Editor: After we reprinted the Rod Dreher article, “Sex After Christianity,” Centennial Fellow Brad Hughes offered this penetrating analysis of the same problem—the hollowing out of the church in the USA—from a different angle.
It is secularism, not sexuality, that has seduced the saints and threatens to destroy America from within. America is following the path already traveled by Europe, the bastion of secularism. The problem goes way beyond same sex marriage. It is all about which worldview will be victorious in America. The three dominant worldviews in the world are Christianity, Islam, and secularism.
The symptoms of the problem are evident throughout the state of the American culture. Statistics with respect to abortion, alcoholism, bankruptcy, cheating, child abuse, crime, debt bondage, depression, divorce, drug addiction, fraud, gambling, government dependence, greed, homosexuality, illegitimacy, illiteracy, infidelity, over–medication (more than a quarter of US teens are taking medication on a chronic basis according to Medco Health Solutions Inc.) 25% of adult women are now taking psychoactive drugs to deal with their problems, prescription drug overdose deaths now exceed traffic fatalities for the first time since records have been kept, physical abuse, pedophilia, pornography, promiscuity, prostitution, sexual abuse and assault, STDs, same sex adoption, same sex marriage, suicide, violence, and the rise of an increasing police state are overwhelming the culture and show few signs of abatement. Nancy Pearcey wrote in Saving Leonardo that politics is downstream from culture and Christians must address the cultural decay in America if we are to prevent the rise of the secular state and persecution of Christians. While Satan and his demons never sleep, Christians often do. The report card is ominous.
The lack of a Christian worldview is corroborated by the survey findings of the Barna Research Group. The Barna study, conducted approximately two years ago, states, “For the purposes of the survey, a biblical worldview was defined as believing that absolute moral truth exists; the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches; Satan is considered to be a real being or force, not merely symbolic; a person cannot earn their way into Heaven by trying to be good or do good works; Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; and God is the all–powerful creator of the world who still rules today.”
In the research, anyone who held all of those beliefs was said to have a biblical worldview. Nine percent of Americans have such a biblical worldview and less than one out of every five (19%) born–again Christians had such an outlook on life.” If one were to incorporate additional doctrinal truths, e.g., the Trinity, the inerrancy of the Bible, original sin, the virgin birth, the bodily resurrection of Jesus, the miracles of Jesus, the exclusive divinity and salvific nature of Jesus, the hypostatic union of Jesus, etc., it is likely that a Biblical worldview among professing Christians would drop to the low single digits.
Secularism has conquered Europe. There are 13 countries that have sanctioned same sex marriage, 10 of which are secular European countries: France, Uruguay, Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, and Sweden.
These problems are substantially the fault of a lethargic and ignorant church whose leadership operates under willful neglect.
The church is increasingly irrelevant in society due to this leadership failure. Colonial America would find individuals spending hundreds of hours annually under the tutelage of a Bible–believing pastor/family resulting in over 10,000 hours of biblical worldview instruction. Our contemporary situation finds individuals getting 20 minutes of teaching for an average of three Sundays a month, equating to approximately 12 hours annually. This translates into a decline of approximately two orders of magnitude in the quantity of teaching (and is further exacerbated by the significant decline in the quality of instruction over the same period).
This educational gap has been largely offset by the government schools, which indoctrinate over 90% of each generation with 30 hours per week over 12 years (for those who graduate) equating to approximately 13,000 hours of secular humanist instruction. The secular humanist worldview is now dominant in America because the Christians have abdicated their educational responsibility. Abraham Lincoln said “The philosophy of the classroom in one generation will be the philosophy of the government in the next.” By almost any measure, the US government education system is in steep decline after decades of secularist indoctrination, underscored by the recent OECD PISA study where America finished 25th out of 34 industrialized nations in the mathematics competition. It is little wonder that our society is in free fall as measured by rates of illegitimacy, homosexuality, suicide, depression, bankruptcy, debt bondage, illiteracy, alcoholism, drug addiction, pornography, gambling, sexual abuse, physical abuse, over–medication, divorce, infidelity, abortion, same sex marriage, same sex adoption, and government dependence.
Our secularist educational system has indoctrinated the generations with what to think, rather than how to think. The results clearly show that humanist indoctrination in our schools bodes poorly for the republic. Studies suggest that declining scholastic performance in the US government schools is inversely related to the increasing secularism in those same government schools. Studies further confirm that US student results are also inversely related to educational spending. Educrats and teachers unions are getting wealthy while US students become increasingly ignorant. As student performance declines, self esteem increases, another by–product of the secular education model regarding affective learning.
The dream of this secularization had its provenance in the 19th century with the arrival of Darwin, Marx, Freud, Keynes, Wellhausen, Kierkegaard, and Dewey. John Dewey, father of the modern US education system, and a contributing author of The Humanist Manifesto (1933) has been singularly effective in inculcating secularism into the American culture. Dewey, a Hegelian, and committed to the transformation of US institutions, said “Meaning … is more precious in value than is truth, and philosophy is occupied with meaning rather than the truth.” Sadly, Christians have compromised on absolute truth while abandoning righteous education and now reap what they have sown.
