Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. President Trump and Our Post-Secular Future

 

 

Republican Presidential Candidates Speak At Values Voter SummitSo on Monday morning, I posted a video on my YouTube channel predicting a Trump win on Tuesday, November 8. I saw the victory coming from three vantage points, two of which were supplied by the excellent election predictor known as “The Primary Model” devised by Stony Brook University professor Helmut Norpoth, and the other by the worldwide dynamics behind the recent Brexit vote which were evident in the Trump campaign.

But how could the mainstream media have been so wrong? We need to understand that the old establishment media outlets self-consciously perpetuate a secular vision of life which sees the world in terms of two groups of people: those who support a secular vision of life and who are thereby rational and liberal, and those who resist a secular vision of life and who are therefore by definition irrational and repressive. So the various establishment media and journalistic outlets are largely incapable of understanding and interacting with non-secular conceptions of life.

It is the waning of this secular vision of life that is perhaps the most significant indicator of Trump’s win. We are now entering into what scholars call a post-secular society age. As the name implies, a post-secular society is one that no longer subscribes to the two fundamental commitments of secularism: scientific rationalism and personal autonomy or lifestyle values. At a very basic level, post-secular society is about the return of religion and religious values in the public square. We’ve seen this with the advent of Sharia councils in the U.K. that arbitrate between conflicts among Muslims, the resurgence of the Russian Orthodox Church as a major political, moral, and cultural force in the Russian Federation, the revival of imperial Shintoism at the highest levels of the Japanese government, a revitalization of Confucian philosophy among Chinese officials, Hindu nationalism in India, Islam in Turkey, and on and on.

Here in the U.S., similar processes are evident in the increasing collapse of multiculturalism and political correctness, which together represent the value system of secularization. Multiculturalism is the idea that America is made up of a plurality of cultural identities that consumer-defined individuals get to pick for themselves, with no single culture being dominant or superior. And political correctness is simply multiculturalism married to the state, wherein government policies favor some cultural or ethnic groups at the expense of others. Hence, Van Jones, on the night of Trump’s victory, could spout on CNN that white people voting their interests is racist and nativist bigotry while black people voting their interests is liberation and justice.

In many respects, this politically correct multicultural vision of life is on the brink of collapse. On the one hand, a hardline anti-immigration policy proposal – once considered the political death knell for a republican candidate – won overwhelmingly at the ballot box. On the other hand, multiculturalism is morphing into tribalization and balkanization on the political left. The Black Lives Matter movement, for example, is nothing less than an ethno-nationalist movement, a kind of absolutist tribalization that rejects secular notions of tolerance and inclusivity. Secular multicultural and tolerance norms are collapsing all over the place, not merely due to the wave of nationalist populist sentiments on the right, but also due to the split allegiances that occur as the result of multiculturalism.

Moreover, this turn towards nationalist sentiments that we are seeing all over the globe actually entails a resurgence of historic religious identities and moral commitments, largely due to the interrelationship between nationalism and revitalized traditions. In the face of threats to localized or national identity by globalized secular processes, populations tend to reassert symbols of cultural identity such as language, custom, tradition, and religion as mechanisms of resistance.

We can see evidence of a revitalized civic religion here at home. In his recent campaign speech in Main, Trump said: “Imagine what our country could accomplish if we started working together as one people, under one God, saluting one American flag.” This became a refrain in his campaign speeches: one people under one God. And while some can’t get past the potential threat to religious freedom such a hypothetical statement represents, we have to understand that this is precisely the kind of revitalization of public religion that accompanies the ascendancy of nationalist sentiments.

Thus it appears that the waning of multiculturalism and the rise of a nationalist populism indicates the dawn of a post-secular age. Despite the sporadic protests to the contrary, a Trump presidency signals to the wider culture that it is now open season on political correctness. And as far as I’m concerned, it couldn’t have come soon enough.

There are 22 comments.

  1. J. Martin Hanks Member

    Yes and Amen!

    • #1
    • November 11, 2016, at 5:53 AM PST
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  2. Liver Pate Inactive

    Should go to Main Feed right away, regardless of votes.

    • #2
    • November 11, 2016, at 6:13 AM PST
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  3. Western Chauvinist Member

    Dr. Steve Turley: Thus it appears that the waning of multiculturalism and the rise of a nationalist populism indicates the dawn of a post-secular age.

