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Reply to Wickham and Humanists Barbados Part 2

Nov 26, 2021

Last Updated on November 30, 2021 4:45 am by Editor

In Part 2 of my response to Wickham and the Humanists Barbados I deal primarily with the issue of secularism and the title “God” as used in the constitution.

As you know we are currently facing a full-blown threat to the very foundation of our national identity. It has all been occasioned by the smoke screen of the move to a republic status championed by the PM and leader of this BLP government.

For the record I am not against becoming a republic. In fact, we should have done it a long time ago.  But all of the pontificating and puffery, virtue signaling and stentorian intellectualizing are, in my view, part of the foolish pride embedded in our motto. Everything is now lights, smoke, mirrors, cameras and holograms. 

What we are against, though, are those who wish to seize this moment to rewrite our names on history’s page and thereby alter the identity of our nation. Your history is part of your identity. Ask Bob Marley.

We are also against those who wish to use this moment in time to extract demagogic capital and further along, activate the process of foisting their morality (or immorality) on the rest of us.

Secular Society

Let me deal with one of the lies – and I use that term unapologetically – that is making the rounds on Barbados social media. 

The constitution of Barbados states that Barbados is a secular society.

As I did recently on Facebook while battling with several atheists, humanists and plain vanilla anti-godders, I am offering $100 to the first person who can find a line in the current constitution of Barbados that says that Barbados is a secular society. You can click here to find a copy of the constitution or use any other authentic copy.

Note that we are not denying that Barbados is a secular society.  The secularists might get away by saying that the constitution implies  that Barbados is a  secular society.   In any case, saying that simply means that there is a separation of state and religion. In essence what that implies is that no religion should have undue influence on the political decisions and vice versa. 

Why vice versa? For the benefit of those who do not pay attention to little things, this government (and the DLP before it) does have a Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs! Ever wonder who is currently in charge of it and what it does?  Make it your business to find out!

The key issue in the phrase “separation of state and religion” is the word “separation”. As it turns out, that can mean a myriad of things.  According to the Oxford Research Encyclopedia article, Secularism in Political Philosophy:

A secular state must “manage” the relationship between religion and state institutions in a way that makes religion both subject to specific disabilities and singling out for special treatment.

Let us not get distracted by the term “disabilities” used by the author.  Basically it is saying the same thing we said earlier.  But note that it does not say that secularism is about removing religion from society; in point of fact, it accepts the presence of religion in society. 

As I understand our history, the Anglican church used to be recognized as the official denomination in Barbados.  We say “denomination” because the Anglican Church is not a religion per se but a subset or group under the religion called Christianity or Christendom.

The de-establishment of the church by Errol Barrow in 1969 meant the discontinuation or “disabling” of the special position and privilege of the Anglican Church especially in terms of its control of schools, its ability to receive financial support from the government and exclusive rights to do a variety  of things such as issue marriage and baptism certificates etc.  As you may doubtless know by now, any registered church or religion can now do these things.

The author of the article cited above  goes on to argue, inter alia, that the  function of political secularism is to:

 (a) protect the religious freedom of believers on its territory

(b) protect religion from politics and

(c) protect  the state from religion.

I call that a fair deal. But this is not what Peter Wickham is arguing. According to this Wickham person:

Now, as we move into a republic, I am challenged to understand what does God have to do with the secular arrangement in which we have rejected the whole idea of this monarchy.   Barbados Today, 18 November 2021

I must confess that I too am challenged, indeed very challenged, to understand the logical leaps in Wickham’s statement.  So I took the time to dissect the argument.

For Wickham, God is an invention of the British (Spanish? French? Portuguese?) monarchy. He never existed before the British empire and monarchy. Neither can he  exist elsewhere apparently. In logic that would be his major premise.

His minor premise is that we are doing away with the monarchy.  Therefore, his conclusion  is that we are also doing away with God. Simple, logical but not “true”!

Even those without any training in formal logic can pick up that Wickham’s argument rests on the validity of his major premise.  The reason why most of us can easily disagree with him and the likes of Michael Howard and Peter Lawrence Thompson is that we do not agree with their major premise!

For religions like Christianity, Judaism and Islam, “God” has the characteristic of being transcendent which means “existing apart from and not subject to the limitations of the material universe”. That speaks for itself and to the Wickhamite fallacy.

