Secularism and Religion

Many here are aware that the basis of western civilization is in our Judeo-Christian heritage. Often we merely assert this, since we have known it all our lives, but it can be examined fruitfully.

I admire Melanie Phillips greatly because not only is she a very good writer and speaker, she is fully capable of thinking through things. And she does so here. Yes, this is a long read, but I think you’ll find it valuable to read the whole thing.

It has become the orthodoxy in the West that freedom, human rights and reason all derive from secularism and that the greatest threat to all these good things is religion.

I want to suggest that the opposite is true. In the service of this orthodoxy, the West is undermining and destroying the very values which it holds most dear as the defining characteristics of a civilised society.

In truth, in the United States, we don’t hear it explicitly very often, but in Britain, it is quite common in my experience. Not to mention very strident, not only from the secularists, but from Randians, and other assorted libertine groups.

Some of this hostility is being driven by the perceived threat from Islamic terrorism and the Islamisation of Western culture. However, this animus against religion has far deeper roots and can be traced back to what is considered the birthplace of Western reason, the 18th-century Enlightenment.

Actually, it goes back specifically to the French Enlightenment. In England and Scotland, the Enlightenment developed reason and political liberty within the framework of Biblical belief. In France, by contrast, anti-clericalism morphed into fundamental hostility to Christianity and to religion itself.

“Ecrasez l’infame,” said Voltaire (crush infamy) — the infamy to which he referred being not just the Church but Christianity, which he wanted to replace with the religion of reason, virtue and liberty, “drawn from the bosom of nature”.

[…] Instead of God producing heaven on earth, it would be mankind which would bring that about. Reason would create the perfect society and “progress” was the process by which utopia would be attained.

Far from utopia, however, this thinking resulted in something more akin to hell on earth. For the worship of man through reason led straight to totalitarianism. It was reason that would redeem religious superstition and bring about the kingdom of Man on earth. And just like medieval apocalyptic Christian belief, this secular doctrine would also be unchallengeable and heretics would be punished. This kind of fanaticism infused the three great tyrannical movements that were spun out of Enlightenment thinking: the French Revolution, Communism and Fascism. […]

In the Sixties, the baby-boomer generation bought heavily into the idea propounded by Herbert Marcuse and other Marxist radicals that the way to transform the West lay not through the seizure of political or economic control but through the transformation of the culture. This has been achieved over the past half century through what has been called a “long march through the institutions”, the infiltration into all the institutions of the culture — the universities, media, professions, politics, civil service, churches — of ideas that would then become the orthodoxy.

From multiculturalism to environmentalism, from post-nationalism to “human rights” doctrine, Western progressives have fixated upon universalising ideas which reject values anchored in the particulars of religion or culture. All that matters is a theoretical future in which war, want and prejudice will be abolished: the return of fallen humanity to a lost Eden. And like all utopian projects, which are by definition impossible and unattainable, these dogmas are enforced through coercion: bullying, intimidation, character assassination, professional and social exclusion.

The core doctrine is equality. Not the Biblical doctrine that every human being is owed equal respect because they are formed in the image of God: equality has been redefined as identicality, the insistence that there can be no hierarchy of values of lifestyles or cultures. There can no longer be different outcomes depending on different circumstances or how people behave. To differentiate at all is to be bigoted and on a fast track back to fascism and war.

So the married family was kicked off its perch. Sexual restraint was abolished. The formerly transgressive became normative. Education could no longer transmit a culture down through the generations but had to teach that the Western nation was innately racist and exploitative.

Subjective trumped objective. There was no longer any absolute truth. Everyone could arbitrate their own truth. That way bigotry and prejudice would be excised from the human heart, the oppressed of the developing world would be freed from their Western oppressors and instead of the Western nation there would be the brotherhood of man.

All this was done in name of freedom, reason and enlightenment and in opposition to religion, the supposed source of oppression, irrationality and obscurantism.

At the heart of it was an onslaught against the moral codes of Christianity. Those moral codes are actually the Mosaic laws of the Hebrew Bible.

