Three esteemed thinkers from the Christian, Muslim and Jewish faiths warned about the threats that radical secularist ideologies pose to religion, faith and the state of humanity in a “trialogue” on Tuesday.
Baylor University kicked off its brand new initiative on faith, ethics and public policy — named after prominent social conservative Catholic thinker and Princeton University law professor Robert George — with a panel discussion on “faith and the challenges of secularism.” Other panelists included British lawmaker, rabbi and author Jonathan Sacks and the president of the United States’ first accredited Muslim liberal arts college, Zaytuna College’s Shaykh Hamza Yusuf.
George, who had previously served as the chairman of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, asserted that as societies throughout the world become increasingly secularized, some militant secularists are not content with simply allowing people of faith to worship in their own homes and temples.
While briefly discussing arguments laid out in Rod Dreher’s 2017 book The Benedict Option, George refuted a notion that people of faith should respond to increasing secularization in society by breaking off into their own enclaves.
“I think that the traditions of faith and [their] people have essentially three options. One is to capitulate. One is to separate ourselves in the hope that we will be left to our own families and to our own traditions. The third, engagement. That is, active engagement. I think it has to be the third,” George explained. “[It’s] clear that militant, evangelizing, missionizing secularism has no intention of leaving Jews, Muslims and Christians alone to retreat to the monasteries, to get through the dark ages, raise our own families, pass our own traditions. They want your kids.”
Earlier in the segment, George detailed a time when he learned that there are fundamental differences between the worldview of secularists and the worldviews of those who follow most major religions.
The fundamental difference between the worldviews was revealed to him when he was inundated with hate messages after he voiced his disapproval with a German court’s ruling in 2012 against the right of a Muslim family to circumcise their son.
George said that he called on religious and secular leaders in Germany to voice their outrage with the ruling, stating that it is unconscionable that a German court would rule against the legality of a practice that is also widespread in the Jewish community.
“I expected at least in our own country and in the West more broadly that for once in my life I had done something that was not controversial. I thought everybody would agree that we have to protect the Jewish community in Germany of all places from this ruling. But it turns out I was wrong and was wrong in a way that was very instructive for me,” George admitted. “I was deluged with hate email, phone calls on my office voicemail from outraged people, mainly in this country, who not only supported the German decision but were accusing me of [supporting child abuse].”
SOURCE: Samuel Smith