This happened during the Englightenment. Nations and states and societies with short memories, or the gullibility to succumb to revisionist history, are letting it happen again.
Even where people are not losing their faith, they’re losing their rights to freely express their religiously informed voices. Popes John Paul II and Benedict have been warning Europe for years not to deny their Christian roots and heritage, as they formulated their modern ideas into a European Constitution.
There’s a good quote in this piece about “the ideology of human rights” threatening the freedoms of religious association and expression in Europe, and it applies on other continents as well. Which is why Pope Benedict made it a strong point of his address to the UN General Assembly in April 2008.
Incrementally, the ‘tyranny of the majority’ is denying religiously informed voices their rights, even to practice their freedom of conscience, in order to hand over new freedoms to certain protected groups…..in the name of tolerance.
John Paul’s book Memory and Identity comes to mind more these days, and again after reading that NRO piece on losing religion. It’s an excellent and sometimes disturbing read, the essence of which is human history and civilization centers on the providence of God, and when people reject God, they’ve lost their center of gravity.
He says if the Church can call evil by its name, “it does so only in order to demonstrate that evil can be overcome if we open ourselves” to the love of God.
“Over the years I have become more and more convinced that the ideologies of evil are profoundly rooted in the history of European philosophical thought”, particularly what evolved from “the so-called European Enlightenment”…
Take what happened in Poland after the Communists came to power for example, he says. And it sounds eerily like what’s happening all over the place today.
“In the universities, every form of philosophical thought that did not correspond to the Marxist model was subjected to severe restrictions, and this was done in the simplest and most radical way: by taking action against the people who represented other approaches to philosophy.”
“The merciless hand of the regime,” he said, removed from teaching posts, or limited the freedom, of professors who taught a philosophy based on natural law and moral order, following the brilliant reasoning of Thomas Aquinas (and therefore, Christianity). Take away God, you take away salvation history, he said.
“If man can decide by himself, without God, what is good and what is bad, he can also determine that a group of people is to be annihilated.” That’s straight logic. One the Third Reich used.
“Likewise all those who were ‘inconvenient’ for the regime were persecuted….[including] those among the intelligentsia who did not share Marxist or Nazi ideology. Normally this meant physical elimination, but sometimes moral elimination: the person would be more or less drastically impeded in the exercise of his rights.”
“The fall of the regimes built on ideologies of evil put an end to” the Nazis and Communists and their particular brand of persecutions.
“However, there remains the legal extermination of human beings conceived but unborn. And in this case , that extermination is decreed by democratically elected parliaments, which invoke the notion of civil progress for society and for all humanity.”
This is really sounding familiar.
“Nor are other grave violations of God’s law lacking. I am thinking, for example, of the strong pressure from the European Parliament to recognize homosexual unions as an alternative type of family, with the right to adopt children. It is legitimate and even necessary to ask whether this is not the work of another ideology of evil, more subtle and hidden, perhaps, intent upon exploiting human rights themselves against man and against the family.”
Well, there’s a pack of politically incorrect ideas, and currently rather explosive ones at that.
“Why does all this happen?” John Paul asks. “What is the root of these post-Englightenment ideologies? The answer is simple: it happens because of the rejection of God” as Creator and therefore the
“source determining what is good and what is evil. It happens because of the rejection of what ultimately constitutes us as human beings….the notion of human nature as a ‘given reality’; its place has been taken by a ‘product of thought’ freely formed and freely changeable according to circumstances.”