The October/November 2012 issue of Free Inquiry is now available. As always, the magazine is not published online, except for a limited number of pieces as teasers.
This issue includes much discussion of the political agenda of humanism. It also contains an opinion piece by me, “Up With Secularism!”, in which I defend the ideal of secular government from the criticism that it is, among other nasty things, anti-democratic. I also cast doubt on the idea that a theocratic government – one which attempts to settle and impose truths about which religion is the correct one – would have much time for freedom of speech and expression. If you’ve settled the truth about issues of spiritual salvation, and you’re prepared to use the power of the state to impose this truth, you’re not likely to brook dissent on such an important matter. Theocratic governments certainly don’t have a good record with free speech.
For my more detailed defence of secular government, and its ramifications, you’ll still need to broach my book, Freedom of Religion and the Secular State (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012). However, even if you don’t accept the entire neo-Lockean theory set out in the book, I think I can give you good reasons to reject the argument that secularism is anti-democratic.