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.
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.
In The American Legion vs. American Humanist Association, the Supreme Court considered whether the establishment clause barred a government-sponsored display of a 40-foot cross, known as the Bladensburg Cross, on public land, as a memorial to men of Prince George’s County, Maryland, who had died in World War I. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, applying the well-known and long-derided three-part test from Lemon v. Kurtzman, had held in 2017 that the display unconstitutionally endorsed Christianity and ordered its removal from public land. Seven justices voted to reverse, so the Bladensburg Cross will remain in place. But the case produced six separate opinions, and demonstrated that the court remains starkly divided on fundamental questions about the meaning of the establishment clause. Some aspects of the legal discourse of non-establishment will change, but the standards that will emerge to govern particular questions remain up for grabs.
The Bladensburg Cross opinion appears to be sheer rationalization, in the worst meaning of that word. Those five Justices quite transparently looked for a way to reverse the Fourth Circuit, while rejecting the previous “no endorsement” test. Instead, the court opinion engages in its own form of lawyers’ history and social psychology associated with that test. The court determines that, over time, the predominant Christian meaning of the Bladensburg Cross has been replaced by one that focuses on the “sacrifice” of American soldiers in World War I.
This is a narrative purposely divorced from historical awareness. The Court claims ignorance of any religious purpose behind the choice of a cross as the memorial to soldiers who died in World War I. But commentators in the decades before and after 1920 regularly claimed that the United States was a “Christian nation.” In that cultural and political milieu, choosing a cross as a war memorial directly reinforced the concept of religious nationhood. As the court recites, the dedication ceremony’s keynote speaker proclaimed the cross as “symbolic of Calvary” and fitting tribute to those who gave their lives in a “righteous cause.”
When Jewish soldiers died in World War I, their gravestones were marked with Stars of David. But each such gravestone represented only the person buried beneath it. No one would have thought to use a Star of David as a generic memorial for all in a military cemetery. In contrast, the use of a Cross as a memorial seemed a natural default option.
The Court’s opinion admits to the Christian origin of the Bladensburg Cross, but asserts that some new public meaning has sufficiently muted the uniquely Christian character of the Latin Cross. By some magic of history and tradition, the sacrifice symbolized by the Cross has ceased to be specifically Christian and become far more inclusive. The Court never provides any evidence to support the judgment that the cross is now an historical monument with indefinite religious properties. We strongly suspect that majority preferences and ethno-centrism, not an objective social psychology of symbols, drive such choices.
For years, critics lambasted Justice O’Connor’s invocation of the “reasonable observer” as a way of measuring government endorsement of religious symbols. But the Court’s approach differs only in that it has adopted unreflectively the perspective of Christians in a political majority, without regard to the perspective of others.
The Bladensburg Cross opinion is even worse as a matter of theology. The Court invokes the image of fields of crosses for soldiers who died in the war. For Christians, a cross marking a grave signifies the unique event of Jesus’ death on Calvary and subsequent resurrection by the Father, with a promise of eternal life. The Court declares, however, that the Bladensburg Cross is fundamentally the same as the individual grave markers.
In doing so, the opinion attempts to transform the cross into a more generalized symbol of sacrifice in pursuit of noble causes. The Latin Cross, as a war memorial, symbolizes those lives given in service of our national ideals. This is heresy for Christians, because it suggests that the cross symbolizes all lives given to achieve the goals of a particular nation-state, rather than a unique, redemptive intervention by God in human history.
The Bladensburg Cross opinion thus manages to offend thoughtful Christians without ameliorating the offense to non-Christians, whose memory is supposedly included in any general war memorial. Some Christians may celebrate this decision, but it should instead be mourned as a political misappropriation of the faith’s central symbol.
Anything that is divine and not chained to the affairs of this world is dear to secularism. There is an obsession with everything worldly, with living for itself, with the idea that this world is the only world worth living for. This is the basic idea that has mushroomed into a great number of ideas that are far more threatening and far more harmful than the core belief.
It began with the Renaissance, wherein a renewed interest in humanism called for a greater interest in human achievements—achievements in this world. Since then, this movement has gained traction and has always been evolving and growing—and not harmlessly either.
