"What we're seeing today is a secular liberalism that wants to expand the prohibition of establishment to silence articulate religious voices and disenfranchise religiously motivated voters, and at the same time to narrow the scope of free exercise so that the new secular morality can reign over American society unimpeded."??
So said First Things editor R.R. Reno in a speech delivered to a Hillsdale College leadership seminar this past February. In his address, Reno tracks the hostility that the Obama administration, the courts, and the ascendant "Nones" (those who, when asked in surveys to identify their religious affiliation, indicate "none") are exhibiting toward religious liberty in America. And he identifies the threat that this hostility poses to our culture and our Constitution. It's a very important speech. Thankfully, in it he also talks about how to reverse the trend.??
Reading through Reno's speech, it is easy to feel at once overwhelmed, angry, and discouraged. Forces antagonistic to religion dominate our courtrooms, our classrooms, and that most potent platform of public influence, the entertainment industry. Stridently ideological and convinced that the forces of reason and progress are on their side, these secular shapers of culture will not be satisfied until every last vestige of religious influence is exorcised from the public square. These individuals reject the fact that the Christian religion played an integral role in the shaping of America's political traditions and the spirit of liberty and equality that is unique among nations. They do not understand that radically marginalizing religion will undermine the institutions essential to keeping our country strong and free.??
And as Reno predicts, these antagonists are likely to be successful in the short term. No doubt, this is due to the frog-in-the-kettle effect. The saying goes, if you put a frog in a kettle of water and set it on the stove, the frog will not respond to the increasing temperature of the water until it is too late. There is still a strong contingent of believers in America. We have the numbers on our side. The problem is, not all of us are paying attention. This is understandable. Life is busy, and we devote our energies towards the things that directly impact our day to day lives. We work. We take our kids to soccer practice. We help with book reports and college applications. We tend to aging relatives and prepare meals for sick neighbors.??