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Quote of the Day: Are Militant Secularists Trying to Take Over the United States?

Appearing on a radio show hosted by New York Roman Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan last week, Barr tore into church-state separation once more, this time blaming “militant secularists” for a host of problems.

“I feel today religion is being driven out of the marketplace of ideas, and there’s an organized, militant secular effort to drive religion out of our lives,” Barr said. “To me, the problem today is not that religious people are trying to impose their views on non-religious people. It’s the opposite. It’s that militant secularists are trying to impose their values on religious people, and they’re not accommodating the freedom of religion of people of faith.”

When you read something like this, you really can’t help but ask yourself a pertinent question: What planet does Barr live on?

For the past three years, the Trump administration has been laboring to turn religious freedom into an instrument of discrimination, a device to treat some people (LGBTQ folks, women, Muslims and other religious minorities, nonbelievers, etc.) as if they have second-class status.  

This administration has repeatedly sought to deny people access to contraceptives because some bosses claim it offends their religious beliefs. It has backed religious discrimination in taxpayer-funded foster care and adoption programs. It has issued rules that put the most vulnerable members of our society – the poor, the homeless, those grappling with addictions – at risk by stripping away their protections in “faith-based” programs. It has traded in crude stereotypes against Muslims and undermined their right to travel to the U.S. It has argued that government has the right to display towering crosses, the central symbol of the Christian faith, on public property, and charge the taxpayer for it. It kicked transgender people out of the military because the Religious Right doesn’t like them. It supports immersing houses of worship in partisan politics. It has worked to end reproductive freedoms. It told the Supreme Court that taxpayers should be compelled to support religious groups and religious schools.

The administration did these things – yet we’re to believe that “militant secularists” are the problem? That “militant secularists” are the ones trying to force their views onto people?


Barr, like his boss Trump, is a master gaslighter. He repeatedly asserts that things are the opposite of the way they really are. In his strange world, up is down, black is white and you can’t believe the evidence of your own eyes. 

Key to this is Barr’s use of words – and how he defines them. To Christian nationalists, “militant” is anyone who dares to stand up to them and expose their theocratic agenda for the freedom-crushing miasma that it is. And a “secularist” to Barr and his allies must be someone who hates religion.

— Rob Boston, We Are All ‘Militant Secularists’ Now, February 3, 2020


  1. Avatar
    Karen the rock whisperer

    Damn right we militant secularists want to impose our values! Specifically, the values that boil down to: you should not be allowed to f*** up another person’s life without their consent, or at all if they’re not old enough to consent. You don’t get to deny them their rights and freedoms because your religious belief says you should. You shouldn’t get to say who they can love and marry. You shouldn’t get to parcel out rights based on skin color or gender. You shouldn’t get to legislate against scientific consensus when the result ends up harming people, just because your religion denies the science. Whether you should be able to go on and on about whatever your heart desires in the public square, as long as that isn’t actively harming someone–go ahead, I’ll even lend you my soapbox. You can speak against secularism all you want. Hold rallies! Make stupid movies! Wail and gnash your teeth! But mess up other people’s lives? No, I’ve had enough of that.

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    Of course militant secularists are the ones trying to force their views onto other people! We’re taking away religious people’s freedom to force women to carry unwanted pregnancies. We’re taking away their freedom to stop gay people from getting married. We’re taking away their freedom to impose their prayer rituals and their mythology on other students in public school. It’s just as bad as when Lincoln took away Southerners’ freedom to enslave black people. Barr is on to us — we’ve always been the enemies of freedom.

    • Avatar
      Barbara L. Jackson

      In power religious groups like the Catholic Church want to force women to carry unwanted pregnancies. After the child is born, it should then be the financial obligation of the Catholic Church to pay all the money needed to raise that child since they forced their views on another person

      • Avatar
        Karen the rock whisperer

        I’d agree, but in the Middle Ages they sometimes did take responsibility-by letting the baby/child be raised in a convent or monastery, to grow up to become a nun or monk. The church (mosque/temple/etc.), given the chance, can muck almost anything up. (Note that is a comment about institutions, not necessarily about individuals.)

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          Religionists have no right to exercise such power over women regardless of what they do later on. An individual’s body is inviolable, subject to the will of that individual alone.

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    If the Bible is the Sword of the Lord, what shall I call my copy of Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion”?

