Creeping Secularism

A response to: No More Support for PBS

In the late ’70s, when the Soviet Air Force shot down a KAL civilian airliner with 269 people on board, the South African Sunday Times was one of the few newspapers not to register unqualified outrage. Their leading article said the following (I quote from memory): Why were you shocked when the Soviets shot down a civil airliner? It was less than half their daily average, unless they wiped out a good-sized Afghani village on the same day.

Why are we shocked at the secular humanist attack on PBS religious programming in the U.S.? After all, they are even being “reasonable” by allowing existing programming to continue! But we should not be shocked; they have been encroaching and circumscribing for years. Over the centuries, they have tried martyring, buying, threatening, bribing and state take-overs, and none of these has led to lasting success. The current trend is marginalisation; driving religion and its signs out of the public arena, making religions invisible.

Ironically, this is so often done while ostensibly preserving the “rights” of “minority” religions, as in the U.K. not too long ago, when the state tried to proscribe public displays of Christianity at Christmas on these precise grounds. That Muslims publicly said that the Christian celebration of Christmas did not offend them made not the slightest difference. The old childhood tactic of covering one’s ears and screaming loudly to avoid hearing what the other person says, works as well at 60 years as at 6, it seems.

Secular humanism, more’s the pity, is being ALLOWED to triumph in the First World. In Africa, Asia and South America, religion is flourishing. Christians, for example, just would not tolerate this kind of circumscription. Why have Europe and North America allowed this to happen?

I fear that one of the problems with Catholicism is the number of creeping secularists within the Catholic Church. In days gone by, as Cardinal Pell of Sydney once remarked, they left the Church and fought their battle from without. Having learned the long-term ineffectiveness of this, they have since discovered that the better tactic is to remain and undermine from within.

It seems to me that the only way to deal with this creeping secularism is to go out and meet the foe. If we cower behind fortress walls, they will eventually break down those walls, aided by those within who support them. Bad-mannered though it may seem to those who do not like a show of religion in the public arena, we must learn again to become militant; not only to fight back secularist attacks on religion, but to launch our own initiatives. Winning converts for Jesus Christ is the most powerful weapon we have against the assaults of secularism. We need to rediscover the power of kerygma, proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ, risen from the dead.

The early Christians did not fear “dungeon, fire and sword.” Why have we become so fearful in this age? The attack has been subtle, but it is getting more vociferous. Unless we fight back against the encroachments of creeping secular humanism, there might soon be very little left to defend.

Pope Benedict has carried the battle right to them. That is why parliaments have been trying to censor him. He lacks no courage on these matters; we should be supporting him for all we are worth!

Rev. Fr Phillip Vietri C.O.

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Oratory of St Philip Neri
Port Elizabeth

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