By Olivia Pierson
[First published on Incite 5/10/18]
A little book found its way into my hands the other day, titled Turn the Tide – Reclaiming Religious Freedom in New Zealand. It has been copyrighted by “The Barnabas Fund” and is available for download through the website OurReligiousFreedom.org.nz.
The book has a central concern that Christianity is becoming subject to increasing discrimination which the writer calls ‘Christianophobia.'
Based upon the Casey Review, a study set up in 2015 to look into what the UK government should do about ethnic and religious minorities who fail to integrate into British society, the book cites case studies from within the UK that warn about hate speech laws (being arrested in Bristol for preaching the Gospel out in the open), compulsory registrations for Sunday Schools, a new “Test Act” requiring holders of public office to swear an oath expressing support for “British values” (including gay rights and abortion rights) and prohibiting certain actions, one of which is stated as “undesirable teaching.”
This, understandably, has Christians, who happen to be aware of it, feeling very nervous, though it is clear to me the Casey Review was set up not to deal with an imaginary Christian problem, but with a very real Islamic problem. So in order to be seen to be fair -minded (and perhaps politically correct), Dame Louise Casey has in her review, on occasion, lumped Christians, Jews and Sikhs in with Muslims, as if Christians, Jews and Sikhs are also some kind of threat to British society.
[8.34.The Casey Review 2016] “There are examples of inequality and intolerance in other ethnic and faith groups, with concerns expressed to us during the review about increased Sikh extremism (for example in disruptions to mixed faith couples’ weddings), the treatment of women in some strictly Jewish Orthodox communities (with children reportedly being taught that a woman’s role is to look after children, clean the house and cook) and newer Christian churches (with activists seeking to ‘cure’ people of homosexuality). All such instances undermine integration and should be challenged. We also came across examples of literalist interpretations and advice that we do not believe is happening everywhere but it does exist and, wherever it does, it is wrong.”
[9.13.The Casey Review 2016] "Such intolerance is in no way restricted to Islam. Many British residents are acutely aware of the ethno-nationalist violence in Northern Ireland, which is entangled in sectarian divisions between Catholicism and Protestantism. While we do not deal with the conflict in Northern Ireland in this report, it is hardly possible to discuss Islamic sectarian violence without noting the long running impact of Catholic- Protestant tension throughout the last decades of the 20th Century and the potential to learn lessons from it. "
It is utterly absurd on its face to lump Christian, Jewish and Sikh practices in with Muslim practices. Just how many terrorist attacks have Christians, Jews and Sikhs unleashed on the people of merry England in the last 20 years? You would struggle to think of one. How many terrorists attacks have Muslims unleashed in those same 20 years? You’ve already thought of at least five…and counting. Terrorism today has one religion and its name is Islam. Let’s just be honest about that without needing to regurgitate last century’s terrorism by the Irish Republican Army. That’s well and truly over and took an immense amount of years and political negotiations to end it. Islamic terrorism is another beast altogether - a Trojan Horse to be precise - and one that the Western world stubbornly failed to recognise as an enemy inside the gates. This problem is only just getting going and should not be watered down by empty platitudes to search for faults in other religions, when those religions are not presenting themselves as any kind of egregious threat.
Turn the Tide draws its foundational principle for religious freedom from the 13th Century "Magna Carta":
“The English Church shall be free, and shall have its rights undiminished, and its liberties unimpaired.”
Written 561 years before America’s founding, one can still hear the echo of Magna Carta’s phrasing in Thomas Jefferson’s enlightened pen as he sought to synthesise the many different denominations of Christianity inside Virginia while writing his Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom:
“…but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of Religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge or affect their civil capacities.”
My only criticism of Turn the Tide lies in the fact that it names ‘secular humanism’ as the arch-enemy of Christianity and the belief system which is eroding our culture. This is often thought by Christians, but it’s not accurate. The antithesis of Christianity is postmodern philosophy, the philosophy of anti value – a.k.a., nihilism.
Postmodernism also happens to be the antithesis of humanism because it utterly despises reason.
Christians see humanism as its ideological enemy because humanists are usually atheists. They’re atheists because there exists no empirical evidence for Theism. But humanism has a long tradition of emphasising human dignity and reason – objective thought – over mere superstition and dogma. Petrarch (1304 AD) was the father of Renaissance humanism. Erasmus of Rotterdam (1466 AD), one of the Reformation’s early instigators, was a Renaissance humanist and Thomas Paine, the Deistic, fiery revolutionary of early America was also a humanist.
