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February 21, 2012

Religion Is Not America's Enemy

Topics: Faith, Political News and commentaries

Philip F. Lawler's must-read piece at The American Spectator today is on the warnings given in Marcello Pera's book, "Why We Should Call Ourselves Christians: The Religious Roots of Free Societies." Pera is a seasoned politician, former president of the Italian Senate, an agnostic, and a secularist. A philosophy professor before and after his political career, he studied Karl Popper and defends the traditions of European liberalism, which have historically been at odds with the public stands of the Catholic Church.

As Lawler points out, although an agnostic and a secularist, Marcello Pera has made common cause with the Pope because he is convinced that Europe cannot survive as a free and democratic society without recognizing its cultural roots in Christianity. As we are now seeing in America under the Obama administration, while European leaders have been building up needless defenses against the nonexistent threat of Christian fundamentalism, they have exposed their societies to the very real threat of Islamic fundamentalism. Having decided that all religious faith is dangerous, Europe's elites have no way to counteract the influence of a faith that is foreign to European traditions and hostile to European interests. Pera laments: "The bitter truth is that the West is afraid of Islam because it is afraid of religion, and of its own religion first of all."

Pera concedes that the Church is not without flaws, and writes:

... But in the end, how can we fail to see that without the Catholic Church, Europe would have disappeared not once but countless times, and the West would have lost its civilization.... How can we fail to realize that when other institutions, parties, movements, or systems' political, philosophical, juridical, economics -- are in error, they simply cease to attract adherents or they disappear, but when the church errs, its very errors exalt the grandeur of its message, the noncontingent value of its words, and the spiritual reality to which it bears witness?
Here's a key excerpt from the rest of Lawler's excellent piece:
[...] From the time of St. Augustine, Christian Europe understood the separate roles of Church and state, the City of God and the City of Man. Although there were border violations aplenty over the centuries, when normal relations were restored, political and religious leaders agreed on certain fundamental points: that religious freedom should be upheld, that the church should not be a tool of the regime; that individuals should be treated with dignity whatever their beliefs. These three basic principles, Pera notes, are diametrically opposed to the instincts of both authoritarian government and religious fundamentalism. They are the guarantees of European democracy.

Unfortunately, Pera writes, the secularism of post-Enlightenment Europe -- the secularism of Locke and Kant, which sought to preserve the instruments of government from usurpation by clerics -- has been replaced in our time by a more militant form that sees religion itself as an enemy. European intellectuals have fled from the Christian tradition, claiming a fear of fundamentalism -- when it is that very Christian tradition that provides their best defense against fundamentalism.

Moreover, while European leaders have been building up needless defenses against the nonexistent threat of Christian fundamentalism, they have exposed their societies to the very real threat of Islamic fundamentalism. Having decided that all religious faith is dangerous, Europe's elites have no way to counteract the influence of a faith that is foreign to European traditions and hostile to European interests. Pera laments: "The bitter truth is that the West is afraid of Islam because it is afraid of religion, and of its own religion first of all."

There is an old chestnut in politics: "You can't beat somebody with nobody." If you don't have a candidate in the race you will lose, regardless of your opponent's weakness. In Europe today, Islamic culture is making steady inroads because European culture is too weak or too complacent to offer any resistance. "If Europe is not a melting pot but only a container," reasons Pera, "this is because it does not have enough energy to melt down and fuse its contents." (Readers in the United States, the pre-eminent melting pot, should take note. When the siren calls of "diversity" render us deaf to any appeal to a common heritage, chaos is just around the corner.)

It's very much worth your time to read the whole thing.

Lawler goes on to point out that Pera later writes the secularism of post-Enlightenment Europe -- the secularism of Locke and Kant, which sought to preserve the instruments of government from usurpation by clerics -- has been replaced in our time by a more militant form that sees religion itself as an enemy. European intellectuals have fled from the Christian tradition, claiming a fear of fundamentalism -- when it is that very Christian tradition that provides their best defense against Islamic fundamentalism.

Unfortunately, that very same militant form of secularism is the very same kind the current occupant of the White House has embarked upon -- and the resulting vulnerabilities to Islamic fundamentalism has already being demonstrated by the Europeans.

Take home message: Religion is not America's enemy: Our enemy is Barack Obama's brand of nanny state secularism and the militant Islam that it invites.

Posted by Hyscience at February 21, 2012 7:40 AM



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