Does the United States benefit from new laws to deal with the new realities of its multi-layered pluralism? A look at one significant facet of America’s “diversity of values” may suggest an answer.
Intense religious conflict rages in hot spots around the world. The global challenges with managing religious diversity (expressed as “differences“) are reflected in every way imaginable. It ranges from insensitive management sanctioned religious holiday celebrations at work, to less than civil debates over religious garb, to violent Middle East geopolitical conflict centered on the establishment of a new Islamic religious state in Iraq/Syria, to the hotly debated two-state solution in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
These types of conflicts over religious differences, especially those centered on dramatic human rights violations, civil wars and strategic international territorial disputes, tend to sharpen the contrast between the United States and much of the world. There is a centuries-old relative domestic tranquility around issues of religion. Why? There is a fundamental difference in the way America has managed religious differences within its own borders. Or, more accurately, how it has not managed religious differences.
A CONSTITUTIONAL NEUTRALITY
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution begins with the declaration that:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”
The comma separates two clauses, the first being generally known as the “Establishment Clause,” and the second, the “Free Exercise Clause.” These are widely understood to mean that the government will neither prescribe nor proscribe religious beliefs or practices. The right of the individual to believe and behave in accordance with personal choice is limited only by the extent to which such choices interfere with or harm the rights of others. The legal review of religious rights, therefore, has centered primarily on “exercise” of religious belief.
The U.S. Constitution thus dealt with diversity of religious beliefs and related behaviors in a quite ingenious way. The Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses combine to form a governance principle that precludes actions that unduly favor one religion over another, or that unduly prefers religion over non-religion, or non-religion over religion.
Emanating from the statement of the principle itself as law, the dominant social attitude transmitted by the clauses is traditionally referred to in two important ways.
The first way was referred to by Thomas Jefferson as a “wall of separation” effectively separating church from state in a legal sense. Those words are not in the Constitution, but reflect a concept widely characterized as a ‘separation of church and state.’
The second way is generally referred to as “religious neutrality.” The applicable definition of neutrality is “an attitude of impartiality.” (Robust considerations of the meanings and criticisms abound, including on Wikipedia.)
Many religions conflict and even compete with one another in belief and manner of exercise, as well as for resources. With that, government and citizenry have adequately (not perfectly) worked it out such that anyone but the government can establish a religion, exercise it freely, and enjoy a measure of government protection. By law, the government will, to the best of its ability, strive to behave in a neutral manner toward them all. This stance of neutrality includes the government’s legal obligation to provide equal protection.
The “attitude of impartiality” transmitted to “we, the people” by the clauses is reflected in the enjoyment of an unfettered public practice of innumerable forms of worship throughout America. In most cases, religion and non-religion may be practiced without interference or egregious persecutions. Civil behavior toward all prevails as a social norm, an expectation among the citizenry often taken for granted.
Any question as to the importance of such freedoms was effectively dispatched at the outset in the Constitutional Amendments. It proved to be sustainable. Justice Robert Jackson (West Virginia v. Barnette, 1943) made this compelling statement regarding these bedrock clauses:
“If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.”
This two-sided clausal coin of religious neutrality and religious freedom was something quite unique in world history, and remains so in a number of important ways. It continues to evolve as it faces court tests, in connection with culture. Despite that, the clauses seem to be in no danger of being stricken from the Constitution anytime soon. If that’s the case, then is there any advantage to further exploit them to the benefit of the American cultural landscape?
IMMIGRATION INFUSION: CONFUSION OVER FUSION
As U.S. immigration flourishes, the related Constitutional protections, accommodation and exercise of immigrants’ cultural and religious practices are increasingly being tested in U.S. courts. This may be especially so with immigrants hailing from nations that have no such provisions of legal separation and/or neutrality. Why are these tests becoming bellwether cases?
