the list of approved subjects.
It also means that when government is set a task, whether it succeeds or not government has to take responsibility for it. It isn’t in the lap of some god whether the local sewer line is running properly, that’s the job of the municipality.
I’d rather live in a municipality that spent its time delivering services, than attending prayer meetings to try and calm the anger of the residents demanding services.
The same principle applies all the way up the government chain – I am a firm believer in the maxim that two hands at work achieve a lot more than hands clasped in prayer.
Generally what I’ve noticed with religion and government is that whenever the politicians think they’ve been chosen by Jesus or Allah or Vishnu or Thor, they tend to forget about the people that they’re supposed to serve.
And whatever their flavour of god wants, tends to go along pretty precisely with what they want. It is pretty easy to do that with an imaginary friend, after all they’re not going to show up and say, “You know what, I’m actually more into Cope.”
Sure the religious organisations aren’t terribly happy with what Malema is saying here, I’m just saying having Jesus show up wearing a DA T-Shirt would sort out a lot of confusion. When we don’t even have reliable evidence of such-and-such a being actually existing, it might be time for it to put in an appearance and set things straight.
Or we can figure even if it does exist it doesn’t care enough for us to consider its opinion relevant to the topic at hand.
This is the beauty of secularism, you see when you look at it through a secular lens you don’t care if some non-tax paying theoretical superbeing, whose supporters claim it to be all powerful yet still want a few rand each weekend, supports a given party.
What you care about is whether that party is actually going to deliver the goods. What seems to me to result in delivery here is when the party in question doesn’t think it is chosen by some god or manifest destiny, but by the people.
People who are willing to make politicians very aware of their existence, and don’t quite have divine levels of patience with politicians who seem more interested in their bank accounts than their mandates.