Monday, June 03, 2013

A Secularized America Is Not Inevitable

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In our current march toward a secularized culture in America, those who carry the banner for such a state, assure our children in the government run classrooms we have crossed the threshold.

The indoctrination includes "proof positive" that as people become more educated and prosperous they no longer need the restraints of religion and biblical values.

And church leaders talk and write books about how the church should respond to our "Post Modern," secularized society.

Friday, I wrote a Blog focusing on how a strong majority of Americans agree that America's morality is getting worse and although a majority also believe that religion's influence is diminishing, they feel America would be better off if more people were religious.

Certainly in education it is assumed that we have arrived at the tipping point in secularizing America, and unfortunately too many churches may have also made that assumption.

But is this supported by the facts? Is a completely secular America inevitable?


Here's why.

Mary Eberstadt, a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, says neither the continual decline in religion or the complete secularization of the culture is inevitable.

In her newly published book, "How The West Really Lost God: A New Theory Of Secularization," she makes a case that stands with the facts and with history---- both of which say secularization of America is not inevitable.

If you care about such things I recommend you read the book.

She told the Heritage Foundation last week that many are advancing theories that religious decline and secularization in America is inevitable, "However, the going theories are wrong," she said.

So what are the going theories?

Philosopher Charles Taylo in his book, "A Secular Age," asks why in Western Society it was "virtually impossible not to believe in God in say 1500...while in 2000 many of us find it is not only easy, but even inescapable?"

He says the most popular explanation comes from the "New Atheists." They say that Western Society "outgrew" its need for God. The Enlightenment and scientific developments of the past 2 centuries offered alternative explanations for the world around us, which in turn, made the Christian story seem less plausible.

Another "going theory" is that increasing prosperity and levels of education are responsible for the advancement of secularization of the culture.

An echo of this explanation could be heard in the infamous 1993 comments made by the Washington Post.

The Post first profiled the Catholic church:

"The reason so many Catholics have lapsed, is that Catholic loyalty was once based on family pressure, ethnic neighborhoods, and lack of competition rather than personal commitment. They also stuck with the Church 'out of fear of damnation,' but people don't believe that kind of thing any more. Catholics 'became educated, got better jobs, and moved out of their ghettos and into the suburbs.'"

The Washington Post also gave this 1993 description of evangelicals: "Poor, uneducated, and easily led."

The problem with these facts, Eberstadt points out, is that these "facts" are wrong. They don't fit the actual facts.

Secularization has not followed a straight-line trajectory. Instead, periods of decreased Christian practice have been interspersed with revivals in Christian devotion. Both "Great Awakenings" followed periods of relative religious indifference. The two decades after World War II saw a remarkable upsurge in church attendance in both the United States and much of Europe.

I remember well the continuation of that period of renewal. I was in the church in North Hollywood in the early 1970's. Tens of thousands of kids marched down Hollywood Blvd. to honor Jesus. The "Jesus Movement" was so significant that TIME Magazine featured a picture of Jesus on the cover.

Calvary Chapel and other Christian ministries were founded during that period.

Eberstadt says, "In the 1900's you have the post war religious boom, marriage boom and baby boom." She quotes sociologist Will Henry who claimed the religious renewal "was so predominate in the United States, that the village atheist and village agnostic were disappearing."

While Karl Marx called religion the "opiate of the masses," objective measures of religious activity such as regular church attendance, found it was higher among more affluent and better educated than among the poor.

She cites a number of historical facts that support her contention that "knowledge and Prosperity do not cultivate unbelief."

Based on historical fact, she concludes that "Faith and family are the combined double helix of society."

"If the family gets stronger, the church will follow suit," she says.

But she also points out that "the obvious problems and declines in both institutions at the moment" pose a deep problem.

The family is under severe attack. With 3 to 4% of the population who practice homosexual behavior the culture seems disposed to submit to their demands to redefine the oldest institution known to the human race---marriage between a man and a woman. An institution created by God which predates all other human institutions. A movement that also redefines family roles, with women becoming "husbands" and men becoming "wives."

An environment where the impact on children remains to be seen.

Eberstadt says the incentives to marry are greatly diminished if one doesn't have to marry to have sex.

She says after 1973, "We live in a world where birth is negotiable."

One of many negative results of this is that nearly half of firstborn American births are out of wedlock.

She says with families in decline, the state seems even more willing to take up the slack. She says, "The modern welfare state has tried to be a father substitute, a provider substitute."

One solution she points out is the irony that our current monetary crises in government may give reason for hope.

She says, "If the time comes when the modern welfare as we know it is re-thought or reined in or if it implodes in the fiscal tornado that it seems to be in, people will look to their more organic connections---if they can't rely on government, they will turn to family and church."

She says, "In hard times people go home."

Its time for America to come home--- to return to our spiritual and cultural roots. To return to our faith in God.

It is time to bring restoration to our institutions as we renew an active faith in God.

Be Vigilant. Be Discerning. Be Informed. Be Bold. Be Prayerful. Be Blessed.