The left’s worldview—secularism—is a religion. Secularists treat the state like Christians treat God.
This contention is a primary point of an excellent new book, Under Siege: No Finer Time to be a Faithful Catholic by Austin Ruse.
The author sets the stage by showing how Catholics are under constant attack. The secularists believe that they have cornered us inside our “rigid” doctrines and unchanging traditions. They promise to liberate humanity from the Catholic faith that they proclaim to be oppressive.
In our midst, many traitors pick and choose from amongst our dogmas while actively demoralizing us. The turncoats see surrender as the only option. Others are ready to “throw in the towel” after fighting long but unwisely. A third camp argues that we must retreat into the desert, lick our wounds and wait for better days.
In the face of so much discouragement, Mr. Ruse rejects all defeatism. As the President of the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-FAM), he urges Catholics to fight. He has struggled valiantly to prevent anti-family resolutions from getting through the United Nations bureaucracy.
Secularism as a Religion
Mr. Ruse contends that modern secularism is a religion. “[S]ecularism itself is as much of a comprehensive worldview as any religion; therefore, at its limit, it is the functional equivalent of a religion.”
Under Siege takes the position that the United States has always been torn between strong religious sentiments and secular philosophies. He notes that the English settlements were often based on religious foundations. Even Catholics found refuge here in the colony of Maryland.
However, the so-called Enlightenment ideals also grew deep roots in the English colonies. Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were thoroughly smitten with the ideas of Rousseau, Voltaire and others.
The result was a “delicate, and unnatural, balance of a religious people with a religious worldview governed by a secular government with no explicit religious commitment.” In this setting, “Thomas Jefferson deployed the idea of a ‘wall of separation between church and state.’ This ‘wall of separation’ appears nowhere in our founding documents…. Yet in 1947, it became an explicit precedent of the Supreme Court in the Emerson v. Board case.”
The Emerson case began a process that transformed Jefferson’s “wall” into a bastion protecting the state from religious influence—something that even the “Sage of Monticello” did not openly advocate. For three-quarters of a century, secularists have pinned their hopes for the nation’s future on that wall. In the twenty-first century, they promote their non-religion with religious zeal.
Most Christians accept the “wall of separation” without quibble. That sentiment has led to a wave of self-censorship in which religious people avoid making religious arguments in the public square—or school.
As a result, secular zealots challenged prayer in school, crosses and manger scenes. “The only language now permissible in the public square… is the supposedly neutral language of empiricism, science, and secularity.”
Eliminating symbols was only the beginning. The leftists learned their lessons well. They used a similar process to impose contraception, abortion, and acceptance of sodomy upon American society—all under the banner of freedom and separation.
Reasons for Hope and Confidence
Given such a scenario, Mr. Ruse asserts that there is No Finer Time to be a Faithful Catholic. How is success possible with so much of the society stacked against traditional Catholic culture?
Mr. Ruse’s optimism is infectious. The answer is simple; God is on our side.
“How blessed are we to be called by God to defend His creation right here, right now…. He knew His most blessed creation—the human person—would be attacked. And yet, He sent us, you and me, to fight this battle…. And make no mistake: most, if not all of our society’s deadly aggression is aimed at the Catholic Church. The Church is the only institution that has stood solidly against the agenda, and now the religion, of the sexual left.”
“But remember, Gideon’s army was tiny too, only three hundred men…. We are promised by our Faith that God can bring good out of any evil…. The good Lord has given each of us specific talents and specific tasks to carry out. These tasks were ordained for us from the beginning of the world.”
To prove his point, Mr. Ruse cites the work that his group, C-FAM, has done in the United Nations. The UN bureaucracy tried to ignore it. Then, the global leftists tried to sneak their agenda into UN documents secretly. Now the anger and mockery are open.
“But over the past quarter century, we stopped them from making abortion a global human right. We stopped them from redefining the family. We succeeded in negotiating a proper definition of gender.”
A Minor Point of Disagreement
Even so fine a book as this has its flaws. Mr. Ruse criticizes the “nostalgia,” in which people yearn for a “golden age” that never existed. He cites two eras: the fifties and medieval Christendom.
The criticism for fifties nostalgia is well-founded. During this time, the Church was thriving, with most parishes having multiple priests and schools staffed by nuns. Vocations and conversions were also growing. A closer look, however, reveals that the winds of change were gathering at the time. Bad theology and innovations were starting to appear. Many Bishops’ chanceries and seminaries were buzzing with revolt.
However, the “nostalgia” label referring to medieval Christendom is misplaced. Any references to this order must be centered on the social teachings and rich Catholic doctrines applied to society and not on its human shortcomings that come from our fallen nature. Mr. Ruse writes that “I sometimes interact, and am indeed friendly, with a religious association called the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property that endeavors to keep alive the various royal houses around the world.”
Any admiration for Christendom must be based on Church teachings about the social order and not on keeping alive royal houses. The TFP’s position harkens back to the unity inherent in the medieval interrelationship of Church and State. This order gave rise to an organic Christian society that allowed society to flourish inside the framework of our fallen nature. This realistic vision of ordering society avoids the soul-deadening nature of socialism and the sterile optimism of secularism. Catholics under siege do not succumb to nostalgia when they hope in the triumph of Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart foretold to the world at Fatima in 1917.
Overall, Mr. Ruse brings readers a refreshing mix of realistic analysis and inspiration. Under Siege: No Finer Time to be a Faithful Catholic is an essential addition to the library of anyone who longs to see the Church restored to Her rightful place in society.
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