Fanaticism

French philosopher Andre Comte-Sponville writes:

What is fanaticism? Fanaticism is mistaking one’s faith for knowledge or attempting to impose it through force. The two almost invariably go hand in hand: Dogmatism and terrorism are mutually reinforcing. This is a double offense – against intelligence and against freedom. Thus we must combat it doubly – through lucidity and democracy. Freedom of conscience is a human right and a prerequisite of intelligence.

I will not argue that opponents of gay rights are terrorists, they are not. Nonetheless, by using the argument that homosexuality is a “sin” for the continued institutional and legal discrimination of a group of citizens, these individuals are no less fanatical than the people Comte-Sponville describes. They are forcing their religious beliefs on a secular society against a minority.

Comte-Sponville continues:

Religion is a right, and so is irreligion. Thus, both must be protected – if necessary, one against the other – and protecting them means ensuring that they are not imposed through force. This is why the separation of church and state is the most precious heritage of the Enlightenment. Today’s world is rediscovering how very fragile that heritage is. All the more reason to defend it against all forms of fundamentalism and pass it to our children.

Separation of church and state is a cornerstone of American democracy. The first amendment guarantees the right of individuals to choose their religion (or not to have one) and ensures that the state will not establish, favor or sponsor any faith.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress ofgrievances.

Thus, while we are all free to express our opinion based on a belief, we cannot and should not use religious dogma as basis for law and reason for denying others of equality, dignity and freedom.
Image from Joe Moderate.
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