Monday, July 6, 2015

The Tyranny of Radical Secularism (Part 1 of 3)

by Justin Soutar

(NOTE: This lengthy article originally appeared as a three-part series on the website Intellectual Conservative
Here is the first installment of that same three-part series.)

More than two hundred years ago, the United States of America was founded as a Christian nation and as a haven of religious liberty by men whose ancestors had fled religious persecution in Europe. Today, both our identity as a Christian nation and our freedom of religion are under unprecedented attack by an elite and vicious group of militant secularists in government, academia and the media who are determined to expunge God and Christianity from every corner of American public life. Their goal is to replace the Christian religion and the Judeo-Christian moral code based on the Ten Commandments with religious syncretism and moral relativism as the new foundations of American society. The radical secularists’ wicked campaign to de-Christianize America is carried out in the name of “secularism,” “freedom,” “tolerance,” and “pluralism,” with their battle cry being “separation of Church and state,” but they have misappropriated these terms and hijacked them, twisting and distorting their true meaning in order to advance their sinister anti-religious agenda.

The War of the Words

Let’s take the first misused term, “secularism,” first. Radical secularists have so thoroughly distorted the terms “secularism” and “secular” that they have become the equivalent of the term “non-religious.” But that is not the original meaning of the words or what our nation’s devout Christian Founders understood them to mean. They used the term “secular” simply to distinguish civil society or the state from religious bodies or the Church. Something that is distinct from something else is not necessarily the enemy of that other thing. Yet that is what we have been trained to think in the modern age. Religion and society, faith and reason, faith and science, love and truth, public and private life, the spiritual and material worlds, are now commonly regarded as polar opposites, as inherently contradictory and opposing realms that must be hermetically sealed off from each other. For its own good, each must supposedly occupy its own tightly defined sphere of influence and not be allowed to interfere in any way with the operation of the other.

This great divorce between distinct realms that are in fact mutually compatible, complementary, and interdependent is a bitter fruit of the relativistic and materialistic philosophies that increasingly dominate our post-modern society and that provide a basis for the destructive totalitarian ideology of radical secularism. Relativism, of course, is the irrational idea that there is no such thing as absolute religious, moral or spiritual truth, whether accessible to human reason alone or divinely revealed. Rather than being gifts of God and paths to absolute truth that tend to unite mankind, faith, morality, spirituality, and reason are viewed as purely human attempts to impose order on a chaotic and meaningless cosmos. In this great sea of relativistic truth, it’s up to each individual to decide for himself or herself, in a hermetically sealed vacuum, what to believe (if anything) and what is morally right and wrong. The only absolute truth that can be known for certain by all humanity is what can be discovered about the material world through scientific research. And there we have just defined materialism—the even more irrational idea that nothing exists beyond what we can see and hear and measure and quantify. Relativism pushes God out of the picture, while materialism denies his existence a priori.

These two unreasonable atheistic philosophies, which contradict human experience and common sense, form the backbone of the radically secularist ideology that is now infecting our nation. This totalitarian ideology carries within itself the potential to destroy American society in the following three stages: First, by making the world seem unintelligible and meaningless and preventing us from living the fully integrated, harmoniously complete lives that our Creator intends us to live; second, by isolating individual human beings within themselves, cutting them off from each other and from their Creator; and third, by destroying the religious and moral foundations on which our nation is built.

Next comes the much-misunderstood and much-abused term “freedom.” In their self-constructed parallel universe closed off from God and devoid of absolute moral truth, militant secularists understand freedom as the unlimited right of each individual person to do whatever he or she wants to do. In their view, no external religious precepts, moral laws, spiritual guidelines, legal restrictions, cultural traditions, or any other kind of constraints may be imposed on human behavior because these would automatically infringe on human freedom. Having kicked God out of the picture, each individual person becomes a fully autonomous, all-sufficient god, freely deciding on his or her own absolute and final authority what is good and what is evil. Radical secularists denounce Christianity, with its absolute religious doctrines and moral teachings, as the great enemy of human freedom, claiming that the Christian religion and Judeo-Christian moral code must be jettisoned if America is to enjoy real “freedom.”

This warped, erroneous, and dangerous view of human freedom is radically different from the traditional Christian and Western concept of ordered liberty that shaped the worldview of our nation’s Founders. They saw human freedom as a gift from God and understood it as the ability to act in accord with the natural moral law. They understood that each of us bears a moral responsibility to God and to each other for how we use our freedom. And they knew that religion and morality are what make a nation truly free. Grounded in the false philosophies of relativism and materialism, the radically secularist concept of freedom is irrational because, instead of liberating human beings, it enslaves them within themselves. Moreover, their theory cannot be put wholly into practice: even extreme secularists are forced to abide by certain laws and requirements imposed by our government for their own good and the good of the whole society. Any attempt to fully implement their distorted anarchic notion of freedom in the real world would result in total chaos, from which a totalitarian dictatorship would swiftly rise up to restore order. Thus, instead of leading to the Promised Land of genuine freedom as its adherents claim, the radically secularist ideology leads inescapably to the utter destruction of human freedom.

