What Jean Calvin & Modern Secularists Have in Common

Secular progessivism is looking much more like a religion than a movement nowadays. Each passing day provides more and more evidence that the separation of church and state applies only to organized religions and not the religion of secular liberal humanism that saturates progressive media, mindset, and legislature.

Maybe a few small examples could help flesh this out.

Racing for Pink Slips

Recently, California unashamedly rolled out their new public school “Health Education Framework” which brazenly promotes its own tribe’s sexual morality over the historic and common views held by Muslims, Jews, Mormons, Christians, and many other religious constituents.

A few years ago, the Supreme Court decided in Obergefell v. Hodges, by act of will (p. 3), that the definition of marriage had to be edited (erased completely?) in order for it to fit more snugly within a modern naturalistic metaphysic instead of the definition held by religious and irreligious folks since we started recording history.

Each year, California legislature continues to propose new bills that would greatly diminish or destroy religious liberty (for example).

What we see today is not a battle between those who want church and state to be married (most Christians would be against this) and those who don’t. It’ a battle where one religion in particular, secular progressivism, is racing for pink slips.

Progessives & Jean Calvin

Jonathan Leeman teases this out wonderfully:

People often criticize John Calvin for his argument that the state should enforce the first two commandments (no other gods, no idols), and I would agree with those critiques. Yet it occurs to me that more and more secular progressives do what Calvin did — they publicly promote their gods and prosecute forms of worship that offend them. My friend Andrew T. Walker recently tweeted:

Don’t be fooled: Secularism is a form of theocracy. It’s very jealous for its own glory, commands our worship, & demands a set of ethics.

How do secular progressives do this? Certainly through the ordinary legislation and judicial processes. Yet it’s also worth highlighting the work that public schools and education policy do in making disciples. Education is a society’s “paramount moral duty,” said political philosopher John Dewey, since it is “the fundamental method of social progress and reform.” Through the public schools the children of a nation come to “share in the social consciousness” of that nation.

To put it another way, public schools, as agents of the state, participate in the religious indoctrination of their students. Before the Civil War, schools reinforced a Protestant orientation. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, school lessons began to move in a naturalistic direction. After World War II, secular progressivism became increasingly predominant. Schools today especially work to cultivate students who are conscientious in matters of social justice.”

A member of my church whose children attend a Washington, DC, public school recently received an e-mail announcement from the school notifying parents of the school’s participation in a Gay Pride parade. I appreciate the fact that the school sent an e-mail. That doesn’t always happen now. The letter explained that the school “values diversity and “strives to create a safe and inclusive environment.” The administration believed that participating in the parade would be “a great way to proactively engage your child(ren) in a conversation about LGBTQ people in a way that focuses on acceptance, respect and understanding, promoting the spread of correct and positive information.”

I, too, hope that schools will foster “acceptance, respect and understanding” for all people, no matter how they identify themselves. Yet my Christian faith does not treat every conceivable identity-construct as morally legitimate. Should we foster “acceptance, respect and understanding” for those who identify themselves as thieves, adulterers, or (as I saw on one courtroom television show) vampires? For the people themselves, yes. For their identities as thieves, adulterers, or vampires? Not according to my faith.

What this school e-mail represents, then, is the state’s concerted effort to religiously indoctrinate my friend’s ten-, eight-, and five-year-olds in a different faith. A faith that worships the gods of self-definition and self-expression.

Through the classroom, the legislator, and the courtroom, today’s progressive is only too happy to use the state to enforce his moral and religious codes.

Taken from, “How the Nations Rage,” p. 41-42

As Mary Eberstadt said, “Secular progressivism today is less a political movement than a church.”

We’re All Pretty Darn Religious

The point I think important to walk away with is this: none of us enters the political sphere without bias, underlying presuppositions, or even an agenda. As Leeman says elsewhere, “Either we ask the state to play savior, or, to say it the same thing a different way, we demand it plays servants to our gods” (How the Nations Rage, p. 28). What is important is for all parties, but especially those who fancy themselves “irreligious,” to stop pretending they separate their deepest held beliefs from their political activity and to acknowledge how “religious” they actually are.

Then, we can move forward with at least a little more clarity and honesty.

About Dana Dill

I am a happy slave to Jesus, thankful husband to Chawna, delighted daddy to Daisy Jane, Penny Lane, and Lottie Jo. I teach at Capo Valley Christian School & Biola University. I'm here on assignment (Acts 20:24).
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