For years, I've minimized any talk of conspiracies and emphasized the importance of the battle of ideas. But now along comes a book, "The Secular Revolution," edited by University of North Carolina professor Christian Smith and surprisingly published this year by the liberal University of California Press, that shows a whole lot of plotting going on.
"The Secular Revolution" is difficult reading because most of its chapters display the academic dislike of plain English. But it is worth study for its specific detail on how anti-Christian intellectual leaders substituted for biblical hope "their own visions of secular progress," and became famous and rich in the process.
As Smith puts it, "Intellectuals are not any more 'above' the pursuit of status, power and wealth than others." Bribes -- often thinly-disguised as university chairs and foundation grants -- are as effective among intellectuals as among others. A relatively small group of people who control the mechanisms of laud and lucre can have a tremendous influence on ambitious academics.
"The Secular Revolution" shows how key influencers pushed universities to teach that the perfection of social mechanisms will deliver us from evil, including the evil of that primitive human invention known as religion. Other chapters show how, starting in the 19th century, the National Education Association and interest groups of secularizing scientists appropriated for themselves the sole franchise for defining the public good in education and research.
The book also includes a fascinating case study of the destruction of moral reform politics in Boston through ridicule and sarcasm. A chapter on those who sold the concept that law is socially constructed (rather than natural) provides good background for understanding how the Supreme Court came to assert its supremacy to clear Constitutional intent.
Similarly, a chapter on journalism shows how "key persons within journalism (especially publishers and editors, and also journalism professionalizers from the ranks of the universities and the active press) actively sought to minimize and ultimately to undermine traditional religion."
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