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Secularism foredooms itself.

Reader comment on item: Secularism - Will It Survive?

Submitted by Peter Herz (United States), Oct 16, 2005 at 00:24

Sorry, folks. Although I love the USA and am proud of my service to it, the day the "under God" phrase is dropped from the Pledge of Allegiance is the day I cease to recite it. God alone is worthy of the ultimate allegiance of the rational creature; not a piece of cloth or even the constitution it represents. And as a Christian fundamentalist, I feel that it is not I who would defranchise my unchurched neighbor, but the militant secularists who are bit by bit trying to deny that I am a proper American.

The restriction of religious life to the private and its exclusion from public realms is an utter impossibility for any religion, Abrahamic or other. All require some public space for places of worship, festivals (which may spill into the open air), and the education of their constituencies at the very least. In the end, Joseph Story at the start of the 19th century and David Brewer at its end were probably wiser than Jefferson and the 20th century when they held that the laws of the USA presuppose Christianity (_Commentaries on the Constitution_ and Church of the Holy Trinity vs. US; although both allowed that no single sect is favored). Hence, a re-Christianized and de-secularized America that thinks along lines laid out by those jurisprudents may be what is needed.

The great irony of modern secularism is that such founders as John Locke, Roger Williams, and Thomas Jefferson ultimately show themselves highly provincial products of a civilization that took for granted God giving Moses the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai and, before that, wrote them on the human heart in Eden. Ultimately, there was little difficulty in getting the war-weary of the Episcopalian, Presbyterian, and Congregational faiths that had been at each others' throats in 17th century Britain to agree to live and let live; especially when the Great Awakening made them aware of broad Protestant Christian commonalities. Yet Locke early on reveals the problems of toleration (the first step towards secularization) when his Treatise on Toleration stops shy of granting that boon to Roman Catholics (who are loyal to a foreign power, the Pope) and atheists (whose oaths are suspect since, by definition, they can have no fear of the God in whose name oaths are taken).

Indeed, the challenge of radical Islamicism, which arises in countries where the promises of a supposed secularism fell flat, reveals that secularism indeed has at its heart a fatal dilemma: it supposes it can tolerate anything, and soon finds itself having to tolerate something that cannot tolerate anything other than itself.

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