The World According to Tim LaHaye: Chapter Four - Secular Humanism as False Religion
Chip Berlet printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Jul 17, 2006 at 10:46:04 AM EST
Senior Analyst,
Political Research Associates
(author info)
Left Behind
For Tim LaHaye, the term "Secular Humanism" is elastic enough to include the sins of abortion and homosexuality; the fact of creationism over the theory of evolution; the dangers of comprehensive sex education, the subversion of public schools, the myth of separation of church and state; the moral depravity of liberalism, and the moral superiority of Free Market economics. And that is just the "A" list.

More than any other author in the Christian Right, it is LaHaye that has popularized the false notion that secularists and humanists are by definition antagonistic to religion and spirituality. Don't be a dope and be duped by the definitional deception. Do some on the political left trivialize or even ridicule religious belief? Yes. Have some Democrats failed to do their homework and adopted the false frame about secularism and humanism erected by LaHaye and others on the Christian Right? Yes.

Here is some homework...

It is one thing to urge progressives and secularists to be respectful of the right to hold religious or spiritual beliefs. That is something we have been doing at Talk 2 Action since the website was created. The arguments of Tim LaHaye, however, are anchored in a series of conspiracy theories about an apocalyptic battle between the Godly and the Godless that LaHaye envisions as a fight to the death--literally.

When LaHaye writes about secular humanism, he sees it as a religion competing with Christian morality, citing to (among other arguments) an article by John W. Whitehead and John Conlan, "The Establishment of the Religion of Secular Humanism and Its First Amendment Implications," appearing in the Texas Tech Law Review in 1978. There is a press release announcing it enshrined at a creationism website:
The article's well-researched history of the First Amendment religion clauses reveals the stark contrast between the Supreme Court's present definition of religion and that which the founding fathers intended. The founding fathers who wrote and debated each word of the Constitution understood and intended "religion" to mean a transcendent relationship between the Creator and his creatures. However, humanistic relativism has permeated the Supreme Court's thinking to the extent that today "religion" does not even conceive of a Creator who gives absolute meaning and value to life, but rather is regarded as anything which has an "Ultimate concern" to the particular individual possessing such concern. Whitehead and Conlan correctly note that under the Supreme Court's progressive interpretation of religion everyone has a religion and all things or mental processes of an individuals mind are religious....

The inescapable conclusion is that Secular Humanism is a religion whose object of worship is Man and because it is a "religion" the establishment of Secular Humanism in our society through the organs of the State is unconstitutional. This article will stand as a masterful research tool and analysis of the Law of Religious Freedom in the United States and its message is essential to anyone desiring true religious freedom. (press release)
The web is littered with cites to this article, and it is relied on so heavily because it appeared in a law review. LaHaye cites to the article, but then argues that the "battle against humanism...is not theological; it is moral:"
Humanists have totally rejected God, creation, morality, the fallen state of man, and the free enterprise system. As such, they are the mortal enemy of all pro-moral Americans, and the most serious threat to our nation in its entire history. Unless both Christian and non-Christian lovers of virtue stand together as upright citizens, humanists will turn this great land into another Sodom and Gomorrah. Tim LaHaye, The Battle for the Mind, (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell, 1980), pp. 187-188).
Battle for the Mind is dedicated to Francis A. Schaeffer, but LaHaye takes the idea of secular humanism far behind anything written by Schaeffer. At the back of the LaHaye book (p. 241), LaHaye has a "Recommended Reading List," from which I have selected entries and arranged them chronologically.

Henry M. Morris. (1974). The Troubled Waters of Evolution. Creation-Life Ministries.

Francis A. Schaeffer. (1976). How Shall We Then Live? Old Tappan, N.J.: Fleming H. Revell Co.

Claire Chambers. (1977). The SIECUS Circle: A Humanist Revolution. Belmont, Mass.: Western Islands.

John W. Whitehead. (1977). The Separation Illusion. Mott Media.

John W. Whitehead and John Conlan. (1978). "The Establishment of the Religion of Secular Humanism and Its First Amendment Implications." Texas Tech Law Review, V. 10, N. 1, Winter.

Henry M. Morris. (1978). Education for the Real World. Creation-Life Ministries.

