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Steve Ahlquist is an award-winning journalist, writer, artist and founding member of the Humanists of Rhode Island, a non-profit group dedicated to reason, compassion, optimism, courage and action. The views expressed are his own and not necessarily those of any organization of which he is a member.

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"We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” - Elie Weisel

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor." - Desmond Tutu

"There comes a time when neutrality and laying low become dishonorable. If you’re not in revolt, you’re in cahoots. When this period and your name are mentioned, decades hence, your grandkids will look away in shame." - David Brooks

2 responses to “The difference between religion and government”

  1. leftyrite

    It’s all about circling the wagons, both in perceived hard times and in actual ones. 
    And this group instinct runs pretty deep.
    Many present-day Rhode Islanders, or their ancestors, immigrated to this place from countries with much different political landscapes.
    The big difference from the ’50’s and ’60’s is that our public institutions have been greatly weakened, so, by default, it’s back to the old European or Asian or Latin American script: Government is inherently corrupt; the family is the only unit of social organization; the parish or ethnic neighborhood comes next; opportunism against strangers or outsiders counts as virtue.
    I always wondered why history, but never civics, was taught at my public high school.
    Now that times are tough and my old school has gone for the corporate model, I realize that the local poobahs never wanted the up and comers to know their rights under the American legal system, anyway. It’s why they hate the ACLU when many of them don’t know what the letters stand for.
    They always prefered the authoritarian mindset, which is all about “us” and “them.” 
    Religion, as many know by now, can be used as a cover for completely voluntary and proudly held ethnic prejudices. 

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  2. Solomon

    Steve can I assume that as a Humanist your worldview is atheistic? Without a God to superintend anything (even your existence) why even argue? Since there is nothingness and more of the same in all our futures anyway, why not just live and let live? You have your closely held opinions and Justin Katz has his. Postmodernism doesn’t need or want definitions anyway. So why does anyone have to be precise? For some people precision can be a religion. But you know that too.
    The banners that hang now and the banners that were removed do not establish a religion. Any dummy would know that.
    Anyway I think you are completely wrong in your assessment above. Humanism is a religion. I said so, and I am always right.  :)

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