Dennis Prager on Secularism

Dennis Prager published an insightful item yesterday, entitled “A Note to Conservatives Who Are Secular”.

We read:

The vast majority of leading conservative writers, just like their liberal colleagues, have a secular outlook on life. With few exceptions, the conservative political and intellectual worlds are oblivious to the consequences of secularism. They are unaware of the disaster that godlessness in the West has led to.

Most leading Republicans and most of the wealthy donors to the Republican Party — in addition to virtually all libertarian politicians and think tank scholars — are either uninterested in the death of Judeo-Christian religions and values in America and the West, or they’re OK with it. They think that America can survive the death of God and religion, that fiscal and other forms of conservatism without social conservatism can preserve America.

This is true about some, but far from all, conservative writers and thinkers. But it is certainly common enough; there are many who continue to imagine the United States as nothing more than a “proposition nation”: a set of legal abstractions with a border and an economy. There are also conservatives who, though respecting the social importance of religion, adopt a naive universalism as regards religious heterogeneity — which can obviously be a profoundly divisive force — and who discount the incompatibility of some religions with Western norms. But it has been clear to me for some time now — and as an unbeliever myself, it was a hard pill to swallow — that secularism itself is maladaptive.

This, however, is exactly correct:

And why do secular conservatives think so many affluent and well-educated Americans have adopted left-wing dogmas, such as feminism, socialism, environmentalism and egalitarianism as their religions? Because people want to — have to — believe in something. And if it’s not God and Christianity or Judaism, it’s going to be some form of Leftism. Why are evangelical Protestants, theologically conservative Catholics, Orthodox Jews and practicing Mormons almost all conservative? Because they already have a religion and therefore don’t need the alternate gods of leftist faiths, and also because Judeo-Christian religions have different values than leftist religions.

Just so: the religious impulse is a constant in human societies. It can be repurposed, but it is always there.

Read the rest of Mr. Prager’s article here.


  1. Kevin Kim says

    Many Muslims would agree that godlessness in the West is a problem, but I doubt I’d be comfortable with the Muslim solution to that problem.

    Posted April 6, 2016 at 10:17 pm | Permalink
  2. pangur says

    “Judeo-Christian religions” — I’ve always wondered what this means. Judaism? Christianity? Jew for Jesus?

    Posted April 7, 2016 at 12:52 pm | Permalink
  3. Whitewall says

    Dennis is right, Europe is the example and it is dying. Even during the Dark Ages there was only one light in the darkness–the struggling Christian Church. It stayed lit all the way to the other end and into the Awakening. Judaism was not extinguished either. It survived. The people who are still Christian and even Jewish are so by choice and commitment. Secular religions are installed, coerced, forced or some other way that omits conscience and free will. Sometimes it is only a matter of being secular to get along the easy way. Secular religions offer nothing to cling to in the darkest hours that can over come mankind. They are whims of faddishness and convenience. No secular fad could sustain mankind for a long period like the Dark Ages. We may need a generation more of Leftist theology before the people reject it for something with staying power.

    Posted April 7, 2016 at 3:47 pm | Permalink
  4. Judeo-Christian:

    of or relating to the religious writings, beliefs, values, or traditions held in common by Judaism and Christianity.

    Hence, “Judeo-Christian religions” means Judaism and Christianity both taken together.

    Posted April 7, 2016 at 4:00 pm | Permalink
  5. P.S.

    Since “Judeo-Christian” is an adjective, as defined above, it would not normally be used to modify “religions” because that would be redundant. It is normally used to modify nouns such as “writings”, “beliefs”, “values”, or “traditions”.

    Posted April 7, 2016 at 4:23 pm | Permalink
  6. Because people want to — have to — believe in something. And if it’s not God and Christianity or Judaism, it’s going to be some form of Leftism.

    hmm….I lean secular and none of those would apply to me . Same for many other conservatives. Secularism and liberalism need not be mutually inclusive

    Posted April 7, 2016 at 6:12 pm | Permalink
  7. Malcolm says

    hmm….I lean secular and none of those would apply to me.

