Thursday, November 04, 2004


Taken from "A New Civil Religion," by James E. Faust (Oct 1992).

There seems to be developing a new civil religion. The civil religion I refer to is a secular religion. It has no moral absolutes. It is nondenominational. It is nontheistic. It is politically focused. It is antagonistic to religion. It rejects the historic religious traditions of America. It feels strange. If this trend continues, nonbelief will be more honored than belief. While all beliefs must be protected, are atheism, agnosticism, cynicism, and moral relativism to be more safeguarded and valued than Christianity, Judaism, and the tenets of Islam, which hold that there is a Supreme Being and that mortals are accountable to him? If so, this would, in my opinion, place America in great moral jeopardy.

For those who believe in God, this new civil religion fosters some of the same concerns as the state religions that prompted our forefathers to escape to the New World. Nonbelief is becoming more sponsored in the body politic than belief. History teaches well the lesson that there must be a unity in some moral absolutes in all societies for them to endure and progress. Indeed, without a national morality they disintegrate. In Proverbs, we are reminded that "righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people." (Prov. 14:34.) The long history and tradition of America, which had its roots in petitions for divine guidance, is being challenged. The new civil religion is, in my opinion, coming dangerously close to become a de facto state religion of secularism.

With the public religion now turning increasingly toward the secular, I wonder how this nation will preserve its values. In my view, there is a substantial governmental interest within the limits of the religious clauses of the Constitution in public prayer and expressions of all faiths which acknowledge the existence of deity. Such prayer and expressions accommodate the abiding values shared by a great majority of our citizenry. They give meaning to a transcendent spiritual reality and idealism which, in the past at least, were quite firmly held by the people of our society. The very essence of our concern for human welfare and alleviation of human suffering lies in our spiritual feelings and expressions. We must hold to our beliefs and do what we can, for there is no desert to flee to in order to have full freedom. There is no place across the waters for the Pilgrims.
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