The third term being misused by secularist fanatics—this one with almost laughable irony—is “tolerance.” Tolerance by definition is a positive thing: according to the World English Dictionary, it is “the acceptance of the differing views of other people, for example, in religious or political matters, and fairness toward the people who hold these different views.” Acceptance and fairness are the two key elements of tolerance; both of them flow from basic Christian principles of justice and charity, and both are grounded in the innate dignity and inalienable rights of the human person which Christianity upholds. Therefore, without Christianity, there would be no such thing as tolerance, properly understood.

Unfortunately, as with “secularism” and “freedom,” radical secularists have twisted the concept of tolerance completely out of shape, transforming it into a negative thing that actually justifies their bullying tactics. Their warped view of tolerance is based on the dangerous idea that Christianity must not be allowed to play its traditional role as the dominant force shaping modern American politics, culture, and society. Secularist zealots see the Christian religion as the great enemy of tolerance (and thus of human society in general), and therefore they exhibit a profoundly nasty and increasingly blatant intolerance toward it and its followers. Here again, the radically secularist bigots have things precisely backwards. It is thanks to the Christian religion that they have the right to speak their minds in public—a right they constantly abuse to heap vitriol on Christianity and poison the thinking of the general public. Radical secularism is the most intolerant and tyrannical ideology the world has ever seen. Its cruel and doctrinaire adherents are bound and determined to impose their false and distorted worldview on the rest of us. They unrelentingly demand lock-step conformity to their destructive ways of thinking and acting. And yet, despite all this, we’re supposed to believe that their pernicious quest to eliminate all religious—and especially Christian—symbols and references from American public life is driven by “tolerance” for other viewpoints. What these devious fundamentalists really mean by that word is tolerance of every religion except Christianity.

This brings us to the fourth term stolen and hijacked by the militant secularists, “pluralism.” They use this term (which is synonymous with their own favored term, “multiculturalism”) to mean that the fundamental Christian and European elements of American culture must surrender their privileged status and take their place as equals alongside Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Animist, New Age, Asian, African, Latin American, Oceanic, and any and all other minority cultural elements. In their view, a truly “pluralistic” society is a homogenized blend of all religions and cultures within it. Radical secularists insist that all religions and cultures should equally contribute to influencing our national life. The twin errors of moral relativism and religious syncretism lie at the bottom of this multicultural directive. Moral relativism is the idea that moral absolutes do not exist and that no single moral system should guide American conduct. Religious syncretism is the idea that all religions are of equal value and that no single religion should be the dominant influence on American culture and public life. As a pluralistic society and as a nation of immigrants, we should indeed welcome the opportunity for cultural enrichment presented by the variety of peoples, religions, and cultures that make up the kaleidoscope of modern American life. However, this does not mean that we must submerge or abandon our fundamental identity as a Christian and Western nation. In fact, it is that very identity that allows our nation to be pluralistic in the first place: The values of freedom, tolerance and respect for human rights that we so highly prize in American culture flow from the Christian religion and the Judeo-Christian moral system. Thus Americans who hail from different religious and cultural backgrounds should (as most do) respect our traditional cultural identity as a Christian and Western nation.

Radical secularists, however, deny and dismiss the obvious fact that European Christianity is the basis of our cultural diversity. They believe (in their hermetically sealed soap bubbles) that freedom, tolerance and respect for human rights can just as easily exist and flourish in a multicultural soup devoid of Christian and European underpinnings. Thus they are hard at work transforming our Christian and Western country into a “multicultural” country. The radically secularist multiculturalists profess firm faith (on what basis?) in the absolute equality of all human cultures, and the gospel of multiculturalism has been faithfully proclaimed to all Americans by President Obama in these words: “We are no longer just a Christian nation. We are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation and a nation of nonbelievers.” The absurdity of such a statement is readily apparent. Regardless of the religious and cultural variety that may exist within it, each nation has and evinces a predominant religious and cultural identity. Take away that predominant identity, and the nation as we know it would cease to exist. If Israel was not a Jewish country, what kind of country would it be? If India was not a Hindu country, what kind of country would it be? Along with their substantial Jewish and Hindu majorities, both countries feature an amazing variety of different cultures, religious traditions and ethnic groups. Yet we call Israel a Jewish nation despite the fact that only about 75 percent of Israelis are Jewish, and we call India a Hindu nation despite the fact that only about 80 percent of Indians are Hindu.