So just to clarify definitions here:
Theist = an interventionist God who cares about each and every person on the planet and answers prayers.
Deist = a non-interventionist God who may have been the first cause of Creation but doesn’t concern Itself with the petty details of human existence.
Atheist = no God at all, there is only nature to contend with and it is highly doubtful that consciousness survives the death of the body (encapsulated quite beautifully by Shakespeare in The Tempest: “We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.”)
Humanists had an early creed which held that all things were within the human experience and man was the measure of all. It was expressed in this dictum:
“Homo sum: humani nihil a me alienum puto,” - I am a human being: and I deem nothing pertaining to humanity as foreign to me.
The early Renaissance humanists, such as Petrarch and Erasmus, elevated the study of classical antiquity, drawing heavily from Cicero over a millennia after his death. Central to the study of humanism were the writings of the ancient Greek philosophers: Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, Lucretius and Aristarchus.
Humanism placed a premium on the value of human reason and natural philosophy, which if applied rigorously could discover the universal laws locked inside the workings of nature, which believers - and the Renaissance humanists were believers - considered to be the handiwork of the Creator. By the time that the thunder clap of the Enlightenment rumbled around Europe, humanism was in full swing and was constantly drawing distinctions between religion and reason. The phenomenal advancement of science and technology was the result due to reason and empirical evidence carrying the day.
But the grotesquely ugly philosophy of postmodernism came to dominate the 20th Century and is with us in the early decades of the 21st. Postmodernism sought to turn culture upside down through its formulation of ‘critical theory’...(which means absolutely nothing except value nothing!) Critical theory attacked primarily the arena of human reason infecting everything it came into contact with: art, music, architecture, education, morals, ethics, the family, feminism, culture and sex. Critical theory succeeded in this by holding moral relativism as an absolute, even though with postmodernists, they claim there are no absolutes. If there is one aspect to human beings that postmodern philosophy set out to smash beyond recognition, it was the realm of human reason.
Western civilisation has a wonderfully complex history, but its essential trajectory came from the philosophies of Athens, Jerusalem and Rome. In other words: Greek logic, Judeo-Christian morals and Roman jurisprudence. These became integrated in the Renaissance, spreading throughout Europe (thanks to the invention of the printing press), and were then refined and enshrined in the Constitution of the American Republic during the Enlightenment (1776).
Postmodern thought detests the tradition of Greek logic (because all things are subjective and relative; truth cannot be known). It considers Roman jurisprudence to be patriarchal and oppressive (because all things are subjective and relative; it’s wrong to make judgements about anything)... and it utterly despises Judeo-Christian morality for its societal order with strong family ties (because all things are subjective and relative; there is no such thing as a moral absolute). The only condition postmodern thought actually defends to the point of violence is Chaos. Postmodernists are the cultural Marxists who are anti-values in every single respect. They’re anti-capitalist nihilists who wormed their way into universities, government bureaucracies, schools, theatres, films and books. Their chaotic, anti-values influence is what has eroded our culture.
Secular humanism too often gets the blame from Christians, but really - and I know this sounds strange - humanists and Christians, despite their monumental metaphysical differences, are very much on the same page when it comes to earthly values. Humanists, like Christians believe in morality and ethics (for the humanist, the good life and human flourishing, not the dictation of an abstract deity, is the standard of value). Humanists believe strongly in a society built around justice and objective moral judgements, since the human mind is highly capable of determining these important matters. Humanists also value order and strong family values because it is within this context that the best springboard into life naturally occurs.
Postmodernism would blow all these values to hell in a heartbeat, and it has, and it does, for that is exactly what we are witnessing within their natural political home – the Left – as it scrabbles around to keep pushing their agenda of anti Western civilisation.
As an atheist and a humanist, I would rather be friends with the value oriented Christian than a fellow atheist who displays a postmodern thought process (i.e. no rational values at all). To the postmodernist there is only one thing I wish to scream at them with full-throated conviction - and that is, “Get thee behind me Satan!”
If you enjoyed this article, please buy my book "Western Values Defended: A Primer"
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