By Allan Turner
This special issue on secular humanism proves, if nothing else, that those who have been speaking and writing on this subject no longer sit as “lonely birds on the roof.” I am happy to share with you the fruit of my study of this subject. It is inevitable that any study of secular humanism would cause us to think about the influence it may be having on our government. I think you may find that it has had a much stronger influence than you had suspected.
When we think of the federal government, we normally think of a vast bureaucracy; so vast, in fact, that it is almost beyond comprehension. But, in reality, we are only talking about 537 elected and 9 appointed men and women. Surprised? Well, let’s count them: I president, I vice president, 100 senators, 435 representatives, and 9 Supreme Court justices. As ours is a democratic republic, these 546 people are the government; the vast bureaucracy, in theory, simply supports these 546 people in doing whatever it is government is supposed to do.
Traditionally, government (at least our government) has been thought to exist for the “common good” of the citizenry. Obviously, if government is to provide for the common good of the people, then it must have an opinion as to the substance of that common good. As secular humanism has become quite pervasive in our society, we should expect to see conflicts arising in government as it attempts to provide for the common good of a people who are sharply divided between a biblically based world view and a secular humanist world view. When we use the term “world view,” we are speaking of the grid through which we view the world. Naturally, there will be a sharp contrast between these two world views when the government attempts to legislate morality (i.e., homosexuality, abortion, marriage, divorce, capital punishment, pornography, infanticide, euthanasia, etc.)
It is my opinion that the conflict between these two world views is the most fundamental and decisive issue of our time. The issue is one quite common to New Testament Christians, who seek after the New Testament order, for it is one of authority: Is God still ruling in both the religious and secular affairs of man, or is man totally autonomous, answerable only to himself and the institutions he has created? These two alternatives underlie most of the major and minor conflicts of our day. Contrary to what some may think, secular humanism is not the “brand name of some organizationally identifiable movement. It is, rather, an ‘ideology’, i.e., an all-comprising, all-permeating world view, ethos and attitude. It is the antithesis to religion” (Klaus Bockmuehl, “Secularism and Theology”, Crux Magazine, June, 1983, p. 7).
Let us get, then, to the subject at hand. The first and last paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence speak of God. U.S. Supreme Court Justice, William O. Douglas, as recently as 1952, said: “We are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being” (Zorach v. Clauson, 343 U.S. 306). 1 believe it is beyond dispute that our legal system in America has traditionally reflected biblically based principles. But this viewpoint is quickly changing. So quickly is the change occurring, that some have insisted that the “anti-God religion of Secular Humanism” is already the favored religion of the state (Claire Chambers, The Siecus Circle, Statement appearing on the flyleaf by Charles Rice, Professor of Law, Notre Dame Law School).
Thinking of secular humanism as the official religion of this nation may not be as far-fetched as it may, at first, seem. In 1961 in the case of Torcaso v. Watkins, Justice Hugo L. Black observed: “Among religions in this country which do not teach what would generally be considered a belief in the existence of God are Buddhism, Taoism, Ethical Culture, Secular Humanism and others.” In this case the Court declared itself neutral of any religious influence when it said that “neither a State nor the Federal Government can constitutionally aid all religions as against non-believers, and neither can aid those religions based on a belief in the existence of God as against those religions founded on different beliefs. “This newly found “neutrality,” or tightrope act, has forced the Court to pretend that the existing legal system is not subject to any religious influence.
In declaring themselves free from any religious influence, they have opted for the self-autonomous religion of secular humanism, and have discarded any notion of a Law above the law. On its face, this is a clear violation of The First Amendment, which prohibits the establishment of a state favored religion, if “religion” in the amendment means “ideological system,” as the secular humanists argue it does. Of course, the use of the term “religion” in the First Amendment has been explained by those who framed it as a prohibition against a national religion or the placing of any one religious sect, denomination, or tradition into a preferred legal status. And as recently as 1961 it was understood by the Court that way. This was articulated by Justice J. Frankfurter, who said “the immediate object of the First Amendment’s prohibition was the established church as it had been known in England and in most of the Colonies” [emphasis added] (McGowen v. Maryland, 366 U.S. 420, 465). It is interesting to note that in the 1963 Schempp case, which outlawed the reading of the Bible, or its use as a religious document, in the public schools, the Court said that the use of the term “under God” could continue to be used in the schools as long as everyone understood that it actually has no “religious purpose or meaning.” The term “under God” in the pledge of allegiance, according to Justice William Brennan, “may merely recognize the historical fact that our Nation was believed to have been founded ‘under God… [emphasis added] (School District of Abington Township, Pa. v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203, 303-04). At the beginning of this rather long paragraph we mentioned that the founding fathers recognized this nation’s dependence upon God. We have now arrived at a point in this nation’s existence where its historical founding “under God” is considered by the United States Supreme, Court as nothing more than an antiquated shibboleth to appease the masses.