By calling for turning away from the sacred and the spiritual, secularism heralds a desolate time wherein humans will obsess over their mortal lives. Fending for oneself will become the code of life, and the complex mesh of humankind will be reduced to base survivalist living. Christian values will doubtless be lost, awash in the typhoon of secular urban “welfare.”
In short, everything that is rotten and pathetic about humanity will surface as part of a bigger problem in the near future, all because man decided to break ties with faith and break bread with secular.
Secularists seem so intoxicated on their own notion of “freedom” that they are blind to what unfolds in front of their very eyes: such as just like homosexuality, pedophilia is now being touted as a “sexual orientation.” How long before incest hits the road? How much longer before all concepts of decency and decorum are lost to the wild whims of secular ideas?
One of the basic ideas connected to secularism is that religion and religious doctrine is archaic and deserves to be no longer followed. Secular governments and a “freedom” to do as you please is presented as the alternative, and perhaps on paper everything is as unicorns and rainbows.
However, one should not forget that the loss of religion and religious values comes with the loss of moral values, and of shame. When a society loses its collective notion of shame, it loses the capacity to feel regret, guilt, or apprehension. Crimes become more fervent and widespread, more violent and aberrant.
There is a staggering lack of Biblically-based knowledge and impact in America’s public square. Secularism, Christianity’s chief competitor, thrives solely in the absence of morality, and Christians have handed over the culture and its mountains of influence to those in rebellion against God. Any casual observer will recognize that secularism’s dominance of academia, newsrooms, sports, the Courts, big business, Hollywood, and medicine isa direct result of Christians ‘not doing politics’. It would seem that modern Christianity is ‘not doing education’ either, given that the secular worldview now is being spoon-fed to 85% of America’s youth. Until Christians step into the public square, reestablishing a Biblically-based culture, the ‘sexualization’ and secularization of youth, allied and abetted by Hollywood and media cliques, will continue to bring the nation to ruin.
Evangelicals, conservative Catholics, and Mormons clamor for a Bible-based culture. In their minds, the Bible is the moral and ethical standard by which all of us should live. If only the United States were governed by the dictates of the Bible, all would be well. Several years ago, a local Fundamentalist Christian wrote a letter to the editor of the Defiance Crescent-News (behind a paywall) extolling the wonderfulness of living in a country governed by the Bible. He went on to say that no one should fear Bible-based rule. “Christians,” he said, “only want what’s best for everyone.” Sadly, there are a lot of naive believers who think just like this man; that Christians only want love, joy, peace, and ice cream for everyone. However, history tells us differently; that when church and state are one, blood is shed, people die, and freedoms are lost. And make no mistake about it, theocracy is the goal. Christian apologists might hide their theocratic beliefs with flowery words and philosophical verbiage, but the naked truth is that, in their minds, there is one Lord, lawgiver, ruler, king, and potentate, and his name if Jesus. There is one perfect and infallible law book — the Bible. Knowing these things to be true, perhaps we should ponder what a Bible-based culture would look like?
One need only look at the frontal assault on abortion and Roe v. Wade to see what a Bible-based culture might look like. Anti-abortionists, using an incremental approach, have been chipping away at abortion rights for decades. Their efforts have reached the point of critical mass, and now abortion is effectively and totally banned in numerous states. These bans, of course, are meant to be a vehicle by which to relitigate Roe v. Wade. Now that President Trump has put two conservative pro-life judges on the U.S. Supreme Court, it is likely that the Court will, when given the opportunity, overturn Roe v Wade. This will, then, return the regulation of abortion to the states, and when that happens, many state legislatures will quickly move to ban and criminalize abortion — including abortions in the case of rape and incest. This will not be the end of the matter either. Emboldened by their win, Fundamentalist Christians will demand that birth control be outlawed and public-school students be taught Bible-based abstinence-only sex education. These zealots will also tirelessly work to enact laws that give fertilized eggs constitutional rights — demanding personhood for zygotes. The culmination of their efforts will come when doctors, following the dictates of their conscience, are prosecuted for performing abortions and mothers are arrested and imprisoned for “murdering” their unborn “children.”