[…] What they [Western “progressives” and the Islamists] also have in common is hostility to Judaism, Israel or the Jewish people. The genocidal hatred of Israel and the Jews that drives the Islamic jihad against the West is not acknowledged or countered by the West because its most high-minded citizens share at least some of that prejudice. Both Western liberals and Islamists believe in utopias to which the Jews are an obstacle. The State of Israel is an obstacle to both the rule of Islam over the earth and a world where there are no divisions based on religion or creed. The Jews are an obstacle to the unconstrained individualism of Western libertines and to the onslaught against individual human dignity and freedom by the Islamists. Both the liberal utopias of a world without prejudice, divisions or war and the Islamist utopia of a world without unbelievers are universalist ideologies. The people who are always in the way of universalising utopias are the Jews.

Do read it all, and there is a deal more than I have given you. The full title is: Secularism and religion: the onslaught against the West’s moral codes. It is simply a superb examination of where our basic morality came from, and how it has allowed us to exceed former civilizations by orders of magnitude, and how it has come to be endangered.

Crossposted from All along the Watchtower.


Still, Again

One of the victims of the Rotherham grooming ring (Getty)

I imagine you remember the mess that spilled out from under the carpet in Rotheringham a while back. Hundreds of underage girls (what the media won’t tell you is, they are white working class girls, mostly) beaten, drugged, sexually abused, and such. “Grooming” they call it. Grooming for what, well I guess you can figure that one out. Very few if any people have yet to go to jail for it. Why? Because the perpetrators are, almost without exception, what the British euphemistically call, Asian. What they really are is Moslem, usually Pakistani, and their religion puts them above UK law, because of the higher law of PC. Sad, ain’t it?

There have been several cases since Rotherham spewed forth, and now there is still another, in Telford. Best I’ve read on it so far is from the Catholic Herald.

A casual attitude towards underage sex is putting children in terrible danger

What do Torbay, Liverpool, Rochdale, Thurrock, Oxfordshire, Hampshire, Bristol and Somerset have in common? All have been the subject of serious case reviews published within the past five years in connection with child sexual exploitation. That’s without mentioning Professor Alexis Jay’s independent inquiry into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham.

In all nine regions, a clear picture emerges of a culture in which underage sexual activity is viewed as relatively harmless so long as it is perceived to be consensual.

To that growing hall of shame, we must now add Telford. According to an 18-month Sunday Mirror investigation, an estimated 1,000 girls suffered sexual exploitation and abuse in the Shropshire district over a period of 40 years.

As yet, there has been no formal investigation into child sexual exploitation in Telford and no full published report, but from the limited information already available we see the reappearance of several features found in reports from other regions.

First of all, we find the same complacent attitudes towards underage sex. The Sunday Mirror reveals that “Council files show social services, teachers and mental health workers were fully aware of what was happening but did little. They also failed to tell police.”

Why? Because, like their counterparts in Rochdale, Rotherham and Bristol, education and welfare professionals in Telford assumed that the girls were making what are sometimes called “lifestyle choices”. “Instead of seeing them as exploited victims, some council staff viewed them as prostitutes,” we are told.

And so “case histories reveal many were ignored after reporting rapes to the police”. On the basis of prior assumptions that had been made about the girls, their reports were not taken seriously. The Rotherham Inquiry similarly found that “children as young as 11 were deemed to be having consensual sexual intercourse when in fact they were being raped and abused by adults”.

A second common feature is the ready and confidential provision of contraception and the morning-after pill to underage girls. One 14 year-old Telford victim said, “I must have been getting the morning-after pill from a local clinic at least twice a week but no one asked any questions.”

In spite of her frequent use of the morning-after pill, the girl fell pregnant twice and had two abortions. But presumably, still no questions were asked.

By virtue of the fact that they were seeking contraception and “sexual health services”, the girls were deemed to be making mature and responsible choices, and assumed to be freely exercising their sexual rights, even though many of them were under the age of 16 and in some cases were as young as 11.

Keep reading Norman Wells excellent article.

Whether this again involves Asians, I simply don’t know, but frankly, it matters little. That the British have become so callous towards these young girls, is the real scandal, I can imagine only a few places in America where such things could happen – on an industrial scale. A thousand girls! My God, if it were to happen most places in America – the accused would be very lucky indeed to make it to jail.