The legislative branch of our government has been charged with policy making, the executive branch has been charged with carrying out those policies, and the judicial branch as been charged with making sure the other two branches do not go beyond the Constitution in creating and implementing those policies. Nowhere in the Constitution is the Supreme Court given the authority to make policy, but this has been occurring now for a generation (ever since Earl Warren became Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court). Instead of a democratic republic, for all practical purposes, we are a people ruled by judicial fiat. What some who sit on the Supreme Court seem to think is their right to carry on their own “Constitutional Convention,” we, the people, recognize as nothing less than tyranny.
Felix Frankfurter, who himself became a Supreme Court Justice, wrote to Franklin Roosevelt in 1937 what we all now know. “People,” he said, “have been taught to believe that when the Supreme Court speaks it is not they who speak but the Constitution, whereas, of course, in so many vital cases, it is they who speak and not the Constitution. And I verily believe that that is what the country needs most to understand” (Max Freedman, ed., Roosevelt and Frankfurter.- Their Correspondence, 1928-1945, p. 383, 1967). Justice William 0. Douglas recounted that when he came to the Court, Chief Justice Hughes “made a statement to me which at the time was shattering but which over the years turned out to be true: ‘Justice Douglas, you must remember one thing. At the constitutional level . . . ninety percent of any decision is emotional. The rational part of us supplies the reasons for supporting our predilections’ . . . I knew that judges had predilections . . . But I had never been willing to admit to myself that the ‘gut’ reaction of a judge at the level of constitutional adjudications dealing with the vagaries of due process . . . was the main ingredient of his decision. The admission of it destroyed in my mind some of the reverence for immutable principles” (William 0. Douglas, The Court Years, 1939-1975, p. 8, 1981). In other words, he was converted to the secular humanistic concept that there are really no immutable or absolute laws. As Frederick Moore Vinson, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, is reported to have said: “Nothing is more certain in modern society than the principle that there are no absolutes” (Quoted by Francis A. Schaeffer in How Should We Then Live?, p. 217).
The humanist world view is being forced on the rest of us by a few unelected individuals on the U.S. Supreme Court (remember it only takes five of the nine justices to rule). Whether or not they are admitted humanists, or even aware of their humanistic tendencies, is really of little significance. The main thing is they have encompassed the ideology and are acting, either knowingly or unknowingly, as the High Priests of this “new religion”; a religion which is, in fact, really quite old. Humanism is as old as man. Sacred as well as secular history is replete with man thinking it possible for him to direct his own path. All such endeavors have ended in failure, and left those who espoused such in despair. Man is not now, nor can he ever be, his own savior, and thinking he is, or can be, is one of the great follies of humanism.
I have concentrated on the United States Supreme Court, because at this moment in our nation’s history the executive and legislative branches of government are under the control of the Court. Neither the President nor Congress can do anything without the approval of the Supreme Court. The Court, except within the confines of the church and the home, has completely secularized our society. The Bible is forbidden to be used in our schools as a religious document. It is illegal for school children to be granted even a few minutes “quiet time” to address their Creator. It is illegal for schools to post on their walls anything that refers to the Bible, such as the Ten Commandments. When teachers discuss the highly metaphysical subject of origins, only one theory can be lawfully taught: the humanistic theory of evolution. The murder of some 15 million babies in utero is approved by the Court. Infanticide and euthanasia are both being sanctioned by the judiciary. The Court has involved itself in reapportionment of local government and the destruction of neighborhood schools. There are other things we could mention, but space just will not allow us to do so. All these acts have been done against the will of the executive and legislative branches of the government by, in most cases, five unelected men. For humanism to have such a dramatic impact on current society, it was not necessary for it to subvert a whole government, just five men.
The situation is much more critical than most are willing to admit. In his first speech as a newly declared candidate for re-election, President Reagan said: “How can we survive as a free nation when some decide that others are not fit to live and should be done away with? This nation cannot continue turning a blind eye and deaf ear to the taking of some 4000 unborn children’s lives every day – one every 21 seconds.” The President went on to say: “We cannot pretend America is preserving her first and highest ideals – the belief that each life is sacred – when we’ve permitted the deaths of 15 million helpless innocents since the Roe v. Wade decision” (Address to the National Religious Broadcasters convention, January 30, 1984).
The Chief Executive Officer of the United States is now on record as identifying the abortion issue as the most critical
issue affecting the survival of America. The current U.S. Supreme Court position on this subject is clearly the product of secular humanistic thinking, which selfishly place the whims of the mother over the life of her unborn baby, and shamelessly proclaims a constitutional “right” for the mothers of America to legally kill their unwanted, unborn children.
There must be no mistake about it, if the government of the United States adopts humanism, there will occur a complete transition from the Romans 13 government ordained by God to a Revelation 13 government ordained by Satan. Revelation 1-3 governments are, by their very nature, antagonistic toward God’s people. If, and when, humanism is successful in wresting the reins, you can be assured the church will be persecuted. Are we going to be like those we have criticized and say, “If the Lord is going to save us, He’s going to have to do it all by Himself, because if we help Him, then it’s not totally of grace”? People who won’t do the works commanded by God aren’t worth saving, I know it, you know it, and the Lord knows it.
Therefore, let us “put on the full armor of God, that (we) may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world-forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places. Therefore take up the full armor of God that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints” (Eph. 6:11-18).
Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 14, pp. 428-430
July 19, 1984