Dennis Prager writing in NRO:
Last week, David Brooks of the New York Times wrote a column on an academic study concerning the nearly complete lack of a moral vocabulary among most American young people. Here are excerpts from Brooks’s summary of the study of Americans aged 18 to 23. It was led by “the eminent Notre Dame sociologist Christian Smith”:
● “Smith and company asked about the young people’s moral lives, and the results are depressing.”
● “When asked to describe a moral dilemma they had faced, two-thirds of the young people either couldn’t answer the question or described problems that are not moral at all.”
● “Moral thinking didn’t enter the picture, even when considering things like drunken driving, cheating in school or cheating on a partner.”
● “The default position, which most of them came back to again and again, is that moral choices are just a matter of individual taste.”
● “As one put it, ‘I mean, I guess what makes something right is how I feel about it. But different people feel different ways, so I couldn’t speak on behalf of anyone else as to what’s right and wrong.’”
● “Morality was once revealed, inherited and shared, but now it’s thought of as something that emerges in the privacy of your own heart.” (Emphases mine.)
Ever since I attended college I have been convinced that “studies” either confirm what common sense suggests or they are mistaken. I realized this when I was presented study after study showing that boys and girls were not inherently different from one another, and they acted differently only because of sexist upbringings.
This latest study cited by David Brooks confirms what conservatives have known for a generation: Moral standards have been replaced by feelings. Of course, those on the left only believe this when an “eminent sociologist” is cited by a writer at a major liberal newspaper.
What is disconcerting about Brooks’s piece is that nowhere in what is an important column does he mention the reason for this disturbing trend: namely, secularism.
The intellectual class and the Left still believe that secularism is an unalloyed blessing. They are wrong. Secularism is good for government. But it is terrible for society (though still preferable to bad religion) and for the individual.
One key reason is what secularism does to moral standards. If moral standards are not rooted in God, they do not objectively exist. Good and evil are no more real than “yummy” and “yucky.” They are simply a matter of personal preference. One of the foremost liberal philosophers, Richard Rorty, an atheist, acknowledged that for the secular liberal, “There is no answer to the question, ‘Why not be cruel?’”
With the death of Judeo-Christian God-based standards, people have simply substituted feelings for those standards. Millions of American young people have been raised by parents and schools with “How do you feel about it?” as the only guide to what they ought to do. The heart has replaced God and the Bible as a moral guide. And now, as Brooks points out, we see the results. A vast number of American young people do not even ask whether an action is right or wrong. The question would strike them as foreign. Why? Because the question suggests that there is a right and wrong outside of themselves. And just as there is no God higher than them, there is no morality higher than them, either.
Forty years ago, I began writing and lecturing about this problem. It was then that I began asking students if they would save their dog or a stranger first if both were drowning. The majority always voted against the stranger — because, they explained, they loved their dog and they didn’t love the stranger.
They followed their feelings.
Without God and Judeo-Christian religions, what else is there?
Last week an Iraqi Muslim scholar issued a fatwa that, among other barbarities, asserts that “it is permissible to spill the blood of Iraqi Christians.” Inciting as the fatwa is, it is also redundant. While last October’s Baghdad church attack which killed some sixty Christians is widely known—actually receiving some MSM coverage—the fact is, Christian life in Iraq has been a living hell ever since U.S. forces ousted the late Saddam Hussein in 2003.
Full article here.
ROME, JAN. 25, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Anti-Christian persecution is increasing in some parts of the world such that it is taking on the form of a true “ethnic or religious cleansing,” says the president of the Italian bishops’ conference.
Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco stated this Monday when he opened the winter session of the permanent council of the Italian Episcopal Conference. The meeting is under way through Thursday.
The cardinal referred to the Jan. 1 bombing outside a Coptic Christian Church in Alexandria, Egypt, that took the lives of more than 20 Copts.
This, he said, “was probably the incident that public opinion could no longer pretend it didn’t see.”
The cardinal decried a “constant repetition of situations of persecution, which recently have been seen in several areas of the world, and have Christians as designated victims.”
“For a long time [Christians] have been the religious group that must face the greatest number of persecutions because of their faith,” Cardinal Bagnasco noted. “A crescendo of bloody incidents that in the course of months has involved India, Pakistan and the Philippines, Sudan and Nigeria, Eritrea and Somalia. However, the most serious events took place in Iraq and finally in Egypt.”
The 2010 Report on Religious Liberty in the World, presented every two years by the international charity Aid to the Church in Need, reports that the number of persecuted Christians in the world is 200 million.
