Extremist Secular Fundamentalism

Almost a month ago I started a post with the following statement:

While one cannot live by “likes” alone, the number of likes against an article or a comment – or their absence – can be a telling indicator of a readership’s attitude.


After posting those thoughts I’ve seen something even more blatant than the situation that led me to write that article.

On the same newspaper website, I’ve seen comments ridiculing and belittling those who believe in (a) God have been getting “likes” in the hundreds. Previously it had seemed that 20 “likes” awarded to a comment was significant.

I’ve had varying degrees of involvement with Christianity and church during the past 40 years, and I’ve come across different kinds of hostile attitudes towards myself and other believers, but generally the hostility came from a small number.

This is the first time that I’ve seen such a popular opposition to those professing some kind of religious faith.
The cases I refer to above were actually responding to articles about Moslems, not Christians, but those replies were broadly aimed at a more general belief in God, not at any particular form of belief, or belief in any particular deity.


Most people with any degree of individual thought have abandoned the idea of religion.just as nobody believes in fairies or the Loch Ness monster.
This goes for Christians and any other believers in mumbo jumbo. [161 likes]


Sorry, but I read the words bible and Koran and just switched off. I just can’t believe that in the 21st century people base their lives on, and excuse their actions because of, works of fiction which are centuries old [50 likes]


I wouldn’t want my daughter to marry anyone who is devoutly religious [108 likes ]

Most of the more extreme views some with “likes” in the multiple hundreds, were specifically targeted at Islam. While I have no agreement at all with Islamic beliefs, what I found disturbing about the comments and the fact that so many agreed with them, is that the degree of hostility directed towards people for having religious beliefs, and for actually living their lives according to those beliefs.

One example relates to a current news story about French resort towns banning the “Burkini” from their beaches. Commenters practically demand that Muslim women should conform to Western society’s standards and fit in with the world around them instead of making themselves separate from society by the way they dress.

People in Europe believe that muslims are not doing enough to assimilate properly, so why wear this religious garment? Why not try and adopt your new home`s customs and become progressive rather than regressive? [130 likes]

The point, m’lady, is not your decision to wear the all in one burkini. Knock yourself out.
It’s the ideology that claims you can’t wear a swimsuit that irritates us. [307 likes]

it’s, an ostentatious display of religious identity, and that isn’t something that should be welcome in secular liberal western countries.[50 likes]

The burkini is part of a ridiculous mindset that says that strongly held religious beliefs somehow have intellectual merit.[ 103 likes]

While most of these comments are addressed to an issue related to Muslims (women in particular) – I think they are no less hostile to anyone who takes their faith seriously enough to think their lifestyle should be shaped by something (Someone) other than society’s ever changing standards of morality.

It seems that secularity is becoming much more than an absence of religion, or a separation from religion; it is increasingly becoming anti-religion and is itself adopting the very worst traits of dogmatic extremism

26 thoughts on “Extremist Secular Fundamentalism

  1. It’s a difficult matter. For instance, at the Republican National Convention this summer Trump made a statement about precious lives lost in Orlando (at a gay-friendly nightclub). I think that’s the adjective he used, precious. And when the audience clapped, cheering too, he soberly thanked specifically that audience (Republicans who are pretty worked up) for their positive response to what he had said in that moment. It was what I would call his most sincere, rather than manic, moment I’ve seen. I don’t know why he was sincere, what the foundation is. Is it because he actually cares about gay people, is it because he’s secretly gay (as, according to appearances, his wife is too if she’s not “bi” — as per 1995 photos), or was he simply glad he didn’t get boos because he personally just doesn’t like to hear boos for what he chooses to say at a rally? And he has to be against the massacre in Orlando if he’s going to be against Muslims or extremist terrorism, as he talks like he is (other than his seeming gladness earlier, right after it happened, that the massacre demonstrated his politically savvy hatred for the supposed incompetence of our government). But now he has an event in the works in Orlando where he will join extremists (or fundamentalists) who’ve said we should be putting homosexuals to death, or said (Christians) that the shame is more gay people haven’t died (because the Bible says they should). I don’t know what the people cheering his line at the convention think. Do they cheer everything he says, no matter? I know he has followers who think they’re very religious for being Republican, but who don’t question him.

