The Scandal of Secularism

In 2001, John Mullins, Superintendent of the Arab City School System in Alabama, was approached by a group of students requesting the opportunity to offer a prayer before the home football games in the fall.  He enthusiastically encouraged the prayer and it was well received by the fans that season and for the next ten football seasons.  In 2011, however, the school system received a letter from the Freedom from Religion Foundation threatening a lawsuit against them unless they discontinued the pre-game prayer.  Faced with the threat of legal action and the realities of mounting legal fees they made the painful decision to stop the cherished tradition.  In 2018 a student requested the opportunity to lead in a prayer prior to the last home game of the season, to which the school board denied the request stating the illegalities of using a public forum for promotion of religion.  The Atheists had effectively bullied a small town Alabama school system to succumb to their agenda due to their deep pockets and high paid lawyers. The prayer saga of Arab, Alabama is in one sense shocking and in another sense, expected. Shocking because a city in the Bible belt, where most people attend church including the school board, deemed a simple pre-game prayer to be insensitive to the general public.  Mind you, we are not talking about a sermon, a reading of the four spiritual laws, a public rendering of the “Roman Road” followed by a public invitation and mass baptisms, only a simple prayer offered by a student.  This same story has taken place all over the nation. Yet, should we be surprised?  A well-funded atheist foundation based in Wisconsin has a clear agenda to eradicate all forms of religion from our American culture.  They state on their website the motivation, “The history of Western civilization shows us that most social and moral progress has been brought about by persons free from religion.” In their view, religion is holding our culture back from social and moral progress.  The goal is clear, to replace the sacred with the secular. To replace the narrow minded rigidity of Christianity (and other belief systems) with an open society in which no objective moral standard exists, and the sad part is they seem to be succeeding.

In his book, Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World, James Emery White writes of the new reality that is prevalent in our American culture.

A recent survey of thirty-five thousand Americans by the Pew Research Center found that the rise of the “nones” has grown to encompass 23% of America’s adults. This means that nearly one out of every four adults in the United States, when asked about their religious identity, would say “nothing.” Further, many who were once in the church are now leaving it. About 19% of Americans would call themselves “former” Christians.[1]

Generation Z will be the first generation to grow up in a post-Christian society and eventually it might be said that they were the most secular generation in American history.  While there are certainly movements of God in this generation, statistics certainly give us reason for alarm. Once again I ask, should we be surprised? The days of “true love waits” has been replaced with pornography on demand and moral accountability has become almost impossible with the waning influence of Christian leaders on this generation. Many of this generation have become victims of the scandal called Secularism. It promises a life without the bondage of religion where a person is free to make their own moral and ethical choices, essentially becoming their own god. There is a growing number of people in America who long to see every aspect of anything sacred taken out of our society, government and educational institutions. To these people religion, especially Christianity, is nothing more than an ancient and anachronistic set of rules which limits society from reaching its fullest potential and inhibits cultural progress. Yet, one has to wonder exactly what kind of “progress” is being attained? It is hard to argue that secular humanistic ideologies are effective in attaining cultural progress unless one defines progress as public pandemonium.  The scandal of secularism is found in its empty promises. Secularism promises to release people from the slavery and bondage of religion, while it enslaves them to humanistic approaches which inevitably lead to the abhorrent realities of a life without purpose, without hope and without moral guardrails.  The inevitable outcome of a secular society is one in which anything is acceptable and therefore nothing is off limits. It promises to strip you of the biblical burdens while at the same time strapping on your back the horrible consequences of addictive behaviors, licentious lifestyles and the loss of human conscience. Jesus Christ offers a life of “light burdens” (Matthew 11: 28-30) while secular philosophies offer no answer to any of life’s burdens.

As our society grows more secular there will be devastating consequences on the souls of its victims.  Secularism promises much, but there are three aspects of human need that it will never be able to give sufficient response. 

  1. Secularism offers people no intrinsic value. As we remove the Bible from society, we remove human sacredness. Scripture clearly teaches that every person is created with intrinsic worth (Imago Dei) given by God and that human beings are the crowning act of God’s creation. “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Gen. 1:27. Human worth is not found or discovered, it is given and intrinsic because God has created us and placed within us His image. Every person has worth and is created as an image bearer of God. Secularism teaches a humanistic ideology based on evolutionary processes in which we evolved from lower species. The latest idea is that all animals evolved from something called the, “Cambrian explosion” which is a technical way of saying you came from pond scum. In a day where the third leading cause of teen death is suicide all secularism can say to a teen is, “Cheer up! Your life has no real meaning, no purpose and you have evolved from pond scum.” If you teach that human value is not intrinsic, then value becomes extrinsic, meaning it must be found externally. That my friend, is a terrifying thought.
  2. Secularism offers no objective moral truth. The book of Judges ends with one of the most ominous verses in scripture, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Judges 21:25. This arose out of a generation who did not know the Lord and thus they turned not upward, but inward for moral direction. And now we find ourselves in the same predicament as the generation of the judges. When you remove God from society, you also remove the Bible and when you remove the Bible, you remove objective moral truth. The lines of what is right and wrong become blurred and eventually non-existent. Morality becomes the invention of humanity and that ought to terrify us. Contrary to the Freedom from Religion’s statement, moral progress can never be the invention of a godless society because a secular society creates a vacuum of moral objective truths. Jesus says in Matthew 15:19 that the human heart is capable of the worst of evil. Left to our imaginative devices morality is flipped on its head and the predictable result will be moralistic anarchy. We are already seeing the fruit of this mentality in cities all over the country and it will only become worse as we write our own moral expectations.
  3. Secularism offers no lasting hope. In an article entitled “The Power of Hope” Dr. Dale Archer writes, “Hope is often the only thing between man and the abyss.” The best a secular world can offer is a temporary hope and it is not enough hope to keep people from falling into an emotional abyss. A secular hope will not take you beyond this life, and the best it can do is point to a baseless wishful hope. The hope offered by a secular world is akin to handing a dying man two Tylenol pills in hopes it will cure his disease. Secularism can’t offer hope because only what is sacred is eternal and only what is eternal has substantive hope. The world doesn’t need just any kind of hope, it needs a living hope and Jesus is our living hope.(1 Peter 1:3). Jesus offers a living hope, which means, His hope outlives tomorrow’s disappointments and is founded in the one who holds our tomorrows. A Living hope outlives this life and points to the promise of Philippians 1:21, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” And the promise of 2 Corinthians 5:7, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” With a Living Hope we don’t just have a passion for the possible, we now have a passion for the promise of eternal security. If your hope doesn’t carry you beyond the grave, you have the wrong hope.

Secularism is a scandal of the worst kind. It promises freedom from religion, but leaves people in bondage to the worst possible evils. There are dreadful consequences waiting for the culture that fully embraces secularism. As we close our church houses, neglect our bibles and take God out of every aspect of our society we should not be surprised when we suffer the consequences.  The result will be future generations who do not know the Lord and act according to their own ideas, their own philosophies and their own agendas. The end result of secularism is a society filled with people who have no value of life, no purpose and without moral convictions searching for some type of lasting hope. A godless secular generation will follow only vapid humanistic philosophies because the generations before them allowed our great nation to become a melting pot of secularistic ideologies.  Freedom from religion? Please Lord save us from this type of freedom.

[1] White, James E. Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World. (Grand Rapids: Baker Books), 11.


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