The immigrants’ country of origin and its system of laws, traditions, beliefs and practices are often not distinguishable or distinguished from their culture. In other words, their ancestral homelands may not have (nor feel a need for) any concept of differentiation between obedience to religious traditions and obedience to the laws of the land (the sovereign laws of which often mandate severe penalty for disobedience). In immigrants’ homeland, religious leaders often are their government leaders, as the religion of the state is the government of the state. The American concept of legal separation of worship and governance and the mechanics thereof, often take some time for immigrants to digest and work through.
Even after generations of acculturation in America, the culture-religion fusion does not necessarily go away. On the contrary, the welfare of immigrant ancestral homelands and America’s international relationship with them may in fact remain an intrinsic and indelible part of the cultural construct of their American cultural community. This is often so even to the extent of affecting Americanized immigrants’ sociopolitical affiliations and related decisions as Americans.
Apart from religious differences, though, the proliferation of new cultures of all kinds in American society and the demographic shift away from a single dominant American ethnoculture brings its own set of tests to American jurisprudence, as well as to its social fabric.
There are official ways to recognize and classify religions for the purposes of law. There are no precisely equivalent structures in law for recognizing and classifying cultures. This, despite the fact that multiculturalism and diversity are clearly ingrained concepts in American life. “Cultural differences” have been brought to bear on a range of uses, including political, social and commercial purposes, all applied domestically as well for use in a maturing globalized economy.
However, “culture,” unlike religion, received no directives or even mention in the U.S. Constitution. Why? Likely because at the time of its being penned, the popular use of “culture” referenced the tilling of land, growing things, an agricultural term. The figurative sense of intellectual and social “cultivation through education,” or “”improved by exposure to intellectual culture” would not have been widely understood at that time. The meaning “the intellectual side of civilization” is from 1805; that of “collective customs and achievements of a people” from 1867. The meaning of the term “culture” as a collection of purely secular beliefs, values, traditions, rituals and artifacts had only begun to form by the late 1700s.
Subsequent to that bifurcation of meaning, in 1889, well after the framers of the Constitution recognized the challenges of pluralism but at the same time avoided (or failed at) defining religion, Anthropologist Edward B. Tylor noted:
Today, though, could the current understanding of “culture” be incorporated into existing law? Could American law accommodate a legal requirement that mandates the same impartial attitudes, sensitive intercultural behaviors, competence and protections for all cultures in much the same way that religious sensitivity, competence, and protections have been managed for centuries in America?
DOES CONSTITUTIONAL RELIGIOUS NEUTRALITY IMPLY CULTURAL NEUTRALITY?
Many might think that any such new law would be too complex, unwieldy, and would present unresolvable enigmas. Would it, for example, require or lead to government protecting some sets of cultural beliefs, feelings and expressions by making opposing cultural beliefs, feelings and expressions illegal? After all, one person’s “insensitivity” may be another person’s “over-sensitivity.”
Or, is culture already contained within and among those “other matters of opinion” to which Justice Robert Jackson referred? Not surprisingly, the SCOTUS so affirmed in its delivered opinion:
“We can have intellectual individualism and the rich cultural diversities that we owe to exceptional minds only at the price of occasional eccentricity and abnormal attitudes. When they are so harmless to others or to the State as those we deal with here, the price is not too great. But freedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much. That would be a mere shadow of freedom. The test of its substance is the right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order.”
Beliefs cannot be legislated. Behaviors are the focus of the law. The legal bright red line on behavior is already about as clear as it can be in law, in as much as it relates to outcomes of relative freedoms in social, moral and cultural matters. What, though, would have to be added in the case of a legal framework for incorporating diversity, inclusiveness and culturally competent behaviors as effectively as it has been for religion? What would have to be added into law to increase the chances of an outcome of cultural equilibrium?
Perhaps nothing. Existing law may already hold the key, hidden in plain sight.
Jerry Kang, Professor of Law & Asian Studies, Asst. Provost, UCLA, lectured on implicit association and the need for new law. He made an astute assertion that can be generalized for the purposes of this discussion.
