The United States of America is one of the more recent additions to what is loosely called “Western civilization,” and yet our nation has manifested some of the West’s greatest contributions to human society. As such, the cultural, political and social battles taking place here are compelling evidence of the current war against the values of Western civilization more broadly.
Those who would dismantle it have many forms of attack: They dismiss the contributions Western civilization has made to the overall health and prosperity of mankind and focus only on its shortcomings; they disparage the thinkers and political figures whose lives and careers contributed much to the evolution of the West, calling them “racists,” “bigots” and mere “dead white males”; simultaneously, they ignore the bleak and brutal histories of other cultures and pretend that all cultures are equally capable of fostering human flourishing.
Among the most persistent and insidious attacks are those against the Judeo-Christian heritage that is inseparable from the advances of the West, including its art, architecture, commerce, music and education, as well as political, economic and social philosophies.
In the United States in particular, many of our most fundamental rights and principles find their origin in tenets of Judeo-Christianity. The Declaration of Independence states unequivocally that human beings have inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that are given to us from God, not government. And yet increasingly, our most prominent political leaders dismiss this out of hand.
In 2006, then-United States Sen. Barack Obama said in a speech, “Whatever we once were, we are no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers.” And again in Turkey, in 2009, President Obama said, “Although … we have a very large Christian population, we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation.”
Above and beyond the arrogance of deigning to speak for how an entire country views itself, this was dangerous and conflated gobbledygook. It is one thing to take justifiable pride in the fact that Buddhists live in America, as do Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, atheists and countless others. It is quite another to suggest that the principles upon which the nation was founded are equally Hindu or Muslim or Buddhist or Sikh or atheist.
They are not.
It is not only in the founding documents in which we find the truth of the matter, but in the writings of the Founders themselves.
In his inaugural address, our first president, George Washington, said, “We ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and the right which heaven itself has ordained.”
The country’s second president, John Adams, wrote often and passionately about the principles that formed the basis for the founding of the United States. In an 1813 letter to Thomas Jefferson, Adams reminded Jefferson that the armies of the American Revolution consisted of “fine young fellows” who were “Roman Catholics, English Episcopalians, Scotch and American Presbyterians, Methodists, Moravians, Anabaptists, German Lutherans, German Calvinists, Universalists” and others who, despite their doctrinal differences, were “never the less all educated in the general principles of Christianity, and the general principles of English and American liberty.”
Adams continued, “I then believed and now believe that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable, as the Existence and Attributes of God: and that those Principles of Liberty, are as unalterable as human Nature.” Adams further credits these principles for the progress in the arts, sciences, technological achievements and resulting prosperity that humanity had witnessed “during the three or four last centuries.”
Abolitionists like William Wilberforce, William Wilson, Evan Lewis and Angelina Grimke argued forcefully for an end to slavery using the Old and New Testaments of the Bible for support. In his “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” civil rights icon Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote, “A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law.” King even cites Catholic theologian Thomas Aquinas.
The warriors against the West are finding their task made much easier by the significant number of Jews and Christians who believe that the tenets of their faith require them to go along with the systematic dismantling of Western society in the name of “compassion,” “tolerance,” “cultural sensitivity” and the like.
But if the relentless secularists succeed, what will be left will be utterly inhospitable to the faithful. Those who seek to dissolve the underpinnings of Western civilization will replace it with raw power that they and they alone will wield, untempered and unmitigated by either reason or the rights our Founders expressly stated were derived from God.
Those who wish to preserve the best of Western civilization must realize that it will not exist without the Judeo-Christian principles that are its backbone. The eternal principles referenced by John Adams and Martin Luther King can never be destroyed. But nations that allow themselves to be led away from those eternal principles most certainly can be.
To find out more about Laura Hollis and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.