In a column for the Guardian, Polly Toynbee illustrates the peril that awaits Christianity in the very near future.
Who does Toynbee blame for the terrorist attacks in London? Not really mass murdering terrorist, they are just pawns of an evil “God” and religion of all kinds.
Toynbee makes the point that every religion has had fanatical followers who use their religious beliefs as justification for harming other human beings. While this is true, it is also true that atheistic governments (communism, dictatorships headed by atheists, etc.) also have violent skeletons in the closet.
The writer takes the easy road out in the problem with terrorism, by calling for a removal of religion (or religious people) from public discourse and decision-making. In Toynbee’s mind, this may be the end to all the problems with suicide bombers blowing up trains and buses, but what fills the vaccum that religion leaves behind.
If we removed all religion and all influences by religion, does she honestly think that the world would be a better, more moral place? Evaluate governments and nations. Which ones have the best record in terms of human rights? It is not the government where religion reigns (Islamic rule), but it is also not the nations where atheism is enforced (China, Cuba, North Korea, etc.). The nations that place the most value on human lives are those that are not governed by religion, but they are influenced and encouraged by religion and people of faith.
It is ironic that in an column written supposedly as a way to discourage future bombings by radical Muslims, it is not the Muslims who appear to be the worst religious offenders. No, she quotes from moderate Muslims who want to distance themselves from the terrorists. (Do not get me wrong, I am glad when any Muslim comes forward to dennounce terrorism.)
She saves her harshest language for, of course, the Jews and the Evangelical Christians. She belittles “Jewish zealots in their settlements [who] crazily claim legal rights to land from the Old Testament.” She speaks of “sects of killer Christians and indeed the whole of Christendom has been at times bent on wiping out heathens.”
Toynbee informs the reader “how far-right evangelicals have kidnapped US politics and warped its secular, liberal founding traditions.” I guessing she hasn’t read the numerous historical documents, historical writings and even statements by so-called Deist Founding Fathers. That is not to say this nation was founded as a “Christian nation,” but you do great damage to yourself and history, to ignore or even downplay the impact that the Christian faith played in the founding of our nation.
I am not sure she intended the column to be such, but it was merely a verbal slap to the face of every dedicated Christian (not to mention Jews, Muslims and every person who has some form of religious leaning). She speaks of us as not belonging to “the real world” but “the world of dreams.” Those of us who believe in “absolute revealed truth” must be “prone to insanity.” And of course our “[i]ntense belief, incantations, secrecy and all-male rituals breed perversions and danger, abusing women and children and infecting young men with frenzy…” Apparently to Toynbee, nothing says “Jesus” quite like raping and beating women and children, while telling our young boys to go blow themselves up.
Her next quote seals her disdain for religion, particularly Christianity:
Enlightenment values are in peril not because these mad beliefs are really growing but because too many rational people seek to appease and understand unreason. Extreme superstition breeds extreme action. Those who believe they alone know the only way, truth and life will always feel justified in doing anything in its name. You would, wouldn’t you, if you alone had the magic answer to everything? If religions teach that life after death is better then it is hardly surprising that some crazed followers will actually believe it.
Is it any question now which religion, she is really going after with the line the “way, truth and life?” It seems pretty clear that her real problem is not with Muslim terrorists but with those darned Jesus freaks.
I would appeal to Ms. Toynbee to explain how belief in Jesus as the “way, truth and life” prompts me to do “anything in [His] name,” especially when “anything” includes actions that would be in direct conflict with the teachings of the one I follow and worship. What does belief in an afterlife have to do with being a “crazed follower” and blowing up a crowded subway? I wish Toynbee would attempt some type of justification for her rhetoric instead of throw-away generalities and strained connections.
Would see find the logic just as compelling if I referenced some instances of atheists or agnostics committing vicious crimes and then equated her with them merely because of their shared lack of faith? Of course not, because such comparisons are at best silly and lazy, at worst dangerous, precedent establishing lies.
Everyone should be free to be of whatever religious or irreligious bent they desire. No one should be eliminated from participating in the public discourse because of their faith or lack of it. But what Toynbee is suggesting would entail preventing the “devout,” as she calls us, from taking part in the debate over public policy. Or if our “rational” masters allow us “unreason[ed]” religious people the right to speak, we must do so without using our faith. Society and the state must, afterall, “hold on to secular values.”
Nancy Pearcey’s Total Truth presented Christians with the history and the present in the battle over worldview. We must be prepared to deal with the future, as illustrated by Toynbee.
In the future, the state has the right and responsibility to protect and promote “secular values.” This is, of course, to provide protection from “religious extremists” of all types. It is not illegal to be a Christian. The Constitution allows for freedom of religion, but certain measures must be taken to ensure the safety of everyone.
Those still holding to the historical views of Christianity (creation, the inerrancy of the Bible, the resurrection of Christ, the virgin birth, etc.) are found to be irrational and borderline insane, so they must be watched carefully and removed from society in some instances.
Anyone who preaches or teaches “hate speech” will be arrested. This is just like yelling “fire” in a crowded building. Hate speech is defined as anything that does not promote “secular values.”
Christians can still run for public office, but they must pledge to remove their faith from their decision making process. Their beliefs cannot interfer with the work of the government with us to “hold on to secular values.”
I do not know if this future will become a reality, but if those like Toynbee are allowed to dictate what is and is not reason and rational, these measures cannot be far behind.
Before Sam gets upset, I am not saying that currently Christians are persecuted in the US. In fact the opposite has been true. The lack of actual persecution has resulted in lazy, apathetic American Christians. But if Toynbee’s notion (a dedicated Christian is a danger to society because of their faith) becomes reality, the next obvious step would be to do what is necessary to curtail the influence of Christians on society. Afterall, “rational people” should not “appease and understand unreason.”