    May it be pleasing to God.

    • #3
    • November 11, 2016, at 6:41 AM PST
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  4. MJBubba Inactive

    Dr. Steve Turley: So the various establishment media and journalistic outlets are largely incapable of understanding and interacting with non-secular conceptions of life.

    I am not so sure on this point. They have a religion. Their religion is liberal politics.

    • #4
    • November 11, 2016, at 6:52 AM PST
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  5. Aaron Miller Member

    The “open season on political correctness” sounds fun. That’s probably right.

    I’m not sure about the rest. I haven’t noticed a resurgence of faith and traditions in America.

    Not even many conservative Christians can still wrap their heads around traditions like the the Biblical hierarchy of husband (“head”) and wife. Some can’t even accept Hell as damnation, rather than a mere place of holding before all are saved. Even on a symbolic level, I don’t see a widespread resurgence of faith traditions.

    What other traditions do you think are trending back?

    • #5
    • November 11, 2016, at 7:24 AM PST
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  6. Aaron Miller Member

    On second thought, even the “open season” on PC nonsense might be a stretch. Trump’s election will certainly inspire many people to more boldly reject political correctness. But I bet the Left will respond with a desperate, angry effort to clamp down on their gains.

    These past few days, they have felt justified in plainly stating their hatred of us and claiming we have no place in society. Universities, businesses, and other groups will continue to punish dissent against PC culture.

    • #6
    • November 11, 2016, at 7:39 AM PST
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  7. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor

    Dr. Steve Turley: And while some can’t get past the potential threat to religious freedom such a hypothetical statement represents, we have to understand that this is precisely the kind of revitalization of public religion that accompanies the ascendancy of nationalist sentiments.

    Is this revitalized public or civic religion really a path toward God, though, or more like a substitute for God?

    Put not your trust in princes, in mere mortals who cannot save, and so forth. As MJBubba said,

    MJBubba:

    Dr. Steve Turley: So the various establishment media and journalistic outlets are largely incapable of understanding and interacting with non-secular conceptions of life.

    I am not so sure on this point. They have a religion. Their religion is liberal politics.

    Will our religion now be politics, too?

    • #7
    • November 11, 2016, at 9:06 AM PST
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  8. Dr. Steve Turley Inactive
    Dr. Steve Turley Post author

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake,

    Yes, your concern is certainly correct; the resurgence of civil religion is not necessarily a good thing; no question. Time will tell whether the church will be at the service of a blind nationalism or whether such nationalism could be morally tempered and guided by a revitalized church.

    • #8
    • November 11, 2016, at 10:02 AM PST
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  9. Dr. Steve Turley Inactive
    Dr. Steve Turley Post author

    MJ Bubba,

    “Their religion is liberal politics.” You couldn’t be more right.

    • #9
    • November 11, 2016, at 10:06 AM PST
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  10. Joseph Stanko Member

    Aaron Miller:I’m not sure about the rest. I haven’t noticed a resurgence of faith and traditions in America.

    Not even many conservative Christians can still wrap their heads around traditions like the the Biblical hierarchy of husband (“head”) and wife. Some can’t even accept Hell as damnation, rather than a mere place of holding before all are saved. Even on a symbolic level, I don’t see a widespread resurgence of faith traditions.

    The mainline liberal Protestant consensus in the United States gave way to the secular vision of life over the course of the 20th century. I think the OP lays out a plausible case that this secular vision is now losing credibility and on the verge of collapse world-wide.

    I don’t think that means we automatically revert to what came before, rather it would create a vacuum waiting to be filled. In Europe, for instance, I think it’s plausible that many nations become Islamic if the old Christian traditions fail to re-assert themselves. Here in the U.S. the old mainline liberal churches are a dying breed, so some other tradition would have to step in to fill the gap. Will it be Evangelicals? Catholics? Mormons? Islam? Perhaps some neo-pagan environmentalist form of Gaia worship?

    • #10
    • November 11, 2016, at 12:10 PM PST
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  11. TempTime Member

    J. Martin Hanks:Yes and Amen!

    My thoughts exactly.

    • #11
    • November 11, 2016, at 12:16 PM PST
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  12. Shawn Buell (Majestyk) Contributor

    Ahem…

    I’m really not sure if this is just excessive optimism brought on by Tuesday’s unexpected win, but this needs to be explained and why it doesn’t utterly debunk the entire thesis of this post.