    Nor I. But as I said just above, and as Mr. Prager clearly understands, the religious impulse is a constant in human societies.

    Posted April 7, 2016 at 10:31 pm | Permalink
  8. antiquarian says

    The urge to believe may be a constant, but the returns to that intellectual investment need not be. Voltaire said, “When there is only one religion, tyranny rules; when there are two religions, war reigns; when there are many, liberty comes.”

    What I dislike about the Left– well, one of the things I dislike most– is that it refuses to acknowledge that it is itself a religion in the sense of a form of organized morality. I have no problem with that, or with Christianity or any other religion. I like aspects of many of them. What I have a problem with is an inefficient market that permits only two religions– in which case we suffer the civil war we’re now in the middle of. I want none of them to feel secure in their support.

    Posted April 7, 2016 at 10:48 pm | Permalink
  9. antiquarian says

    Just by the way, everyone– have you ever heard of a book by Stanislav Andreski called “Social Sciences As Sorcery”? It seems to me that it should be required reading in academia to reduce bullshit (and bias). Back when it was published its author no doubt considered himself a Leftist. These days, if he were still alive (he’s not) I suspect he’d have reconsidered, because much of what he has to say amounts today to a blistering indictment of the methods of the campus Leftist intellectual flea hatchery.

    “[P]retentious and nebulous verbosity, interminable repetition of platitudes and disguised propaganda are the order of the day, while at least 95 per cent of research is indeed re-search for things that have been found long ago and many times since”

    Posted April 7, 2016 at 11:06 pm | Permalink
  10. “What I have a problem with is an inefficient market that permits only two religions– in which case we suffer the civil war we’re now in the middle of.”

    I have no academic background in political science, but it seems to me that in order to accommodate more that two major political parties in a republic you would have to settle for a parliamentary system of government in which the head of state is a ceremonial position and the head of government is a prime minister (or premier) who is subject to parliamentary confidence.

    Germany, Great Britain, and Israel are three countries having such a parliamentary form of government. Although GB is a monarchy, its government functions like a parliamentary republic because its monarch is a ceremonial head of state.

    Posted April 7, 2016 at 11:47 pm | Permalink
  11. pangur says

    “‘Judeo-Christian religions’ means Judaism and Christianity both taken together.”

    Incomplete and thus lacking; a full definition of the concept — such as it is — would note that the two religions are somewhat related but essentially distinct. A basic reading of the Torah and the New Testament, coupled with observable differences in historical patterns of behavior, indicate that the moralities of the two religions are indeed different (e.g., rates of charitable giving, tolerance for homosexuality, support for open borders). This stuff shouldn’t be difficult, particularly when there’s plenty of information available.

    Posted April 8, 2016 at 3:54 pm | Permalink
  12. Whitewall says

    I’m lost I think. Is it religion that is the subject at hand, the need for religion, or the lack of religion being replaced by conjured up “religion” complements of the State? Or is it something beyond religion….faith?

    Posted April 8, 2016 at 5:08 pm | Permalink
  13. @pangur

    You wrote, and I quote, “‘Judeo-Christian religions’ — I’ve always wondered what this means.” Your pronoun “this” obviously refers to your quoted expression “Judeo-Christian religions”. Well, that expression means precisely, “Judaism and Christianity”.

    If that meaning is inadequate for you, then you haven’t phrased your “wonderment” adequately.

    Posted April 8, 2016 at 10:43 pm | Permalink
  14. Robert,

    It’s either all of the above or none of the above. But it could also be some of the above.

    I feel a migraine heading my way …

    Posted April 9, 2016 at 12:02 am | Permalink
  15. Whitewall says

    A very timely quick read. The New Religion.

    Posted April 9, 2016 at 12:04 pm | Permalink
  16. Malcolm says

    I’ve added what I hope are some clarifying remarks in a new post.

    Posted April 9, 2016 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

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