Ask Jon 17 – Synonymization Fit for Political Purposes

By Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Jonathan Engel, J.D. is the President of the Secular Humanist Society of New YorkHere we talk about the National Democratic Convention.

*Interview conducted on August 24, 2020.*

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: So, it’s hot over there. It’s rainy and muggy over here, hence the British part. There was the Democratic National Convention, recently. You noticed something a lot of other people didn’t notice. Let’s start in brief. What was the thing that you noticed? What was the importance of this Democratic National Convention?

Jonathan Engel: As a secular person, I noticed. On the positive side, the Democratic platform includes a plank on freedom of religion that mentions the freedom to be non-religious, which is a great step forward. But the problem was, nobody reads the platform, but they do tune in to the convention. There are some who I know are secular and are featured speakers like Bernie Sanders,  but they do not talk about secularism. It’s only in the platform. On the fourth night, the night Biden gave a speech, which I thought was pretty good.

Overall, I thought the convention went pretty well. I have been a democrat for many, man years. To say, ‘It went pretty well,’ means it wasn’t a total disaster [Laughing].

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Engel: But there was a lot of talk about Biden’s “faith.” Why they don’t talk about religion? I don’t know. The word “faith” is interesting. What does it actually mean? That’s an interesting question. They were talking a lot about faith. As a quick aside, I think a lot of the talk using the word faith came in during the second Bush Administration, George W. Bush. It started as an office of faith based initiatives in the administration, in the White House. I remember thinking, “If he had called it an office of religion-based initiatives, people would say, ‘No, you can’t do that.’ So, they call it: ‘Faith.’” What does the word “faith’ mean at that point?

In any event, on the fourth night, last night, they had a nun, a Catholic un, giving a benediction talking about religion, God, and Jesus. I am sitting there saying to myself, “You belong to an organization that covered up tens of thousands of instances of child abuse. You didn’t resign from that organization. Why are you being given a respected slot in the Democratic National Convention?” To me, if I was a member of an organization where the higher-ups covered up child abuse, I’d quit. In any event, we had senator Chris Coons, who I know is very religious because I have heard him speak before, talking about Biden being a man of faith, etc.

Again, I am not sure exactly what that means. I was turned off by it. I flipped on the basketball game, actually, at the time, because I don’t want to listen to this anymore. The Democratic Party, it is not like I am going to become a Republican or anything. Republicans would be happy to put somebody like me in concentration camps, “Move over immigrant children, and bring in the heathens.” It is not like I have anywhere else to go. I feel the progress has been made in the Democratic Party a little bit. But again, the platform being the evidence of that and the webinar from the secular democrats being part of that.

But when it comes to the big events, they are still squeamish about us. I think that hurts our attempt to be seen and heard in the greater community because here is a place; they would never say anything that that thought was even inadvertently offensive to many of the constituent groups of the Democratic Party, e.g., women, blacks, Latinx people, the LGBTQ community, but they feel comfortable saying things that are somewhat offensive to their secular part of their constituency.

That was problematic for me. Again, I support Biden and Harris. I actually like them both. But I don’t want to be ignored; I would like to get a little respect.

Jacobsen: Something as well, you pointed out something about the United States Constitution. You are a trained lawyer. You do have a J.D., a juris doctor.

Engel: I do. A few weeks ago, Trump, who will say anything [Laughing], was attacking Biden and said, “Biden is anti-God, anti-religion, and anti-Bible.” When democrats responded pretty uniformly, it was by pointing out Biden is a regular Catholic who goes to church. So, it’s not true. What I didn’t here democrats say, except for me, and my platform is pretty limited, “Article VI, Paragraph 3 of he Constitution says, ‘There shall never be any religious test for any office or trust under the United States.’ That’s in the Constitution. It was put there for a reason.

There was a perfect time to say that. It was a perfect time to say, “Look, he is wrong on the facts. Joe is religious. But it really doesn’t matter. Look at the Constitution.” It is a perfect teachable moment. I can tell you. I strongly doubt that there are many Americans who know about that provision in the Constitution. It was a time to say, “Hey, there is no religious test.” That is what the Founding Fathers put on the founding document. So, it doesn’t matter what Joe’s beliefs are. I didn’t here that. It was also disappointing to me. It was a great opportunity to teach people about the Constitution. You have so many people who think that this country was founded as a Christian religious nation, when it was clearly not. It was a great opportunity, in my view, missed to educate the general public about true freedom of religion from the Constitution. If freedom of religion doesn’t include the right to be free from religion, then it’s really pretty much worthless.

Jacobsen: Jon! Thank you for your time.

