June 29th 2019

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY John Setka, for all his faults, is the perfect scapegoat

FIGHTING FUND NCC president Patrick J. Byrne outlines the goals for 2019

SPECIAL FEATURE Author Rod Dreher brings St Benedict to bear on our decline and fall

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS One million protest China's attack on Hong Kong's freedom

GENDER POLITICS Vatican issues document on gender ideology

POLITICS AND SOCIETY New secularist strategies to bury Christianity

HISTORY OF SCIENCE Faith and reason and Father Stanley Jaki, Part 4: Ancient Jewish view of the cosmos

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Cardinal Pell's appeal: An account from the live streaming

BANKING FEATURE Greed works ... at least for a while and for a few

IDEOLOGY Feminist claims for equality, Part 2: What feminism should be

IDEOLOGY WARS Roger Scruton and the Tories: a sorry tale

MUSIC Melodic abundance: John, Paul, Duke and Antonio

CINEMA The End: Staging the apocalypse

BOOK REVIEW Scenes from Dante's Inferno

BOOK REVIEW Mrs Gould: she who drew the pictures



NATIONAL AFFAIRS A Q&A to clarify issues in Cardinal Pell's appeal

HUMOUR A Western flop lob-story and that

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New secularist strategies to bury Christianity

by Paul Collits

News Weekly, June 29, 2019

The 20th century is well recognised as having produced more Christian martyrs than any previous age. The late Cardinal Francis George of Chicago famously noted that, while he would die in his bed, his successor would likely die in prison, and his successor would probably die a martyr.

So, Christians are facing a terrible future, and this off an already high and frightening base of martyrdom across the planet.

Yet, for the non-martyred, there is also an uncertain present, and an alarming future, including – perhaps especially – in Western liberal democracies. The non-martyred face merely the loss of income, promotion opportunities, jobs and careers. The count among the non-martyred Christian sufferers is mounting steadily, as seen in recent, widely discussed cases in Australia that have resonated around the globe.

This is the face of the soft totalitarian power of secularist progressivism, the ruling idea of the age.

To date, secularist progressives, who see religious beliefs as an unfortunate throwback in an otherwise enlightened age and long for the time when so-called “God botherers” will be seen but not heard, have sought the end of voiced Christianity through a number of strategies.

Three stand out. First, the secularists seek to shut Christians out of the public square by silencing them. Second, secularists attempt to deny Christian voices oxygen by taking over through the force of numbers all the key institutions of society where, until very recently, Christian voices were respected and where Judeo-Christian principles often drove thinking and practice. Third, secularists (and progressivists) routinely change the language in order to shift attitudes and shape the outcomes of cultural debates. This is an old, old trick.

Those who maintain faith in the Christian Deity struggle even to come to terms with the sheer weight of all this, let alone to compete in the battle of ideas with a respected voice. Meanwhile, the catalogue of legal cases, workplace bullying, sackings, ending contracts and social media shutdowns relentlessly mounts up.

Although there has been well documented political pushback by the ruled against the politically correct rulers (Trump, Brexit, Viktor Orban’s Hungary, provincial Canadian elections, our own recent federal election), there is scant evidence of a meaningful winding back of the ubiquitous legislation and codes that now circumscribe behaviour in the workplace, in educational institutions and in the public space across the West.

The issue over which the two worldviews have persistently clashed in recent times has been the normalisation of homosexuality in society – “making gay OK” as Robert Reilly described it in his 2014 book. With the 1960s unleashing of the Sexual Revolution, in coincidence with the victory of post-modernism in the academy, with the adoption of moral and cultural relativism, and the uptake of Abraham Maslow’s individualism – “self-actualisation” – the age of non-belief has well and truly arrived.

This perfect storm has ushered in, and in turn been aided and abetted by, the catastrophic decline of Christian belief and practice, and the weakening of its doctrines in those places where it is still practised.

Making gay OK has been the huge and unexpected development in Western societies this past half century. Even those (non-Christians) sympathetic to Christianity and who lament its current diminished status, like Andrew Bolt in his recent interview with the visiting American “crunchy con” and author of The Benedict Option, Rod Dreher, express concern at Christianity’s “rigid” adherence to its traditional prohibition of homosexual acts. Might St Paul simply have gotten it horribly wrong? Enlightened times and so on. It is, after all, 2019!

Even ignoring the absurd yet convenient, and certainly persistent, non-recognition by the secularists of the critical distinction between same-sex attraction and homosexual acts, and the inability of any Christian (even a prime minister!) to know the Mind of God in relation to any soul’s salvation, there is a great strangeness about this whole “debate”.

The supporters of gaydom seem to be saying to the world: “It is no longer acceptable for anyone to say anything against homosexuality. Period.” When a Christian says that homosexual acts are sinful, not only is this merely hurtful, gay-shaming, “offensive” (the ultimate secular sin) and possibly even linked to youth suicide. It is verboten. It cannot be said now. Try saying now, as per the good old days of hellfire sermons in the age when the four last things (death, judgement, heaven, hell) actually meant something, even to the churched community, that “gays will go to hell” and see what happens.

Well, we did see what happened. Sober writers like Michael Cook and Monica Doumit in Sydney’s Catholic Weekly and similar places, have drawn a not-very-long bow in suggesting that no Christian caught articulating traditional Christian views is safe any longer in an Australian workplace.

Less noticed, though, is what has actually occurred here, and its significance.

For the first time that I am aware of, secularists are now setting out to determine what is, and what is not, a Christian sin. Bad Catholics often try to diminish the weight of their sins – even the sinfulness of their sins. Adam and Eve themselves pulled this one, back in the day.

But on this occasion, secularists are not merely trying to shut Christians up, or keep them away from the public square. They are not even simply reminding Christians that homosexual acts are legal and homosexual lifestyles pretty much “accepted” in society. They are legal, and broadly accepted! Now they can marry each other, for heaven’s sake.

No, this is different.

The secularists say now, you Christians cannot even have your own sins! We get to decide what stops and does not stop a soul after death going to a place we actually do not ourselves believe exists. This is the inevitable, though bizarre, outcome of the long-term homosexualist push for normalisation. It has now reached the position that homosexual lifestyles cannot be criticised, by anyone, including those for whom homosexual acts remain sinful, even though broadly accepted in society.

Being able to determine your own sins must be pretty cool. But determining as a non-Christian what is a sin for Christians is quite remarkable. It does, in effect, seem to do God out of a job!

Scary stuff. And very peculiar stuff to boot.

In these strange times we see journalists, including sports journalists, regularly spouting their own brand of theology. And bringing prime ministers into the game as well. “The Jesus I know” wouldn’t behave like this, and so on. This is nothing short of alarming. It is not always wise to leave theology to the theologians. But it is far wiser to do this than to leave theology to sports and other journalists.

Does everyone go to heaven? Is there any such thing as sin? Does mercy always override justice beyond the grave? These are much-contested questions. But there is a thing called Revelation, and another called Tradition that augments the Bible, that together make difficult things clear for Christians who are attuned to their faith. It is more than a little galling to have non-believers of whatever sexual or other persuasion telling Christians what is and isn’t a sin.

But, as someone said, who am I to judge?

Paul Collits is a writer, university lecturer, independent researcher, policy adviser and business mentor. He has worked in regional economic development analysis, research, training, policy and practice for over 25 years.

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