The facts around immigration and the resultant cultural diversity have certainly changed, and demands are being made for intercultural competence, sensitive behaviors, fairness and justice that appear to be beyond the reach of current law. That in mind, Prof. Kang suggested one key to potential success in raising the behavioral bar. Moving society forward in matters of law related to diversity is encompassed in his sage advice to:
“Excavate old law: Law always has in it common sense assumptions, embedded everywhere in the law, a sort of “folk psychology” within. Law could not operate otherwise,” he observed. (Video marker @ 8:00)
There is more than enough case law to define and redefine the boundaries of discrimination law. But the broader day-to-day outworking of “inter-religious sensitivities” and inclusiveness are otherwise left to social norms, network rules and personal choices. The “soft” measures are not proactively addressed in civil or criminal law. There are legislative and executive actions that deal with the “hard” measures of religious discrimination and other behavior-related crimes. They are reactive provisions of law for redress after behaviors reveal untoward attitudes. But there is one quite unique proactive provision in the Constitution that reaches to religious attitudes that might also reach to cultural attitudes. What is that?
While it certainly does not preclude a dominant religion in America, the First Amendment does determine that no religion would be considered the legally endorsed “national religion” for the purposes of state funding. Nor would it allow for a dominant religion to sway policy to the extent that it creates exclusionary laws, practices and perhaps insensitive encroachment on the religious beliefs, feelings and sensibilities of others.
How does that equate to culture?
“A first paradigm [of five] is that of diversity. In particular, we find this in English Canada, the United States, Sweden, Australia, and India. The guiding premise in these cases is that the nation is composed of a collection of individuals and ethnocultural groups placed on equal footing and protected by the same laws—there is no [legal] recognition of a majority culture and, in consequence, no minorities per se. Under the official banner of diversity, all assert themselves and express themselves as they see fit, within the limits prescribed by law.” (“What is Interculturalism?” Gérard Bouchard, McGill Law Journal ~ Revue de droit de McGill, McGill LJ 435 ~ Référence : (2011) 56 : 2 RD McGill 435)
For the nations listed, “no recognition of a majority culture” means no legally endorsed national culture as a feature of the ruling class. That in no way means that majority and minority cultures cannot be identified. Only that they are not by law directly ascribed any equivalently relative levels of power in the affairs of the nation. Compare that to the constitutional treatment of religion.
What constitutes a legitimate religion under the law? The complexities of defining a religion, a church or a religious organization aren’t close to being unequivocal. The Internal Revenue Service, however, has worked out practical guidelines in the tax code that get to the matter of “recognition” of a religion for the purposes of taxation. Outside of that, there are still many riddles to be solved in the definitions.
The same would be true for a legitimate culture (structured roughly as suggested above), which is a good indication that existing laws may work as well for culture as they have for religion, if approached the right way.
IS CULTURAL NEUTRALITY ALREADY IN LAW?
Would such an “attitude of impartiality” be useful for establishing intercultural fairness, inclusion and sensitivity as part of the American social fabric?
First, consider what constitutes a culture, such that “an attitude of impartiality” might be uniformly understood and applied. It isn’t a huge leap from religion to culture from the standpoint of structure. Both religion and culture share at least these structural components:
- Set of beliefs, norms and values shared by a group.
- Practices, traditions, observances, rituals, codes.
- Exercise of conscience in conscious decisions about how members behave and/or interact with others (members and non-members) in matters of morals and ethics.
- Expected degrees of loyalty, devotion, standards of adherence that may affect the view of the group as to an individual’s membership, or the legitimacy of a subgroup’s affiliation.
- Inherent philosophies that govern how members perceive and engage in human affairs and the conduct thereof.
- Way(s) of life that can be transmitted person to person, across group boundaries and from one generation to another.
The structural similarity is a function of the reality that for most of mankind’s history, religion and culture were the same thing, and inseparable from government. Thus, in terms of the structure, operational characteristics, as well as practice, the founding fathers recognized the functional nature of the instrumentality. They simply aimed it at secular objectives rather than religious. The religious direction or aim would be what the courts might term the “ultimate concern” when it comes to religion, matters of the spirit, universality, ultimate/supreme being, ultimate truth, etc. The secular direction or aim of the same construct would be more earthly, carnal, and aimed primarily at sociopolitical cohesion, domestic tranquility.
