The Tyranny of Radical Secularism (Part 3 of 3)

The Battle for America’s Future

So where are we at in America today? The answer is that we, the people of the United States, are at war with our radically secularist enemies for the preservation of our traditional national culture and heritage. On the one hand, we have a small but powerful elite group of militant secularists determined to foist their evil agenda on our country through the news and entertainment media, educational institutions, the courts, and the federal government. This agenda includes removing all references to God from official government texts, from our currency, from our public schools, and from public property. It includes government mandated, taxpayer-funded “health insurance coverage” of abortifacients, contraception, and sterilization in violation of the moral law, our religious liberties, and our moral conscience rights. It includes the redefinition of marriage by the courts to place same-sex “marriage” on a legal par with traditional marriage. And it includes the legalization of euthanasia as a basic “human right” to lighten the growing burden of the elderly and the terminally ill on society. Along with this radically secularist agenda being forced on our country from the top down, there is a gradual weakening of Christian faith and culture among the general population; a proliferation of materialistic and hedonistic attitudes along with widespread moral relativism and religious indifference; and growing percentages of nonreligious people and minority faiths and sects such as Islam and the occult.

On the other hand, however, in our nation today there are also many pockets of devout Christian individuals and families who understand and appreciate America’s Christian heritage and who are working hard to restore, preserve, inculcate and hand on the traditional religious and moral values that made our country great. The Catholic Church in America and the more traditional Christian denominations are growing. The massive pro-life movement, which now includes a majority of the American people, is shutting down more abortion clinics and saving more innocent lives each year through prayer and fasting, public outreach, charitable assistance, and political activism. Public opposition to the Obama administration’s anti-life mandate has been vigorous and sustained. Many Americans, aghast at the radical secularists’ push to eliminate God and Christianity from public life, are joining various Catholic and Christian activist organizations such as Fidelis, Patriot Voices, and the Faith and Freedom Coalition to make their voices heard. A large minority of Americans still believe that marriage is exclusively the union of a man and a woman, and more than thirty states have enacted voter-approved laws preserving this traditional legal definition of marriage. And the spectacular Republican landslide victories in the 2014 Congressional and gubernatorial elections were a clear signal of widespread public disapproval with the direction in which President Obama and his secular fundamentalist allies are leading this country.

Secular fundamentalism is continuing to gain ground in America today at least in part due to bad Catholics. Take, for instance, “Catholic” politicians such as Vice President Joe Biden and Representative Nancy Pelosi who abuse their authority to sanction the mass murder of the innocent unborn and legal same-sex “marriage.” But then there are also the millions of “Catholic” voters who keep putting these radically secularist politicians in office—so-called “Catholics” who for decades have been having abortions, using artificial contraception and sterilization, and getting divorces at rates similar to those of the general public. If it wasn’t for his dissident Catholic allies such as Biden, Pelosi and Kathleen Sebelius, former head of the HHS, as well as the millions of Catholics who tolerate legalized abortion and have no problem with birth control, President Obama’s anti-life agenda would never have gotten as far as it has. If American Catholics faithfully practiced their Church’s teachings in both public and private life, we would have a very different country today—-a place where militant secularism wouldn’t stand a chance. Benedict XVI put it this way: “There can be no doubt that a more consistent witness on the part of America’s Catholics to their deepest convictions would make a major contribution to the renewal of society as a whole.”

The Challenge of Radical Secularism

On January 19, 2012, addressing a group of Catholic bishops from the United States during their ad limina visit to Rome, Pope Benedict XVI made the following remarks about the threat to American culture and society posed by radical secularism:

One of the most memorable aspects of my pastoral visit to the United States was the opportunity it afforded me to reflect on America’s historical experience of religious freedom, and specifically the relationship between religion and culture. At the heart of every culture, whether perceived or not, is a consensus about the nature of reality and the moral good, and thus about the conditions for human flourishing. In America, that consensus, as enshrined in your nation’s founding documents, was grounded in a worldview shaped not only by faith but a commitment to certain ethical principles deriving from nature and nature’s God. Today that consensus has eroded significantly in the face of powerful new cultural currents which are not only directly opposed to core moral teachings of the Judeo-Christian tradition, but increasingly hostile to Christianity as such.

For her part, the Church in the United States is called, in season and out of season, to proclaim a Gospel which not only proposes unchanging moral truths but proposes them precisely as the key to human happiness and social prospering. To the extent that some current cultural trends contain elements that would curtail the proclamation of these truths, whether constricting it within the limits of a merely scientific rationality, or suppressing it in the name of political power or majority rule, they represent a threat not just to Christian faith, but also to humanity itself and to the deepest truth about our being and ultimate vocation, our relationship to God. When a culture attempts to suppress the dimension of ultimate mystery, and to close the doors to transcendent truth, it inevitably becomes impoverished and falls prey, as the late Pope John Paul II so clearly saw, to reductionist and totalitarian readings of the human person and the nature of society.