Several years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage. The same people who tirelessly worked to ban abortion are the same people who strived to criminalize homosexuality and deny LGBTQ people the same constitutional rights afforded to heterosexual Americans. Don’t think for a moment that these people are sitting at home licking their wounds as they watch lesbian porn. Convinced of the rightness of their beliefs and interpretations of the Bible, these Fundamentalist Christians are plotting to force gays back into closets and recriminalize sodomy and other “perverse” sexual behaviors. Now that the makeup of the Supreme Court skews to the right, I have no doubt that these zealots will do their best to afford the Court another bite at the same-sex-marriage apple. Believing that the Bible condemns homosexuality, theocrats demand and work towards a Bible-based culture where the Good Book®, and not personal morality and preferences, determines who may fuck whom when, where, and how. Failing to fuck according to God’s Holy Word would lead to arrest and imprisonment. And if these theocrats are consistent, they will demand that “sodomites” be executed for their crimes against humanity. This, dear readers, is what a Bible-based culture looks like.
In a Bible-based culture, other sexual “sins” such as adultery and fornication would also be banned. In fact, in the Old Testament alone, there are 613 laws. Of course, no Christian has ever kept all of God’s laws. Most Christians, including those clamoring for a theocracy, regularly and with impunity ignore God-given laws. Can anyone say, HYPOCRITES?! That said, even limiting a Bible-based culture to the Ten Commandments, is dangerous. In both versions of the Decalogue — yes there are two versions and they differ from one another — the Christian God demands total and absolute fealty and worship. According to numerous Bible stories, worshipping other gods was considered a capital crime punishable by death. I am quite sure that if Fundamentalist Christians ever gain the power of the state, the first people rounded up and sent to Franklin Graham Reeducation Camps will be atheists and Muslims. Fundamentalist Christians have a deep-seated hatred for the godless and worshippers of Allah. It chaps their testicles that we roam free on the Internet and in public. Every time the Freedom From Religion Foundation successfully litigates a church-state issue, their email inbox is filled with hate mail from offended followers of Jesus. Imagine these same people having the power of the state at their disposal. In a Bible-based culture, there’s no freedom of/from religion. There’s one God — Jesus — one religion — Christianity — and one lawbook — the Bible.
The next time you hear the cacophony of Fundamentalist Christians demanding the United States adopt a Bible-based standard of behavior, ask them exactly what they mean. Peruse the list of Actions Prohibited by the Bible on RationalWiki, and then ask them if their Bible-based culture would include some or all of the listed prohibitions. I think you’ll find that few zealots really want to live by all of the laws found in the Bible. Damn, talk about a miserable life! No, most theocrats just want to legislate and criminalize the big stuff. What they want, most of all, is a return to the 1940s and 1950s — a time when women were submissive keepers of their homes, people of color knew their place, LGBTQ people were not seen or heard, and the only fucking going on was that between monogamous heterosexual married couples. They want a culture where everyone goes to church, loves Jesus, and school children read the Bible and pray every day. In other words, Christian Fundamentalists want to roll back a hundred years of social progress. Never mind that their vision of a Mayberry-like world exists only in their Bible-sotted minds. Does anyone really believe Andy wasn’t fucking Helen and Gomer wasn’t smoking weed in the gas station bathroom?
The other day, I wrote a post detailing why Evangelicalism is dying. Let me be clear, Evangelicalism IS, most certainly, dying, but it has stage-one, not stage-four, cancer. One need only watch the machinations of Evangelical culture warriors to see that they have no intentions of going quietly into the night. There are times when I tip my cap to Christian Fundamentalists. They know what they are fighting for and are willing to metaphorically and, at times, literally kill everyone who gets in the way of their goal of establishing God’s kingdom on earth. Far too often, liberal and progressives are way too nice and polite. We can learn something from the tactics of Christian zealots: that social progress will only be achieved by stomping the beliefs and demands of theocrats into the ground. Until we understand that we are in a battle for the soul and future of American secularism, we will continue to have our asses handed to us by those demanding King Jesus rule over us all. Way too many secularists, religious or not, sit on the sidelines shooting the breeze while Christian Fundamentalists, in White Walker fashion, wage war against our Republic.
If we don’t wage holy war against theocrats, who will? Passivity is deadly, and if we refuse to fight, we have no one to blame but ourselves when President Billy-the-Baptist and a Christian Congress demand Americans everywhere bow and worship the one true lawgiver, Jesus.
About Bruce Gerencser
Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.
Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.
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America’s secular populace is beyond mere secularism [proof for this claim?]. Over 40% are fully prepared to submit to Antichrist [proof for this statistic?]. A large percentage [again, proof for this claim?] are hedonistic [like John Piper with his Christian hedonism?], anarchist, licentious, have the mind of Satan, promote infanticide, promote or practice sexual perversion, image mutilation [I have no idea what this means. Messing up a photo in Photoshop?] and gender alteration, et cetera [proof for this assertion?]. In short—they are demonic. They have elected politicians that would destroy this nation in an instant [lie] and some are fully involved in that process [bigger lie]. Their hatred for anyone and anything Christian is flagrant, ominous, and explosive [Trump-sized lie].
This quote is from C.H. Fisher is what is commonly known as Grade A bullshit. This is what people say when their minds have been taken captive by right-wing extremism and Fundamentalist Christianity. Fisher is so “pure” that he had to start a church in his home for like-minded zealots.
It concerns me that more than a few atheists dismiss religious beliefs as quaint, silly relics that pose no threat or concern to them. Unfortunately, ignorance and indifference about religious beliefs can and does have catastrophic consequences. One need only to look to the election of Donald Trump to see what happens when religious beliefs are ignored. More than eighty percent of voting white Evangelicals voted for our pussy-grabber-in-chief. Trump, ever the con-man, used Evangelical beliefs about social hot-button issues to his advantage. Trump is no more a Christian than I am, yet he and his handlers knew that exploiting Evangelicals religious beliefs would help them gain the White House. While some Evangelical voters have buyers regret, many of them continue to support Trump, regardless of how many prostitutes and porn stars come out of his closet. All that matters to them is that Trump supports their values and ideals. You see, beliefs matter.
As an atheist, I believe that Evangelical Christianity is built upon numerous lies; namely that the Christian God exists, Jesus is God, Jesus was resurrected from the dead, and that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God. These four lies in particular fundamentally and ruinously affect the lives of those who believe them, especially those who spend decades as Evangelical believers. These lies affect how Evangelicals think about the world and their place in it. These lies affect how Evangelicals view others, especially those who don’t believe as they do. And most importantly, these lies affect how Evangelicals vote and engage the political process.
I am well aware that Evangelicals are somewhat diverse in belief and practice. I also realize that a smattering of Evangelicals hold progressive/liberal values. However, in the main, Evangelicals are united when it comes to the four lies mentioned above. These lies, along with others, are what make them Evangelical. If a person professes to be an Evangelical, yet rejects one or more of the aforementioned lies, then it is fair to say that he or she is Evangelical in name only.
Of these four lies, two of them have the potential to cause the greatest harm. I want to conclude this post by briefly examining these two lies.
First, the lie that Jesus resurrected from the dead fundamentally affects how Evangelicals view life and death. Why aren’t most Evangelicals concerned with global climate change? Why do they show little interest in ending war, famine, and violence? In the resurrection of Jesus, Evangelicals see the power of the Almighty on display. Their God has power over life and death. Their God controls everything, and if Jesus is the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end, and he holds the world in the palm of his hand, why worry about the future? In their minds, God has an unalterable, unassailable plan for everyone. We live and die when God says we do. What happens between life and death is up to God. When you believe your God can do anything, well, anything and everything is possible. No need to worry, the one true God is always on the job.
Jesus, of course, did not rise from the dead. Jesus was human, just like the rest of us. When he died on a Roman cross, he stayed dead, never to rise again. Understanding this fact causes people to behave differently. If Jesus was a mere mortal who lived and died, then there is no hell to shun and heaven to gain. All we have is the here and now. What matters, then, is how we live in the present, knowing that what we do affects future generations, for good or ill. There’s no God coming to our rescue. There’s no God who is going to make our lives brand new. It doesn’t take much imagination to understand how different the thinking is between someone who believes the resurrection lie and someone who doesn’t.