The partial structure above is sociological, no matter which way you cut it. The differentiation between them is the “object of ultimate interest,” the application of the sociological structure.
In the case of a ‘religious’ application of the underlying sociological structure, the “object of ultimate interest” is usually more of a “universal,” such as divinities/deities (human or nonhuman) or one or more universal conceptualizations or phenomena seen as being in some way superorganic, influenced and/or controlled by forces beyond the [current] sphere of human activity.
In the case of a ‘secular’ application of the same sociological structure, the “object of ultimate interest” is usually well within the temporal sphere of human interests, including governance from an administrative standpoint, unconcerned with and not bound by the constraints of religious belief or doctrine.
Thus, the applications and their associated beliefs, resulting activities and behaviours (such as devotion, rituals, traditions, symbols, etc.) can look and feel so much the same as to be, at times, mistaken for the other. The terminologies are different, but often interchangeable. We can relate to the following shortlist as tending toward one application or the other.
No one has to wonder which terms belong to which application of the underlying common structure. Virtually synonymous with respect to meanings, behaviors and relationships to the common structure and the people subscribing to it, they are only different in their application to either religious (spiritual) vs. secular (temporal), the object of ultimate interest to the humans subscribing and adhering to the application.
Though it took time to take root, Americans were introduced to the Constitutional ‘wall of separation.’ The First Amendment clauses (Establishment and Exercise) were administered as an inoculation against the outgrowth of the fractious and often violent religious conflict that plagued European international relations. At that time, the national governments were religion-driven, and religious affiliation could be mapped as contiguous with national borders.
“TOTO, I’VE A FEELING WE’RE NOT IN TEHRAN ANYMORE“
Though the distinction between secular culture and religious culture is intellectually understood globally, it is not universally embraced as a particularly good idea. The ability to immigrate to the U.S., however, has not been restricted to those who can easily decouple religion from secular aspects of their cultures.
The historically unique and successful American construct rending religion from state and then later religion from “culture” was at first geographically isolated. That isolation is what makes it now so difficult for many Americans to conceive of the idea that others cannot separate them, decoupling their religion/culture from governance. The Diversity Paradigm creates ever greater demarcation of cultures from cultures, differences from differences, carefully delineating and classifying diversities into an endless taxonomy for social, workplace and business purposes.
The great challenge for the definition of “culture” under The Diversity Paradigm has become its capitulation to the unwieldy blending of culture with physical characteristics like race and gender, a continual focus on a system of “differences” that divide us. That will be most difficult to repair.
However, religion is perhaps equally multifarious. America’s founders recognized the Sisyphean nature of the task of creating a comprehensive typology, and instead formulated the eloquently simple solution in the First Amendment. They didn’t even define “religion,” only employing the generic term for elasticity in future meanings. The Constitution in contrast deals with “religion” as one macro paradigm, not the infinite possibilities in its exercise.
The term “culture” can possess the same constitutional dynamic, and thus enjoy the same freedom, neutrality and elasticity in law. The Canadian UNESCO Commission produced this formulation as a working definition of culture:
“Culture is a dynamic value system of learned elements, with assumptions, conventions, beliefs and rules permitting members of a group to relate to each other and to the world, to communicate and to develop their creative potential.”
As an emergent power, the founders decided that America’s new population was to be supplied largely by immigrants who would not check their religions at the shore. Immigration never stopped. The Constitution’s framers were among the first on earth to take the legal offensive, making the quantum leap of distinguishing religion as merely one of many forms of governance. Religion was for the first time in any constitution structured as a personal freedom rather than as an intrinsic element of governance. Religion was thereby positioned as subordinate and voluntary in the American way of life.
America’s founders framed the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses evidencing their implicit grasp of the:
A) sociological conflict orientation (paradigm)
B) intrinsic sociopolitical nature and influence of religion
C) inherent diversity of religious thought and behavior
D) role of religion with respect to political and social cohesion vs. polarization
E) historical inevitability of religion and competing religious interests
F) need for managed inclusiveness in socioeconomic processes.