    So I should just ignore that Christians led the Crusades, that most governments in Europe promoted a state church, songs like “Onward Christian Soldiers”, the children’s indoctrination song “I’m in the Lord’s Army”, pledges to the American and Christian flags as well as the Bible, and the conflation of True Patriotism with True Christianity that we see with Christian Nationalism. Got it. I mean, I’m just a militant secularist over here, WTF do I know about history and religious oppression and stuff.

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    Militant secularists taking over the United States? Not that I’ve noticed. I thought it was just sane people, trying to take it back from the nutcases. Feel free to keep your religion, so long as you don’t get to decide whether or not I have to keep it, too.

  5. Avatar
    dale m

    The “sword of the lord” is a finely crafted wooden sword banging against the secular “Shield of Steel”. I am militant. U know this. But no one, including myself, has ever dropped that shield and picked up the “Sword of Steel”. The “shield of the lord” is also made of wood. Why? Because they instinctively know that we will NEVER hit back. So why make a “shield of steel”? We’re harmless to antagonize and push around and they know it. The “wooden swords and shields” R 2 protect themselves against other “wooden swords and shields” of other religions. If we pick up our “Sword of Steel” it would most likely B wielded against all religions with incredible force!

    I merely point out what happened to European Jews who thought (wrongly), that Holy words would protect them. They never picked up that proverbial “Sword of Steel”. They almost went extinct. I hope we have the balls NOT to follow that same path.

    In Rwanda, the Tutsi did something different after the Hutu killed nearly a million of them. They brought them to Justice under their penal system, thereby associating the perpetrators with the criminal world. They did not take revenge against the Hutu which would have relinquished their moral leadership. They wanted 2 show the world, that the real immorality was with the Hutu leaders and their gangs. That, I thought, was a real measure of finesse.

    BTW, the Jews no longer depend upon their god for salvation. They R now armed with the “Sword of Uranium” !!! No one touches them now with any real serious intent because of their new found uranium god (so to speak).

    • Avatar

      I don’t find the wooden “sword of the Lord” to even be all that finely crafted. Nowadays it mostly rebounds off our “shield of sanity” with pitiful BONK noises, as the ranks of believers shrink and the number of “nones” explodes. The wood is going rotten and moldy.

      Israel got it right. After a millennium of taking all the crap Christianity and Islam could dish out, they’ve made it clear that any more of such nonsense will mean shrooms popping up. So far it seems to be working.

      We’re harmless to antagonize and push around and they know it.

      I wouldn’t advise them to count on that indefinitely. Personally I’m not worried about “moral leadership”. I want revenge — for Hypatia, for Alan Turing, and for every moment in between.

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    This sure sounds like passive-aggressive theonomy to me, with an extra second scoop of pouting for not having religion automatically granted respect simply because it exists. That said, I entirely support and endorse real religious freedom. Which I am not sure if this fine gentleman would recognize, even if he tripped over it in the process of talking about and looking for it.

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    Speaking as a Christian, I believe Attorney General Barr is a liar and a dangerous man who is sold out to Trump (evil incarnate) in the same way that the anti-Christ is sold out to Satan. I have followed Barr’s words ever since he was appointed to his current position. He poses far more danger to traditional American liberty than any so-called “secularist” I have ever known. Where do they find these people?

    • Avatar
      Karen the rock whisperer

      I expect there are a lot of Christians who agree with you about Barr… I guess what concerns me here in the US are the number of Christians who would agree if they thought about it, but have been conditioned not to think about it.

      The ghastly stuff happening in the highest levels of the US government right now can happen because there IS some consent of the governed, and I truly believe that consent is based on miseducation PLUS the willingness of those consenting to not think about the situation and its ramifications. That willingness is conditioned.

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      Yes, Barr is very dangerous. He works within the highest levels of government to force theocracy back upon us. I for one don’t want my grandkids having to pray in school like I did. That’s just one example of the regression our society will see if he has free rein.

  8. Avatar
    Barbara L. Jackson

    The cardinal Timothy Dolan should also be questioned by giving no response against Barr’s idea that secularists are trying to take over the USA. Religious groups who are in power (Christian versus Muslim) already have more rights than the average American. We must keep track of people like Timothy Dolan who are supporting Barr. This is like the expulsion of Jews from Spain.

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    I’m pretty sure the danger is just the opposite, otherwise Mikey Weinstein would be rather bored. Talk about doublespeak when the military has been having a severe problem with fundigelical officers getting the bit between their teeth and trying to impose their brand of christianity on their units.

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Bruce Gerencser