In addition, church membership/attendance has declined with an increasing abdication of Bible study and doctrinal study. More churches are closing while fewer people formally attend church services. There are approximately 300,000 churches in the US with a median size of 75 in the congregation. Approximately 20% of Americans attend church, a number that continues to decline. Further, statistical projections suggest that Islam will become the majority religion on the planet by 2050. Presently, 20% of Russians are Muslim, 45% of those under 20 in Paris are Muslim, and two great founts of Christianity (Germany and France) are projected to be Islamic republics by 2050.
Secularism at home, Islam abroad, the relativism of morals, multiculturalism (better characterized as Cultural Marxism), globalism, and an indifference to biblical teaching bode very poorly for the future of America relative to its Judeo–Christian past.
In the face of an extremely well–organized (and energized) opposition, we find cowardly pastors, lazy Christians, institutions adrift, and a government heretofore sympathetic to Christians, now increasingly hostile to Christianity. The US federal government now concentrates wealth to itself. According to newly released US Census data, the highest percentage of households in the US earning over $200,000 annually is in Washington D.C. with 8.4% of all D.C. households earning above $200,000. D.C. is also the home to the highest percentage of single parent households in the nation. The secular model of society seen in D.C. recalls the history of 20th century socialism when economic power separated into two classes, the elite and the ruled. This same secular government, growing in size and power, will first privatize Christianity, then marginalize Christianity, then persecute Christianity, and ultimately prosecute Christianity. The similarities between our cultural failures and those of preceding empire collapse, e.g. Rome, are startling.
Secularism, which opposes the Judeo–Christian worldview, has a long history of religious persecution. According to the leading expert on democide (murder by government), R.J. Rummel, secular governments have killed more than 170 million people in the 20th century alone. Pre–20th century death counts by government (over 600 million) indicate that secular government is civilization’s greatest enemy. Records indicate that Islam, the #2 worldview measured by number of adherents, is responsible for approximately 270 million killed in its 1,400 year history. According to scholars, Tamerlane (a 14th century Islamic warrior) killed 17 million people in his military campaigns, amounting to about 5% of the world’s population at that time. Oddly, very few people have ever heard of his slaughters. Moreover, Islam is the world’s leading perpetrator of religious persecution today, followed by secularism. If Americans understood the history of these worldview horrors, they might think twice before pursuing their doctrines. The secular doctrines of non–traditional families, atheism, economic interventionism, abortion, same sex marriage, legal positivism, and moral relativism always have (and always will) caused destruction of the civilizations that practiced them.
Conversely, Christianity has a much less pernicious record regarding mass killing than secularism and Islam throughout history (contrary to the propaganda espoused by secularists and Islamists in our government schools and secular media.) The much cited Salem witch trials manifest only 29 deaths. According to Dr. Kirk Duston, Director of the New Scholars Society, less than 300,000 were killed by Christians worldwide including the Crusades, Inquisition, and witch trials combined. There is a substantial body of research confirming that democracies do not wage war on democracies throughout history. Christianity, based upon the Bible, clearly favors representative government, e.g., democracies, to ensure freedom (based upon the morality of the people.) Christianity opposes any teaching of utopia on earth. Secularism and Islam clearly support government control in an effort to impose utopia on earth. Utopianism invariably leads to tyranny. Utopianism believes that man was born good and that the government can restore man’s original condition. Christianity believes that man was born sinful and can not be redeemed until the afterlife, i.e., there is no heaven on earth. This difference alone helps explain why secularism and Islam have a disproportionate record of slaughter.
Secularism was a primary motivating force for Margaret Sanger, who founded (what was to become) Planned Parenthood, an organization responsible for over 25 million abortions. It is a moral outrage that secularism has led the US government to fund Planned Parenthood with $487 million of US taxpayer dollars in the past year while Planned Parenthood performed almost 330,000 abortions. Although China, a secularist country, does not officially report abortion statistics, it is clear that their “one child” policy (and size of population) assures them of the #1 place in the world for abortions. They are followed by the secularist Russia at #2 and the (increasingly secular) United States as the #3 nation in the world ranked by abortions performed. California (an increasingly secular state) is the #1 state in America for abortions. Abortion rates by state confirm the relationship between secularism and abortion with the District of Columbia, New York, and Maryland at the top. The relationship between abortion and secularism is evident internationally with China and Russia being the top abortion practicing (and overtly secular) countries on earth. America comes in third as it increasingly surrenders to the secular worldview.
In sum, Christianity in America faces dire challenges and increasing irrelevance in society due to leadership failure, inadequate discipleship, and lack of engagement on the part of the church body. The failure of Christianity contributes to family failure and ultimately leads to broader societal failure. Further, Christians will face contempt and passionate opposition from secular interests engaged in spiritual warfare if they seek to resolve the challenge. The challenge must be met beginning with individual and corporate repentance. C.S. Lewis said there is no neutral ground in the universe and that God claims every inch of it while Satan invokes his own counterclaims. Satan and his followers are on the field of battle. Most Christians remain bystanders in the bleachers. If our cultural rebellion continues and the cultural course and speed is not mediated, most Americans will neither recognize the United States in the years to come nor find comfort in both the spiritual and economic consequences of their secular worldview. The blue (secular worldview) and red (Judeo–Christian worldview) state divide in the US may only be a foretaste of what is to come.
It is clearly up to the individual to change our direction as elucidated in the following parable: “There was an important job to be done and everybody was sure somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it but nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was everybody’s job. Everybody thought anybody could do it, but nobody realized that everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that everybody blamed somebody when nobody did what anybody could have done.”