MoralityNow! columnist Fein right, but ...
March 08, 2013 12:00 AM | 980 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print

I was pleasantly surprised and well pleased, with some trepidation, about Kennesaw State University sociology professor Dr. Melvyn Fein’s new project as announced in his column, “MoralityNow! It Matters, But Only if Defended,” in Monday’s Marietta Daily Journal.

I predict he gets some uneasy, unpleasant pushback from some of his fellow conservatives, especially regarding his accurate assessment that “Many people, especially on the right, have come to the conclusion that moral commitments flow only from religious commitments. This is wrong, and would doom our country if it were true.”

Dr. Fein had already declared that his new organization would be “profoundly secular.”

Since I know there is widespread confusion about the term, let me say in his defense that “secular” does not mean anti-religious, only non-religious. Our government, for example, is and must be secular — not based on religious principles but not anti-religious, either.

I mentioned trepidation, but I think the new organization’s stated moral principles — honesty, responsibility, fairness, family, and liberty — are all admirable and worthy of support and advocacy.

I fear, however, that fairness will not be the only one to evoke honest disagreement.

Must a family be defined as mother, father, and children — or does a single-parent family deserve encouragement, too? What of a family headed by two men or two women? And does what some see as a moral problem and others do not — such as vulgarity in the media — create dissonance within the group?

And, though I don’t think it should be controversial, does liberty include the right to speak and believe and behave in ways another doesn’t think moral or acceptable?

Can one be an open atheist and be moral, as I would strongly argue? And fairness will not avoid controversy by defining it as having “the same rules apply to everyone,” since true justice sometimes requires different rules to fit different roles or situations. A physically handicapped person probably should get a parking advantage; a parent may well deserve advantages over a non parent; etc.

May MoralityNow! succeed. A reduction in personal political attacks, character assassination, irresponsibility among citizens and leaders, undeserved privilege, mean-spirited bickering and dishonesty everywhere would be most welcome.

Ed Buckner

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