Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Wanted: Freedom from Religion

That's the title of a new essay by Michael Lind over at the New America Foundation, and it's well worth the time to read. It puts into stark perspective what is really happening in Iran, and why the Rethugs are wrong when they start their self-important posturing about "stifling" democracy in Iran:

Secular government is the basis of both liberty and democracy. It is important to emphasize this, because of the tendency to portray the struggle in Iran in terms of a global conflict between democracy and dictatorship. Set aside, for a moment, the fact that former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi was one of four candidates, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who were approved to run as presidential candidates last May by the clerics of Iran's Guardian Council. It does not take away from the heroism of Mousavi or his followers to point out that if Ahmadinejad stole the election he stole an election that was already rigged.
The idea of universal, basic natural human rights is incompatible with theocracy in any form. While Christians and adherents of other religions can believe in natural rights, the theory of natural rights itself, influenced by ancient Greek sophists and Epicureans, is inherently secular. Natural rights by definition are those that ordinary people, using only their reason, can agree upon -- things like life and liberty and property or happiness, meaning access to subsistence. The list of natural rights varies from thinker to thinker, but they all have one thing in common -- they are not revealed by a divine intelligence to a prophet or priests.
There's a lot more. Like I say, it's well worth the read.