Faith In Office

Oliver Kamm, an atheist, differs from Dawkins on the topic of secularism in politics:

The cause of secularism is politically vital. But there is no political case for atheism. (I do believe, as a pragmatic point, that society would be better off if there were more atheists around; but I also believe that society would be better off if moderate religion, accommodating itself to secular government and education, supplanted religious absolutism. A consistent secularist would be indifferent between these possibilities.) Dawkins, by contrast, maintains (p. 44): "American atheists far outnumber religious Jews, yet the Jewish lobby is notoriously one of the most formidably influential in Washington. What might American atheists achieve if they organised themselves properly?"

Leave aside the tendentious first sentence of that statement. (American Jewry is not "formidably influential" in forming public policy, even with regard to US policy in the Middle East; it genuinely isn't.) The second strikes me as a thoroughly bad idea. I do not wish to see, and will not sign up to, an organised interest group of atheists, because atheism is a private belief, of no civic significance. So is religious belief. The task of defending state neutrality between those positions is what we, and the President of the French Fifth Republic, should defend.