Maybe Freedom From Religion Wasn’t Such a Good Idea After All

This last summer as I watched live news coverage of the murder of five Dallas police officers by a racist during an otherwise peaceful Black Lives Matter protest, I remember thinking to myself this whole culture-without-God thing is not working out the way so many pretended it would.

For all the diligent efforts by leftist organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Freedom From Religion Foundation to eradicate religion (and more specifically, Christianity) from the public square, the consequences aren’t matching what they promised. Remember the narrative of the anti-religious left is that faith causes people to be less tolerant, less open-minded, less respectful of the rights of others.

Except that isn’t proving to be the case. David French aggregated a recent piece that highlighted the rise to prominence of both the Trump and alt-right movements on the right, and the Black Lives Matter movement on the left. In both cases, what we see is less Christianity, more dangerous divisiveness.

Peter Beinart wrote at The Atlantic:

Secularism…has contributed to the rise of both Donald Trump and the so-called alt-right movement, whose members see themselves as proponents of white nationalism.

And lest you be tempted to point to evangelical support for Donald Trump, don’t forget that of evangelicals who went to church regularly, Ted Cruz smashed Donald Trump by 15 points nationally. Trump’s evangelical victories were surprising, no doubt. But they were secured on the overwhelming support of those who identify as evangelical Christians, but don’t have a church habit.

Looking at those numbers through the prism of the ACLU and FFRF contempt for Trump’s presidency, one must wonder if they wish a few more folks had sat in the church pew this last election cycle.

Meanwhile, the same phenomenon is taking place with the rise of the millennial-led, leftist Black Lives Matter movement. While older black Americans are still actively involved in Christianity, statistics say black millennial church attendance is three times smaller. Beinart quotes an AME minister named Jamal Bryant as observing,

“The difference between the Black Lives Matter movement and the civil-rights movement is that the civil-rights movement, by and large, was first out of the Church.”

This is exactly right. The militancy so often associated with BLM compared to the peaceful non-violence of Dr. King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference may have much to do with less time spent worshipping the Prince of Peace.

Power always leaves a vacuum when it is removed. And that vacuum will soon be filled by some substitute. When progressive organizations that hate religious conviction in the country strike successful blows against the church’s efficacy and influence, they would be wise to consider where those “victories” are leading us. As God disappears, power politics replaces Him. And when pursuit of power becomes a culture’s god, the results are exactly as Beinart describes:

As Americans have left organized religion, they haven’t stopped viewing politics as a struggle between “us” and “them.” Many have come to define us and them in even more primal and irreconcilable ways.

Christianity (and faith in general) is a mediating, restraining force on the lusts and urges of men. That’s precisely why encouraging the promotion of religious virtue in the country, John Adams noted,

“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion.”

If you want proof that he was right, just turn on the news.

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Peter Heck

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