I have few answers, but I will note that this is what happens when you delegate authority that belongs to the family to an overweening welfare state. No doubt, still another chapter of this tragedy will be along shortly.

[And an update: My friends at The Conservative Woman are also writing about this, and know far more about the political situation than I do. Read the linked article, as well.]

Thinking about Parkland

Robert Tracinski brought us a thoughtful post over the weekend at The Federalist.

Early this week, I wrote an article taking the Parkland kids to task for spreading a lot of bunkum, not just about guns, but about the general state of the world — which I backed up with some facts and figures, and even some charts and graphs.

In response, I got a lot of the usual hate mail, but what struck me was how the general response was summed up in this exchange.

Logic and facts: what have they ever done for us?

The hyping of the Parkland kids is one giant appeal to emotion. The approach is to go to a school where a shooting happened and carefully select a small number of kids who are reasonably articulate and willing to go along with the full gun-control agenda. Ignore the ones who don’t. Then give these kids the backing of well-funded and well-connected advocacy groups. Fly them around the country and book them on cable TV shows. Then insist that these 17-year-olds are invested with absolute moral authority, and if anyone challenges this, scream at them for being insensitive to the victims of a horrific crime and basically hating children and wanting to see them die.

This only works on two conditions. First, it works because the media cooperates. If the NRA flew pro-Second Amendment kids around and tried to book them on news shows, the media would suddenly develop professional ethics and either turn them down or grill them about being shills for the gun lobby. But the other Parkland kids are treated as concerned citizens, and no one in the media thinks they are under any obligation to note that the kids are basically being bankrolled by Michael Bloomberg.

But the second condition is more important: This works because people want it to work. It aligns with their preconceptions and resonates with their emotions. So they assume that emotional power will sweep away all opposition.

If you are on the left, you are probably now feeling outrage that I am dismissing your advocacy of gun control as mere emotionalism. If you are on the right, you are probably feeling smugly superior to those lefties who are always so invested in their “feels.”

For the benefit of both sides, let me flip the script. Let’s say that instead of invoking the Parkland kids, I were to invoke the parents of Kate Steinle.

Remember her? She was the young woman who was killed in San Francisco by a bullet fired from a gun held by an illegal immigrant. (Prosecutors were unable to prove the shooting was not an accident, which is why he got off on only a weapons charge.) Steinle’s death couldn’t be used to make the case for gun control, because she was shot with a handgun stolen from the car of a law enforcement officer, someone whose weapon would not be banned. But the shooter was an illegal immigrant from Mexico who had been previously deported multiple times, who was released onto the streets of a “sanctuary city.” So this shooting could be used to make the case against sanctuary cities and against Mexican immigrants in general. Which is precisely what Donald Trump did.

Yet the form of the argument is exactly the same in the one case as in the other. It was an emotional appeal to the idea that if only one senseless death could be prevented by taking drastic action, then we’re required to do it — and you’re a monster who doesn’t care about human life if you raise any objections.

Keep reading.

He’s correct, of course, the right did do the same thing in the Kate Steinle case. It was an appeal to emotion, not facts. The right is better than his, at least we better be. Objective fact is not the realm of the Randists, although they do a better job of it than most, they go too far. Emotion matters, but it is not the overwhelming paragon that it often appears that the left thinks it is.

That’s one of the reasons for the old maxim, “Hard cases make bad law”.

Facts Matter.

In truth, when our founders designed out government, one of the reasons they designed the Senate as they did, at a remove for the electorate (elected by the legislature) and for a six year term, was simply to slow things down, to let emotions cool. That was an inherent feature of the design, which the irrational left couldn’t abide, and so the Wilson Government spearheaded it’s repeal. They were wrong, it helps us to maintain an objective, fact based law, not one based on capricious fallible emotion.

Part of their genius, overthrown by much smaller men.

Zimbabwe as an Instruction Manual

My friend Brandon Christensen over at Notes on Liberty has taken to giving us presents most nights with his Nightcap series of a few good links, and they are. This is one of them.

Johnathan Pearce writing in Samizdata brings us a very good (I think) report on what is going on in South Africa. I say I think because it’s not something I know much about and need to catch up on. Here’s some of it.