Second, the lie that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God materially affects how Evangelicals live their day-to-day lives. People’s beliefs that the Bible is some sort of divine roadmap or blueprint for life affects the choices and decisions they make. The Sounds of Fundamentalism and Christians Say the Darnedest Things series aptly reflect what happens when people really, really, really believe that the Bible is a direct message to them from God. Why are Evangelicals endlessly up-in-arms over hot-button social issues? The Bible. Why do Evangelicals believe that the United States is a Christian nation and that the separation of church and state is harmful to their faith? The Bible. Why are Evangelicals anti-woman, anti-abortion, anti-birth control, anti-LGBT, anti-gun control, anti-same-sex marriage, and anti, anti, anti? The Bible. From invectives against how women dress to calls for Muslims/illegal immigrants to be sent back where they came from, the justification for such violence against people is found in the Bible.
If we want a better tomorrow, secularists and progressive people of faith must attack and destroy the lie that the Bible is in any way some sort of supernatural message sent to humans by a supernatural God. While the Bible certainly has teachings that have cultural and social value, in the main the Bible remains a Bronze Age religious text that has little relevance for today. In fact, the Bible is one of the most dangerous books ever written. When literally believed, it becomes a weapon with the power to kill and destroy. Religious Fundamentalism (and Evangelicalism is inherently Fundamentalist) harms everything it touches. We must not allow the lie about the nature of the Bible to go unchallenged. Ignoring the power the Bible holds over Evangelicals will only further our democracy’s demise. When people who believe the Bible is divine gain the power of the state, we shouldn’t be surprised when the United States becomes a theocracy. If we don’t want the Christian flag flying over the White House, we must muster every available tool in the secularist, rationalist toolbox to expose the lie that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God.
I realize my words might seem harsh to some of my Evangelical readers. But, recent battles over gun control, abortion, LGBT rights, same-sex marriage, and immigration have taught me that this is not the time to live and let live. If truth is to prevail, then lies must be exposed. If truth really matters to Americans, then exposing Evangelical Christianity for what it is — a religious political party — is essential. All one needs to do is look at the Ohio legislature, Congress, and the Trump presidency to see what believing lies can do. Sitting idly on the sidelines watching Bart Ehrman debates on YouTube or reading the latest, greatest book on atheism is not the answer. Like it or not, non-Evangelicals must educate themselves about Evangelical beliefs and practices. In doing so, we are better equipped to wage war against the cultural genocide being waged in the name of God. One of the reasons I continue to slog through Evangelical blogs, websites, and social media is because I know it is important to do so; not so much for myself, but for my children and grandchildren. By exposing what it is Evangelicals say and do, I shine a light on their absurdities and lies. Just remember, Evangelicals really do believe the words they write and speak. That alone should scare all of us into action.
Remember, beliefs matter.
Takeshi Kovacs is a character in books written by Richard K/ Morgan — Altered Carbon, Broken Angels, and Woken Furies. Altered Carbon was recently turned into a Netflix series starring Joel Kinnaman as Takeshi Kovacs. I watched the first season of Altered Carbon and found it to a delightful, yet complex futuristic drama. I heartily recommend it for your viewing.
About Bruce Gerencser
Bruce Gerencser, 60, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 39 years. He and his wife have six grown children and eleven grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.
Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.
Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.
Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.
Having been an Evangelical pastor for twenty-five years and now a card-carrying member of Satan’s atheistic horde, I have gained a bit of notoriety that attracts people doing studies about clergymen who have left the ministry and lost their faith. I am a rare duck in one respect: most men and women who leave the ministry do so when they are younger. In my case, I was fifty years old before I turned in my ministerial union card. My counselor told me that it is rare for pastors my age to walk away from a lifetime of ministry, even if they no longer believe. (Please read Leaving Christianity: Why I Was an Old Man Before I Deconverted.)
When asked to give interviews or participate in studies, I always say yes. Ever the preacher, I want to tell the good news of atheism far and wide. I want doubting and unbelieving Evangelicals to know that there can be life — good life — after breaking up with Jesus. Last year, Dan Delaney — who was working on his Master of Arts in Sociology thesis at the University of Louisville — contacted me and asked if he could interview me for a study he was conducting. I gladly said yes, and now Dan’s completed study has been published.
Dan recently emailed me to let me know that his study had been published. Here is some of what he had to say:
A lot of very interesting concepts came out of it that I never anticipated. I also had the good fortune of being able to present portions of it at the Association for the Sociology of Religion conference last August, and at the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion conference last November, and it was very well received. Everyone at both conferences was extremely interested in the results. I’m now going to start the arduous process of trying to break this thing down into small chunks to get published as journal articles.