  2. To examine myself, or observe myself, I could be considered an extreme secularist. I am in favor of punishments for murder if someone kills a gay person. And I’m not in favor of killing gay people. And I’d say I feel strongly about it. But am I really secular [to some extent, I have to concede, yes]? I think the original law against “homosexuality” is about anal “sex” and rape (rape being more of a regularity >then). So, I would be in favor of putting someone to death for raping someone anally (after a fair trial through legal processes); that would not be only a homosexual matter… but all of this is not spelled out in the Bible. But I still think that way. [Not only that, I’d be in favor of putting someone to death for any overpowering rape (not in the Bible either, unless the woman is already married or at least engaged to someone else (I think the woman has her own human rights, not only in relation to some man she might marry or be married to or whatever her father might think)].

  3. Something problematic or disconcerting that I’ve seen is when people scoff at Christianity (or against Judaism) but don’t have their guards up in regard to other religions. For example, India has a terrible track record pertaining to women — but they’ve been more dominated by Hinduism and Islam. (There is also Buddhism, which I think was a reaction to Hinduism… with its cast system.) Another example: I’ve been watching the series on the History Channel, “Vikings.” In a late episode (so far), a prince goes to see the “Pope.” Before getting that far, he meets a cardinal or some such and kisses his ring (literally). The person I watch with commented on how silly that was. But what about all the times we’ve seen the northerners lick the palm (literally) of a sequestered reader (I don’t remember what they call him, but he answers obscurely on the future and stays in a dark hut and has been disfigured for his role). But hey, their leader was a brute hero and proposed having two wives (in response to which his present wife got to decide not to be married to him any more… and all suffered as he continued his macho behavior and got hooked on heroin when he took another woman, not a wife).

  4. Very interesting. Also see: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/aug/24/france-burkini-ban-secularist-equality-muslim

    IN particular note the vitriolic, hypocritical and self-righteous comments after the article. Also note the number of “likes” (recommendations) attributed to those comments.

    One significantly perceptive exception is this comment:

    France has become the secular world’s equivalent of the Saudi Arabian morality police … armed French gendarme patrolling beaches … not in the name of Allah, but, in the name of Laïcité

    The cultural idols are different, but, the absurdity of what they do is the same !?

  5. Actually, after reading more of the comments, I found that there were perhaps fewer vitriolic comments than I’d seen after earlier articles on the topic. Maybe recognition of how ludicrous the actions of the French authorities are is getting more recognition.

  6. Face coverings no longer bother me.
    The first few times I saw women wearing the full black covering, with only eyes visible (the niqab) I found it quite confronting. But there are two or three women in my (small) home town who can be seen occasionally dressed that way and it no longer bothers me. One came into my local coffee shop with a group of non-Moslem women when I was there. After she ordered she sat with her friends and removed the face covering (hard to drink or eat without doing so).
    I’ve also seen a young girl wearing the niqab while riding a bike in the street outside her house.

    We also have many women of (various ages and differing national backgrounds) in town wearing the hijab, a scarf covering all of the head but not the face.

    And my parents live in a different town and their next door neighbour always wears a hijab in public.

  7. I have a “thing” in general about being identifiable. Not being identifiable is problematic and open to abuse. I’m also against men wearing ski masks (any mask) when carrying out a government or guard role.

  8. Of course, we’ve probably both seen movies where we thought we were seeing people’s faces… when, in fact, we were seeing some kind of excellent mask work made to look like someone else.
    (On top of that in itself, it’s easier to use such a mask convincingly if the neck and sides of face are covered. But that part is something I’m just thinking of now. And the whole thing wasn’t what I’d been thinking.)

  9. I read another article that tries to clarify that the woman on the beach was not forced to disrobe. The statement was that, when the picture was taken (that published in newspapers, I take it), she was showing the authorities her bathing suit top and leggings under her outer garment (which seems strange to me, if maybe such items or at least the pants are required legally underneath; also that they would look underneath). But it is better anyway, than having her take off the burkini in public.

