Opaque Morality: The Great Secular Ethical Identity Problem

Brian Worley


I don’t speak for organized secularism, I’m ideologically opposed to them, but rather for the non-religious rational conservative. My personal vision for secularism is much more assertive and muscular than it outwardly appears. Something though has restrained me, it is the secular opaque problem. First, I’ll define and then show just how opaque morality affects the non-religious.  

Opaque (adjective) as defined by Dictionary.com

1. not transparent or translucent; impenetrable to light; not allowing light to pass through.

2. not transmitting radiation, sound, heat, etc.

3. not shining or bright; dark; dull.

4. hard to understand; not clear or lucid; obscure:

The problem remains opaque despite explanations.

5. dull, stupid, or unintelligent.  

The inquiries sure get old. Religious people persist, through implication, questioning or presumption to disparage my capacity for morality as a secular being. It offends me each time I am confronted. Customary responses to attacks usually trigger one’s “fight or flight” mechanisms. As a 100% secular being, reason is upon my side and I am not one bit timid to confront apparent slights from religious people. Problem is that secular people don’t have an established moral anchor that society recognizes; thus, secular retorts are considered subjective when compared to their Holy Book morality which they consider objective. This writer doesn’t like the weaker hand that comes inherent with secular morality.  

While religious people are frequently called hypocrites, this ex-minister has never been called a hypocrite in my 18 post-Christian years as a non-religious person. This isn’t a boast, but it should provoke one to think why the religious person gets tagged as a hypocrite and the secular person doesn’t? This is a significant point!  

The fact that the non-religious escape hypocritical accusations indicates that secular moral beliefs are opaque. This tells me that religious people don’t know what secular people believe and thus there is nothing for them to “throw back” towards the secular individual should a standard be violated. They have nothing to quantify secular morality with…they cannot call me a hypocrite.  

Religious people can be hypocrites. It’s an easy observation for seculars to make, no matter what degree or ethical level the religious soul has obtained. Watch anyone long enough and you will inevitably see flaws, imperfection and inconsistency…it’s called humanity. While I don’t seek to be harsh, judgmental or unkind of the particular religious soul in question; I am not referring to a Christian understanding of a fallen sinful nature, I am distinctly referring to behavior that can be quantified and thus judged.  

The “thou shalt not” list of the Bible is lengthy; while Proverbs are positive verbs for living, and the “Beatitudes” are desirable attitudes that should be in every Christian all together these are high standards for Christians to live up to. Failure to meet the given standard rightfully opens one to a fair claim of hypocrisy if the standard hasn’t been met. Once something is written (Holy Bible), it is largely quantifiable to saint and skeptic alike. Once one sorts through all the subjective (open for interpretation) particulars of scripture, certain objective moral standards which the body at large accept as moral certainty have emerged. Bearing false witness is wrong, coveting thy neighbor’s wife is wrong. Like it or not, anyone laying claim to be a follower of a religious tradition has aligned with the accepted objective moral confines of that tradition. While many things can be debated within the Holy Books, subject to interpretation and thus subjective; though some things are crystal clear and thus objective.

The undesirability of opaque/stealth morality  

There was a time in my life when I had to separate from my wife and then 3-year-old daughter. I had lived in Eastern Europe when the economy had crashed, of necessity I returned to a weakened America in the midst of its own economic crisis with 3 suitcases and nothing else. I fought and clawed for survival and to be enabled to save up enough to bring my family back to the USA. My intention isn’t to cry upon your shoulder, I know many of you managed tough times as well…so I’m not playing “poor me”, I am seeking to convey my story.  

For survival, I had some crappy jobs, but at least I was working bringing in income. Seeking to better myself, I sought something better as I have always been willing to work. Moving forward, I applied for something better with a resume. I was quickly called, we had a lengthy discussion over the phone and I was invited to the interview.  