Dan’s thesis is available on the internet. You can read it here. Dan used pseudonyms in his study, so my name is Stephen.
Secular but not Superficial: An Overlooked Nonreligious/Nonspiritual Identity Abstract:
Since Durkheim’s characterization of the sacred and profane as “antagonistic rivals,” the strict dichotomy has been framed in such a way that “being religious” evokes images of a life filled with profound meaning and value, while “being secular” evokes images of a meaningless, self-centered, superficial life, often characterized by materialistic consumerism and the cold, heartless environment of corporate greed. Consequently, to identify as “neither religious nor spiritual” runs the risk of being stigmatized as superficial, untrustworthy, and immoral. Conﬂicts and confusions encountered in the process of negotiating a nonreligious/nonspiritual identity, caused by the ambiguous nature of religious language, were explored through qualitative interviews with 14 ex-ministers and 1 atheist minister—individuals for whom supernaturalist religion had formed the central core of identity, but who have deconverted and no longer hold supernatural beliefs. Te cognitive linguistics approach of Frame Semantics was applied to the process of “oppositional identity work” to examine why certain identity labels are avoided or embraced due to considerations of the cognitive frames evoked by those labels.
Through the constant comparative method of grounded theory, a host of useful theoretical concepts emerged from the data. Several impediments to the construction of a “secular but not superficial” identity were identified, and a framework of new theoretical concepts developed to make sense of them: sense disparity, frame disparity, identity misfire, foiled identity, sense conﬂation, and conﬂated frames. Several consequences arising from these impediments were explored: (1) consequences of sense conﬂation and conﬂated frames for the study of religion; (2) consequences of conﬂated frames for religious terminology; and (3) consequences of the negation of conﬂated frames for those who identify as not religious, not spiritual, or not Christian. Additionally, four types of oppositional identity work were identified and analyzed: (1) avoidance identity work, (2) dissonant identity work, (3) adaptive identity work, and (4) alternative identity work. Finally, the concept of conﬂated frames was applied to suggest a new interpretation of the classic Weberian disenchantment narrative.
Now, I’m glad the Bible’s not a textbook of science like those used in public schools, because it would change all the time. Many ideas have come and gone. For example, most of the evolutionary beliefs used by scientists in the transcript of the Scopes Trial have been abandoned—but God’s Word remains the same. It is the infallible Word of God—the true history book of the universe.
Secularists often accuse us of reading Genesis literally but not other portions of the Bible. We point out that we should read the Bible naturally. There is history (e.g., Genesis), poetry (e.g., Psalms), prophecy (e.g., Isaiah), and so on. Different genres of writing require different interpretative methods. Historical documents such as Genesis are not intended to be taken figuratively.
Secularists also attack Christians for not following Old Testament laws. But most secularists have no understanding of the Old Covenant and New Covenant—and they don’t want to. They want to distort and attack the Word.
I’m burdened for those described in the Bible as “having no hope and without God in the world”, which is why we boldly proclaim truth. My challenge to secularists is this: the evidence of creation is obvious, so “do not be unbelieving, but believing” and “lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light”.
When you reject God’s Word in Genesis and interpret it through the lens of man’s fallible, opinionated word, more and more compromise is sure to follow. You see, when you start compromising in one area of the Bible, it isn’t long before compromise shows up in other areas. My challenge to all believers is this: believe all of God’s Word!
People are born and die, but “the word of our God stands forever” — and no person can ever change that! Secularists can’t change this: “The entirety of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever”.
Many people try to change God’s Word, particularly in Genesis, but “forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven”.
Little by little, the secularists have been outlawing Christianity from the culture. Through misinformation, bullying, and intimidation, they have been succeeding. And because so many Christians have been so secularized by the public education system, they have largely not put up a fight.
And if this trend keeps happening, do you want a picture of where America is headed in the future? Just look at England. …. Warning! What is happening in the United States has already happened in Britain. That’s where America is heading.
I would say the decline is happening for the same basic reason: God’s people didn’t stand on God’s Word from its beginning. In this era, the compromise between evolution/millions of years and Genesis began in England and spread around the world. Really, what’s happened to the church throughout England is actually the outworking of a church that has compromised God’s Word with man’s fallible ideas. Furthermore, the church has largely handed over the education of generations to the state.
