- Religion and Philosophy»
- The Role of Religion in History & Society
Militant Secularism in America
What secular fanaticism would actually look like
Christians often complain of secular fanaticism infringing on their rights as Americans. Is there anything to this? Dennis Prager, a prominent Jewish religious conservative, seems to think so (writing in the National Review):
The Islamists impose sharia law; the ACLU, and the Left generally, impose secular law. The Taliban wiped out public vestiges of Buddhism in Afghanistan; the ACLU and its allies seek to wipe out public vestiges of Christianity in America... America is indeed as endangered by the ACLU as the Muslim world is by Islamists.
Dennis Prager notwithstanding, true secular or anti-Christian militancy does not exist in the US. To see why, let us put things into perspective and imagine an America where "militant secularism" or "secular fascism" really did exist.
A militantly secularist America
Actual secular fanaticism would probably look something like this:
Roving bands of anti-Christian activists setting fire to, or bombing churches and private Christian schools.
Fights, assaults and murders being committed by atheists and anti-religionists against Christians on a regular basis (currently there are none).
Large numbers of Christian religious officials, priests, ministers, pastors and others regularly being rounded up by police and military forces on questionable charges, and sent away to prison or labor camps for far longer than non-Christians accused of the same charges.
Much lighter sentences imposed on police officers that are caught abusing, beating up or killing Christians, Christian officials, churchgoers, Christian advocates and Christian missionaries than cops that victimize non-Christians.
Much slower legal process applied when Christians are the victims in a crime (murder, theft, rape, assault, etc), and lighter sentences or no convictions given to assailants who have harmed Christians, versus assailants charged with the very same crimes against non-Christians.
A ban on specifically Christian symbols—but allowing other religious symbols—in public places. A ban on Christian symbols altogether, including on private property or in private homes.
Banning the production, circulation, selling or purchasing of Bibles, or other literature written by Christian theologians, religious officials, intellectuals, professors and other writers.
Regular police raids of schools, homes, universities and churches to round up and destroy copies of the Bible and other Christian-written or Christian-inspired works.
Government censors banning the uttering of key words such as “Christ,” “Jesus,” “Cross,” “Church,” “Salvation,” “God,” or “Sin” on television, radio or the internet.
The state mandating that specific non-Christian texts be stored and used in churches, Christian theological seminaries and private schools. These texts would include books from other religions, or books critical of Christianity in particular.
Public schools being banned from making any reference to Christianity or Christian beliefs in their lessons, but allowed to reference those of other religions.
Specific Christian customs and traditions such as baptism, Christian weddings, Christian funerals, or Christian prayer events being restricted, gutted of their significant features or qualities, or banned altogether.
Political leaders, chiefs of police, judges and military officials regularly and frequently denouncing Christianity in the most hateful and violent terms.
Atheist legislators would pass laws that restrict Christian movement and speech, specifically:
- Laws that ban Christians from using the public airwaves with radio or TV (currently there are countless Christian TV and radio programs).
- Laws banning the construction of new churches in large sections of the country.
- Laws that prevent Christians (and only Christians) from demonstrating or advocating on the street, or in public spaces.
- Random laws that are enforced more strictly for Christians, Christian households or Christian-owned businesses than for non-Christians (zoning laws, traffic and parking violations, labor regulations, minimum requirements for mortgages, business loans, car loans, insurance laws, and other large purchases).
- Higher income taxes, property taxes or business taxes levied on Christians and Christian-owned businesses.
- Police officers arbitrarily shutting down churches and arresting pastors and ministers as they give sermons, speeches or demonstrations in public places.
- Laws restricting the number of people a single church or Christian school can contain; for example, no church would be allowed to have more than 75 people inside it at any given time.
- Laws arbitrarily restricting the number of students that can be admitted to Christian primary or secondary schools, or to Christian universities.
- Laws creating more red tape and making it more difficult to start a specifically Christian charity or nonprofit organization.
- Laws restricting the activities of Christian charities and nonprofits, both within the country and outside the country. These laws would be unique to Christian organizations, and would not be imposed on non-Christian ones.
These kinds of measures are what we would expect to see if Christian oppression was a reality.
Oppression of Christians?
Many American Christians are just thin-skinned wimps. If they don’t enjoy total unchallenged domination over the public square and preferential treatment under the law, they whine and complain they are being “oppressed” and “marginalized.”
Enforcing the constitution, the value of separation of church and state, and religious freedom does not constitute secular “fanaticism.” Using freedom of speech to advocate what one believes (or does not believe) about God, or the existence thereof, does not constitute secular fascism. Perhaps if many Christian activists understood what anti-Christian oppression really looked like, what their brethren in places like India, Pakistan or Saudi Arabia go through on a regular basis, they would have a better grip on reality.
Until then, try not to criticize the Bible in public. It might offend somebody.