    Additionally, I think it was the same article that said the court over the area in France struck down the law banning burkinis. Some beach-side towns are saying they will continue the policy anyway. They are afraid after the recent terrorist attack on a seaside stretch during a celebration. (As we know, the attack wasn’t done by someone in a burkini. [And, to refer back to myself, it wasn’t done by someone in a mask as far as I know.]) {I’ve been looking for the article again (to share).}

  10. Ironically, the Burkini is a step towards compromise, allowing many Muslim women to enjoy the beach in a way not possible previously.

    One message the Burkini ban sends is that it’s compulsory for women to expose their bodies in order to be acceptable and accepted within French society.

  11. Yep. It’s a strange message that you have to be prepared to expose a lot of skin to be acceptable. And it’s a sad, very sad, consequence that fewer Muslim women, then, get to “enjoy the beach” — which, in turn, furthers the situation of Muslims in Europe not being or feeling as integrated into society as in the west elsewhere.

  12. which, in turn, furthers the situation of Muslims in Europe not being or feeling as integrated into society as in the west elsewhere

    I mentioned in one of my blog posts how many “likes” (or recommendations) have been given on a newspaper website to comments in favour of the French burkini bans. There seems to be a wide spread expectation that others need to become more like us before we can accept them for who they are. That conforming to western society is more important than conforming to any religious idea of what their god may require. While in the current context, the issue is Muslim belief and behaviour, it would be foolish for Christians to be complacent about, or worse to be complicit with that secular viewpoint (through seeing Islam as a common “enemy”). Extreme secularism doesn’t discriminate about the type of god (or God) they want to push aside.

    While in the past I would have disagreed with suggestions that the marginalisation of Muslims in the west contributes to the kind of feeling that could turn some young Muslim men to extremism, I can now see an extent of anti-Muslim feeling that I think could be alienating enough to motivate some to make extreme decisions.

    So often Muslims have been criticised for not integrating more into western society, but the responsibility of integration needs to be a two way thing.
    I recently heard an interview about Muslims in Britain where it was claimed that later generations of immigrant (Muslim) families were more likely to turn to more rigid expressions of Muslim culture than the parents or grandparents who made the move to Britain. It’s as if lacking acceptance in the country of their birth, they seek identity in the culture of earlier, pre-migration generations and effectively try to become more Muslim than their parents.

    interview can be found here: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/latenightlive/what-british-muslims-really-think/7517890

  13. I hope I came across the way I meant; it seems to me Muslims are better integrated into society elsewhere in the west (not in Europe so much, maybe a little more in England or the U.K. though), but more so in Canada and possibly the U.S. and probably Australia). This is said to be so here. But since 9/11, some extremists have been trying to make it harder. Also, it has been reported of late that Russia has been funding right wing extremists in Europe, and reaching over to England, and is apparently doing so now in the United States. (I’ve been suspecting it for years, at least that there are sympathizers with chaos and strong-man authoritarians here in addition to there, although it used to be fewer people here than in Russia for sure and obviously). The purpose is to make us unstable… for the “improvement” of their influence. The irony is the quarters in which it grows.

  14. Maybe more Muslims integrate when they are allowed to do so. Australia has had a Muslim community for over 100 years, but it’s only in recent years, when world events caused suspicion against local Muslims to increase, that the “problem” of integration has been raised, and to a degree may have become a self-fulfilling “prophecy”.

  15. This might seem like a little bit of a tangent, but it gives a peek at the background of what I’m indicating is happening. The new CEO (I think that’s the position they’re calling him), who came on at the same time as the new campaign manager for the Trump campaign, is a guy who has said he’s a Leninist. What he means by it is that he likes how Lenin did things, messing things over and destroying so he could set something else in place. Some myopic people, upon hearing that, might go, “Oh, good; he doesn’t mean he wants communism.” (Lenin didn’t actually either.) But that would be ignorant and shallow. What was worst about Lenin and the Soviets was the way they did things. And Putin is still that kind of person even if he and his country aren’t the USSR. There may be a lot of talk now there about being Christian, but that doesn’t stop them or us from going bad.

  16. AND, we don’t want to “set something else in place” or establish something different!

    Or do “we”? (Too many among us do seem to; most in an oblivious sense.)

