Quote of the Day: Secularism and Evangelical Bigotry

separation of church and state

Cartoon by Nick Anderson

Evangelical Christians continue to represent a sizeable percentage of the current president’s base support. To those who have watched evangelicals spend “the last 40 years telling everyone how to live, who to love,” and “what to think about morality,” the continued alliance with this president makes evangelicals the “biggest phonies” in all of politics. Indeed, the behind-the-scenes details of how a “thrice-married, insult-hurling” president obtained the endorsement of the evangelical hierarchy are as lewd and hypocritical as one might expect.

As much as the hypocrisy of evangelicalism can be mocked and exposed however, there exists a kernel of truth lurking behind the claim that evangelicals are supporting this president out of fear. It is simply impossible to deny that institutionalized persecution of religious ideas by public universities has occurred. Thankfully, this persecution has been continuously challenged and overturned in the courts.

The fact that persecution of religious ideas can and has occurred in our society however, does not even remotely suggest that intolerance is a uniquely “secularist” problem. In fact, intolerance of dissent and censorship of opposing views has been a general feature in religious institutions for thousands of years. Moreover, the same intolerance and censorship evangelicals claim they hate so much when it occurs in “secular” institutions is expressly embraced at the largest Christian colleges in the United States today, such as Liberty University. Does this past and current existence of intolerance in religious institutions mean that religion is inherently intolerant? No, because human bias exists generally in all human institutions, a fact the framers of the Constitution knew all too well and the exact reason why they chose to embrace secularism.

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For example, David French, who I would argue is a moderate evangelical, has argued recently that we should be wary of European immigration because those countries have a “secular-bias” that will “alter American culture in appreciable ways.” In answering this nonsense from French, it is important to acknowledge that such a statement amounts to nothing less than vile bigotry.

To illustrate, imagine for one second how French would react if a liberal pundit on MSNBC  said we should avoid immigrants from Christian-majority countries because America is steadily becoming more secular. Is there any doubt French would find such a statement to be a reflection of bigotry against Christians based on ridiculous notions that they are somehow incapable of assimilating into American culture? Yet he felt no issue disparaging and demeaning immigration from a whole continent based entirely on whether they held certain religious beliefs or not. Why? Because for all too many evangelicals, non-belief is simply not viewed with the same respect as religious belief, despite the fact that our Constitutional free conscience liberty makes no distinction. Put simply, it is nothing less than disgraceful the level of bigotry that evangelicals impose on the none-religious. Until and unless the religious stop lying about the nature of secularism, falsely depicting it as the ultimate evil, I fear such bigotry will continue to increase.

— Tyler Broker, Above the Law, The False Demonization Of Secularism, July 30, 2019

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4 Comments

  1. Carol Dworkowski

    For atheism, taken as a whole, is not present in the mind of man from the start (Atheismus, integre consideratus, non est quid originarium). It springs from various causes, among which must be included a critical reaction against religions and, in some places, against the Christian religion in particular. Believers can thus have more than a little to do with the rise of atheism. To the extent that they are careless about their instruction in the faith, or present its teaching falsely, or even fail in their religious, moral, or social life, they must be said to conceal rather than to reveal the true nature of God and of religion. –Vatican Council II, Gaudium et Spes, 19

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  2. ObstacleChick

    Technically the US Constitution was written as a secular document supporting a secular government, and the US was the 1st government created to be secular. Some of our European cousin nations have embraced secularism and carried it through their government successfully while others have not.

    The author is correct that those who state that they are nonreligious or more succinctly state that they are atheist are viewed negatively. Even some of my open-minded, liberal friends have recoiled in horror when I told them I was atheist. I explained that I am the same person they have always known, but I no longer believe in deities. It took a bit of time for them to get over it, but the initial negative reaction was telling regarding general notions about non religion and atheism. To evangelicals I am literally perceived as being of Satan, another mythical character in which I don’t believe.

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  3. Steve Ruis

    It is not the hypocrisy of evangelicals which is so abhorrent, but their lust for political power. Christianity has lusted after state power since its beginning. When Rome adopted Christianity, “bishops” of all cuts fell all over themselves sucking up to the Roman emperor, specifically to get “favors.”

    When Christianity became “the” Roman state religion, it used Rome’s state power to suppress all of the “heretical” sects and pagan religions, making sure that Christianity was top dob for the next thousand years in Europe and the Mediterranean. (Of course, Rome extracted a price and that was a pro-Rome stance on the part of Christians and their scriptures, which, of course, morphed into an anti-Jewish stance, largely through the gospel writers.

    It is interesting that the religious groups at the founding of the US understood this, even the few evangelicals around at the time, and agreed that having a state religion was a bad idea (certainly for minority sects). Today’s evangelicals would do well to look at their historical counterparts, but it would probably be futile. Back then they were a small minority, now they think they might just be able to grab the ring the next time the merry-g-round comes around.

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  4. Brunetto Latini

    I’m wondering how many years post-Trump before a sizeable number of evangelicals recognizes the damage they’ve done to their religion. There were exactly 2 I know of who warned about this in 2016: Albert Mohler and Russell Moore.

    I remember when it was big news that members of Falwell’s Moral Majority decide their political activism was detrimental. Didn’t do any good, and I think they’ve screwed themselves beyond repair this time.

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