Page 127 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 39

Basic HTML Version

BEN-HORIN / HORACE MEYER KALLEN
121
he subsumed core elements of his faith under the name of “sec­
ularism,” he meant that
Secularism is Democracy and Democracy is Secularism, both
as a way of life and as a form of government. Secularism is
the effort to assure, as far as may be, through the separation
of church and state and the liberty of thought and belief, to
each and every individual and to each and every group of
individuals . . . equal freedom and equal safety in the strug­
gle to live and grow. Secularism names the kind of Oneness
which is maintained when an irreducible Many form a union
by means of which they can jointly assure their several
survivals and developments; it comprehends their common
means to their separate ends. . . . Thereby Secularism be­
comes also the religion of religions, the credo consisting of
self-evident truths which express the laws of nature and the
will of God.6
With this faith Kallen writings overflow. In the concluding chap­
ter of
What I Believe and Why -Maybe
(1971), entitled “This Is My
Faith,” he confessed it once again, stressing in particular its global
catholicity: “I prefer to place my faith in the parity of the differ­
ent, the equality of the unlike, and their collective guarantee of
this equality to one another: this is the thing not seen that I hope
for, and its substance and evidence I gather from the record of
the peoples of the world.”7 Frequently Kallen cites the UN’s
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), particularly its six
propositions about freedom of religion. In the aggregate, they
are “the profession of faith by mankind for mankind . . . common
to all and identical with none, . . . the covenant . . . whereby all
undertake to safeguard the liberty and security of each against
the aggression of any.”8
For this faith another name is “Cultural Pluralism.”Kallen used
it first around 1906 or 1907 in a section of a class at Harvard
6 Kallen,
Secularism Is the Will of God
(New York, 1954), pp. 57 f.
7 Kallen,
What I Believe,
p. 153. The allusion is to Hebrews 11:1 where Paul
defines faith as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not
seen.”
8 Kallen, “Secularism as the Common Religion of a Free Society
"Journalfor the
Scientific Study of Religion,
IV (Spring, 1965), 149.