    The direction we are flirting with is random authoritarianism.

  17. I was listening to a speech from Hillary Clinton an hour or so ago. There was a moment (and some of the rest after, continuing) that made my eyes water up and my heart pray. She talked about Osama bin Laden being taken out. She said every minute counted. She said the SEAL team were operating in a city that has a major Pakinstani (who’s leadership didn’t pre-clear our operation) military installment. They/we needed to finish and get out. Yet, she said, they took the time to move the women and children to safety… the family of our enemy. At least SHE hires “the best people” (the speech writer). Even though she probably didn’t write the speech, it is consistent with her values and with time-honored American values. She said maybe others wouldn’t have cared about those people or even would have taken revenge [this brings up many notions]. But that’s not who we are.

  18. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/sep/02/brock-turner-released-jail-sexual-assault-stanford

    While I noted rape was more common or accepted during the time the Bible was composed or collected, there’s still too much tolerance for it. The whole article here is worthwhile, but I especially like the last poster pictured. It says “DON’T GET RAPED” with the GET and the D crossed out: Don’t Rape!

    There’s also a link near the end to a Twitter account of a man who was abused by the Catholic church. It’s been the attitude even in the west — as also in Muslim countries (whether considered western or not) — that there’s something morally wrong with or a responsibility incumbent upon victoms (such as for a raped woman or girl to marry the rapist). I actually don’t care (other than out of anthropological or witnessing concerns) what these gods want or what people who follow these attitudes feel obligated to do for their god.

    On a different, but very related, note, it is typical in somewhat backward societies (including those dominated by Catholicism*) to put reproductive responsibility on women without allowing them reproductive responsibility. For instance, with the zika virus concerns, leaders have said to women in Hispanic countries not to get pregnant. Yet most women don’t have access (or approval either) to contraception (condoms even frowned on), and the women aren’t empowered to be those with the say-so in sexual encounters. So Don’t risk impregnatING.

    {But women can’t count on men not to impregnate, and they often want to choose protection.}

    * We know this isn’t only about Catholics;
    you can find it across the board from atheist to evangelical.

  19. I saw a dark-haired lady there with a fuscia scarf around her head and neck.

    I don’t know what else she had on, she was riding in a car arriving as I was leaving.

  20. I’ve done a little research. I started wondering if what the French call leggings are actually what we’d think of as the bottom half of a regular swim suit, or of a bikini. Otherwise, why would they (leggings or it, a bottom) be under a burkini (which I was thinking of as a one-piece thing with long legs)? No. The burkini leggings really are more like leggings. Mine [not of a burkini] are cropped/three-quarter yoga pants, basically, with a tropical print. I have a matching top that does look pretty much like a bikini top (but secure). I would never go out in this normally, but I think it’s fine at a beach. To a store, I’d put on a longer top, sort of like what you see below.

    Notice the top itself does not involve the scarf (bought separately, as is the sash or belt I think).

    It was a breezy day. As it turns out, I would’ve been uncomfortable without my short, light jacket. I’d
    thought I would go in the water. I only put my legs in. Was chili out, and was populated by boats in.

  21. Something I want to bring out from one of the links I shared earlier is the fact the path for the pipeline was changed because of concerns about water pollution which would have been near the governor’s home. But, now it is said there is little concern about water pollution and leaks.

    Never mind what those people say (those Indians); nothing to see here about how pollution in water runs downstream (and will end up affecting many other people, but not right nearby that one governor).





    I’ve been trying to find a YouTube video I saw with people being arrested, and some of them saying, very peacefully and factually, “You’re arresting the wrong people.” Near the beginning, a prayer was included. (I don’t know why I’m not finding it in my device history. It’s more of a home movie sort of thing, so it has a personal touch.) It was based in another state besides North Dakota, but connected to this same topic and pipeline. When it’s about water and keeping treaties (or contracts with Americans), is it wrong for someone like me to show up and join the protest because there’s prayer involved with which I’m not familiar?

    Is it extremist (too anti-religion) not to support them when the stakes are so high and basic? Plus, what about the Bible instruction not to move or destroy monuments or markers or the like?

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