This same compromise is rife in the church in the United States. At the same time, generations of children in America have been educated in schools that have increasingly outlawed anything Christian.
I believe this is why the Lord has raised up ministries like Answers in Genesis, the Creation Museum, and the new Ark Encounter. God is using these outreaches to equip Christians to stand against the secular attacks of our day and to challenge (in a very public and bold way) non-Christians with the truth of God’s Word and the gospel.
God has allowed AiG to build the Creation Museum and the Ark because I believe there are many godly people who will take a stand on the authority of the Word of God.
While we still have the freedom to boldly proclaim the message of God’s Word to the world, I pray you will support us in prayer to do whatever we can to embolden God’s people and reach millions with the saving gospel. I urge you to help us to stand against those who would try to completely outlaw Christianity from the culture. ….cc If God’s people don’t contend for the faith, we will see Christianity outlawed even further in our culture! I implore you to stand up for your faith. In a very public way (with an increasing number of scoffers trying to stop us), AiG is contending for the faith through many ministries like the Creation Museum and now the Ark Encounter.
Is Christianity being outlawed? Of course not. Christians are free to worship whenever, however, wherever, with whomever. Christian public school students are free to individually pray and read the Bible in school. Evangelicals are free to send their children to Christian schools or home school them. Christians are even free to build monuments to ignorance such as the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum. Evangelicals are free to evangelize their neighbors and stand on street corners preaching the gospel. Christianity is freer here in America than any other country on earth. Christian ministers get special tax exemptions/deductions, as do the churches they pastor.
Despite freedom of belief, worship, and practice that all Christians (and non-Christians) enjoy, charlatans such as Ken Ham continue to say that their brand of religious Fundamentalism is under attack. Ham says secularists are trying to ban Christianity. Knowing everything that I have mentioned above, how can Ham continue to lie about this? The very fact that Ham can build a damn wood boat on dry Kentucky land and say it is a testament to God’s saving grace is proof that secularists are NOT trying to ban Christianity. Most secularists don’t care about with whom, where, and how people worship their respective deities. Simply put…WE DON’T CARE!
We do, however, care about Evangelical (and Catholic and Mormon) attempts to breach the wall of separation of church and state. We do care when Evangelicals ignore the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, saying that God’s law trumps man’s law. We do care when Evangelicals attempt to sneak creationism and its gussied-up sister, intelligent design, into SECULAR public school classrooms. We do care when Evangelicals wrongly assert that America is a Christian nation and that the Bible should be the law of the land. And most of all, we do care when Evangelicals attempt to hijack local, state, and federal government for their own purposes.
Secularists stand resolutely against ANY attempt to merge church and state. We are students of history, knowing that when church and state are one, freedoms are lost and people die. If anyone is a threat to America and human freedom and liberty, it is theocrats such as Ken Ham. Does Ham want more or less freedom for those who do not share his religious sentiments? Less! Does Ham support the wall of separation between church and state? Does Ham think people should be free to live godless, heathen lives? Does Ham think consenting adults should be free to do sexually as they please? Does Ham support fairness, justice and equal protection under the law for all? No, on all counts. It is Ham and his Fundamentalist horde who want to rob Americans of their freedoms, not secularists. The real enemy, Ken, is You!
What will be the final death stroke for America? From one perspective, only God knows what instrument of death He will use to bring about America’s demise. There are a number of powerful international leaders (along with some in our country) who are collectively working untiringly to bring about the final death blow to America. For America seems to be the last bastion of morality, truth, absolutes, and the dignity of liberty remaining on the earth. It is the final obstacle against a long-desired New World Order. Many ideological diseases have been inflicted upon this nation to weaken its strength. The strong man has been bound from within; we are now witnessing the death of this strong man. But amidst the counsel of the wicked, only God will bring the final death blow to America. His judgment will be because of our overwhelming sins and our covenant with the Prince of Darkness.
