Sunday, January 18, 2009

Are We a "Judeo-Christian" Country?

Over at Secular Right, they are having a heated discussion about the term "Judeo-Christianty," especially as it pertains to defining Western culture.

Peronally, I've never felt comfortable when politicians describe America as a "Judeo-Christian country" or reaffirm the need to preserve our "Judeo-Christian values." At the risk of sounding cynical, I always believed that phrase was coined to allow social conservatives to sound "Jew-friendly" and preempt any accusations of being "anti-Semetic." But that's not my biggest problem with the term. For me, the problem is that it defines our country, our values, and our heritage through religion alone.

About a year ago, I coined the term "Christian-Enlightenment" because it combines the religion of the West (Christianity) with the ground-breaking Enlightenment ideas (freedom, reason, the Scientific Method, etc.) that enabled the West to dominate the world.

Ethiopia is a "Judeo-Christian" country, but it's one of the worst countries on Earth because it doesn't have the Enlightment heritage of Europe and the United States.

I'm open to the possibility that Christianity was the most likely religion to produce an Enlightment (with its emphasis on 1) the integrity of the individual soul, and 2) the inherent equality of all souls), but it was the Enlightenment itself - not religion - that produced all of the things we love about the modern world (freedom, democracy, prosperity, human rights, long lifespans, etc).


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