Secularism Sucks

It’s distressing and depressing. The Anglican establishment – as represented by the Bishop of Oxford and chairman of the Board of Education, the Rt Revd John Pritchard – has so lost confidence in itself and the Gospel that it wants to throw the baby out with the bathwater and reduce the proportion of church-going pupils at C of E schools to just 10 per cent.

So secularism rules and guilt-ridden liberalism reigns. The bishop – who himself was privately educated of course (here) – reckons sniffily that the church schools for which he has responsibility seem to be about “collecting nice Christians into safe places” (here). Tell that to the hard-pressed headteachers of the C of E primary schools in deprived multi-ethnic east London where I live.

He justifies this new inclusivity with supreme liberal-Anglican arrogance, claiming that the Church of England “is the only organisation that exists for the sake of its non-members”. Tell that too to the Chair of the Charity Commission and its 162,000 registered charitable organisations (here).

The bishop – who was educated at the top-drawer universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Durham – says he arrived at the figure of 10 per cent by “pure hunch”. Then presumably he can advance no rational reason why invertebrate church authorities shouldn’t go further and decide on zero per cent.

He could of course go even further than that. He could propose that the church hitch herself fully to the hostile secular bandwagon and start to actively discriminate against believers who want church school education for their offspring.

Or how about the church offering to fund Richard Dawkins’ latest plans to set up an atheist school (here)? That would at least have the merit of taking the bishop’s self-flagellating liberal agenda to its logical conclusion.

The enemies of Christianity are salivating of course. Even the National Secular Society which takes no prisoners and is currently running an aggressive ‘Debaptise Yourself’ campaign (“Liberate yourself from the Original Mumbo-Jumbo that liberated you from the Original Sin you never had!”) (here) concedes the bishop has taken “a step in the right direction” from their point of view.

Thank God for the Catholic Church with its clear stand against secularisation. Our local oversubscribed Catholic secondary school effectively excludes our daughters because we aren’t Catholic believers. But I don’t begrudge them this despite the limited alternatives. At least they know what they stand for.

And of course the Pope routed New Atheists and other protesters during last year’s visit with his call to arms against the UK’s “aggressive secularism”. There are “deep Christian roots… present in every layer of British life,” he said, and attempts by the 20th century totalitarian regimes to eliminate God (Stalin, Hitler, Mao Zedong and Pol Pot come to mind) should provide “sobering lessons” on tolerance (here). Unsurprisingly our intolerant friends at the National Secular Society had a hissy fit (here).

But the Catholic hierarchy doesn’t always hit the right note. In his Easter message Scottish Cardinal Keith O’Brien rightly called on Christians of all denominations to resist attempts to destroy our Christian heritage and culture (here). Yet he spoilt this by appealing to self-interest, complaining about the way Christians have been marginalised and prevented from acting in accordance with their beliefs. Here the Cardinal’s language became shrill and victim-speak.

It is of course true that Christians face marginalisation and hostility. But this is not unexpected. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me,” said Jesus. We should rejoice and be glad when the National Secular Society, Richard Dawkins, Peter Tatchell and politically-correct authorities like Wakefield & District Housing of recent ‘palm cross’ fame (here) have a go at us for our faith.

The far greater crisis is the corrosion of our culture. Self-centred individualism, hedonism, sexualisation and shopping are the dehumanising hallmarks of our age, and all these are directly attributable to the de-Christianisation of our civilisation. It’s the voiceless and vulnerable who suffer from today’s me-first morality. Society is enjoined to look after number one, so the devil will of course take the hind-most and helpless.

Christians must awake, arise, advance Kingdom values for the 21st century and challenge such secularisation. This is not because we ourselves have been disadvantaged, but because Christian values are demonstrably better for wider society. It’s hedonistic secular values not Christian modesty and restraint that misunderstands human nature, liberalises the drinking laws and unleashes the binge-culture on town centres every weekend.

It’s the secular cult of youth worship rather than Christian respect for parents that sexualises our children, teaches inappropriate sex & relationships education at school and elsewhere and then wonders why teenage pregnancies have soared.

I recently received an email from a non-believing acquaintance: “Only today some fool member of the clergy said that only 10% of CE schools pupils should be practicing Christians,” he wrote angrily. “I am not a practicing Christian but this situation is ridiculous. The ‘establishment’ doesn’t realise that the reason for the success of such schools is because they are Christian. They also don’t realize that the success of the West was because of its Christian cultural matrix.”

My angry agnostic acquaintance got it exactly right: Secularism sucks.

(This post also appears as an article in today’s edition of The Church of England Newspaper.)

18 thoughts on “Secularism Sucks

  1. Good commentary, Alan.

    The tragedy of secularisation and the attempt to oust Christianity from the mainstream is that secularism has no inherent system of moral values, or indeed ability to better human nature from the inside out – it can only say, “Be free, and do your best!”

    Secularism is an empty shell.


  2. Nobody said you can only be good with God.

    But if Christianity lost the argument when heretics were burned at the stake, atheism lost the argument when Stalin, Mao Zedong and Pol Pot oppressed religion and slaughtered the first of their millions, Islam lost the argument when Muhammed and his warriors put their first Quraysh/Meccan camel train to the sword and Judaism lost the argument when Moses and the children of Israel slaughtered the Amorites.

