Will The United States Succumb to “Secular Fundamentalism”?

Will America suffer the same fate as Europe and the rise of what Karen Armstrong calls “secular fundamentalism”? We seem to be headed in a similar direction with the secularization of our schools, courts, media, morality, perverse sexual practices, and politics. Christianity in America, like Christianity in Europe, is under attack. We see it every day. Judges are being scrutinized for their religious beliefs, especially on abortion and homosexuality. A similar thing happened to Italy’s nominee to the European Union’s executive commission a few years back. He was attacked by EU parliamentarians and the press because of his view that homosexuality was a sin. The attacks were so vicious that he had to step down.

What’s happened to the once-Christian Europe when a court has consistently denied the parents of their infant son Charlie Gard to seek alternative medical treatment in the United States? The appropriate word is “evil,” as Charlie’s father yelled out to the court. There may not be any hope for Charlie, but it’s not the court’s right to kidnap and put their child to death.

George Weigel, a theologian and senior fellow of the Ethics and Policy Center in Washington, D.C., says that the culprit “is the atheistic humanism that took shape in the 19th century.”1 Whether in the form of Auguste Comte’s positivism (empirical science is the only reliable worldview), Charles Darwin’s naturalism (nature is all there is), or Karl Marx’s materialism (the spiritual world is an illusion), it attempted “to exclude transcendent reference points from cultural, social, and political life,” Weigel contends. “In specific, it reversed the view that the Hebrew and Christian God was the source of human freedom and dignity and proposed that this God was the obstacle to both.”

Acquiescing to secularism struck at the heart of moral reason “in a culture that had given the world the very concept of moral reason.” Two world wars were an indictment of humanism and materialism, but instead of rejecting the materialistic worldview that was used to justify the wars, the people adopted a “hyperindividualism” which has led to “a lack of confidence in the future.” When you no longer believe in the future, you tend to discount the past (rejection of Europe’s Christian civilization), deny the future, and live only for the present, both in philosophy and practice.

To show the detachment many Europeans have to the past and future, during the heat wave of 2003, the French continued their summer vacations. If a family member had died, they remained unburied and warehoused in refrigerated lockers which were soon overflowing. In Germany, there are no death notices in the newspapers, no church funeral ceremonies, no secular memorial service — “as though,” Richard Neuhaus observed, “The deceased did not exist.”

A Swedish company advertises a service in which cremation is replaced with human composting, the dead being immersed and frozen in liquid nitrogen before being smashed in small pieces by ultrasound waves and then freeze-dried and used for fertilizer. Sounds like something out of the dystopian movie Soylent Green (1973):

Thorn (Charlton Heston): “It’s people. Soylent Green is made out of people. They’re making our food out of people. Next thing they’ll be breeding us like cattle for food. You’ve gotta tell them. You’ve gotta tell them!”
Hatcher: “I promise, Tiger. I promise. I’ll tell the exchange.”
Thorn: “You tell everybody. Listen to me, Hatcher. You’ve gotta tell them! Soylent Green is people! We’ve gotta stop them somehow!”

Given the state of mind of many Europeans, I not sure that Detective Thorn’s warning would elicit much of a response. In fact, some might consider turning the dead into food a good idea. It’s the funeral plan that keeps on giving, and with welfare costs continuing to go up. it’s time for the elderly to die. Bill Nye is proposing this very thing as a way to save the planet.

Europe is also having what demographics’ expert Ben Wattenberg calls a “birth dearth” where the average birth rate among European women is 1.4, while the minimum replacement rate is 2.1. Similar demographic statistics can be found in Japan. Europe has another related problem — a competing worldview that it has no inherent ability to fight Islam. The Muslim population in France could grow from being 5 percent of France’s 60 million population today to a majority in 25 years. Fouad Ajami, director of the Middle East Studies Program at Johns Hopkins University, told the [Harvard Political Review] that much of the Muslim population of France, for example, is “shut up in these ghettos, secluded and kept apart from French society. They have a subculture of their own, a slang of their own, a language of their own. And the French have no answer to them.”For many nationals whose self-conceptions rest on shared cultural values and assumptions, the existence of this distinct, alien, highly-religious community is perceived as a serious threat to national unity.

For many nationals whose self-conceptions rest on shared cultural values and assumptions, the existence of this distinct, alien, highly-religious community is perceived as a serious threat to national unity.

Christianity has been the only religion able to compete with Islam, but Europe today is experiencing the spread of “Christophobia” that “is tied to a Europe-wide spiritual malaise that is pushing the Continent toward broad cultural and economic decline.” You can’t beat something with nothing. Much of Europe has already capitulated to Islamic terrorism being a natural way of life. Individualism can not beat a corporate worldview. Christianity is corporate: one body but with many members. “I believe in the holy Catholic (not Roman Catholic) (universal) church.” When this corporate identity is denied, you become ripe for the picking.

There are signs of hope among the young. Many of the children of the “now middle-aged and soon to be retired … have become Christian believers. Those who grew up Christian and rejected both the faith and the Church in late adolescence or early adulthood are puzzled, even angered, by the phenomenon of their children turning to Jesus Christ and Christianity to fill the void in their lives.”2  It’s the counterculture in reverse; the decade of the 1960s turned on its head.

  1. Jay Tolson, “European, Not Christian,” U.S. News & World Report (May 30, 2005), 52. []
  2. George Weigel, The Cube and the Cathedral: Europe, America, and Politics Without God (New York: Basic Books, 2005), 76–77. []
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