    It’s also worth pointing out that in order for something to be “post secular” it would first have to be “secular.” Our society isn’t post secular – it’s growing increasingly secular. Unless your definition of secular is “society being less than 99% religiously affiliated” there’s never been a time when that was the case, and it isn’t going back there by any relevant measure.

    • #12
    • November 11, 2016, at 12:37 PM PST
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  13. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor

    Majestyk:I’m really not sure if this is just excessive optimism brought on by Tuesday’s unexpected win, but this needs to be explained and why it doesn’t utterly debunk the entire thesis of this post.

    It’s also worth pointing out that in order for something to be “post secular” it would first have to be “secular.” Our society isn’t post secular – it’s growing increasingly secular.

    That is my sense, too. The disaffected longing for a civic cult to re-connect them with their countrymen is hardly out of the question, but I wouldn’t call it non-secular. As my Chinese friends tell me, the Chinese religion is being Chinese – quite different from what most devout Ricochetti would consider “religion”!

    Aaron Miller: Some can’t even accept Hell as damnation, rather than a mere place of holding before all are saved.

    Place of merely “holding”, or place of punishment and purification, just not necessarily eternal? The latter may strike those who consider a separate Purgatory an innovation of the Roman Catholic Church as a reasonably orthodox interpretation of scripture and tradition. Admittedly, this is not the thread for getting into details like that.

    • #13
    • November 11, 2016, at 1:20 PM PST
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  14. Joseph Stanko Member

    Majestyk: It’s also worth pointing out that in order for something to be “post secular” it would first have to be “secular.”

    You don’t think we’ve already been a secular society for the past 50 years or more? The predominant liberal ideology of the universities, the media, and certainly the Democratic party treats religion as something private, quaint, and outdated, something people who cling to their Bibles and guns might do for solace on a Sunday morning, but hardly something central to our shared understanding of civic life.

    Take for instance the Ivy League schools, do any of them still believe and act as if a solid knowledge of the Bible and the fundamentals of theology are essential to a comprehensive liberal education? Of course not, yet if this sounds absurd, bear in mind most of these schools were originally founded as seminaries, had prominent affiliations to specific denominations, chapel attendance was mandatory for students, and so forth.

    • #14
    • November 11, 2016, at 1:43 PM PST
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  15. Z in MT Inactive

    Majestyk:Ahem…

    I’m really not sure if this is just excessive optimism brought on by Tuesday’s unexpected win, but this needs to be explained and why it doesn’t utterly debunk the entire thesis of this post.

    I also disagree with the post, but from an entirely different perspective than Majestyk’s atheism. (i.e. I don’t see secularism as a good thing). I don’t see secularism collapsing in the US. Secularism is subsidized by the government and until the government collapses secularism will continue to grow. The rest of the world I think is ahead of the US. Russia particularly already went through their governmental collapse – that is why the Russian church has surged. As for islamic countries, you also see that the collapse of governments leads to religious participation.

    If you are looking for a religious awakening in America it will only happen after the government can no longer subsidize secularism.

    • #15
    • November 11, 2016, at 2:02 PM PST
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  16. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    Majestyk:Ahem…

    I’m really not sure if this is just excessive optimism brought on by Tuesday’s unexpected win, but this needs to be explained and why it doesn’t utterly debunk the entire thesis of this post.

    It’s also worth pointing out that in order for something to be “post secular” it would first have to be “secular.” Our society isn’t post secular – it’s growing increasingly secular. Unless your definition of secular is “society being less than 99% religiously affiliated” there’s never been a time when that was the case, and it isn’t going back there by any relevant measure.

    I think that American society has been dominated by secular values since the 1960s, if not the 1930s, and the Obama years are a new high water mark for secularism.

    If the choices are between “Christian” and “secular,” the legalization of abortion and SSM are solid evidence that secularism has been winning.

    The link you cite shows Christian belief down from 78.4% to 70.6% between 2007 and 2014, while the religiously “unaffiliated” were up from 16.1% to 22.8%.

    What may be happening is two things: (1) people who were secularists, but still self-identified as “Christian,” have abandoned that identification (without actually changing their views); and (2) people who were, and remain, Christian are increasingly noticing that secularism is unacceptable to them (and anti-Christian, in many ways).

