This is a heavily revised and expanded version of an essay that was originally published (under another title) on my now-defunct personal blog.
Over the last centuries, the nations of the West have been both secularized and democratized, moving from monarchy to liberal democracy while at the same time experiencing a dramatic drop in religious faith. As belief in democracy as the best or only legitimate form of government became all but universally accepted, Christianity entered a still-ongoing decline, the occupants of church pews growing ever older and fewer, and the historic beliefs and practices of the Church increasingly seen as a barbarous and outmoded. Today, most Westerners are—at least functionally—atheists, agnostics, or adherents of a vague, wishy-washy “spirituality” which issues no substantial dogmas and imposes no significant duties. To be sure, nominal Christians are still in the majority in some countries, but genuine belief is going the way of the dodo. (My own country, Norway, is an excellent case study. Its Lutheran church was established until 2012, and counted almost 79 percent of Norwegians among its members as recently as 2007. But the attitude of Norwegians—including much of the clergy—and their government towards traditional Christianity has for many years consisted of indifference mixed with hostility.) Data gathered by Gallup between 2006 and 2011 show that the majority of people in most Western European and Anglosphere countries do not regard religion as an important part of their daily lives. And perhaps even more importantly, today’s opinion-makers, be they intellectuals and educators or comedians and columnists, are often not just apathetic towards Christianity, but actively hostile to it. Continue reading
When defending Christianity and its historical record, Christian–and especially Catholic–apologists often seem very eager to point out that yes, terrible atrocities have been committed in the name of the Church. Obviously, this is true–any large institution that has been around for so long is bound to contain all the extremes of humanity–but that should be obvious to anyone who is qualified to operate a blanket. Besides, when the apologist, in the typical manner, simply waves his hand in the general direction of non-specific atrocities, his listeners will probably think of the Crusades and the Inquisition, and the urban legends about them will thus live on. There is no other creed or institution that has to self-flagellate in this way even as it defends itself (keeping in mind that “white” and “European” are not creeds), even though the record of the Church is, if anything, far better than that of any of its competitors. (When was the last time you heard a fan of the “Enlightenment” apologize for the Slaughter of the Vendée?) The enemies of the Church don’t think that, of course, but why should their misconceptions dictate what we are and aren’t allowed to say?
And so, probably, do you. I learned this from Rebecca Searles of the Huffington Post, who recently claimed that you are entitled to call yourself a feminist if and only if your answer to the question, “Do you believe men and women should have equal rights and opportunities?” is “Yes.” Furthermore, says Ms. Searles, if you answer “No,” “you probably suck as a person.” Continue reading
A person’s tendency confidently to impute to non-specific “religion” all sorts of bad characteristics is inversely proportional to his ability coherently to define the term “religion.”
Only because you social liberals were sex-obsessed first. It was only because you lobbied–hard, and ultimately successfully–for the normalization and legalization of (in roughly chronological order) divorce, contraception, cohabitation, abortion, pornography, and homosexuality that we’ve then had to lobby against these things. In this way, “you social conservatives are so sex-obsessed” is the moral and political equivalent of “stop hitting yourself.”
“Church and state should be separate” entails that the Church should have no power over the state, but not that the state should have no power over the Church.
“No religion in politics” means “no religion in right-wing politics.”
If a shoddily interpreted saying of Christ can be marshalled to support socialism, sodomy, or sacrilege, the “no religion in politics” crowd will be the first to jump on the bandwagon.
The intelligence and learning of an atheist is inversely proportional to his tendency to share his atheism with everyone in sight.
(That, at least, is the impression you get if you hang around too long in Youtube comment threads, blog comboxes, or places where undergrads congregate.)
This is a guest post by regular commenter Finn McCool
This very question has been percolating in my mind for many years now. I am a middle-aged man and I have never heard a sermon preached in any church which did not at least tacitly affirm the standard liberal view; i.e. that all discrimination is sinful. You may be wondering if I have any standing that would qualify me to speak on such a delicate subject. Well, I can tell you that I am an ordained presbyter, with orders in one of the conservative “alphabet soup” Anglican groups (e.g. ACC, ACNA, APCK, REC, etc.). I have an M. A. in Theology from a conservative, evangelical seminary, and I have been employed as a Bible instructor in a small Christian high school for close to ten years. I teach the Bible for a living, and in working through the scriptures I am daily reminded that the Triune God of the Bible is far tougher than the Unitarian god in whom “we trust” as Americans.
Someone who accepts (or claims to accept) at least some of the basic truths of Christianity, but who does not regard these truths as the most important truths in the world. In other words, a liberal Christian is someone who accepts (or claims to accept) at least some propositions that are essential to Christianity, but whose basic worldview is not Christian. The liberal Christian puts something other than Christianity first, and Christianity second—at best. Continue reading