Some religions such as Hinduism hold that God is immanent which means that he exists in everything around us.  That is a bit tricky because if you take that to a “logical conclusion”, you can worship anything around you as some ancient and not-so-ancient peoples do.  But that is another topic for another time and another digital space (www.thekingiscoming.net still under construction).

It seems then that Wickham’s god is some construct embedded and encapsulated in colonialism. Of course, this raises the question of whether the British god = Spanish god = French god etc. In any case, his god can neither escape nor apparently exist outside the time capsule of colonialism.  

For that reason, I would be the first to agree that Wickham’s god is not worth retaining in the new “secular arrangement” far less worshipping.

We can only assume, therefore, that he (Wickham) has been moving and having his being in some other parallel, ontological universe while most of us continue to exist quite comfortably with the construct of God in one way or another.  

In summary, what the Wickhamites (and to a lesser extent) the humanists want, is the total removal of religion from society.   

If you have not grasped the logical leap from “removing God” to “removing religion”, consider this.

According to one definition, religion is “the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods”.  Therefore, if one is calling for the removal of “god” or “God” then one is automatically calling for the removal of religion. Syllogistic logic again, this time yielding a sensible conclusion.

God as Title

There is also a more dangerous issue arising from the Wickhamite position. “God” is a title like “manager” or “general” although we Christians use it as a proper name in reference to our concept of the superior being. 

Like us, who are made in his image, God has proper names. In Judaism and the Christian Bible, God tells us his “proper” name.  Speaking to Moses in Exodus 6:3 this is what he says of himself:

I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by My name the LORD I did not make Myself known to them.  Exodus 6:3

When you look up the original Hebrew for the word translated “Lord” we find it is “Yahweh”.  The term “Jehovah” is sometimes used as a substitute for Yahweh but we will not delve into these details here.  

Muslims also talk about “God” although they call him “Allah”.  Therefore, Mr. Wickham is treading on dangerous ground because unlike Christianity, some branches of Islam are not as tolerant to what they consider blasphemy. 

Perhaps, that is why Wickham wants to be able to move back to Barbados with his/her husband/spouse (this is getting very confusing!) because, as a little media research will show, radical Islam in France has “taken out” quite a few individuals there for what they consider sacrilege.

All things considered, what is really the problem? Apparently it is mostly those who are uncomfortable their sexuality that have a problem!  OK. Let’s say this one more time. 

There is no practical reason why those who wish to change sexual polarity by day or night should be fearful in Barbados. It is done all the time, I gather.  They have the sovereign right to do so.

Furthermore, if an individual in Barbados wants to endorse the cou-cou with a cat or dog or some other beast, all that is needed is some privacy and the poor creature’s co-operation! Again, what’s the problem?

One of the things the Wickhamites and their political sponsor want is for the law in Barbados to recognize same sex marriages. That is where this is going. And we shall go there too but in another article.  

In the meantime, in my humble opinion, Christians too often waste precious time quoting scripture at atheists and homosexuals. How much Scripture have I quoted here so far?

What Christians should spend more time doing is educating themselves about logic, history and science.  Armed with the knowledge and intellectual processes therefrom, Christians need to carry the fight onto the ideological ground of the anti-godders.

When Jesus said that the gates of hell would not prevail against the church, he clearly could not have been thinking of a defensive posture because that would contradict the military (and offensive) meaning of going against a gate as understood at that time. 

The war we are fighting is an ideological war; it is all inside the head of people. This is my contention because, almost without fail, if you subject the arguments of the “anti-godders” to logical analysis, often one finds that their reasoning cannot hold water.  Therefore, when pressed, they either run away, become belligerent or start stating plain untruths.  

So-called Christian apologists have fought these ideological wars successfully throughout history. In fact, their efforts are mostly responsible for much of the theological clarity and religious freedom we have today. As a user friendly, pleasant, VERY INFORMATIVE but balanced primer, I recommend the historical/travel documentary on Martin Luther by Rick Steves here.

Shalom. Blessings.

N.B. Part 1 of the reply can be found here

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Dr. Aldon Tull is a retired educator who holds a Master of Science in International Marketing and the Doctor of Education. 

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