The American-style domestic principle of neutrality has since proven to be a uniquely cohering force around religion as a sociological phenomenon. Though not without its challenges, it has been a means of establishing internal equilibrium of religious influences through self-organizing behaviors, all of them declared subordinate to a rubric of democratic governance of The Republic. Through the Establishment and Exercise clauses, secular governance was extricated from the constraints of religious law and doctrine. At the same time the clauses allowed for the freedom of the citizenry to choose, organize and exercise religion apart from government, and to do so without legal interference or constraint of others.
Could it be that simple for culture? Only if the same management principle is applied. What principle is that?
THE SUCCESS OF CONSTITUTIONAL NEUTRALITY
Few would argue that religious neutrality as reflected in U.S. domestic policy and that the body of law buttressing neutrality has largely succeeded in America, in spite of its complexities, hiccups and critics. Naturally, it has not done so perfectly in the sense of having achieved any Utopian ideal. However, as intersections of cultures and the politics of immigration come to bear on economic and nationalistic interests, it is also clarifying the modern day legal application of Constitutional neutrality. This is especially so with respect to the inseparability of some immigrant cultures from their religions.
Execution of these clauses has not been without detractors. The idea of neutrality has even been deemed by some as hostile to religion in varying ways; but that appears to be so because of the challenges related to the inherency of religion in cultures. Steven Smith went so far as to have characterized the pursuit of neutrality as, “despite its understandable appeal, an attempt to grasp an illusion.” (Foreordained Failure: The Quest for a Constitutional Principle of Religious Freedom, Steven D. Smith, 1999: p99)
That’s not a showstopper, as no small number of notables have said the same thing about equality.
Despite their criticisms of neutrality, Smith and others acknowledge that its continuing power demands explanation. The First Amendment’s single specification of neutrality for handling religious differences has done its work well enough to have made the idea of a religious war among Americans a far fetched idea in the centuries following the inception of religious neutrality. (Defending American Religious Neutrality, Andrew Koppelman, 2013) That, while even now North American jurisdictions struggle over the meaning and application of religious neutrality. Koppelman makes a compelling argument that, “If the concept of neutrality is properly understood, it can resolve the deepest puzzles in contemporary religion jurisprudence.” Maybe so for culture, as well.
A CULTURENUETRAL® AMENDMENT?
Given the structural similarities and arguably similar root, could the Constitutional provision meant for religion be applied to culture? In the same way as it has been for religious neutrality, can it accomplish equivalent social equilibrium for the remarkably similar construct of cultures? In the 21st Century, America’s population growth is being fueled by immigrants who are not checking their cultures at the shore. No small number of religious practices relatively new to America are currently being tested in the courts. Many are in the form of religious practices that immigrants see as intrinsic to and inherent in their cultures.
First, note that the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses certainly aren’t the only application of neutrality in the U.S. Constitution. America has applied neutrality in a variety of inter-state and international conflicts over the past century or more. American has been a global leader in working out new and even more flexible structures for international law around the principle of neutrality.
The idea of a culture-neutral feature in law is more than just a whim. Neutrality is the highly apropos principle in law for addressing matters of both religious and nonreligious interaction between cultures, and/or between government and cultures as it pertains to conflict management, conflict mitigation and conflict avoidance. That would of necessity include matters of fairness and justice where differing cultures compete for the same resources. Cultural accommodation as a framework for fairness in law is already a reality. Also, the use of legal defense strategies around culture is growing, providing cultural context for behaviors that land defendants in court.
Additionally, there has for some time been an interest in establishing cultural rights as human rights in international law. For example, according to Halina Niec:
“The 1947 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) proclaimed cultural rights as human rights, and broadly defined these rights…Defining cultural rights has proven to be a monumental task. The category of cultural rights remains the least developed in terms of legal content and enforceability.”
(Cultural Rights: At the End of the World Decade for Cultural Development)
Niec presents the logistical challenge this way: “A process of inventorying cultural rights needs to be undertaken. As this work proceeds, it is important to build an awareness of what these rights include (both for individuals and groups), and what the States’ obligations are regarding these rights. Cultural rights, more than any other human rights, have an internal dynamic due to the fact that culture is a living and growing organism, always manifesting itself in new ways.”
