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The Decline Of Christianity Means The End Of Neutral Spaces

The fading of Christianity in the West doesn’t mean the triumph of secular liberalism but the return of an oppressive paganism.


President’s Biden’s decision to elevate Transgender Day of Visibility on Easter, the holiest day of the Christian calendar, was no accident. Yes, we all know (now) that it falls on March 31 every year, while the date of Easter obviously varies. But the idea that the White House’s promotion of the transgender agenda on Easter was a mere coincidence, as Biden’s press secretary insisted on Monday, strains credulity. We all know it was no coincidence.

I won’t go into the specifics of it here — my friend Dave Marcus has already laid out why this was a blatant attack on Christianity and a slap in the face to Christians — but focus instead on the larger story within which the Transgender Day of Visibility incident fits.

That story, put simply, is the retreat of Christianity in the West and the emergence of a new religious faith in its place — a new paganism. What comes amid the decline of the Christian faith is not some live-and-let-live secular liberal utopia, not a rational and atheistic political order with neutral public spaces and a culture of tolerance. Instead, we have a new form of paganism with its own moral precepts, obligations, and rites. And unlike the secular liberal order, which embraced tolerance and pluralism as an inheritance from Christianity, the pagan order will be intolerant in the extreme.

Let me clarify my terms. By “paganism” I don’t necessarily mean a flood of new converts to the cult of Zeus or Woden (although that too is on the rise, at least in Britain). The postmodern pagan culture that’s now emerging won’t look like the paganism of the past, but it will be no less pagan for all that.

The pagan ethos, across immense spans of history and geography and cultures, has always been a rejection of reason and objective moral truth (along with the entire idea of objectivity), and a radical embrace of relativism and subjectivity in every realm of life. Paganism embraces a divinization of the here and now, of things and even people. Its creed, so far as it has one, can be summed up in the maxim: Nothing is true, everything is permitted.

What that means in practice, of course, is a society in which power and force, not democracy or human rights or universal moral principles, rule the day. This is why the most advanced pagan societies have always taken the form of slave empires. They are societies in which power alone determines what is right. In such societies, the ruling class is free to do as they please as regards the underclass, who are obliged to adhere to the state morality and do as they’re told.

Understood in that light, we can see the outlines of a modern form of paganism emerging in our time, especially on the political left. The official morality of the left forbids any dissent from the LGBT agenda and its claims about identity, for example. This is why lawmakers in deep-blue states like California want to make it a crime if parents don’t affirm their child’s “gender identity.” This is why public schools, captured by leftist ideologues, aggressively indoctrinate students in gender theory, and even socially “transition” children without the knowledge of their parents. We are going to see more of this, not less, as Christianity retreats from public life in America.

What Biden’s White House is trying to communicate by declaring Easter Sunday to be about transgender awareness is that the old moral order is being replaced by something new. If you don’t adhere to the new morality, if you don’t offer a pinch of incense to Caesar, you will be endlessly persecuted. If you don’t believe me, ask Jack Phillips.

In other words, it should be obvious by now that there are no neutral spaces anymore. There never were, really. Secular liberalism was a luxury only a predominantly Christian society could afford. Without societal norms derived from Christianity, sustained by the actual practice of the Christian faith among the people, liberalism decays. Recall that Christianity is the only moral system that has ever protected minority rights, for example, or ever declared that each person has inherent dignity. With the Christian faith, these ideals will die. And in the vacuum created by the faith’s desuetude, something else is rushing in.

The famous atheist Richard Dawkins doesn’t seem to grasp this. A clip of an interview Dawkins gave recently made the rounds Monday on social media. Commenting on the promotion of Ramadan instead of Easter in Britain, Dawkins expressed his disapproval and remarked, “We are culturally a Christian country. I call myself a cultural Christian. I’m not a believer. But there’s a distinction between being a believing Christian and being a cultural Christian.”

He went on to talk about how he loves Christian hymns and cathedrals, but also he’s happy that the number of people in Britain who actually believe in Christianity is going down. “But I would not be happy if, for example, we lost all our cathedrals and our beautiful parish churches.”

Does Dawkins think these artifacts of Christendom, the cathedrals and Christmas carols, will endure without the faith that created them? Does he think that a post-Christian Britain won’t revert to some form of paganism or Islam? He seems to think that cultural Christianity can survive without the faith that created and sustained it. He’s wrong, as anyone not blinded by their priors can plainly see. Once the faith goes, it isn’t long before the cathedrals and parish churches go too. In Britain and across Europe, beautiful empty churches are being repurposed as concert halls, coffee shops, and luxury apartments. There simply aren’t enough Christians to keep them as churches.

Much the same thing goes for our own country. America was founded not just on certain ideals but with a certain kind of people in mind, a predominantly Christian people, and it depends for its survival on their moral virtue and piety, without which the entire experiment will collapse. Without a national civic culture shaped by the Christian faith, and without a majority consensus in favor of Christian morality, America as we know it will come to an end.

With apologies to the likes of Dawkins, Christianity’s decline across the West doesn’t mean that secular liberalism, much less atheism, will triumph, but that a new religious creed will take its place. And make no mistake: This new form of paganism will bring with it all the violence and oppression common to every pagan empire across the dreary ages of the world. Instead of citizens in a self-governing republic, we will find ourselves slaves in a pagan empire.

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