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Secularize the World


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Medium (Personal)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2019/02/05

In a call by a London-based writer, who I did not know about but instantly like, Salam Sarhan, has called for the world to set forth for the non-meddling of religion in politics, he views the corrosive effects of religion as a presence throughout human history and a factor in the sustaining of global conflicts right into the present.

He sees the political use of religion as a bad. He sees the theocratic revolution in Iran as a detriment for not only Iran but also the region for more than four decades. Then he further, rightly, criticizes the attacks in the Middle East based on American-led invasions in 2003 continuing right into the present.

He notes the increased takeover by theocratic tendencies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Syria, Turkey, and Yemen. He went through a litany of cases. Then he went to task on Western nations with some individuals and social groups who are pining for a theocratic takeover.

As Sarhan stated, “There is now a need to move towards an international consensus to prevent any invocation of religion — from mainstream as well as extremist religious groups — to support national and political agendas. It is time for a campaign to create an international treaty to ban the political use of religion. The campaign can start by attracting the support of influential public figures to mobilise a global movement, leading later to the publication and dissemination of a formal treaty to exert pressure on states that perpetrate such abuses.”

An international document could be set — as with those for dealing with violence against women, with the recognition of common humanity in human rights recognition, with the right to safe and orderly migration as with the recent compact — for dealing with the political use of religion. We could work as an international community, as per the noble and courageous call of Sarhan for an international document for secularism, secular values, and the advancement of the long-time goals of the secularists around the world: the removal of religion in politics, whether symbolic, legal, or otherwise.

“This would remove a key recruitment technique by which the naive and vulnerable are attracted to their ranks — namely, through the false allegation that there is a war being carried out against their faith,” Sarhan continued.

This could be a force by which to advancement the true meaning of freedom of religion and freedom of belief; this could be a force for the freedom from religion and freedom from belief, or of religion and of belief, in which believers could become nonbelievers and nonbelievers could become believers without imposition from the outside — unfairly, unjustly, and, often, with little pretext.

He proposes a concrete step with an NGO for the putting of pressure on governments to halt or reverse government-based appeals or endorsements of religion by the state. Often, the battle is secularists and ordinary religious people versus fundamentalists in multiple contexts. Sarhan went on with the proposal of an “International Treaty to Ban the Political Use of Religion.” along the lines of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

He saw this as a framework for the reduction and elimination of the abuses of religion in politics for a further respect for human rights. “Endorsement of the treaty by powerful countries would help to tip the balance in favour of more moderate, tolerant ideals. It would be a step towards bringing outlier states back to the majority world consensus, similar to events following the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the UN General Assembly in December 1948,” Sarhan opined, “It could also lead to the establishment of a global monitoring service for raising awareness of the abuses of religion in politics, providing media organisations and other interested parties with credible, trustworthy statistics and facts about such abuses. There are very few countries that would hesitate to endorse such a treaty — including those who can be implicated in such acts, but consistently deny using religion as a political tool.”


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


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