Secular Nationalism (*In part, inspired by C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters)

Cornfield Theology
Cornfield Theology
Secular Nationalism (*In part, inspired by C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters)

Dear Diary, it is Monday at 7:10 AM on November 9th. I love Monday mornings because that means Sunday is over. Jack from the office continues to invite me to his Presbyterian church, and once again, I told him that I am an atheist. I told him I am a humanist. Jack does not know what the latter term means, which is not surprising.  Humanism has not taken off in America as it has in parts of Europe. Jack is a nice guy, but I do not understand how a person as intelligent as Jack could be fooled by religion. But he is not the only one. Everyone in America seems to go to church – up to 80%, I think. And it is not just going to church. Many Christians do nothing for the entire day. They call Sunday “the Sabbath,” but I call it ridiculous. Why should I be prevented from gathering groceries because the Christians choose not to do anything on Sunday? How can so many people who live in a country with the potential for greatness rationally believe in god? What US citizens need to do is study abroad, like I did, at the Frankfurt School in Germany. Something like that might awaken their mind.

Because I view the world very differently from the American populace, I feel like an outsider at work and in society more broadly because I do not believe in their fictitious god. Their superstition is maddening, and their alleged god is everywhere. People like Jack read the Bible during his lunch break. There is prayer in the public schools, and there is talk about students taking a “pledge” where they say, “One nation under God.” Heck, even the US currency mentions god. Everywhere I look, I see the putrid effects of the Christian religion. Without a doubt, America is a Christian nation. But here is what I have been thinking about for six months. What will it take to see a country move away from superstition and adopt the guiding principles of modernity? What will it take for America to become a secular nation? It seems like an impossible task, and even if the task could be completed, it would never find its pinnacle in my lifetime. However, I think it would be therapeutic to write down a few thoughts. If I could wave my fairy-tale wand, what would I enact? Perhaps, after I am buried in the ground, my journal will be picked up by a like-minded person who can advance my ideas. 

If America is going to move from being a culturally Christian nation to a secular nation, at least three sectors need to be attacked and changed. First, the collective attitude of the culture toward religion needs to change. The culture is overwhelmingly positive toward Christianity. Therefore that attitude must change. Second, the church needs to move away from superstition in miracles, particularly the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Instead, the church needs to adopt a rationalistic approach to religion. In time, a rational approach will strip away the foundation of the Christian religion. And third, the natural family needs to be destroyed. Even the studs need to be thrown down and burned. I’ll explain why, but this last sector will be the most difficult to change. Fathers are stubborn people. 

Ah, the joy of putting thoughts to paper. Later today, after I have organized my thoughts, I’ll entreat a fellow atheist enthusiast, Charles, and get his feedback. Charles is just as sick as I am about living in this pathetic Christian nation. Ok. I should get to it. Diary, I’ll first deal with the culture. 

The Culture

The best place to change hearts and minds is in the schools. My generation is going to stay the same. Unless there is an all-out war, my generation is not going to shift from its principles. But their children and their children’s children can be indoctrinated into secularism. The first step to seeing change is through the curriculum. Instead of teaching the silly idea that the Christian god created the universe out of nothing, and in six days, Darwinism needs to be introduced. In July, I read in the Tribune about a trial taking place in rural Tennessee. I am not sure what rural Tennesse has to do with Chicago, but the trial was fascinating, even exhilarating. A high school teacher by the name of John Scopes was teaching evolution! He was teaching evolution which was against state law! I was thrilled at the attention the trial received, and I hope the effects advance the cause. Nothing cuts the legs from under the Christian belief in creation than evolution which Darwin first conceived. Sure, Darwin doubted his own ideas of macroevolution, but that need not be mentioned. The goal isn’t to tell all the truth. The goal is to provide an alternative theory that will, over time, become the prevailing theory. And if “luck” is on the side of secularism, this theory will eventually be treated as fact.  

The second area of culture that needs to be changed is the workplace. At present, the workplace is just as “Christian” as the church. Most workplaces rely on Christian workers and patronage from Christians. But what if businesses eventually adopted a “neutral” attitude toward Christianity? That would be a massive win. But how? How could the needle change from positive to neutral? The best way to enact change is, once again, education. But this time, colleges and universities need to cultivate a workforce that does not align with Christian values. But again, how can that be accomplished? I got it. There is no better alternative to Christianity than Marxism. I know Marx died in the last century, but I see his ideas taking hold in Europe. Between Darwin and Marx, a genuine threat to Christianity could develop. But it is essential that the universities teach Darwin and Marx, which means we need professors steeped in their ideology. 

I know that I have only begun to scratch the surface of how to change the collective mind of culture, but it has become clear to my mind that education is the means for radical change. Change will happen gradually, and most Christians will not even see it coming. Heck, even if an observant Christian sees the change, their charity will prevent them from doing anything. It is ironic that one of the virtues I admire in Jack is his charity. But charity might end up being the downfall of his Christian nation. 

The Church

What if the church “modernized” a little bit? What I mean by “modernized” is to adopt rationalistic principles of understanding metaphysics. Certainly, modernized principles will impact how they read the Bible. Modernity has the power to question Christian history, which will result in questioning faith. Here is an example. It says in the Christian scriptures that Jesus walked on water. The initial goal is to not disprove that Jesus walked on water but somehow say the water was frozen, and therefore, Jesus was able to “walk on water.” I know it is a silly example, but the silliness is the point. If aspects of the Christian faith can be seen as “silly,” then it is not an illogical step to dismiss the fantastical stories. Our most incredible founding father, Thomas Jefferson, was certainly on to something with his famous “Jefferson Bible.” He took his scissors and cut out all the miracles in the Bible. But the end goal is not to make the miracle stories of the Bible seem silly or tear them out. The goal is to shatter the faith of the churchgoer by persistent questioning, including questioning the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Two years ago, Jack invited me to the Easter service held at his church. He told me that his pastor was going to preach out of 1 Corinthians 15 and talk about how the Christian faith is worthless if Jesus did not rise from the dead. I did not go to the Easter service, but I found the idea compelling. If you can dispel the resurrection, the rouse is over. When you question the miracle of Jesus walking on water (or multiplying loaves and fishes and turning water into wine, etc.), it is not a big step forward to question the resurrection of Jesus Christ. All it takes is for rationalism, ushered in by modernity, to feed the minds of Protestant pastors, where you will eventually see the church fall apart from within. 