Barbara M. Morris. (1979). Change Agents in the Schools: Destroy Your Children, Betray Your Country. Upland, Calif.: The Barbara M. Morris Report.

Francis A. Schaeffer and C. Everett Koop. (1979). Whatever Happened to the Human Race. Old Tappan, N.J.: Fleming H. Revell Co.

All of this reveals the basic political agenda of the Christian Right over the past 30 years.

Here is what is bad:

Abortion

Homosexuality

Teaching Evolution

Comprehensive sex education

Criticism of unregulated Free Market economics

Subversion through public schools

Myth of separation of church and state

Liberalism in general

This is not about secularists being rude to Christians. This is about a comprehensive conspiracy theory about secularists and humanists used to justify a Christian Right mobilization that seeks to roll back the Enlightenment. More on the details of the conspiracy theory in the next installment.
Chip Berlet, Senior Analyst, Political Research Associates

The Public Eye: Website of Political Research Associates

Chip's Blog

The World According to Tim LaHaye: A Series
Part One: Hunting Down the Enemies
Part Two: Pre-Trib Perspectives
Part Three: Satanic Secular Humanism
Part Four: Secular Humanism as False Religion
Part Five: The Secular Humanist Web
Part Six: The Council for National Policy




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I had this thought...

They see a conspiracy against Christianity, so they get together (conspire) to fight against their perceived enemies.

We see their organization and attempts to take away our freedom, so we organize to prevent that.

They see our organizations (which reinforces their idea of a conspiracy), perceive us to be a threat to their goals (which in their mind equals protecting Christianity), so they try harder.

And so on...

It seems that this could be a vicious cycle.

Or, as I believe- their goals are NOT to "protect" Christianity; they want to establish themselves as the elites in a "new world order" based upon pure capitalism and theocratic rule.  This would then make what seems to be a vicious cycle into our response to an autocratic, control-seeking bunch of hypocrites.

There is the "point of view" thing going on here- I wonder how much of what they say they actually believe.

I also wonder if they have any idea that we have a different point of view- or that ours is based upon Christianity.

This is some thoughts that struck me as I read what Chip had to say.


by ArchaeoBob on Mon Jul 17, 2006 at 08:49:42 PM EST

Good perception.  In sociology this is called the movement-countermovement cycle.

A problem arises when one movement is built around demands based on false assumptions about a vast conspiracy.  Then the only solution is total victory, rather than pragmatic compromise in a democratic civil society.

This is one reason Fred and I (and others) urge folks not to use hyperbole and demonization to describe the Christian Right. Otherwise we are doing to them what we say they are doing to us. If we do that, we are ethically wrong, but also lose the opportunity to unwrap their conspiracy thinking as being part of the problem.

When movements and countermovements are trapped in an escalating cycle of demonizing rhetoric, Rene Girard describes it as "mimetic scapegoating."  

To be avoided.

_ _ _

Chip Berlet: Research for Progress - Building Human Rights
by Chip Berlet on Tue Jul 18, 2006 at 09:10:34 AM EST
Parent
"This is one reason Fred and I (and others) urge folks not to use hyperbole and demonization to describe the Christian Right."

The title of this section is 'demonizing secularism', which in some cases is an accurate description of the topic discussed, but just as often it is a hyperbolic exaggeration of someone critical of Talk2Action's viewpoint. If you are serious of limiting hyperbolic speech and accusations of demonization, I think that it would be best to change the title of this topic area.

by chipmunk on Wed Jul 19, 2006 at 11:36:38 AM EST
Parent

You offer no examples regarding the notion that demonizing secularism: "just as often it is a hyperbolic exaggeration of someone critical of Talk2Action's viewpoint."

Since this has never come up before, your comment is mystifying.

As for the title of the section, if you have a suggestion to make to the administrators, please send us an email. The adminstration of the site and its structure is not on topic for diaries and comments. There are more freewheeling sites where armchair administrators yak about such things all the time. This is not one of them.

Please stick to the topic of the site.

by Frederick Clarkson on Wed Jul 19, 2006 at 04:27:15 PM EST
Parent





One thing that we all must do is that to urge progressives and secularists to be respectful of the right to hold religious and spiritual beliefs. The things discussing in this site is mostly correct and I do support those positive thinks and thanks for giving out such articles.    
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