Engel: Oh, it’s my pleasure, Scott, as always. You take care of yourself.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. He authored/co-authored some e-booksfree or low-cost. If you want to contact Scott: Scott.D.Jacobsen@Gmail.com.

*Associates and resources listing last updated May 31, 2020.*

Canadian Atheist Associates: Godless Mom, Nice Mangoes, Sandwalk, Brainstorm Podcast, Left at the Valley, Life, the Universe & Everything Else, The Reality Check, Bad Science Watch, British Columbia Humanist Association, Dying With Dignity Canada, Canadian Secular AllianceCentre for Inquiry CanadaKelowna Atheists, Skeptics, and Humanists Association.

Other National/Local Resources: Association humaniste du QuébecAtheist FreethinkersCentral Ontario Humanist AssociationComox Valley HumanistsGrey Bruce HumanistsHalton-Peel Humanist CommunityHamilton HumanistsHumanist Association of LondonHumanist Association of OttawaHumanist Association of TorontoHumanists, Atheists and Agnostics of ManitobaOntario Humanist SocietySecular Connextions SeculaireSecular Humanists in CalgarySociety of Free Thinkers (Kitchener-Waterloo/Cambridge/Guelph)Thunder Bay HumanistsToronto OasisVictoria Secular Humanist Association.

Other International/Outside Canada Resources: Allianz vun Humanisten, Atheisten an AgnostikerAmerican AtheistsAmerican Humanist AssociationAssociação Brasileira de Ateus e AgnósticoséééBrazilian Association of Atheists and AgnosticsAtheist Alliance InternationalAtheist Alliance of AmericaAtheist CentreAtheist Foundation of AustraliaThe Brights MovementCenter for Inquiry (including Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science), Atheist IrelandCamp Quest, Inc.Council for Secular HumanismDe Vrije GedachteEuropean Humanist FederationFederation of Indian Rationalist AssociationsFoundation Beyond BeliefFreedom From Religion FoundationHumanist Association of IrelandHumanist InternationalHumanist Association of GermanyHumanist Association of IrelandHumanist Society of ScotlandHumanists UKHumanisterna/Humanists SwedenInternet InfidelsInternational League of Non-Religious and AtheistsJames Randi Educational FoundationLeague of Militant AtheistsMilitary Association of Atheists and FreethinkersNational Secular SocietyRationalist InternationalRecovering From ReligionReligion News ServiceSecular Coalition for AmericaSecular Student AllianceThe Clergy ProjectThe Rational Response SquadThe Satanic TempleThe Sunday AssemblyUnited Coalition of ReasonUnion of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics.

About Canadian Atheist

Canadian Atheist is an independent blog with multiple contributors providing articles of interest to Canadian atheists, secularists, humanists, and freethinkers.

Canadian Atheist is not an organization – there is no membership and nothing to join – and we offer no professional services or products. It is a privately-owned publishing platform shared with our contributors, with a focus on topics relevant to Canadian atheists.

Canadian Atheist is not affiliated with any other organization or group. While our contributors may be individually be members of other organizations or groups, and may even speak in an official capacity for them, CA itself is independent.

For more information about Canadian Atheist, or to contact us for any other reason, see our contact page.

About Canadian Atheist Contributors

Canadian Atheist contributors are volunteers who provide content for CA. They receive no payment for their contributions from CA, though they may be sponsored by other means.

Our contributors are people who have both a passion for issues of interest to Canadian atheists, secularists, humanists, and freethinkers, and a demonstrated ability to communicate content and ideas of interest on those topics to our readers. Some are members of Canadian secularist, humanist, atheist, or freethought organizations, either at the national, provincial, regional, or local level. They come from all walks of life, and offer a diversity of perspectives and presentation styles.

CA merely provides our contributors with a platform with almost complete editorial freedom. Their opinions are their own, expressed as they see fit; they do not speak for Canadian Atheist, and Canadian Atheist does not speak for them.

For more information about Canadian Atheist’s contribors, or to get in contact with any of them, or if you are interested in becoming a contributor, see our contact page.

Photo by visuals on Unsplash

One thought on “Ask Jon 17 – Synonymization Fit for Political Purposes

  1. Religions world wide hide corruption, rape, violence, it is quite reasonable that the Catholic Church would show up at the Democratic Convention. They are trying to legitimize their sick religion, but hiding under the coat tails of a popular presidential nominee. The truth about the Catholic Church is now out and they are evil..so they are in full damage control mode now. This is just the tip of the iceberg on these sick religions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Help

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

WordPress theme: Kippis 1.15