The pontiff then issued a prophetic warning:

In the light of these considerations, it is imperative that the entire Catholic community in the United States come to realize the grave threats to the Church’s public moral witness presented by a radical secularism which finds increasing expression in the political and cultural spheres. The seriousness of these threats needs to be clearly appreciated at every level of ecclesial life. Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion. Many of you have pointed out that concerted efforts have been made to deny the right of conscientious objection on the part of Catholic individuals and institutions with regard to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices. Others have spoken to me of a worrying tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience.

On the following day, January 20, 2012, the radical secularism of which the pope had spoken reared its ugly head in our land. Overturning more than two centuries of profound government respect for religious liberties and moral conscience rights in accord with the Constitution and natural law, against the expressed will of the people, and in a direct attack on the Judeo-Christian religious and moral values on which our country is built, the Obama administration announced that nearly all health insurance plans must include abortifacients, artificial contraceptives, and sterilization procedures, regardless of religious or moral objection to these anti-life items. This unprecedented edict, which is still on the books as of this writing despite a slew of court injunctions and exemptions, has nothing to do with the public health and everything to do with the sale of anti-life drugs and procedures for the benefit of large abortion, pharmaceutical, and insurance companies that back the Obama administration. In its disastrous attempt to nationalize our healthcare system, the private interests of a few have trumped concern for the common good, and as a result, the human rights and dignity of tens of millions of innocent Americans have been sacrificed to the false god of money. Corruption and radical secularism frequently go hand in hand.

The fact that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled both the Affordable Care Act and the HHS mandate constitutional in June of 2012 should serve as a painful warning that the Constitution itself, detached from the religious and moral framework in which it was written and meant to be interpreted, is utterly powerless to protect or guarantee our rights and freedoms. John Adams wrote: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” In 1781, in his Notes on that State of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson asked: “Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God?” If our leaders don’t believe that human rights—especially the rights to life and religious liberty—come from our Creator, then those rights will be perceived as coming from the state and the state will claim the authority to give or take them away as it sees fit. And if they don’t believe that it is wrong to legally deprive an innocent person of those rights, then no American’s rights will be guaranteed under the law and the door is wide open to atheistic totalitarian rule.

Benedict XVI identified what is needed to meet the challenge of radical secularism in America:

Here once more we see the need for an engaged, articulate and well-formed Catholic laity endowed with a strong critical sense vis-à-vis the dominant culture and with the courage to counter a reductive secularism which would delegitimize the Church’s participation in public debate about the issues which are determining the future of American society.

For too long now, we American Catholics have cowardly permitted our radically secularist foes to dictate the rules of engagement for the discussion of pressing religious and moral issues, and they are now exploiting our weakness in this regard to strengthen and expand their illegitimate occupation of the public square. We must take back what rightly belongs to us. Specifically, we must articulate a clear defense of the natural moral law written by God in all human hearts, revealed to Israel in the Ten Commandments of the Decalogue, and fully revealed in Jesus Christ and His Church. We must show how this divinely revealed moral compass guided the Founders in charting the course of our nation, and that it is adherence to the law of God that makes us a great nation. We must show how the Ten Commandments, together with the ancient Roman language and law, form the basis of our modern legal system. We must explain how former U.S. laws against abortion, obscenity and pornography were grounded in the objective moral law, and why our nation should enact such laws once again notwithstanding faulty judicial decisions to the contrary. We must demonstrate the universal and unchanging nature of this objective moral law by highlighting its ubiquitous presence in societies and cultures throughout human history. We must show how adherence to the moral law has enabled peoples and nations to flourish and become great (e.g. ancient Rome, medieval Europe, modern America)—-and how conversely, abandonment of the moral law has led to the decline and destruction of once-great nations (e.g. ancient Carthage, modern Communist countries).

Freedom to act in accord with the natural moral law is the most basic, the most fundamental of all human rights—even more fundamental than freedom of religion and freedom of conscience, for religion and conscience can both be abused to justify grave violations of the moral law. The HHS mandate and legal recognition of same-sex “marriage” don’t just violate the religious and conscience rights of American believers; even more fundamentally, they violate the natural law and the right of all Americans as human beings to act in accordance with it. By moving beyond a somewhat shallow and subjective “religious liberties and moral conscience rights” approach to a deeper, more profound way of reasoning based on the objective truth of the natural law itself, our logic will resonate not only with fellow American Catholics but also with all people of goodwill in America and beyond, thus enabling us to recruit a broader coalition of allies and mount a more united and effective challenge to the militant secularists within our gates. While defending our specific religious liberties and moral conscience rights as Catholic Americans, we must also defend the timeless freedom of all Americans and all peoples to act in accord with “the laws of nature and nature’s God.”