We have observed the rise and fall of communism, and the implementation of socialism within this country. We have also observed the trilogy of God giving up a society according to Romans 1. But another aspect to be addressed is the acclimatization of America to secularism. …. When Liberalism and Modernism made their debut during the mid-1800s, they created a destructive force against the Bible’s literalness; this attack in return destroyed the authority of the Bible in man’s thinking. Thus, in time it destroyed the place of God’s presence and authority in man’s living. These were the early stages of secularism. Once such a reality was evident among the leaders of the Church, the momentum of secularism over-whelmingly increased.
Charles Robert Darwin brought another dimension to the process through his presentation of evolution. Although evolution had been known through the writings of Lamarck, Darwin added a philosophical context to the view that went on to permeate not only science but also all of the social sciences. By the mid-1900s, after the forces of Neo-Orthodoxy through Existentialism kept pounding away at the literalness of the Bible, Radical Theology gave its contribution to secularize the secular. It called for the “death of God” in everything including religion. Even John Robinson in his writing Honest to God called for a secularizing of religion. Neo-Evangelicalism brought the conservative church closer to the world’s thinking by doing away with biblical separation. Following hard on its heels was the Charismatic movement which made the feelings of man equal or even synonymous with the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.
We cannot blame the world for secularism; it has been the mutating of error within the Church that has cast God out. The Laodicean Church Age, because of its emphasis upon prosperity and physical health, has become a Christless church; its embrace of the secular has become more powerful than the spiritual. Most Christians today have no vision for God; such a vision certainly is not evident in secular society. Western civilization no longer has any remote concept of who God is, what He is, and how He acts. Outside the walls of the church God is absent and obviously omitted. People are crying out today that if God did exist why would He allow all of the violence that is found throughout the land. Well, we must remember the courts banned God from our schools; therefore, we cannot blame Him for what is happening. The daily newspapers have their society pages, their sports page, their entertainment section, and even the religious section. But nothing is said about God. The media through television and cinema are conspicuously silent in their treatment of God. Such silence about God reigns in all of the sit-coms while the sodomy theme pushes the envelope of the final frontier of immorality in the media.
The contemporary view of the supernatural is now through the eyes of Harry Potter, where it is evident God is not to be found in his supernatural world. The primer of God consciousness that was found in most children is now being interpreted through the occult. The present generation is allowing nothing to have the presence of God; nothing is allowed to speak of God unless it is in a damning way. Everything in our contemporary which speaks in the schools, in the medical world, in the entertainment world, the science world, the art and music world, and even from the religious world have all labored at keeping God out of the conversation. America has been secularized in its lifestyle and philosophy. The secular world has become secularized. We are in the final throes of its acclimatization before the coming of Christ and Antichrist. …. There are other symbolic powers that may become part of the dismantling of America in the providence of God (which we will discuss in the next issue of Straightway). We now face a presidential election like none before, which may plunge us into the final destruction of our nation (as we have historically known it). We will be thrust into a greater global interdependence that could result in a complete global takeover. There is also the total collapse of morality in our country that has become such an aggressive, terrorist force that it is contributing to an emotional retaliation among the grass-roots of society; this unrest could easily lead to a mutinous rise against the government producing wide-spread disintegration of the fabric of America. Yes, there are a number of scenarios that God could use, even the combination of a number of them, to bring about the final judgment of our once beloved country. The Secretary of State John Kerry pressed in his recent address to the graduates of Northeastern University the hope of the coming New World Order. One of the aspects he announced was the hope of a “borderless world.” The Utopians of our day have promised a “Land of Canaan” in a world without God. This is their vision, their dream, and they are calling upon the world to imagine such a world without God and religion.
May God bring us through these troubled and perilous times. Our only hope is for the Lord to come and take His waiting people home to heaven, knowing that one day we will return to this earth with Christ Who will rule with His saints. This is the New World Order for which we are watching and waiting.
This is the fifty-fourth installment in The Sounds of Fundamentalism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section. Let’s have some fun!
Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism is a clip taken from a Pat Robertson interview of Jerry Falwell. These words were uttered two days after 9-11.
What follows is a video produced by Tim Wildmon and the American Family Association. This video purports to “explain” to Fundamentalist zealots the true nature and ideology of secular progressivism. What the video really does is show that Wildmon and his costars either know very little about secularism and progressivism or they are deliberately lying in hopes of providing yet another red meat meal for culture warriors. My money is on the latter. This video is 3 minutes long. Enjoy!