Most notable among the recent attacks against Christians include a Dec. 30 wave of 11 bomb attacks that killed two Christians and wounded 16 in Iraq; an Oct. 31 massacre at the Syrian Catholic cathedral in Baghdad, which that day claimed more than 50 lives; and the Jan. 1 bombing at the Coptic Church of the Saints in Alexandria.
Despite the diverse situations that form the background of these events, Cardinal Bagnasco reflected, the “the Middle East is certainly the region with the highest tension; there, Christianophobia, which is the most current version of religious intolerance, is not far from becoming now a form of ethnic or religious cleansing,” despite the fact that “for centuries that land has been a laboratory of coexistence between different faiths and ethnic groups.”
Mentioning Benedict XVI’s message for the most recent World Day of Peace, the cardinal reminded that religious liberty is “an essential element of a constitutional state” and that “each person must be able freely to exercise the right to profess and manifest, individually or in community, his or her own religion or faith, in public and in private, in teaching, in practice, in publications, in worship and in ritual observances.”
He again referenced the Holy Father’s words to conclude that an arbitrary denial or limiting of such liberty “means to cultivate a reductive vision of the human person. To obscure the public role of religion means to generate an unjust society, because it is not proportioned to the true nature of the person.”
In one diocese alone, Rottenburg-Stuttgart, by mid December 17,659 had turned their back on the Church, compared to 4,563 for the whole of 2009, according to new research by the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper and the DPA press agency.
Augsberg, reflecting a downward trend experienced by most dioceses, saw its flock decline as 11,351 left the Church in comparison to the 6,953 the year, while in Trier 7,029 people quit, a 2,500 increase on the previous year.
“I have never experienced anything like this since my ordination in 1969,” said Bishop Friedhelm Hofmann of Wurzburg, adding that “every single departure is one too many”.
The bishop suggested that the exodus was linked to the sex and corruption scandals that have blighted the Catholic Church this year both in Germany and abroad.
The desertation poses potential financial problems for the Church – under German law a recognised member of a church can donate some of their taxes to the institution, so if people renounce their membership the flow of money diminishes.
Excerpt from the Christian Science Monitor:
Christians, most of them eastern rite Catholics, trace their history in this country to the earliest days of Christianity. Before the 2003 war, there were up to a million Christians here – about 3 percent of the population. Half that number is estimated to have left in the past seven years, continuing an exodus begun after the 1991 Gulf War when Saddam Hussein’s secular regime turned increasingly Islamic.
Although thousands of Assyrian Christians and others were killed under Iraq’s Ottoman rule a century ago, the attack on the church last week is the worst in the country’s recent history. The attack, claimed by an Al Qaeda-linked group, was followed two days later by 16 bombings in Shiite neighborhoods in Baghdad that killed at least 70 people.
The vast majority of the tens of thousands of victims of Iraq’s violence since 2003 have been Muslim, but the small size of Iraq’s Christian minority and the nature of the attack have sent shock waves throughout the community.
“They kill us not because we are Iraqi but because we are Christian,” says Father Douglas al-Bazi, who has permanent injuries after being kidnapped and tortured four years ago. “It is different if I die by a bomb or in an accident – I will not say that I’m dying because of Christianity but they entered the church and they know inside the church there are only Christians. Our leaders say, ‘We ask the Christians to be patient – to have the courage to live together to live hand in hand with the Muslims … Why are we begging? Saying, ‘Please, please,’ for what? To let us survive?”
Full report here.
Article: The Death of Iraq’s Christians
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – Saudi police raided a secret Catholic mass in Riyadh last week and arrested a dozen Filipinos and a Catholic priest, charging them with prosyletising, a local daily reported on Wednesday.
The raid took place as some 150 Filipinos were attending the mass in a Riyadh rest house on Friday, the second day of the weekend in Saudi Arabia, Arab News said.
The twelve Filipino men and the priest, whose nationality was not specified, were “charged with prosyletising,” the daily quoted an official from the Philippine embassy in Riyadh as saying.
They were all released Sunday on guarantees by sponsors or embassies, the report said.
Saudi Arabia bans the practice of any religion aside from Islam. However, small, low-key prayer services inside expatriate compounds and in Filipino gatherings are tolerated by officials.
With more than one million workers in Saudi Arabia, Filipinos comprise the bulk of the Christian community inside the kingdom.
Filipino activists confirmed the arrests to Agence France-Presse, saying they had been released, but could not confirm the arrest of a priest.
From The Guardian:
The Roman Catholic archbishop of Westminster has distanced himself from an aide who said gay rights and the commercialisation of sex had turned Britain into a “selfish, hedonistic wasteland” and “the geopolitical epicentre of the culture of death”.