That is precisely the logistical nightmare that America’s founding fathers avoided by treating religion as a unitary living and growing organism, applying a legal principle of neutrality. In law it enabled religious differences to be self-managing to the extent possible. Under a constitutional construct of religious neutrality differences required no definition, no inventory, or most importantly, no checklist of beliefs and practices or list of specific religious rights for future judicial review. At the time of its writing, the First Amendment religious prohibition and protections did not require any specific broad or narrow decisions on what was religiously acceptable vs. unacceptable, or decisions on what would be legal vs. illegal beyond what was so succinctly stated.
If all of that is true, if its that easy, then why isn’t everyone talking about neutrality?
It’s not difficult to discern the answer.
WHO’S NOT NEUTRAL ABOUT NEUTRALITY?
Again, though existing law may hold the key, it has been hidden in plain sight, primarily by the outworking of The Diversity Paradigm. How so?
Where is the best place to hide a tree? In a forest. The eloquent simplicity of the First Amendment neutrality favoring multicultural proliferation and free exercise has been buried in a forest of cultural minutia promoted under The Diversity Paradigm. Focusing intently on the differences themselves and the conflict engagement instead of on the “attitude of impartiality” that promotes equilibrium. The Diversity Paradigm has insisted on promoting discomfiting “conversations” about the thorny problems without focusing on the rose.
This provides a lesson explaining why Diversity and Inclusion professionals may find the idea of “cultural neutrality” so troublesome. The Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses are highly efficient at the level of principle. Religious beliefs never rise to the level of legal test. Religious behaviors hit law enforcement or the Constitutional radar screen only when they rise to the level of intractable conflict leading to litigation, or to other socially disruptive behaviors that must be dealt with by the legal system.
The Diversity Paradigm, on the other hand, was founded with a focus on the differences, taking great pains to recognize, catalog and advocate for every single type of infinite diversity, and then addressing differences between them in every single case without a basis in any principle of law or legal authority.
Large injections of cultural/religious pluralism are being administered to 21st Century American society daily via immigration, making it a Sisyphean nightmare keeping up with the influx of differences and the infinite permutations of syncretism.
Does the United States need a consideration of a new or revised Constitutional amendment that would add a cultural neutrality to the First Amendment to operate in parallel with religious neutrality?
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion and/or culture, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”
Tinkering with the First Amendment is a horrifying thought. The idea of so much as reopening it for such a consideration makes the knees go weak. So, no, rewording the Establishment Clause isn’t a reasonable objective. Is there, though, another way establishment/exercise could be accomplished for culture as we understand it today?
INTERCULTURAL SENSITIVITY AND THE LAW
The Diversity Paradigm has been a long exercise in activism and advocacy that runs counter to the American legal concept and social norm embedded in the domestic principle of neutrality. The primary challenge has not been one of difficulty in embracing the idea of human variety, but one of social execution of value (or moral) pluralism.
The bottom line is that there is a point at which some values are countercultural, i.e., in direct opposition to the values of culture(s) of others. This will occur naturally in countries, communities or companies, even in families with members of multiple cultural affiliations. It is an unavoidable and natural consequence of culture pluralism, as it has been for religious pluralism. Fanatical adherence to The Diversity Paradigm eliminates an array of alternative means of redress.
Sensitivity, like “exercise,” becomes a matter of definition. Equilibrium in the religious landscape has largely been achieved through sensitivity to the rights under the law, rather than sensitivities that relate to empathy toward or sympathy with the beliefs or behaviors of others. Thus, no citizen is legally compelled to intellectually or spiritually embrace different religious values, beliefs or practices of others, nor even necessarily feel any respect for them, dignify them or share in them to any degree.
Citizens may, in fact, reject them out of hand and legally repudiate them publicly. The citizen is not required to be intellectually or spiritually neutral toward the religious beliefs, values or behaviors of others. And, in fact, the U.S. Constitution protects the right to proselytize, evangelize, advertise and thereby peacefully compete with other religious values systems.
