Including People Out

One of the most effective lies that has been perpetrated in recent years is that “liberalism,” as the word is now commonly understood, is “inclusive.” The plain and readily documentable truth of the matter is that contemporary liberalism is exclusionary.

Certain governors and mayors have stated publically, for example, that businesses run by people who defend traditional marriage are not welcome in their respective states and cities. Bishop Murphy of Rockville Center, New York, has criticized Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan to make abortion on demand up until birth a “fundamental right” as a procedure that “excludes God.” Bishop Murphy, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, and other bishops warn that the implementation of such a plan could force Catholic hospitals and licensed health centers to close their doors.

        Christopher Dawson (1889-1970)

A professor of human rights at a New York college has accused Pope Benedict XVI of promoting a “culture of rape.” He argues that the Holy Father’s “narrow view on proper human relationships” induces a fear of sexual liberty. Thus, he contends, Catholic teaching on sexuality must be removed from society.

As liberalism advances, its victims multiply. In addition to God, the Pope, Catholic institutions, and anyone who defends traditional marriage, there are other endangered species, including pro-life advocates and pro-life campus clubs, the Bible, and Scholastic philosophers that have been placed on the exclusion list.

This liberalism is anthropocentric, being centered exclusively on how man should function materially in this world, and therefore exclusionary. By definition, liberalism excludes God as well as a great deal of religion and morality. A theocentric view, on the other hand, is truly inclusive because it includes both God and man. Secular man is concerned only with man; religious man is concerned about God and man.

The more accurate word for “liberalism” is “secularism,” an ideology that rejects God and the notion of an immortal soul. Secularism is solely concerned with this world. Its antagonism toward religion is intrinsic to its nature. Conversely, religion is not antagonistic toward secularism. Its role is not to eliminate secularism, but to fulfill it by offering it a unifying basis and a loftier aim.

Catholic historian Christopher Dawson’s contention, stated in his 1947 Gifford Lectures, appears to be even more accurate description of our current socio-political climate than it was of his own time:

Thus we have a secularized scientific world culture which is a body without a soul; while on the other hand religion maintains its separate existence as a spirit without a body.

Secularism lacks a unifying principle. Its many manifestations – feminism, political correctness, materialism, consumerism, etc. – are narrowly conceived, arbitrary and even self-contradictory. They and the parade of False Messiahs who promote these various “isms” fail in their attempt to provide society with a coherent set of principles by which people can function in a way that is consistent with their true nature. The secular world lacks a “soul,” though it does possess a “body” in the form of material goods and services that are both abundant and expansive.

Religion, as many historians have argued, is the unifying principle of a society – its “soul.” For Dawson, “The way of life must be a way of the service of God. Otherwise it becomes a way of death. This is the lesson alike of the most primitive cultures and of the highest religions” (Gifford Lectures, 1947).

As America becomes more secularized it continues to crowd out religion and religious values. Its dynamic is intolerant and totalitarian. This phenomenon is ironic since most of her Founding Fathers were men of God. All the signers of the Declaration of Independence were either Christian according to one denomination or another. Yet, America’s drift toward an anti-Christian secularism is unmistakable.

Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania acknowledges that even private beliefs are threatened by the secular liberal order. James Dwyer, professor at William and Mary Law School, argues that the government does not violate the Constitution when it acts to inhibit religion rather than to favor it. President Obama stated at a San Francisco fundraiser that small-town people “cling to” their religion “as a way to explain their frustrations.”

Secularists do not hesitate to champion religious dissenters:  nuns who promote abortion, women who want to become priests, heretical priests who are excommunicated, anyone who opposes Church teaching. It is orthodoxy that they cannot tolerate. Thus, they can abide, if not promote, the most outrageous forms of anti-Christian bigotry.

Freedom of religion is needed in order to check the totalitarian, exclusionary propensities of secularism. Secular imperatives may give society its body, but religion gives it its soul. This is a truism about which history is an unambiguous witness.

Dr. Donald DeMarco is a Senior Fellow of Human Life International. He is professor emeritus at St. Jerome’s University in Waterloo, Ontario, an adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College in Cromwell, CT, and a regular columnist for St. Austin Review. His latest works, How to Remain Sane in a World That is Going Mad and Poetry That Enters the Mind and Warms the Heart are available through Amazon.com. Articles by Don:

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  • bluesuede

    Very good article.
    In some articles I’ve read that, Catholics are either liberal or conservative and I am not in agreement with that label. You’ve claified for it me, by saying, ” The more accurate word for “liberalism” is “secularism,” an ideology
    that rejects God and the notion of an immortal soul.” I believe that persons can choose to be one or the other politically, but, when it comes to labeling the Church members as liberal and conservative, I disagree with them.
    I believe that, as you say, liberalism is secularism and I think, conservatism is traditionalism. What do you say Dr.?