Another way to distract church leaders is to focus on social justice and not their gospel. I know that Christians are already naturally engaged in matters of justice. Jack is at the soup kitchen every Saturday night. He takes his lovely wife and five kids, including the newborn. He says it is their mission to feed the poor. He told me last Wednesday that because Jesus cared for the poor, it is important for his family and church to follow the example of Christ. But here is the deal. The goal isn’t for people like Jack to stop feeding the poor, but there needs to be a way to disconnect his faith in Christ from feeding the poor. If that can be done, a new ethos will creep into churches. A merely horizontal “faith” will be created, and their vertical faith in God can be disregarded. Indeed, social justice will become their god. There is a pastor in New York City pushing these ideas. I think his name last name is Fosdick. If this is true, and I mean what I am about to say; god bless that Fosdick fellow. 

But this means that we have to again go after how pastors and ministers are educated. Harvard, Yale, and Princeton were all founded as protestant seminaries. For years they have been pumping out orthodox pastors and ministers. But these seminaries now have undergraduate institutions. And it is through undergraduate institutions that rationalism can creep into the back door of the seminaries. I imagine alternative institutions will be created due to the liberalization of current seminaries, but that is fine. The point is to increase skepticism in the church, and churches need pastors and ministers to help foster skepticism. 

The Family

The traditional family is the final institution that must be confused and brought down. Christians are insistent that a family consists of a man, a woman, and children. They cite their Bible, and I think the Book of Genesis, to say that procreation is one of the primary reasons for marriage. It is to create a progeny. Their ancient book says, “Be fruitful and multiply.” I was recently at a Baptist wedding ceremony, and the pastor quoted his priestly book and said that man and woman “become one flesh.” How does that make any sense? In my opinion, it’s all nonsense.

These small communities need to be individualized, and then marriage can be redefined. Eventually, the federal government needs to get its hands on marriage. So here is the path forward. First, what if procreation could be slowed down? Instead of families consisting of 5-10 people, what if families consisted of 3-5? Real progress can be made if the birthrate falls below two children. So how can this happen? I believe that humanity will evolve to a point where new technologies will be created to lower the risk of women becoming pregnant. When that happens, family sizes will shrink, and individuals will receive a sense of freedom to pursue sexual desires that do not include the natural family. And desire is powerful, and in time competing desires will emerge. For example, instead of desiring a spouse and children, there can be a desire for promiscuity. Fulfilling these sexual desires – for men and women – will lead to greater happiness. I am in my mid-twenties, but I long for a day when I am in my mid-60s when any sexual desire can be pursued, including a man saying he is a woman and a woman saying she is a man. 

The other component of the home that must be dealt with post haste is divorce. At present, a spouse needs to give a reason for divorce. According to their scriptures, the Christian husband and wife have a limited scope for divorce. And our laws reflect their scope. We can not change their scriptures, but laws can be changed. What if laws are adjusted so that a spouse can divorce for no reason? We can call it…”no-fault divorce.” I would legislate these kinds of laws at the state level and begin in one of the most populous states in the United States. What is the end goal? The goal is to create chaos in the home. The goal is to fracture the home so that biological fathers are absent. The goal is to free women from the patriarchy of the Christian faith. And over time, the state will become the “father” to children. In time, federal organizations can be created to “inspect” homes for the safety of children. But the real goal is to see the transfer of power of children from parents to the state. But removing the biological father is the most crucial aspect of this venture. The plan will fail if the father remains the authority of the home. 

The Nail in Their Coffin

My plan is lacking something. It is hard to know what is missing, but something is missing. I have a thought, and I will run it by Charles. But here is a big idea. The string that holds everything together is the modern self. The Enlightenment has been leading us to put a spotlight on the modern individual. Progress has been made, but there needs to be a bigger push to see the rise and triumph of the modern self. A person’s sacrifice for their local community needs to be replaced with radical individualism. The common worker needs to realize that his desire for material wealth needs to be greater than the care of his family. The churchgoer needs an easier version of Christianity. A version of Christianity that takes away the roadblocks of morality for the pursuit of personal desire. Their gospel needs to be watered down to the point where churchgoers are apathetic or indifferent. And the home needs to be redefined. Men should marry men. And women should marry women. Or people need not feel the pressure to marry. That is a great way to stop procreation. But again, at the heart of everything is a person’s desire. Instead of reading Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, we need to inculcate the culture with Rousseau, Darwin, Freud, and Marx. 

Creating Chaos

All of this will lead to chaos. And it is going to take chaos to destroy the studs of this “Christian nation.” Then, after sexual, familial, racial, and political chaos, we can look to redevelop this country into a purely secular society. And yes, a radical form of secular society that ejects the bigotries of the Christian religion. Perhaps someday, my utopian society, which I call secular nationalism, will be achieved. 

I wonder what Charles will think of my ideas. 

Lucias, Chicago, IL

November 9th, 1925

Shawn Powers is the lead pastor of Redemption Hill Church. You can follow him on Twitter at shawn_DSM