An online dictionary defines secular progressivism as “an alleged movement in the United States with the ostensible goal of removing religion from the public sphere.”
Apparently, some individuals question whether such a movement exists, but among conservative religionists, there is little doubt.
Princeton professor Robert George and author Mary Eberstadt argue not only that it exists, but that it has acquired a quasi-religious character.
George believes that over the last several years, secular progressivism has become our state religion, and that it is promoted with missionary zeal by an elite in government, industry and the media, eager to punish anyone who dissents from its orthodoxy.
The examples are legion:
A fire chief in Atlanta was fired for self-publishing a Bible study book for men which included his belief that marriage should be between one man and one woman.
The city of Houston issued subpoenas ordering specific pastors to turn over any sermons mentioning homosexuality, gender identity and/or then-Mayor Annise Parker, a lesbian.
Military chaplains have been forced out of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for quoting Scripture and praying in Jesus’ name.
A U.S. Marine in North Carolina was court-martialed, given a bad-conduct discharge and denied military benefits because she posted a Bible verse on her computer, “No weapon formed against you shall prosper.”
Intervarsity Christian Fellowship was banned from Wayne State University for requiring its leaders to be professing Christians.
A visitor to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., was ordered to remove a pro-life pin on her lapel before entering because it was a “religious symbol.”
If the worst aspect of any religion is intolerance toward those who disagree, then secular progressivism meets that standard.
This is especially true in the area of sexual ethics.
According to Eberstadt, the underlying faith of this secularism is the sexual revolution, and its first commandment is that no sexual act between consenting adults is wrong.
In fact, any sex outside of traditional marriage is not only permitted but affirmed as long as it is consensual.
Like any religion, secular progressivism has its own saints, such as Alfred Kinsey and Margaret Mead, as well as abortion advocates Helen Gurley Brown and Gloria Steinem.
Of course, there is also a demonology, with conservative Christians and anyone advocating traditional morality heading the list.
If secular progressives have a non-negotiable ritual, it is abortion, which has become a litmus test of secular orthodoxy.
Gone are the days when secularists argued that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare.”
Today, it must be celebrated.
There are even inquisitors and witch hunts, targeting the many “phobes,” haters and bigots who must be shamed online and driven from public life.
Then there are the missionaries, including progressive church leaders in the United States who impose their LGBT agenda on African churches, tying financial assistance to the normalization of gay marriage among a population that stoutly rejects it.
African Christians complain that they are being colonized once again by western powers, not with orthodox Christianity, which they would welcome, but with the belief system of secular progressivism which, they argue, is often contrary to God’s word and to nature itself.
Several years ago, a study conducted by Oxford University concluded that human beings are inherently religious, confirming what many of us know instinctively.
It should come as no surprise that secular progressives, like the most ardent religionists, should promote their beliefs with righteous zeal.
Secular progressivism claims to be a neutral force in society and sees itself as a bulwark against the claims of competing religions, which it assumes have no place in the public square.
It fails to recognize what it has become: a competitor in its own right, with its own moral imperatives, its own myths, saints and holy days and, sadly, its own tendency toward intolerance.
The Rev. John Armstrong is pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Columbus, and may be reached at gracecolumbus.org.