The secularists neither eat nor sleep – or so it seems. They are on a search and destroy mission to eradicate the world of religion. And they are happy to use force to achieve their ends. All over the Western world secularist states are increasingly cracking down on religion in the public arena.
They are intent on declaring the West to be officially post-Christian, if not anti-Christian. Examples of this are legion. Consider a recent case, this time from Canada. In Quebec the powers that be are telling the folks: ‘You will be secular whether you like it or not’.
This is how the story runs: “The Parti Quebecois (PQ) is defending its proposed legislation, leaked to media last week, that would ban all religious symbols worn by public employees at work. According to a leaked document published by Journal de Montreal, the long-awaited ‘Charter of Quebec Values’ set to be released this fall, will forbid employees in courts, law-enforcement, schools, hospitals, and daycares from wearing ‘conspicuous’ religious symbols.
“Banned religious symbols will reportedly include turbans, hijabs, kippas, and crucifixes. ‘What divides Quebeckers is not diversity, it is the absence of clear rules so that we can move onward in harmony,’ said Premier Pauline Marois on Sunday to young PQ supporters who met in Quebec City.
“‘To recognize secularism as a Quebec value is to take cognizance of the evolution of a people which, for the past half century, has become increasingly secular and has taken the confessional character out of its institutions,’ she said. While an overwhelming majority of the province’s population identifies itself as Catholic, the 1960’s so-called ‘Quiet Revolution’ has resulted in secular values trumping religious practice….
“In recent years private Catholic schools have been forbidden from teaching Catholic courses on religion and morality. Instead, they have been forced to teach the ‘secular’ and ‘neutral’ world religions course designed by the government. Parents and schools seeking exemption from the course based on religious freedom have consistently failed in their bid.”
The end of the world? No, not in itself. But it certainly is yet another step in the direction of the complete eradication of religion – especially Christianity – in the public square. And as I have said so often before, this does not result in a religion-free situation.
It simply means the religion of secular humanism gets to have pride of place, while Christianity is slowly but surely outlawed out of existence. And as I mentioned, this is happening elsewhere at an alarming pace. A similar sort of thing happened in France some years ago now, but there are differences.
The main concern there of course was – and is – Islam, including security issues, so religious garb and symbols were banned. Jewish and Christian objects fell under this ruling, but again the main concern was the growing Muslim population which was not exactly integrating too well into French culture.
And I have no problems with the call for some of the restrictive and all-embracing clothing which covers Muslim women to be looked at in terms of legislation. Not only in the interests of women, but for very sound security reasons, such laws may have their place.
But what we see happening in Quebec and elsewhere is much different. It really is the insistence that the religion of secular humanism alone should have predominance, and all other competing religious worldviews must be weeded out of the public arena altogether.
And these attempts are not new of course. Whether we look at the Bolshevik revolution in Russia or the French Revolution, the churches have always been the first to be targeted. Speaking of the latter, any decent volume on the French Revolution will highlight the radical agenda of the revolutionaries in this regard.
The attempt to dechristianise things there was an important – and bloody – part of the revolution. Consider the important and massive volume by Simon Schama, Citizens (1989). In it he describes this process in detail. In addition to the obvious (the mass killing of priests and clergy, the destruction of churches, etc.), there was the attempt to fully secularise the nation, especially in the cities.
The Terror was in large part a violent reaction against the church, and the dechristianisation process ran deep in many places. Says Schama, “The churches themselves were often stripped of all sacerdotal objects.” Vandalism took place on “a massive scale”. He explains:
“Altarpieces were slashed, stained-glass windows broken. In Amplepuis, in the Haute-Beaujolais, a liberty tree replaced the crucifix in the crossing of the church. In many other places devotional manuals and hymnals were burned in great bonfires, together with the plaster and wood saints found on every road crossing, crackling and melting in the flames like inanimate victims of an auto-da-fe.”
Even the 600-year-old Cathedral of Notre Dame was not spared. It was renamed the “Temple of Reason” and in November 1793 a large paper-mache mound was erected there, “where Liberty (played by a singer from the Opera), dressed in white, wearing the Phrygian bonnet and holding a pike, bowed to the flame of Reason and seated herself on a bank of flowers and plants.”
As Historian Mark Noll writes, “In Paris, the revolutionaries renamed 1,400 streets in order to eliminate reference to saints as well as monarchs. Priests, Bishops, and other religious were forced to leave their posts. A general effort was made to extirpate France’s age-old connection with the Roman Catholic Church. As Alexis de Tocqueville later wrote, the animus against Christianity knew almost no bounds: ‘In France . . . Christianity was attacked with almost frenzied violence’.”
When we see the anti-Christian pogroms mentioned here, we see the same spirit animating things as we find today in the West. Sure, the overt violence and destruction may not yet be occurring, but the same hatred of Christianity, and the same attempt to fully eradicate it from public life is in full view.
And in some ways this is much more dangerous. They will say, “But you still have your churches. You can still pray. You can still worship privately.” But that is just the point: to strip Christianity of its very public role and place is to destroy it just as effectively as to burn down church buildings.
Christianity has never been, and cannot be, a purely privatised affair. Of necessity it is a public faith with public ramifications. Simply the command to evangelise all nations shows what a public faith it is. But in the West the incremental war on religious freedom and its public expression is now well under way.
So the result will be the same, whether in France back then or Quebec today. A war has been declared on religion in general and Christianity in particular. Every day we are seeing religious freedoms being stripped away from us. The only important question here is: When will the church wake up?
If we do not stand up and start to speak out for religious liberty, it may soon be too late to say anything.