South Africa decides Zimbabwe is an instruction manual, not a warning

Grim news from South Africa. Just in case anyone thought that the departure of President Zuma, a corrupt man who has stripped his country (South Africa faces severe water shortages brought on by neglect of infrastructure) might lead to better things will be disappointed. The new regime has signed off on a land-grab policy of confiscating white-owned land without compensation. (About 70 per cent of South African farmland is owned by whites.) The claim made is that any white person who owns land in the country must, by definition, have stolen it. (The idea that such ownership might have come into being without theft just does not cross certain persons’ minds. That fact is simply undiscussible.)

As we have found in the seizure/collectivisation of farms in the former Soviet Union, in China, and in Zimbabwe more recently, such moves herald mass poverty and violence. South Africa has ironically seen an influx of poor Zimbabweans since the vile Mugabe regime started to attack white farmers and seize land; the country has suffered a catastrophic decline in its farmland output, which may never recover. South Africa seems keen to follow suit; it has a range of largely self-inflicted woes: the current government is deeply corrupt. The country needs inward investment – seizing white-owned property hardly encourages any investor, of any racial background. As a matter of simple common sense, taking land by brute force, without compensation, from owners and giving it to those who are political cronies and hangers-on will inevitably reduce output and wealth, not the other way round.

There’s more, and it’s good, but what really stands out here is just how little I know about it. The other thing that is very valuable here is the comment stream. That is what really makes alternative media so much better than the dead tree press, even when it occasionally screws up and tells the truth. As of this writing, there are 88 comments on it, and all are germane either to the situation in South Africa or the wider application of what we are seeing there.

It is rare for me to run across a site where not only do I not know much about what the article is talking about but know so little that I do not think I have anything to add. This is one of those times. Do I need to say that the site is already in my reader

Enjoy, and learn.

Two for Tuesday

Well, let’s try something, I keep falling behind, and often I have two (or more) articles that bear on the same thing. Let’s see if we can connect them and make a coherent whole out of it. For Instance:

The school shooting in Florida is still rattling around the internet, but finally, some sensible people are saying things. These thoughtful people we should maybe be reading and thinking about. Gene Veith over at Cranach picked up an article that got my attention too at The Federalist. Rev Veith says:

On the most basic level, according to Romans 13, we are not to impose justice by taking personal “revenge.”  Rather, God protects us and punishes evildoers through the agency of authorities whom He has called to “bear the sword.”  In today’s terms, that would include police officers, our military, and other lawful officers.

A well-ordered society is not going to be what later political theorists would call “a state of nature,” in which everyone has to battle everyone else in order to survive.  God’s gifts of vocations makes for an interdependent society.  Then again, not all societies are well-ordered.  Lawless societies, as in the “wild west,” function differently.  And even in a well-ordered society, those who “bear the sword” cannot be everywhere.  But vocation still applies.  Keep in mind that we have multiple vocations, not just in our particular line of work, but in our families, the church, and society.

That’s important I think. We do have multiple vocations. Like him I’m using the term in the Lutheran sense of a God-given job, whether it’s preaching, policing, carpentering, homemaking, fathering, mothering, whatever. None of us is only one thing.

In his article linked from Rev Veith, Mathew Cochran says this:

It is therefore no wonder that, like people who work in schools and other gun-free zones, American Christians are beginning to ask themselves, “What happens when the shooter comes to my church?” How are we to handle a situation like that? Like anyone else, Christians would rather mentally and physically prepare for such an eventuality rather than being caught unawares.

I recently encountered a story about one such congregation’s deliberation on the issue. They opted to take advantage of a course on active-shooter situations offered by their local police department. Unsurprisingly, they caught a lot of flack on social media.

There was, of course the usual hatred about how these killings prove the supposed inefficacy of prayer or non-existence of God (how that reasoning applies to a religion that believes God sent his own son to be killed for us, they never quite explain). But someone also questioned how Christians, who are supposed to love their enemies, could possibly fight back against a shooter. Doesn’t “thou shalt not kill” prevent a Christian congregation from shooting a guy who came to murder them all? It’s not only a question Christians are asked, but one that we also ask ourselves.

