Secularism: Bart Ehrman’s Freedom From Religion Foundation Lecture

Published on Aug 13, 2014
Here’s Bart Ehrman’s Freedom From Religion Foundation Lecture in Raleigh, NC in 2014. At the end I included a short interview I did with him for the “Openly Secular” Campaign by RDF and FFRF. I only had ten minutes for the interview so didn’t have time to discuss his work more broadly, but hope to in the future.

Categories: Secularism, Video

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  1. Secular and Nationalist Jinnah
    Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s 11th August Speech

    Secular state
    Mohammad Ali Jinnah Quaeday Azam

    Speeches of The Great Leader;Kaeeday AZAM
    Transfer of Power (June 3rd 1947)
    Reminicences of early days (9th Aug 1947)
    The first President of Constitutional Assembly (11th Aug 1947)
    On proposing Toast for H.M the King (13th Aug 1947)
    Inauguration of Pakistan Constituent Assembly (14th Aug 1947)
    The first Eid in Pakistan (18th Aug 1947)
    Karachi -A city with bright future (25th Aug 1947)
    Towards rapid industrialisation (26th Sept 1947)
    A call to duty (11th Oct 1947)
    Eid-ul- Azha- A symbol of Islamic spirit and sacrifice (24th Oct 1947)
    The task ahead (30th Oct 1947)
    Protection of minorities: A sacred undertaking (30th Oct 1947)
    Reorientation of education (27th Nov 1947)
    Pakistan and Afghanistan- Two sister nations (3rd Dec 1947)
    Service before self (22nd Dec 1947)
    Protect Hindu neighbors – A call to Muslims (9th Jan 1948)
    On Pakistan – Burma relations (21 Jan 1948)
    Strong Defence – A bulwark against aggression (23rd Jan 1948)
    Rehabilitation of refugees (2nd Feb 1948)
    Equal treatment to all – Assurance to minorities ( 3rd Feb 1948)
    On Ceylon’s Independence (4th Feb 1948)
    New era of progress for Baluchistan (14th Feb 1948)
    Pakistan and her people – I (19th Feb 1948)
    Selfless devotion to duty (21st Feb 1948)
    Pakistan and her people – II (Feb 1948)
    Pakistan and U.S.A Equal partners in Defence of democracy (26th Feb 1948)
    On spiritual and sentimentalities with Turkey (4th Mar 1948)
    Pakistan Red Cross Society ( 15th Mar 1948)
    The martial spirit of East Pakistan (20th Mar 1948)
    National Consolidation (20th Mar 1948)
    Students role in nation-building (24th Mar 1948)
    Do your duties as servants – An advice to officers ( 25th Mar 1948)
    On need of medical relief (26th Mar 1948)
    Development of Chittagong port (29th Mar 1948)
    Farewell Message to East Pakistan (28th Mar 1948)
    Economic feasibility of Pakistan (1 Apr 1948)
    Common ideals of Pakistan and France (21st 1948)
    Responsibilities of the youth (12th Apr 1948)
    Importance of physical culture (12th Apr 1948)
    Strong Air Force – A shield against aggression (13th Apr 1948)
    Historical role of 3rd Armoured Brigade (13 Apr 1948)
    Armoured Corps -Spearhead of the army (13th Apr 1948)
    Administration must be impartial -Advice to Govt. servants (14th Apr 1948)
    The Frontier policy of Pakistan (14 Apr 1948)
    Essential qualities of a regiment (15th Apr 1948)
    Educational progress of Frontier Province (18th Apr 1948)
    The commercial policy of Pakistan (27th Apr 1948)
    Pakistan and Afghanistan – Bound by age-old links (8th May 1948)
    Be a Force of Peace: Advice to athletes (13th Jun 1948)
    Constitutional position of Baluchistan (13th Jun 1948)
    Responsibilities of the Defence force (14th Jun 1948)
    Provincialism- A curse (15th Jun 1948)
    The State Bank of Pakistan – A symbol of our sovereignty (1st Jul 1948)
    Eid Greetings to the Muslim World (27th Aug 1948)
    Achievements of the first year -A firm basis for optimism (14 Aug 1948)


    Statement Regarding Kashmir Affairs
    Statements Regarding Killing In The Minority Province
    Statement On The Situation In The Frontier Province
    Statement Demanding Release of Kashmir Detenus
    Statement On Protection For Minorities In Pakistan
    Statement Replying To Various Points Raised By The Deputation Of The Scheduled Cast Federation
    Statement On The Palestine Problem
    Statement Regarding Palestine Conference
    Statement Asking Muslims Of India To Observe November 1st As “Muslim Countries Day”
    Two-Nation Theory
    Pakistan Resolution Lahore : March 23, 1940
    Statement On the success of League’s Lahore Session (March 22-23, 1940)
    Pakistan Golden Jubilee Special
    Contribution of Ahmadi Muslims in
    Making and Consolidation of Pakistan
    The first President of Constitutional Assembly (11th Aug 1947)
    “Thank God, we are not starting in those days. We are starting in the days when there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State.:
    Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

    I cordially thank you with the utmost sincerity, for the honor you have conferred upon me –the greatest honor that is possible for this Sovereign Assembly to confer-by electing me as your first President. I also thank those leaders who have spoken in appreciation of my services and their personal references to me. I sincerely hope that with your support and your cooperation we shall make this Constituent Assembly an example to the world. The Constituent Assembly has got two main functions to perform. The first is the very onerous and responsible task of framing our future Constitution of Pakistan and the second of functioning as a full and complete Sovereign body as the Federal Legislature of Pakistan. We have to do the best we can in adopting a provincial constitution for the Federal Legislature of Pakistan. You know really that not only we ourselves are wondering but, I think, the whole world is wondering at this unprecedented cyclone revolution which has brought about the plan of creating and establishing two independent Sovereign Dominions in this sub-continent. As it is, it has been unprecedented; there is no parallel in the history of the world. This mighty sub-continent with all kinds of inhabitants has been brought under a plan which is titanic, unknown, and unparalleled. And what is very important with regard to it is that we have achieved it peacefully and by means of an evolution of the greatest possible character.