No one dares to suggest that Israel should submerge its Jewish identity into a Jewish-Muslim-Christian soup or that India should abandon its Hindu identity and become a Hindu-Muslim-Sikh-Buddhist-Christian-Jain nation. Yet when it comes to the United States, we are told by our radically secularist brethren that our country must now assume a “multicultural” identity, despite the fact that an overwhelming majority of Americans—upwards of 70 percent—still identify themselves as Christian. By the numbers alone, America is nearly as much a Christian nation as Israel is Jewish and India is Hindu. To eliminate that Christian identity would inevitably result in the loss of our national culture.  

Finally, we come to that well-known phrase “separation of Church and state,” which has become the chief weapon of the radically secularist crusaders in their all-out war on America’s Christian roots. By establishing a secular republic, the founders never intended that religious and civil institutions should be completely walled off from each other, occupying separate and non-overlapping spheres of influence. They simply intended that our national government—which would deal primarily with political, economic, and military matters—would not be run or controlled by any particular religious institution. They never intended that our government be indifferent to religion, much less nonreligious or even hostile toward religion. One searches the writings of the founders in vain for any reference to the idea of an absolute “separation of Church and state.” In fact, only a single isolated mention of this phrase was made in a letter of Thomas Jefferson.

On the contrary, as educated men and as Christians, the founders knew well that religious and civil authority both come from God and fulfill complementary roles in human society. People are by nature religious, and civil government is needed to maintain an orderly society. Since both religion and civil society are human needs, some mutual overlap between the two spheres is natural, normal, inevitable, and indeed essential to the proper functioning of both. The state must fully respect the rights of the church, and the church must be subject to the laws of the state in civil matters. By wisely establishing an unofficially Christian nation with a constitutional republican form of government, the Founders intended to preserve America’s Christian identity while avoiding the abuses that a state religion could bring. According to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI: “The legitimate separation of Church and State cannot be taken to mean that the Church must be silent on certain issues, nor that the State may choose not to engage, or be engaged by, the voices of committed believers in determining the values which will shape the future of the nation…. Respect for the just autonomy of the secular sphere must also take into consideration the truth that there is no realm of worldly affairs which can be withdrawn from the Creator and his dominion.” [1]

A Christian Nation

Our identity as a Christian nation is rooted in the devout Christian faith of the people who settled and founded this country. From the first English Puritan Pilgrims who disembarked at Jamestown and Plymouth Rock in the early 1600s to the later English, German, and Irish Protestant, Anglican, and Catholic settlers of the 1700s, nearly all of the American colonists were dedicated Christians who attended church regularly and practiced their faith publicly. The main reason why most of them came to these shores was to live in a land where they could worship God freely and practice their Christian faith openly without fear of government interference. They freely, explicitly and unapologetically expressed their Christian faith in the official governing documents that they wrote and collectively adopted.

Our nation’s recorded Christian heritage begins with the first words of the first document signed by an early band of American colonists: The Mayflower Compact of 1620 began with the words, “In the Name of God, Amen,” and stated that the purpose of the voyage was to found a colony “for the Glory of God, and advancements of the Christian faith.” Our nation’s official founding document, the Declaration of Independence, states that men “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”; that “the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” entitle them to establish their own free and independent nation; that the representatives of the thirteen states appeal “to the Supreme Judge of the world” for the rectitude of their actions; and that they pledge their lives, their fortunes and their sacred Honor “in support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence”. In the Pledge of Allegiance, we call ourselves “one nation under God.” Our official national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” as well as our other great patriotic hymns “America the Beautiful,” “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” and “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” are eloquent and fervent prayers to God rooted in biblical Christianity that acknowledge His sovereignty over our nation. Our official national motto, engraved on our currency since the mid-1800s, is “In God We Trust.” The oath of office, which is taken on a Bible, includes the prayer, “So help me God.” Each session of the Supreme Court is opened with the prayer, “God save the United States and this Honorable Court.” A public prayer is offered at each presidential inauguration. Every single U.S. president has professed the Christian faith and invoked God’s blessing on our nation in his public addresses. Prayer, Bible reading, and displays of the Ten Commandments were common in public schools until the 1960s (and still would be today were it not for some misguided court rulings driven by the radically secularist ideology). And thousands of town hall meetings across the country each year still regularly begin with a prayer. Never mind the unfounded claims of extreme secularist naysayers: the Christian religion is truly woven deeply into the fabric of our nation.  

(To be continued)

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