THE VOICE OF REASON
CPL

CHRISTIANITY AND THE POLITICAL LEFT

This holiday season was one of the most joyous I have experienced. Not only was I blessed to be with family, but the food and festivities were outstanding as well. We all attended Christmas Eve worship at my daughter’s church, and it was an inspiration. As I sat through the service, I pondered the symbiotic relationship between Christianity and traditional American culture.

There is no doubt about it. We have many marvelously rich cultural traditions in this country, and they owe much, if not everything, to the Christian faith. Christmas and Easter are surely the two most notable. It's not going too far, however, to contend that our entire civilization is built upon the Church. Science, as we know it today, arose only in Europe, and was derived from the strict reasoning and logic of medieval theology. Rene Descartes justified his search for natural laws on the ground that such laws must exist because God is perfect and "acts in a manner as constant and immutable as possible." Geology, seismology, and atomic theory were all begun by Christian priests. Not only modern science, but also Western law received its impetus from the Church. As Harold Berman puts it, "[I]t was the church that first taught Western man what a modern legal system is like." It was also the Church that developed the university system. The close link between the Church and the dissemination of knowledge continued in the New World, as all but one Ivy League institution in America were founded by denominations of the Christian Church.

The United States of America has enjoyed a history, like no other nation, of generosity, tolerance, ingenuity, and productivity, thanks in large measure to its culture, which has been and is so profoundly influenced by Christianity. This is why I continue to be appalled by leftist ideologues, like Bonnie Erbe, the hostess of PBS' "To the Contrary" who is pictured at right, and who considers the demise of Christianity in America a "liberating" prospect. She applauds the changing demography of the country, with its vast influx of Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus, and praises the growing anti-Christian texture of America: "Speaking as one of the nonaffiliated [or unchurched], I must say it is liberating to know there are more of us and more non-Christians as well. Sometimes, pop and political culture give one the idea we are a decidedly, oppressively Christian nation that does not take it lightly when we deviate from church dogma."

What's that again? An “oppressively Christian nation”? My first reaction is, “You’ve got to be kidding!” I wonder what history Ms. Erbe is reading, if indeed she’s reading any at all. It’s unfortunate that she can’t make her home in a Muslim country, where “honor killing” is practiced with impunity and where women are stoned to death for having sexual relations outside of marriage. Perhaps a Hindu country would better suit her, because there a man or his family has the right to kill his fiancé for bringing an insufficient dowry to the marriage. Or maybe Ms. Erbe would consider it less oppressive to live in a Buddhist country. Hopefully she would not find herself in need of a heart, cornea, or kidney transplant, because Buddhists typically don’t countenance the transplantation of vital organs from dead bodies.

For the life of me, I can’t understand the deep-seated hatred and animosity of leftists toward traditional American culture, with its roots firmly embedded in the Christian faith. Is it ignorance? Of course it is, but it’s much more than this. It’s a pseudo-intellectual mindset, reinforced by at least four years in an indoctrination mill called “college,” where charlantry abounds among the faculty and where it is “politically correct” to criticize the heritage of this country. Read David Horowitz’s One-Party Classroom and discover for yourself the politicization of so-called higher education in America. After spending four to six years in institutions like Barnard College or Columbia University (the schools Ms. Erbe attended), one may finally land a job in a leftist chic environment like PBS (for which she works), where she’s eventually rewarded with a platform from which to express her “brilliance” to us commoners at large. I don’t mean to single out Ms. Erbe for criticism, but I would be shocked to hear that she had ever engaged in any truly independent study beyond the notes she memorized and regurgitated on college and university examinations. Apparently that is supposed to give her opinions gravitas, I guess.

Freud, Darwin, and Marx still captivate the attention of university faculty. They are the Holy Grail of secularist thought. Marx and Darwin are taught as fact, while Freud is regarded as a creative and fecund intellectual with deep insight into human nature. Criticize Freud and you may be regarded as Victorian. Criticize Marx and you'll probably be branded as politically retrograde. Dare to criticize Darwin and you'll be looking for a job. This is the state of "academic freedom" in our colleges and universities. The Pew website, from which Ms. Erbe quotes, states that "Americans ages 18 to 29 are considerably less religious than older Americans." I am not surprised by this finding, considering the nature of their education. Probably a good number have taken their degrees in fashionable subjects, such as peace, gender, ethnic, or queer studies.

Ms. Erbe predicts, “One day, Christian leaders will wake up and recognize that their era is crumbling. If that means they will have decreasing power in the political realm, it will be a blessing for all of us . . . .” I have news for her: many Christians recognized long ago that the Christian faith was losing its influence in the West. They have also been cognizant for a good while that the incomparably vibrant civilization that flowered with the rise of Christianity is unraveling as well. The downgrade of Christianity's status is having a disastrous impact upon American politics and culture, and unlike Ms. Erbe I hardly consider this state of affairs a blessing.

December 31, 2012