Secularism: An Official State Religion?

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Posted: Apr 09, 2018 10:55 AM
Secularism: An Official State Religion?

As Christians celebrated Easter and Jews observed Passover in March, the usual disputes over the recognition of those holidays in the public sector was expected, but there is a growing new dimension to the legal battles. The prior Obama Administration’s attempts to run roughshod over religious objections to portions of its health care legislation represented just one aspect of this growing trend.

Mary Eberstadt, author of It's Dangerous to Believe, wrote in Time Magazine,

“Vigorous secularism has catapulted mockery of Christianity and other forms of religious traditionalism into the mainstream and set a new low for what counts as civil criticism of people’s most-cherished beliefs. […] Some of the faithful have paid unexpected prices for their beliefs […]: the teacher in New Jersey suspended for giving a student a Bible; the football coach in Washington placed on leave for saying a prayer on the field at the end of a game; the fire chief in Atlanta fired for self-publishing a book defending Christian moral teaching; the Marine court-martialed for pasting a Bible verse above her desk. […] Anti-Christian activists hurl smears like ‘bigot’ and ‘hater’ at Americans who hold traditional beliefs about marriage and accuse anti-abortion Christians of waging a supposed ‘war on women.’ […] Some secularists argue that Christian schools don’t deserve accreditation, period.”

There has always been a vigilance, since the Constitution was ratified, against one creed taking precedence over others.  However, despite the Constitutional prohibition against the establishment of a preferred theology, there is increasing evidence that secularism is taking a prohibited place as an official state doctrine.

Examples abound. Heartland reports that Montana officials have proposed the exclusion of religious schools from a state scholarship program.

The American Civil Liberties Union  notes that some of the restrictions against religious activity in public schools are wrong.

“The Constitution permits much private religious activity in and about the public schools. Unfortunately, this aspect of constitutional law is not as well known as it should be. Some say that the Supreme Court has declared the public schools “religion-free zones” or that the law is so murky that school officials cannot know what is legally permissible. The former claim is simply wrong. And as to the latter, while there are some difficult issues, much has been settled. As a result, in some school districts some of these rights are not being observed.”

The trend towards restricting traditional religions has affected the military.  The armed forces newspaper Stars and Stripes recently reported the concern of Ron Crews, a retired Army colonel and chaplain.

“There has been a growing concern about chaplains being able to continue to minister what I would call ‘the full counsel of God’ in their ministries.”

The article notes that,

“For 240 years, since the U.S. Army’s founding in June 1775, chaplains have been welcome in the military. Generals from George […] to George C. Marshall considered chaplains indispensable to a unit’s emotional and spiritual well-being…”

In recent years, Carew notes,

“Washington has issued wave after wave of new regulations, some of which conflict with many chaplains’ long-held religious beliefs… [he cites] multiple cases, in which he contends chaplains have been censored or had their careers effectively ended for espousing their beliefs.”

A research project from the Liberty Institute finds that,

“Attacks on religious liberty in the public arena are perhaps the most widely recognized and one of the fastest growing forms of hostility to religion in the United States today.”

The forced acceptance of secularism as a form of state religion, moves to remove all references to Christian culture in the public square, and the worrisome and growing presence of antisemitism are trends that should be noted.