    • #16
    • November 11, 2016, at 2:52 PM PST
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  17. Bob Thompson Member

    Someone needs to enlighten me on the distinction between what is called here ‘secular’ and what we have referred to in the political contest as ‘progressive’.

    • #17
    • November 11, 2016, at 3:16 PM PST
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  18. Aaron Miller Member

    Majestyk: Our society isn’t post secular – it’s growing increasingly secular. Unless your definition of secular is “society being less than 99% religiously affiliated” there’s never been a time when that was the case,

    This is a misunderstanding of secularism. It does not mean non-religious. It means separating religious ideas from public or political action, even (in the case of education) public thought. Thus, someone can claim to be a secular Jew or secular Christian.

    It is a willful delusion that one’s fundamental beliefs, along with the moral principles and traditions based upon those most basic perceptions, can be divorced from one’s more advanced beliefs and actions. Yet secularism is praised even on the Right.

    Nearly all Western societies have become secular. Thus, fundamental beliefs concerning God or human nature are deemed inconsequential to living together and governing together. And so the nonsense of multiculturalism reigns.

    Few Catholic schools in America teach much about God these days. Why? Because they aspire to be secular.

    • #18
    • November 11, 2016, at 3:44 PM PST
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  19. Profile Photo Member

    Majestyk:Ahem…but this needs to be explained and why it doesn’t utterly debunk the entire thesis of this post…

    I think this study is masking reality; American religious decline is very profound. I just moved to the Bible belt to discover Church attendance among my students in a school that tilts conservative and religious is far lower than expected. The Barna group has researched this topic, and the age cohort that was 16-30 in 2002-2006 is among the least religious in US history. As they have moved into adulthood, have children, and enter fully into society we will see a sudden drop in church membership when the boomers die off.

    I think this poll also masks the fact that most families religious identification has no bearing on their actual lives as lived, when religion has come up as a teacher in three different states over five years of teaching full time and three additional years of substituting. I’ve discovered that only about 10-30% of my students attend any house of worship more than once or twice a year, most have no idea what denomination they are, and they have no connection to their sacred book, devotional writings, or pietistic practices of their parent’s faith (usually grandparents faith). My life as a church organist only confirms this.

    I expect to see US traditional religious affiliation reach European levels in about 25-45 years if current trends continue.

    Now to the thesis…

    • #19
    • November 12, 2016, at 4:55 AM PST
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  20. MLH Inactive
    MLH

    I see that you published this elsewhere. Neither credits the other.

    • #20
    • November 12, 2016, at 5:18 AM PST
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  21. Shawn Buell (Majestyk) Contributor

    Bob Thompson:Someone needs to enlighten me on the distinction between what is called here ‘secular’ and what we have referred to in the political contest as ‘progressive’.

    I am secular. I am not a progressive.

    Progressivism is premised upon (it seems to me) the assumption that history has an inevitable and inexorable drift which drives society towards a set of assumptions – those being by and large centered on the notion that experts and government can in some sense immanetize the eschaton. In brief, theirs is the Unconstrained Vision as defined by Thomas Sowell.

    My worldview is informed by the Constrained Vision.

    • #21
    • November 12, 2016, at 4:38 PM PST
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  22. Shawn Buell (Majestyk) Contributor

    Joseph Stanko:

    Majestyk: It’s also worth pointing out that in order for something to be “post secular” it would first have to be “secular.”

    You don’t think we’ve already been a secular society for the past 50 years or more? The predominant liberal ideology of the universities, the media, and certainly the Democratic party treats religion as something private, quaint, and outdated, something people who cling to their Bibles and guns might do for solace on a Sunday morning, but hardly something central to our shared understanding of civic life.

    Take for instance the Ivy League schools, do any of them still believe and act as if a solid knowledge of the Bible and the fundamentals of theology are essential to a comprehensive liberal education? Of course not, yet if this sounds absurd, bear in mind most of these schools were originally founded as seminaries, had prominent affiliations to specific denominations, chapel attendance was mandatory for students, and so forth.

    As far as secularism goes, I don’t think you’ve seen anything yet.

    A key indicator for this in my opinion is actually how many people subscribe to Young Earth Creationism. Only once that number begins to decline will secularism begin to really take off.

    • #22
    • November 12, 2016, at 4:45 PM PST
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