Abrego baselessly attacks secular ethics

To the Editor:

Even as I write, I maintain a slight hope that Jose Abrego (also Abreu) wrote his column (“Adopting state religion in schools would strengthen society from ground up” (11/14) with his tongue in his cheek. I do not see how he can possibly countenance the blanket statement that nonreligious children do not develop love. I find myself a direct counterexample, raised by secular parents who shared with me a commitment to equality and social justice.

Religion, I find, is often abused to promote artificial differences and the very search for dominance that Abrego attributes to atheism. It is absurd to reduce social problems to such a cause instead of to poverty and to the legacy of American injustice. The purported statistics and glorification of often misguided leaders are reminiscent of the “inescapable logic” of The Voice of London, Commander Prothero.

Abrego’s final example, that of Catholic Spain in 1492, made me laugh out loud. Spain’s state religion proves my point, as the Spanish Inquisition is synonymous with intolerance and injustice. The “enlightenment” he discusses often proceeded despite religious barriers, “exploration” massacred and denigrated the non-European “savages” encountered and the posited “internal peace” did not exist, as the period was rife with civil wars and the bloody and divisive wars of religion that raged throughout Europe.

On a day on which a rally occurred to urge an end to bigotry, Abrego’s baseless attack against secular Americans is just such an instance of intolerance that we must leave behind. I deeply respect theists, and I only ask that they likewise appreciate that pure secularists can be equally ethical.

Ross Kennedy-Shaffer

Nov. 14

Kennedy-Shaffer is a senior in Ezra Stiles College.


  • Anonymous

    I really do think Abrego's post was satire. For one, the allusion to Spain in 1492 seems to have been an intentional implicit reference to the Spanish Inquisition. Likewise, the allusions to religious policies across Europe practically screams at the reader to remember the holy civil wars that raged across the continent (and eventually spilled over into the New World). Furthermore, the statistics he cited (something about higher teen-pregnancy rates, higher crime, etc.) are actually statistically known to be highest in such areas as the Bible Belt and other Red States in which religion thrives (while the opposite is true in the most liberal nonreligious American regions). These and other patent absurdities in Abrego's post make it practically impossible for me to see as anything other than obvious satire, and I think it is indeed well-timed; it shows how extreme responses to certain notions/events generally produce ridiculous results (not referring to you, Ross). Acknowledging that the letter was likely satire makes it actually rather amusing, and it became a topic of serious, thoughtful discussion among my friends and I over lunch--one of the best ways, in my opinion, to respond to such a thing.