Solzhenitsyn predicted it. In his famous 1978 Commencement Address at Harvard, A World Split Apart, he chose not to pander but to tell the truth that a secularized, left-leaning intellectual elite did not wish to hear. He assessed the spiritual and moral health of the West and found it wanting.
He told us that, while the Western democracies opposed the political and economic systems of tyranny that held sway in the USSR, the conditions that undermined the moral foundations of the Communist world and made it possible for governments to enslave their populations were being recklessly replicated in the West: materialism, legalism, a false view of freedom as will-to-power, and, most important of all, atheism. For Solzhenitsyn, the tragedy of Soviet totalitarianism is not caused by misguided men choosing to implement a flawed economic or political model, as if a few tweaks could rectify the situation. No, the source of tyranny lies deeper and on this deeper level the West is sliding toward the materialistic humanism that always trends left.
This analysis explains why the Christian Church in Europe and North America is under attack today. The Church, along with the Family, are obstacles to the total rule of the “progressive state.” The Church impedes the full triumph of the neo-Pagan religion of Secularism and the enshrinement of the All-Powerful Leviathan as the source of law, value and power.
In the United States, the Obama administration is trying to force Catholic (and Evangelical) colleges, hospitals and social service agencies to dispense contraceptives, including abortion poisons, to its employees. Is the reason a desperate lack of access to contraception in the United States? No, hardly, it is rather an attempt to break the will of the Church hierarchy and to send the message that Caesar decides doctrinal issues, not the Bishops. No one should doubt that if they get away with it, sometime in the near future they will be forced to pay for abortions. They may stop at forcing bishops into abortion clinics to personally assist in late-term abortions, but in principle there is no limit on their power to do so, from their point of view. Forty-three Catholic organizations are suing the federal government and stand a good chance of winning.
In Ontario, Catholic schools are being forced to allow student clubs celebrating the glories of sodomizing one another in plain contravention of Church teaching. Why? Because the forces of secularism wish to provoke the Catholic bishops to either capitulate to the principle that the State now decides what doctrine may be taught in what context or else provoke the Church to fight back, which will provide a pretext for defunding Catholic schools and bringing all education under Caesar’s control. It is thus a win-win for secularism.
In New Brunswick, Crandall University is under attack for holding to 3000 years of Judeo-Christian moral teaching on sexuality by making it a condition of employment that faculty not engage in adultery, fornication and, oh yes, homosexual acts. As I predicted years ago, the attack is coming from the students, who, shaped by 12 years of pro-sexual revolution, secular humanist education, expect the university to conform slavishly to its secular environment because, well, dissenting from the majority is just so inconsistent with critical thinking . . . or something like that.
In Great Britain, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, is warning that Christians are being “vilified” and “driven underground” by secularist forces intent on removing the right of Christians to express their long-standing, orthodox beliefs in public. A specific list of cases can be found here, which is far from exhaustive. As one example, a counselor was fired from her job for failing to give two homosexuals “sex advice.” Who knew that homosexuals were actually dying for sex advice from up-tight, traditionalist Victorian prudes? You don’t suppose it might have been political, do you?
If Christianity is under assault all over the Anglosphere, you can be sure that is not because people want more religious freedom. They want the same amount of religious freedom but with Christians on the receiving end of persecution, which is to say that they want the neo-Pagan religion of Secularism to be the State religion instead of Christianity. The shift that occurred in the fourth century under Constantine and later Theodosius is being reversed. The pagan morality of ancient Greco-Roman civilization is making a comeback as humane, just, merciful Christian laws are reversed one by one. Christian Pregnancy Help Centers are the contemporary equivalent of first century Christians going out to the garbage dump of Rome to rescue unwanted infants abandoned to death by pagan parents.
This suggests that liberal toleration does not work when leftist, secular, materialistic, atheistic activists are concerned. They don’t want toleration; they want to stamp out Christianity. But Solzhenitsyn told us this was the case. To reject God is not the same as being neutral toward God; those who reject God crave social approval to replace the Divine approval they have forfeited. They need their false god – the State – to smile on their lifestyle choices and the emphasis is on the word “need.” This makes secularism dangerously intolerant – like a number of other threats the free peoples of the world have had to face including Islam, Communism and Fascism.
We managed to see off Fascism in 1945 and Communism in 1989, but Islam is a perpetual external threat as it has been for 1400 years. It is not difficult, however, to see a spiritually healthy West continuing to stand up to Islamic terror. But the internal threat from Secularism is more serious than all the other ones combined. This is how vibrant civilizations die: by a thousand self-inflicted wounds from within, not by external conquest. Solzhenitsyn was prophetic about our plight; our fate, however, is still undecided. May God, if it be His will, grant a revival of Christian faith in the West that puts atheism and secularism in the shade. If not, God will still be God regardless of what happens to the West.
Cross-posted at The Politics of the Cross Resurrected.