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March 26, 2009

America’s New Religion: Secularism

On March 9, a survey was released showing the decrease in the numbers of Americans calling themselves Christian, and an increase in the number of people declaring that they have no religion to 15% of the America’s population.

Herbert London, author of the well written book America’s Secular Challenge, would not be surprised by this. He believes that secularism is America’s new religion. Unfortunately, this survey doesn’t look at secularism as a religion and may explain the large number of no-religion respondents.

But is secularism a religion? Dictionary.com gives one of "religion's" definitions as “a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons.”

London gives 6 items as these specific fundamental set of beliefs:

1. Truth is subjective, relative, or contextual
2. Rationality can solve moral and ontological questions about man’s nature
3. Man’s eternal problems, including the plight of the poor, can be solved through a welfare state based on the redistribution of wealth
4. National loyalty and patriotism are dangerous anachronisms
5. The most important goal one can seek is self-transformation or self-actualization
6. Discrimination is the great bugbear of social intercourse or closing one’s eyes to the difference between right and wrong

The remaining pages of his book look at each of these in more detail.

Christianity is under attack from without and within. It is not uncommon to hear people saying that religion’s morals are archaic and don’t belong in the public square, that morals are private individual decisions and religion has no right to speak for the country. Even our President has opted to avoid taking a stand on morals. He claims that certain moral judgments are "above his pay grade." 

Though secularists believe in moral freedom, London says “moral freedom is an oxymoron. Morality is a set of consensual restraints framed by shared and ineffaceable beliefs. . . Freedom has no value in the absence of norms and constraints.”

Consequently we are experiencing a decline in the perceived value of human life, as well as greed in our financial systems and housing markets. Both are the results of “moral freedom.”

Also, secularists look to science as the means for solving America’s problems. President Obama demonstrated this when he signed the executive order reversing the stem cell research ban, saying that “our government has forced what I believe is a false choice between sound science and moral values. In this case, I believe the two are not inconsistent.” Moral freedom gives science freedom from moral decisions, and the ends justify the means.

Secularists believe that “the government can put those answers [from science] into practice and solve humanity’s enduring problems.” They believe that government is more competent than the free market.

America has moved from a moral and righteous people that the U.S. Constitution was written for, toward a secular country that expects and demands that government solves all of our problems and redistributes the wealth of America.

Where does Christianity fit in all of this? Are Christians to step aside because there isn’t anything we can do? God is still calling us to transform our culture.

We need to look within and identify the areas that secularism permeates within our own churches. Next we need to ask God for forgiveness for falling asleep at our posts and not guarding the truths of His Word, and desiring our own “moral freedom.” We are still back in the desert with the Israelites rebelling and refusing to acknowledge our total dependence on God.

Our economy is in a shambles, our government is spending like there is no tomorrow, and high inflation is in our near future. As the tenets of secularism lead America towards the abyss of folly, Christians need to steer the American ship back toward morality, righteousness, and God. Will we be ready to lead or will we just huddle in our homes and hope Jesus comes back soon?

London concludes, “Culture matters. Decency, sacrifice, and heroism do not emerge spontaneously, and a great nation cannot retain its greatness while wallowing in a depraved culture.”

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