At that time, my resume listed that I had graduated from a Christian college with a minister’s degree. The shop owner made a point to tell me of his Christianity and inquired about my current beliefs (illegal as that can be…they did this, even asking if I were an atheist). He invited another Christian interrogator to assail me at the interview. Each took their “potshots” at me though I was the best candidate that they interviewed. They actually boasted of their moral degradation. All the while, I desired a better job while thinking to myself that these questions had absolutely nothing to do with my fitness/capacity to do a job well. As it became apparent through the ratcheting up and the audacity of the illegal types of questions to their blatant hatred of a non-religious applicant; near the end they started to “toy” with me which greatly angered me!  

Ethically this was wrong, legally this was wrong. By the way, I have never gotten justice for this. I tell you the story because this episode is where I learned about the undesirability of opaque morality. I have placed a lot of thought into this one, in hindsight, this is that I have learned.  

Setting aside my feelings, which is difficult, I sought to formulate some sort of rationale other than a xenophobic/prejudiced basis for the shop owner’s actions.  

What any employer really wants to know is can they trust you with their business? Will I show up every day? Grow the business and not make them ashamed of hiring me? These are legitimate concerns.  

People want to know what you believe if they are going to move forward with you. Do you do what you say? Can they trust you? Confide in you? How ethical are you? These are fair questions that deserve an answer prior to moving forward with someone new.  

That ugly “Christian soul” that did me so wrong didn’t have an “identity tool” with me as a 100% secular being that he has when he interviews with the religious being. Although I was wronged, I believe it is advantageous to the one hiring that they have some insight as to the morality and ethics of a prospective employee. He didn’t have it with me.  

Group selection and who you identify with plays a part. Whereas one group openly identifies with “thou shalt not steal” verses another group that isn’t wise enough to openly proclaim what you do and do not believe in; which group should a stranger feel most comfortable with? I ask every secular person to think about this, think long and hard, ponder this question and ask yourself if the other party has a right for a prescient clue about your positions upon moral questions?

My stew with organized secularism  

This is my BIG beef with organized secularism, they proclaim “secular morality” as superior but fail to define an established anchor that is quantifiable. With no anchor, what I’ve learned is that their morality is virtually undistinguishable from left-wing politics.  This writer contacted The Freedom from Religion Foundation and The American Humanist Association about the interview travesty. They refused to help me. I was naïve then, I didn’t understand how it works and what these groups were really about…it is not really about secularism or they would (if they were consistent) be politically blind in their choices of whom they will defend. Their legal teams are tied to liberal ideas and people…politics do matter!  

Organized secularism has no competition! How American is that? With no competition and left wing funding enabling work aligned with the Frankfurt School (Critical Theory) no wonder America is losing our culture in the culture wars.  Organized secularism has no motivation to address opaque morality…it doesn’t fit their narrative but we must draw a huge distinction here. Most non-religious people (nones) could care less about organized secularism because they have nothing to do with them. Non-religious people shouldn’t get lumped in with organized secularism by default due to being merely secular. You can be 100% secular and despise organized secularism (like this writer) because those groups don’t reflect conservative values and principles.  With all the “buzz” of organized secularism that began around 2007, the idea that got conveyed was to be secular meant you identified with leftish values and politics and frankly…this writer resents secularism being tarred with liberalism!  

There is a GREAT unrecognized, untapped market that Conservative Funding has overlooked. According to Pew Research Center, this number is 22.8%. I don’t understand their reluctance to enter…one can be non-religious and NOT be anti-religion! This writer understands the importance of Christianity to a conservative (a significant portion of their base). For strategic reasons that the left would steal or frustrate, I won’t share how I see this working (the left stole my Ex-Minister Idea and took it the other direction).  

Conceivably, should opaque morality get resolved, the left is interested in the political ends. While nones continue to grow, the hardcore left involved in organized secularism has already peaked. I speculate that many of those hanging around do so because of their attraction to secularism…not the political aspects which they may not care for. At the end of the day, isn’t this is what it usually comes down to…political positions? Why let liberals have all of secularism?  

Conservative funding lacks vision. Just as Murdoch thought America needed a conservative network (Fox) to compete with ABC, NBC and CBS…I think the market for conservative secularism is just as promising!  


Brian Worley    Ex-Minister.org  March 31, 2017   All Rights Reserved

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