However, the law does require an uncompromising sensitivity to the First Amendment legal rights of others. That is accomplished by conduct manifest in:
a. a societal norm of behavioral civility
b. legal impartiality in specific areas of decision making
A state of neutrality exists primarily in an environment of conflict. Therefore, the right not to embrace the values of others in a way that would compromise our own must also exist where a stance of neutrality exists. However, civility and impartiality in our dealings with fellow citizens and visitors are expected of citizens, and are also enforced in a neutral state, whether a nation, an organization or an individual state. Violation can bear serious consequences.
Most or all of the 50 States have provisions mirroring the First Amendment religious neutrality, and related requirements. There are clear examples of how a state shows a measure of impartiality to opposing cultural views. There are clear examples of how a state may fail to show impartiality, and the serious consequences.
So rather than a new law for cultural neutrality, can we simply teach people – especially leaders – the principles in existing law and how to apply them in new ways in their organizations or in their communities?
Rather than the arduous road to a supermajority amendment or a Constitutional Convention as a route of first choice, perhaps all that’s needed is noncomplex education, demonstration of the principles in action, and a realization that neutrality has already operated in American society with relative success for centuries in matters of religion and related jurisprudence. Could a state of cultural equilibrium, like religious equilibrium, be the natural result of an already proven path of legal domestic neutrality…and tranquility?
Why is this important?
NOT ESTABLISHMENT, BUT REESTABLISHMENT
Why use something that’s already connected to law? One obvious reason is that it’s so hard to get new law. Expertise and time to invest, along with massive expense are crucial components for success. The Diversity Paradigm and it’s tandem back seat rider of Inclusion have been in existence for decades, yet no new American law bears either of those names. There is another reason.
The Diversity Paradigm, still ill-defined, has failed and is fading from existence. Part of the reason is its complete disconnection from law. Its would-be replacement, “Inclusion,” has inherited the genetic defects of its parent. Starting out as “diversity & inclusion,” as a cogent concept it still barely exists, but doesn’t exist at all independent of diversity.
After decades of using the term “inclusion,” like its predecessor, “inclusion remains an abstract and vague thing,” according to The Forum on Workplace Inclusion (discreetly renamed from “The Forum on Workplace Diversity“). The Forum laments, “Even leaders that truly want greater inclusion have a hard time explaining in a clear and concise way what that means. Inclusion is commonly viewed as an attitude or the absence of hatred and intentional discrimination.” As well, it remains disconnected from law.
The Diversity Paradigm is finished and fading. Inclusion is chained to it, and will be pulled under quickly once The Diversity Paradigm sinks altogether. Neither of those two concepts were built to handle the central cultural issues of immigration, which have in turn become matters for consideration of law at the highest levels. The Diversity Paradigm was designed to ensure the domestic tranquilization through the throes of a growing and stable globalizing economy. That’s transition is done, as will be the organizations that cling to it.
At this point, there’s no large scale domestic effort to shift very far from the failed Diversity Paradigm foundation, while the vagary of Inclusion inherits its weakest of connections to law. Absent that anchoring connection to Constitutional protections, any hopeful objective of equilibrium and equity is cast adrift on the winds of societal whim, left to the mercy of the tyranny of the majority…whoever that turns out to by the end of this century.
As the cultural-religious landscape follows a shifting American demographic, the intrinsic connection of culture to First Amendment religious neutrality may be well worth the time and effort to explore. It is an existing if not well explored connection to a Constitutional provision of cultural neutrality and freedom.
Many a law has come and gone. The First Amendment, though, is still purring like a kitten, with no meaningful intentions to sweep it aside. The probability is that it may not be going away anytime soon. Given that, it is likely time to consider the validity of a timely concept already buried within it, a legal framework of separation of culture and state.
We invite you to learn more about the CultureNeutral® Framework and how it can be learned, become operational and positively impact upon your organization’s culture in many ways.
Copyright © 2015 Robert D. Jones – All Rights Reserved
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