Conclusion

Due to their a priori rejection of absolute religious and moral truth, radical secularists mistakenly view the Christian religion and the Judeo-Christian moral system as purely human inventions rather than as divinely revealed transcendent truths. They offer twenty-first-century America the same temptation to which Adam and Eve succumbed in the Garden of Eden at the dawn of human history—the temptation to reject God and decide for ourselves what is good and what is evil. Militant secularists may present themselves as champions of secularism, freedom, tolerance, and pluralism, but history warns us that the implementation of their ideology would crush American secularism, freedom, tolerance, and pluralism under the boots of a dangerous tyranny. Where absolute religious and moral truth is rejected, nothing is left but a “dictatorship of relativism” and a ruthless Darwinian struggle for power. When man cuts himself off from God, he loses his way and becomes a monster. None are more keenly aware of this fact than those who have survived the terror and brutality of radically secularist regimes. “When God is put aside, the world becomes an inhospitable place for man,” remarked Benedict XVI during his visit to Cuba in 2012. “The Russian Church, which has paid in millions of lives for the godless Soviet experiment, can and must testify before the adherents of militant secularism to the fact that a society torn from its spiritual roots and faith has no future,” solemnly declared Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, a prominent leader of the Russian Orthodox Church who grew up in the Soviet Union, at a religious conference in London in 2014. “A world without God, without absolute moral values rooted in divine revelation, irrevocably turns into the realm of the rule of slavery and lawlessness.”

Ultimately, the religious identity of a nation is rooted in the religious character of its individual citizens. Government institutions alone, however well-intentioned and contrived, cannot protect and ensure that identity. As Pope Benedict XVI reminded us in his second encyclical Spe Salvi (Saved by Hope), “man’s freedom is always new and he must always make his decisions anew…Freedom presupposes that in fundamental decisions, every person and every generation is a new beginning.” As an “eclipse of God” casts its shadow over our era and mankind finds itself lured once again by the temptation to assert its own self-sufficiency, the United States and the world need Christians—-especially Catholics—-who have the courage to let the light of Christ shine through them to every corner of society. Clearly, the outcome of the cultural war for America’s future will depend in large measure on the religious and moral character of its people, the vast majority of whom still profess the Christian faith.

It is a cornerstone of modern evolutionary thought that human societies tend to develop gradually over time from dictatorships into democracies. But in his classic historical work The Everlasting Man, G. K. Chesterton pointed out that the opposite is true:

If there is one fact we really can prove, from the history that we really do know, it is that despotism can be a development, often a late development and very often indeed the end of societies that have been highly democratic. A despotism may almost be defined as a tired democracy. As fatigue falls on a community, the citizens are less inclined for that eternal vigilance which has truly been called the price of liberty; and they prefer to arm only one single sentinel to watch the city while they sleep. It is also true that they sometimes needed him for some sudden and militant act of reform; it is equally true that he often took advantage of being the strong man armed to be a tyrant like some of the Sultans of the East…But the spirit that endures the mere cruelties and caprices of an established despot is the spirit of an ancient and settled and probably stiffened society, not the spirit of a new one.

With the ideology of radical secularism being aggressively promoted by an elite few in government, academia, and the media and increasingly accepted in American culture, in the early twenty-first century the United States has begun the process of detaching itself from its Christian roots and sliding gradually into the shadow of totalitarianism. There is hope for the future survival of our country to the extent that we the people—individually and as a nation—place our trust in God and remain vigilant, united in our determination to fight this dangerous ideology until it is defeated. We must pray for the conversion of our radically secularist politicians, professors, media pundits, and cultural leaders. We must confront them in the public square, exposing the errors of their pernicious worldview and working to halt their evil agenda. We must rediscover the Founders’ vision of a secular, free, tolerant, and pluralistic Christian society in which church and state coexist harmoniously. We must unstintingly defend our inalienable human rights given to us by our Creator, especially the rights to life and liberty and the right to act in accord with the natural moral law. We must return to and explicitly reaffirm America’s profoundly Christian identity and her great tradition of religious freedom. And we must re-commit to living by the Judeo-Christian religious and moral principles that made America great. Only then will we once again rightly claim to be “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Copyright © 2015 Justin D. Soutar. All rights reserved.

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