    But ‘Christianity’ – like the other faiths and non-faiths – can be as you define it and as flawed (and context-limited) followers live it. Much more important is the teaching and example of the respective founders.

    Where and when exactly did Jesus Christ burn heretics or even condone it?

  3. Atheism lost no argument at all with Stalin, Pol Pot and Mao because they were reminiscent of religion. The whole idea of idol worship and “Yes, dear Leader” is redolent of religion in it’s basic form.

    Jesus Christ didn’t burn heretics or call for it; but for morality you are best placed looking elsewhere. Great harm has been done in our past by those who found that Jesus endorsed, no less promoted, Old Testament Law.

    “What defenders of religion cannot say is that anyone has ever gone berserk, or that a society ever failed, because people became too reasonable, intellectually honest, or unwilling to be duped by the dogmatism of their neighbors.” – Sam Harris

  4. That’s an interesting one. So Stalin etc were ‘religious’ in their despotism and their rabid hostility to religion? Sounds like Alice in Wonderland – ‘religion’ can mean anything you wish, or indeed don’t like.

    Harris is exactly wrong. Stalin and many others have been cruel and repressive because they were duped, motivated and justified by the atheist ideologies of Karl Marx and his various followers – to whom religion was, famously, an opiate of the people.

  5. BTW, Jesus ‘fulfilled’ the OT law not ‘endorsed’ it, so that we now live under his grace not his law.

    Glad you acknowledge he didn’t call for the burning of heretics. So he hasn’t ‘lost the argument’ after all!

  6. Ok, well I was hoping that you would say that Jesus fulfilled the law because this would then mean the OT laws were no longer required. This means your position on same sex marriage, on biblical grounds no less, is redundant.

    I never said Stalin was “religious” in his despotism; I said his leadership was redolent of religion with hero worship, obedience, irrational thinking etc.

    “Glad you acknowledge he didn’t call for the burning of heretics. So he hasn’t ‘lost the argument’ after all!”

    But I never claimed that Jesus called for the burning of heretics. I acknowledged it because there is no record of it. However, people claiming to be Christians did burn heretics and much more besides.

    I guess that they weren’t “true Christians” hey?

  7. But I said Jesus ‘fulfilled’ the law, not abolished it.

    “True Christians”? Dunno about the state of their souls but I can certainly see Jesus disowning their actions, if not them.

  8. Ok, I’ll see what a High Court Judge says:

    “The promulgation of law for the protection of a position held purely on religious grounds cannot therefore be justified. It is irrational, as preferring the subjective over the objective. But it is also divisive, capricious and arbitrary. We do not live in a society where all the people share uniform religious beliefs. The precepts of any one religion – any belief system – cannot, by force of their religious origins, sound any louder in the general law than the precepts of any other. If they did, those out in the cold would be less than citizens; and our constitution would be on the way to a theocracy, which is of necessity autocratic. The law of a theocracy is dictated without option to the people, not made by their judges and governments. The individual conscience is free to accept such dictated law; but the State, if its people are to be free, has the burdensome duty of thinking for itself”

  9. What’s that got to do with Jesus’ statement about OT law? He superseded the law of theocracy by becoming the fulfilment of OT law. In other words, if you want to find what’s right and wrong, good and bad, you’ll find it in him.

    BTW the law is, and High Court judges are, sometimes, an ass. The first two sentences above are irrational and subjective and exhibit simply uninformed bias.

  10. Not true. Religion is subjective for one reason… there are too many.

    The law applies to everyone. Secularism is important so that people can believe whatever they want to. I suspect you don’t agree with this?

  11. No I don’t. Secularism, fascism, Islamism and all other ‘isms’ only allow people to believe in whatever they want provided they don’t actually speak or act on what they believe.

    In the UK you can believe that a marriage-based family is the best domestic arrangement for bringing up children – provided you don’t try to run a Catholic adoption agency on that basis.

    And soon you will be able to believe that evolution and the Big Bang are inadequate theories to explain our existence and that there is evidence of some intelligence behind the creation of our universe, but (if Attenborough, Dawkins et al get their way) you won’t be able to offer this to our school children.

    Secularism UK-style is as illiberal and dogmatic as any of the other isms.

  12. What you have written addresses nothing of what I wrote. Theocracy has only ever stifled freedom of choice with respect to belief. This is why you have bad arguments for pretty much everything you comment on.

  13. I don’t believe in theocracy – and it isn’t the only alternative to secular government.

    I note your sweeping and silly generalisation. There seems no point in continuing this.

    Cheers. Goodnight.

  14. The author of the article has failed in his primary task: What is Secularism? When and how the name, the term and the concept/ideology of Secularism-with or without the particular term Secularism, came bout? The 20th century totalitarian regimes did not use the term Seculariam for whatever they did: like Stalin, Hitler, Mao Zedong and Pol Pot ; and yet Hitler was a devout Catholic: Read: “The Hitler’s Pope” by John Cromwell.
    It is necessary not to degenerate into the slogans and accusation or Ad Hominem attacks: thgese only shows the ignorance of the one who uses such tactics ….!

  15. All who hate this article just suck it up and take it like a man. It’s author can hate secularism all he wants. If you can’t stand that, then you’re a pansy. Hell, just get out of here if you can’t stand his hatredfor secularism.

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