    Dealing with our first function in this Assembly, I cannot make any well-considered pronouncement at this moment, but I shall say a few things as they occur to me. The first and the foremost thing that I would like to emphasize is this –remember that you are now a Sovereign Legislative body and you have got all the powers. It, therefore, places on you the gravest responsibility as to how you should take your decisions. The first observation that I would like to make is this: You will no doubt agree with me that the first duty of a Government is to maintain law and order, so that the life, property and religious beliefs of its subjects are fully protected by the State.

    The second thing that occurs to me is this: One of the biggest curses from which India is suffering –I do not say that other countries are free from it, but, I think, our condition is much worse –is bribery and corruption. That really is a poison. We must put that down with an iron hand and I hope that you will take adequate measures as soon as it is possible for this Assembly to do so.

    Black marketing is another curse. Well, I know that black-marketers are frequently caught and punished. Judicial sentences are passed or sometimes fines only are imposed. Now you have to tackle this monster which today is a colossal crime against society, in our distressed conditions, when we constantly face shortage of food and other essential commodities of life. A citizen who does black-marketing commits, I think, a greater crime than the biggest and most grievous of crimes. These black-marketers are really knowing, intelligent and ordinarily responsible people, and when they indulge in black-marketing, I think they ought to be very severely punished, because they undermine the entire system of control and regulation of food-stuffs and essential commodities, and cause wholesale starvation and want and even death.

    The next thing that strikes me is this: Here again it is a legacy which has been passed on to us. Along with many other things, good and bad, has arrived this great evil –the evil of nepotism and jobbery. This evil must be crushed relentlessly. I want to make it quite clear that I shall never tolerate any kind of jobbery, nepotism or any influence directly or indirectly brought to bear upon me. Wherever I will find that such a practice is in vogue, or is continuing anywhere, low or high, I shall certainly not countenance it.

    I know there are people who do not quite agree with the division of India and the partition of the Punjab and Bengal. Much has been said against it, but now that it has been accepted, it is the duty of every one of us to loyally abide by it and honorably act according to the agreement which is now final and binding on all. But you must remember, as I have said, that this mighty resolution that has taken place is unprecedented. One can quite understand the feeling that exists between the two communities wherever one community is in majority and the other is in minority. But the question is, whether, it was possible or practicable to act otherwise than what has been done. A division had to take place. On both sides, in Hindustan and Pakistan, there are sections of people who may not agree with it, who may not like it, but in my judgment there was no other solution and I am sure future history will record its verdict in favor of it. And what is more it will be proved by actual experience as we go on that that was the only solution of India’s constitutional problem. Any idea of a United India could never have worked and in my judgment it would have led us to terrific disaster. Maybe that view is correct; may be it is not; that remains to be seen. All the same, in this division it was impossible to avoid the question of minorities being in one Dominion or the other. Now that was unavoidable. There is no other solution. Now what shall we do? Now, if we want to make this great State of Pakistan happy and prosperous we should wholly and solely concentrate on the well-being of the people and especially of the masses and the poor. If you will work in co-operation, forgetting the past, burying the hatchet you are bound to succeed. If you change your past and work together in a spirit that everyone of you, no matter to what community he belongs, no matter what relations he had with you in the past, no matter what is his color, caste or creed is first, second and last a citizen of this State with equal rights, privileges and obligations, there will be no end to the progress you will make.

    I cannot emphasize it too much. We should begin to work in that spirit and in course of time all these angularities of the majority and minority communities, the Hindu community and the Muslim community –because even as regards Muslims you have Pathans, Punjabis, Shias, Sunnis and so on and among the Hindus you have Brahmins, Vashnavas, Khatris, also Bengalis, Madrasis, and so on –will vanish. Indeed, if you ask me this has been the biggest hindrance in the way of India to attain the freedom and independence for this we would have been free people a long long ago. No power can hold another nation, and specially a nation of 400 million souls in subjection; nobody could have conquered you, and even if it had happened, nobody could have continued its hold on you for any length of time but for this. Therefore, we must learn a lesson from this. You are free; you are free to go to your temples. You are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any region or caste or creed –that has nothing to do with the business of the State. As you know, history shows that in England conditions, some time ago, were much worse than those prevailing in India today. The Roman Catholics and the Protestants persecuted each other. Even now there are some States in existence where there are discriminations made and bars imposed against a particular class. Thank God, we are not starting in those days. We are starting in the days when there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State. The people of England in course of time had to face the realities of the situation and had to discharge the responsibilities and burdens placed upon them by the government of their country and they went through that fire step by step. Today, you might say with justice that Roman Catholics and Protestants do not exist; what exists now is that every man is a citizen, an equal citizen of Great Britain and they are all members of the Nation.

    Now, I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and you will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual but in the political sense as citizens of the state.

    Well, gentlemen, I do not wish to take up any more of your time and thank you again for the honor you have done to me. I shall always be guided by the principles of justice and fair-play without any, as is put in the political language, prejudice or ill-will, in other words, partiality or favoritism. My guiding principle will be justice and complete impartiality, and I am sure that with your support and co-operation, I can look forward to Pakistan becoming one of the greatest Nations of the world.

    I have received a message from the United States of America addressed to me. lt reads:

    I have the honor to communicate to you, in Your Excellency’s capacity as President of the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, the following message which I have just received from the Secretary of State of the United States.

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