Saturday, 4 June 2016

Aggressive secularism

Aggressive Secular 'Religion'

Today's post is out of the order I had in mind. This comes about because of two insightful but disturbing opinion articles in yesterday's “Australian” newspaper, which I read.

Both are by self-declared Roman Catholic writers. So they are approaching the problem from that particular perspective. They also then tend to conflate Christian faith with the institution of the church. Given that I differ from them in these respects, they have expressed very well the ideas that have been shaping up in my own mind.

The first is by Greg Sheridan, the paper's foreign editor. For those who would like to read the full article. It is online at:

His premise is that a new religion has swept what I have been calling “the West”. Extremely aggressive, intolerant of other viewpoints; it is modern secularism.

In his own words:

In Western Europe, on the east and west coasts of the US, and in Australia, the new religion of aggressive secularism is on the rise, more self-confident and fundamentalist than ever.
Widespread, prolonged affluence has been more effective than oppression ever was in killing religious belief and practice. To take one figure almost at random, in 1954, 74 per cent of Australian Cath­olics attended mass each Sunday. Today the figure is substantially less than 10 per cent.
The churches cannot recognise and come to grips with their strategic circumstances. They behave as though they still represent a living social consensus.
They remind me of South Vietnam’s government in 1974. It over-estimated its strength and tried to hang on to all of its territory, including the long narrow neck of its north. It did not retreat to its formidable heartland in the south, which would have been vastly more defensible. Had it done so, it might have survived. Instead, the next year, the armoured divisions of North Vietnam invaded and Saigon lost everything.
Across the past 120 years, the Christian churches in Europe and Australia have lost every significant, long-term battle about social norms and legal measures to underpin them.
Consider just a few: birth control, no-fault divorce, abortion, Sunday trading, blasphemy, film and television standards, same-sex adoption and soon same-sex marriage, and no doubt euthanasia and much else. On some of these issues it was right that the churches lost. In these 120 years no victory was ever more than a temporary slowdown in secularism. While there seemed to be many tactical wins, the war was lost. In each case, the church misunderstood the extent and nature of its support and the long-term threat it faced.”
And pointing out that the secular religion was not going to tolerate competition from Christianity :
The real danger now is the increasingly frequent direct attacks on religious freedoms. The Greens have called for an end to the exemption for religious bodies from the operation of anti-discrimination laws. This is a direct assault on religious freedom and indeed freedom of association. Christian schools would not be able to insist on hiring Christian teachers.
Yet no one imposes such restrictions on other bodies, such as political parties. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews [a semi-socialist] is not required to offer equality of employment opportunities to Liberal Party [conservative] members when he hires a press secretary.
The aggressive secularism of public culture has become increasingly a state religion in itself and will use the coercive powers of the state to enforce its new orthodoxy. Thus Tasmania’s Anti-Discrimination Commissioner was willing to hear a complaint against the Catholic Archbishop of Hobart for circulating a pamphlet of the Australian bishops entitled Don’t Mess with Marriage.
People should read this document. You could not imagine a more temperate, mild and respectful stating of the traditional Catholic view of marriage as being between a man and a woman. It stresses the inalienable dignity and respect with which every human being should be treated and opposes any discrimination against gay people. But in its view marriage is between a man and a woman.
The complaint was eventually withdrawn. But the fact it was entertained at all is a sure sign of the future. The process itself is the punishment. The process is designed to intimidate. Soon, apparently, it will be positively illegal for Christian churches to publish their traditional teachings.
The intolerance of Australia’s secular religion, which adds to legal harassment the effective tactic of ridicule and endless public abuse, is evident.”

On the same page appeared an article by Angela Shanahan, who in her regular contributions describes and shows herself a devout Catholic.
Her article concerns the innocently named “Safe Schools” program, which is about to be made compulsory in all schools by the State government. And that the concern is not that Roz Ward who led its development is a Marxist, but the damage it will do. It pretends to be be anti bullying but is transparently aimed at sexualising children from a young age and at that biasing them against heterosexuality. Objections by parents and churches have been summarily dismissed as “bigoted”. The point of crossover with Sheridan's article is where she details the targeting for destruction of the social institution of the family by what is in Sheridan's words the new secular religion.
The issue was the damage that could be done by an extreme philosophy of gender fluidity and sexual libertarianism now embedded in the school curriculum. However, that Ward is a self-confessed Marxist is no great surprise. After all, where did all those Trotskyist activists at university in the 1970s go? They went into the environmental movement, the extreme feminist movement, and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex lobby groups. They undermined the old Labor movement with its roots in the working-class family and formed a new set of green-left alliances to push their barrows. Within that ­alliance they can keep on deconstructing, breaking down social pillars.
And the strongest social pillar is, ironically, the family, the same conservative family from which the Labor movement originally sprang. The natural family is the No 1 enemy of every extreme ideology. Even today in Marxist societies the family plays second fiddle to the state. The state instructs and controls the family, not the other way around.”
The queer gender theory that much of the Safe Schools program is based on is about breaking down the heteronormative view of the world and the natural binary view of sex. It is destructive of the natural family.
find the article on:
Linking back to the ideas I have taken from Hayek that morals are evolutionary in the sense that societies with ones that allow the necessary cooperation and coexistence of humans to function better eventually dominate; I would add social institutions to the list. For a start, the Family. Also though maybe down the list a bit, churches. Once you start knocking down the pillars that support our modern extended and complex society what do you think will happen?

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