A nation cut adrift from its own history and identity will not long last. The traditions, beliefs, values and heritage of a nation can be undermined through neglect, revisionism and direct attack. Those seeking to overthrow a culture know they must attack its very foundations, including its religious foundations.
We see this happening all over the West. To speak of Western civilisation has for many centuries now meant to speak of Christian civilisation. They were effectively one and the same. The Judeo-Christian worldview was largely responsible for bringing about Western civilisation.
But today many activists, radicals and secularists are seeking to erase, downplay or simply overthrow those very beliefs and values which have made the West great. Even for all its many faults, no other culture has been its equal in terms of prosperity, abundance, freedoms, democracy and opportunity.
Yet all that is unravelling before our very eyes. Some of it is due to neglect, forgetfulness and laziness on our part. But much of it, as already mentioned, is due to those who hate the West and want to see it replaced with a culture made in their own radical image.
Three recent news items out of the UK nicely illustrate what I am talking about here. Let’s begin with this headline: “Scouts welcome atheists a century after Baden-Powell demonised them”. It begins, “To the founder, Lord Baden-Powell, it was as much a peril for a young man to avoid as gambling, drunkenness, swearing or the wiles of the opposite sex.
“But more than a century after the Scouting movement was founded, it is finally preparing to recognise atheism on a par with Christianity and other religions. The association is consulting its members on plans to draft an alternative oath without references to God, allowing atheists to become full members and Scout group leaders for the first time. It follows accusation of discrimination and intolerance after an 11-year-old boy was barred from full membership because he said he did not believe in God.”
God has served the Scouts well over the past hundred years, but the secularists are intent on destroying anything and everything which has any Christian connection. Of course the odd thing is, while the secularists are working overtime in their war against Christianity, they are often quite happy to be strange bedfellows with Islam.
We often find the secular left acting as apologists for and stooges of the radical Islamists. While condemning everyone and everything associated with Christianity, they go all silent about the real atrocities of Islam. I have discussed this in detail elsewhere: billmuehlenberg.com/2011/10/18/islam-and-the-left/
Thus the secularists of the left abhor the influence of Christianity in the West while they applaud the growth of Islam. Fortunately not all secularists feel this way. One of them, James Delingpole, has recently penned a piece bemoaning the growing influence of Islam in the British classroom.
He even has the courage to entitle his piece, “Treating Islam with special reverence is cultural suicide and just plain wrong”. He begins, “My brilliant niece Freya was talking to my brother the other day about the religious education curriculum at her predominately white, middle-class state school in a pretty English cathedral city. She happened to mention ‘Mohammed, Peace Be Upon Him.’ ‘Eh?’ said my brother. ‘It’s what we’re taught at school. After we mention “Mohammed” we have to say “Peace be upon him”.’
“Now I know what you’re thinking: that Freya must surely have got the wrong end of the stick. ‘If this were a madrassa in Bradford, well maybe,’ you’ll be thinking. ‘But at a white, middle-class state school in a pretty English cathedral city? No way. Things aren’t that bad. At least not yet, anyway…’
“But Freya is not stupid. That’s why, at the beginning, I referred to her as my ‘brilliant’ niece as opposed to my ‘incredibly thick’ one. Apparently, she assures me, they’ve been taught to use the ‘peace be upon him’ formula since Year 7 and though they’re allowed to shorten it to PBUH, they’re definitely not supposed to call him just Mohammed. ‘There’s sometimes the odd snigger when the phrase comes up but we’ve been conditioned pretty much to accept it as normal,’ says Freya. ‘It’s a bit weird, given that there’s only two Muslim kids in my year of 100.’
“I find this scary for at least two reasons. The first is what it says about the death of our national identity. When Freya’s father and I were at school, we had to go to ‘chapel’ once a day, and twice on Sundays. In our scripture classes we were taught all the key bible stories, even to the point of having to learn the names of all the apostles. It didn’t turn us into religious freaks — anything but. What it did instil in us, however, was a sense of history and tradition. Like generations before us we were members of the Anglican Church, familiar with the same tales, the same liturgy, the same hymns and psalms, the same rituals, the same boredom.
“Before the 1980s, I suspect, this was the experience of most British children, regardless of their race or religious background. It wasn’t a question of forcing Christianity down anyone’s throat — merely an accepted part of the fabric of British life.”
He continues, “Mohammed, Peace Be Upon Him? I suppose it would make sense for a non-Muslim to use that phrase were he, say, trying to persuade his Islamist terrorist captors in Mali perhaps or the Yemen not to cut his head off. But since when did it become necessary for white, notionally C-of-E-ish English kids in a middle-class school in a pretty cathedral town?
“I mean it’s bad enough — as I’ve argued — to teach kids to think that their country’s religious traditions no longer really matter. But what is surely unforgivable is simultaneously to teach those same kids that there is one particular religion which matters so much that even when you don’t subscribe to it you must still treat it with the reverence, fear and awe of those who do.
“Why? You can imagine the fuss if at every mention of the name Jesus Christ all children of whatever creed were forced to raise their arms in the air and add ‘Our Lord and Saviour, He is risen, Alleluia’. We ought to be equally appalled, I would suggest, at what children at Freya’s school are being forced to do with regards to the prophet of a rival religion.”
Pretty incisive comments coming from someone who does not even claim to be a believer. But the good news is, there seem to be many other Englishmen like him who have had a gutful of all this. Check out this headline: “Poll: Britain wants to return to its Christian roots”.
The news item says this: “In a nation that is often described as ‘post-Christian,’ a spark of revival might be on the horizon. A breeding ground of Darwinian evolution and atheism – and more recently, spreading Islamization – England has been recognized as falling away from its Christian heritage for generations. But recent survey results released by Oxford University indicate that a large majority is ready for a return to its Christian roots.
“And just how many Brits ascribe to the belief that Christianity should make a comeback? A YouGov poll reveals that nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of the 1,800 participants in the study believe that Christianity should be taught in schools because children need to learn about it in order to understand English history. Furthermore, 57 percent say that learning about Christianity is essential for students so that they can truly grasp English culture.”
Wow, so there is hope yet – at least in the UK. Many are realising that not only has Christianity been an overwhelming force for good in the world, and the primary building block of Western civilisation, but to abandon it does not just keep things in neutral. Plenty of other ideologies, isms, and religions will rush in to fill the vacuum. And not all of them are very helpful or beneficial. Indeed, many of them are downright harmful and destructive.
“Those who neglect history,” said the Spanish philosopher Santayana, “are doomed to repeat its mistakes.” It is hoped that Westerners will start learning their history, and fast, before they lose it all.