Islam in the Public Square

Jan 2, 2018 by

by William Kilpatrick, Crisis Magazine:

Secularists like to advise Christians that, for the sake of social harmony, they ought to keep their religion to themselves. Religion, they argue, is a private affair between an individual and his designated deity, and ought not to be dragged into the public square. Moreover, they helpfully add, it’s an imposition on others to confront them with beliefs that they may find offensive.

As for themselves, secularists have no qualms about imposing their own values on everyone within reach. They are convinced of the rightness of their beliefs, and consequently they don’t think twice about forcing Christian bakers, florists, and photographers to endorse gay weddings. They are also convinced that they know what’s best for your children. And what’s best for them, they are quite certain, is that they learn all the latest fashions in gender identity and marriage equality.

In his groundbreaking 1984 book, The Naked Public Square, Richard John Neuhaus argued that the public square can never be naked for long. In other words, it cannot be neutral about values: “If it is not clothed with the ‘meanings’ borne by religion, new ‘meanings’ will be imposed by virtue of the ambitions of the modern state.”

In short, the committed secularist won’t be satisfied with the removal of the crèche from the town square. He’ll insist that it be replaced with something that more accurately reflects American diversity—say, a monument to Margaret Sanger or a statue of James Obergefell. Of course, secular society’s reach extends well beyond the town green. The religion of secularism is constantly being advanced in a variety of venues—in courtrooms, school rooms, and in the newly remodeled bathrooms that accommodate the newly invented genders.

Fr. Neuhaus was right in predicting that “a perverse notion of the disestablishment of religion leads to the establishment of the state as Church.” The secular state quickly moves to enshrine whatever values it currently smiles upon. And it defends them as though they were divinely revealed dogma. But, despite his prescience, Neuhaus did fail to anticipate another development—namely, that the Judeo-Christian tradition might be displaced from the public square not only by the state, but also by another religion.

The possibility that Islam would one day be a contender for control of the public square probably didn’t enter his mind. That’s no surprise. Except for the blip caused by the Iranian Revolution, Islam wasn’t on anyone’s radar in the early eighties. Yet Islam is now well on its way to controlling the public square in parts of Europe. And, were it not for the election of Donald Trump and the defeat of the Muslim Brotherhood-friendly Clinton machine, the U.S. would now be playing catch-up.

Read here

See also: What, indeed, is the Koran? By James V. Schall, Crisis Magazine


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