The comments from Edmund Adamus, director of pastoral affairs at the diocese of Westminster and an adviser to the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, have angered gay rights and secularists groups and provoked embarrassment among the Catholic hierarchy weeks before the pope visits Britain.
Senior figures, including Lord Patten of Barnes, have been keen to stress that the UK, while secular, is not anti-Catholic and that the pope is not flying into hostile territory.
Adamus told the Catholic news agency Zenit there was an “aggressive anti-Catholic bias towards the church and the pontiff” in this country that exceeded even countries that violently persecuted Christians.
“Historically, and continuing right now, Britain, and in particular, London, has been and is the geopolitical epicentre of the culture of death.
“Our laws and lawmakers for over 50 years or more have been the most permissively anti-life and progressively anti-family and marriage, in essence one of the most anti-Catholic landscapes, culturally speaking, than even those places where Catholics suffer open persecution.”
He also talked about marriage and the role of men and women, urging Catholics to “exhibit counter-cultural signals against the selfish, hedonistic wasteland that is the objectification of women for sexual gratification.”
“Britain in particular, with its ever-increasing commercialisation of sex, not to mention its permissive laws advancing the ‘gay’ agenda, is such a wasteland.”
A spokesman for Nichols said the views expressed by Adamus “did not reflect the archbishop’s opinions”.
Ben Summerskill, from the gay rights group Stonewall, said the comments were “gratuitously offensive”.
He told the Independent: “The gratuitously offensive comments being made by the archbishop’s adviser are hardly likely to promote sensitive debate about respect for religion in the 21st century. You would think that, given its present status, the Roman Catholic church in Britain would be slightly more sensitive about wagging its finger at other people”.
From blogger Lisa Graas:
New York City imam Feisal Abdul Rauf claims that the proposed mosque at Ground Zero is an attempt by the Muslim community to “build bridges.”
It is named after Cordoba in southern Spain, a city where between the eighth and 12th centuries, Muslims, Jews and Christians intermingled freely. In fact, during the 10th century under the Moorish caliphate, Cordoba became a major global city and boasted the world’s biggest library.
Is the imam telling the truth? Catholic history indicates a different picture…
Read entire post here.
Gerald Warner writing in the Telegraph:
Mary I burned 284 Protestant heretics, according to John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, which is unlikely to be an underestimate. Estimates of the number of executions carried out by Henry VIII range from 57,000 to the 72,000 claimed in Raphael Holinshed’s Chronicles (the mass murder following the Catholic rising known as the Pilgrimage of Grace should be taken into account). The troops of his son Edward VI massacred more than 5,500 Cornish Catholics in the wake of the Prayer Book Rebellion. Elizabeth I was more sparing of formal executions, though St Margaret Clitheroe was pressed to death at York and Mary Queen of Scots beheaded; but the butchery in Ireland was appalling. There, Edmund Spenser, author of The Faerie Queene, supported a policy of extermination by artificial famine on a scale that was not exceeded until Stalin in the 1930s.
So, why is it “Bloody Mary”, but “Bluff King Hal”, when the executions he ordered exceeded his daughter’s by more than 56,000 at the least? Why not “Bloody Harry”? Obviously, because he was the founder of the Church of England. That did not prevent him from burning the more advanced Protestant Anne Askew, who had the privilege of being racked in the Tower of London by the Lord Chancellor in person, which suggests that the divisions between conflicting wings of the Church of England were at least as vicious then as now.
The most recent study of Mary’s reign, Eamon Duffy’s Fires of Faith: Catholic England Under Mary Tudor, authoritatively demonstrates that England at her accession remained a Catholic country at heart and was relieved to return to the practices of the old faith, which had not been abandoned out of mass apostasy but only in obedience to the personal policy of Henry VIII, enforced by terror.
This country remains marinated in anti-Catholic mythology as a consequence of centuries of relentless propaganda by establishment interest groups. The cult of “No Popery”, enshrined by statute in the Act of Settlement and currently being ventilated in opposition to the papal visit, is the one tolerated prejudice in an age of hysterical paranoia against “discrimination”.
Full article here.
Like many countries in western Europe, Portugal has strayed far from its Catholic roots, passing laws in recent years allowing abortion on demand and divorce, even when one of the spouses is opposed. Earlier this year, Parliament passed a bill seeking to make the country the sixth in Europe allowing same-sex couples to marry. The country’s president must know decide whether to approve or veto the legislation.
The German-born Benedict has made clear his dissatisfaction with such trends in Europe and has made it a priority of his papacy to remind Europeans that Christianity forms a basis of much of their culture and identity, and that they shouldn’t try to do without God in their lives…
Full report here.