On the Question of Returning Fire

First, nothing in that story talks about the congregation arming themselves so they can fight back. Nor is that implied simply by arranging a class of this kind. I attended the same kind of class at my church several years ago, and while I think they broached the possibility of shooting back once or twice, it was largely focused on other strategies to maximize survival.

And yet, there is no inherent dichotomy in a congregant returning fire. Last night I reread, Andrew Branca’s The Law of Self Defense. It’s something I do regularly, and you probably should too. In matters of life and death, there is no substitute for getting it right the first time.

Not for the first time, I was struck by how closely the US law on self-defense parallels the just war theory as expounded by St. Thomas Aquinas, and yes that has secular predecessors as well. One of the things that gets us is a quirk of the English language. Most of us know the Commandment as “Thou shalt not Kill” but the usage of the work kill has broadened since the King James version was written. For what we mean as kill, the translators used slay. For what they meant as kill, we use murder, including involuntary homicide, which is a different matter.

It’s still something you have to figure out between you and your God, but it seems pretty clear to me.

But that doesn’t really solve the problem, does it, although it might lower the body count a bit. Other factors than self-defense are necessary to make a real difference. My friend Leslie Loftus on Medium wrote a bit about how training is everything and linked us to another article there. That article is by Benjamin Sledge, and it is outstanding.

The Military Does a Better Job at Gun Control Than Anyone

One thing that has baffled me over the years is that I can go to the grocery store and buy a pack of tic-tacs and then walk across the street and buy a gun. I’m not baffled that I can buy a gun, as I believe it’s an important liberty to have, but it’s the ease and utter lack of training in which I can buy something that has no other role than to kill something.

A knife can be used for cooking and a bat for baseball. But a gun? Unless you’re collecting them for a museum, the point of a gun is to kill something.

Let me give you a breakdown of how the military has gun control right, and society has the process backwards.

When you enlist in the military, you will spend several weeks learning weapons safety and training. Before you are ever allowed to fire a weapon, you must be able to disassemble the rifle, clean it, and then reassemble the weapon. You will take tests and quizzes asking you questions pertaining to the distance and speed a bullet can travel. Once you pass your exams, you will then fire the weapon under the supervision and training of drill sergeants and weapons experts. Last, you must qualify with your weapon on targets. If you’re unable to do that, they will not allow you to graduate from basic training.

He’s correct, it is rather silly. When the system works properly (not always a given) we do check if one is a felon, and sometimes if there are mental issues, but it’s not all that rigorous, and it’s pretty much of a one-shot deal, even more than your driver’s license is. That doesn’t make a lot of sense. Read his article – I don’t completely agree with all of his points, but it makes the most sense of anything I’ve read on the subject.

For instance, I have no problem with arming teachers who volunteer, with their eyes wide open to the responsibility and possibilities, say like veterans who have become teachers, but there is room for debate there, not simply the yelling at each other we have been doing. I understand why we are doing that yelling, I do my share. But while it is important not to give away our God-given rights, this is not productive, in fact, it is harmful, to us, and to the Republic.

What cannot continue, will not continue, and having our kids shot down in school should not continue, and won’t for all that long.

Another Week

Let’s start with a bit more from the recent CPAC. We all know Ben Shapiro, and yes, he is one of our great rising voices, but what I find fascinating is that as well as he resonates with us, he speaks just as well to the cousins, who increasingly find our outspokenness to be vital to the cause of saving our freedom.

But it is a two-way street, has been since before America was America, we have looked to England as we learned how to be ‘the land of the free’ and they still produce leaders worth listening to. So a bit of payback, here’s one of theirs, talking to us.

And if there is anything Americans have learned, its how great conservative women are, the American ones, surely, but our British cousins have some great ones too.

And so we continue the mission, knowing that freedom will never be secure, that it must be won in every generation, and also knowing that it is well worth it.

This has been a week filled with sound and fury (most are lately) this week the emphasis has been the continuing effort to disarm the American people. Nothing new, really, just an attack on freedom from a different angle. I predict we will again stand firm.

My kind of guy!

From Ace.

Hard earned wisdom?

Mostly from PowerLine, as per.

Have a good week.

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