By Elishama |


The following was originally a homily by a Catholic priest under the pseudonym of Elishama:

The doubt of Thomas has always fascinated me and I have long wondered about its cause. Today I will present an interpretation. It is my own. I think it has an insight but I hope it is not falsifying the memory of a great saint.

In John 20 we read: "But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe." He wills not to believe! In other word he has made a choice, and that choice is to disbelieve.

Why the grave doubts? Is it just natural unbelief at being told such an incredible thing? Maybe, but it may also include something more. Thomas may be choosing not to just doubt the Resurrection but to doubt Christ Himself. Maybe Thomas was starting to become more than just a simple doubter (a skeptic), becoming a cynic. What could cause this? It could be disappointment with Jesus – He did not do what Thomas and the others had expected Him to do (become the messianic King of Israel and make them leaders in His court). But I do not think that is enough. I think it was not just disappointment with Jesus but disappointment with himself. Thomas did not live up to his own expectations. Let’s look.

The first time that we hear Thomas speak is when Jesus was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. Lazarus was sick and Martha and Mary had sent a message to our Lord about him. When Christ indicated they should go to Bethany, which is not too far from Jerusalem, the apostles objected: "Teacher," they said, "only a few days ago the Jewish leaders in Judea were trying to kill you. Are you going there again?" "Lazarus is dead" responds Christ, "Come, let’s go see him." Thomas then steps up to the plate: "Thomas, nicknamed the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, ‘Let’s go, too—and die with Him.’"

The apostles had a good point here. There were people in Jerusalem that wanted Christ dead so why put Himself and all of them in harm’s way? Let’s not go! But Thomas makes a bold statement in front of all. In effect he says, "I am willing to follow with You even if it means death!" Thomas thought he was courageous and true – willing to risk his life to follow the Lord. But what happened when the opportunity actually arose; when Jesus was arrested, tried and crucified? Thomas fled like the rest.

Thomas did not know himself. When he discovered he did not live up to his own ideals or vision of himself, that he had a dark, weak and cowardly side, he became profoundly disappointed. Filled with a new and ugly revelation about himself he was thrown into an existential crisis. His self-doubt and disappointment with himself was probably leading to anger – anger at himself, anger at Christ, even anger at life. Thomas was at risk of becoming a cynic.

There are those who are disappointed by others and those who are disappointed by themselves. The more profound effect is caused by self-disappointment: a shattered image of oneself. Those hurt by others can fall into sorrow and fearfulness (of being hurt again) but rarely into cynicism. Cynics are often made out of those who have betrayed their own ideals, been the culprit in hurting or betraying others, and discovered that they are not the persons they liked to think themselves. Cynics are self-made men.

What to do with this negative self-revelation? They go into a kind of denial. It’s not just me who fails to live up to my own principles and ideals, they rationalize, it’s everyone. Everyone secretly is out for himself. Everyone has his or her own price at which they can be bought.

The cynic rarely recognizes himself as a cynic. Rather he likes to see himself as a realist. One who sees the world, people and life as they really are. As David Wolf puts it, "Idealism is what precedes experience, cynicism is what follows." The cynic thinks himself as simply a person who goes through life with his eyes wide open. At most he may think himself a skeptic. But a skeptic may doubt what people say as factual or true, a cynic doubts people and their motives.

The Oxford English Dictionary describes a cynic as a person "disposed to rail or find fault" and as one who "shows a disposition to disbelieve in the sincerity or goodness of human motives and actions, and is wont to express this by sneers and sarcasm."

There are those who have been cynical most of their lives. They populate the criminal class and the inveterate liars and manipulators one can find in all walks of life. But many the cynic started off assuming the best about himself and maybe about others, but when he did something that profoundly disappointed himself – betraying his own ideals – he became scandalized and disillusioned. This lost faith in oneself can lead to self-recrimination and from there to doubting the good in others. He starts to see the benevolence or good in others as either a sign of their Pollyanna naivete or a façade for self-serving motives. Having found corruption where he least expected to find it – in himself – he projects his disillusionment onto all. He despairs of there being any goodness or hope in the world, having found unexpected evil within himself.

We meet a full-fledged cynic in the Gospel. No, it is not Thomas. His name is Pontius Pilate.

Pontius Pilate was probably a careerist and self-promoter in the Roman government. It had led him up the bureaucratic ranks and now he was Procurator of Judea and Syria, appointed by the Emperor Tiberius in the year AD 26. It was not a great posting but a beginning...or maybe an end? He would retain his position for ten years. The first portion of his rule was characterized by a complete contempt for Jewish religious scruples and customs. At the beginning of his term, the historian Josephus tells us, Pilate set up Roman Standards at night in Jerusalem. This broke with previous practice and inflaming Jewish feelings (it was seen as sacrilegious since the Romans treated their emperor as a god). It was only when riots were going to break out that he had them removed.

Soon afterward, he stole money from the Temple to pay for an aqueduct from the Bethlehem area to Jerusalem. A large crowd appeared outside his fortress at Caesaria to protest. Pilate ordered his soldiers to disguise themselves as Jews and when infiltrated into the crowd, pull out clubs from beneath their robes and beat the protesters. They killed many. In Luke 13:1 it mentions another occasion when Pilate mixed the blood of the Temple sacrifices with that of Galileans he had murdered.

About six years later after the trial of our Lord, Pilate made his final outrage. He ordered the massacre of a group of Samaritans on Mount Gerizim. The Governor then had him recalled and sent to Rome to explain his actions to the emperor. He was stripped of his rank and, in disgrace, exiled to Gaul where Eusebius says he ended his own life in AD 37.

Christ was brought to Pilate by the Sanhedrin to be condemned to death. They were setting up an innocent man and Pilate probably knew it. Pilate could be unjust himself but maybe his pride did not like it when others were trying to pull his strings, and so he resisted. His wife also had a dream and warned him "to have nothing to do" with Jesus. He tried to avoid the decision being forced upon him but in the end gave in.

When the crowd was being agitated into calling for Christ’s crucifixion Pilate summoned Jesus and asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?" Christ responded, "My kingdom is not of this world." "You are a king, then!" exclaimed Pilate. Jesus answered, "…For this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me."

"What is truth?" Pilate retorted. (John 18:33-38) He wasn’t seeking an answer, it was a rhetorical question. He no longer believed in truth even when its personification was standing right in front of Him.

Now we come back to the famous episode with doubting Thomas. Thomas may have been disappointed with himself, with his failure to stand by Christ at the crucial hour, and it was turning into disappointment with Christ. He was beginning to separate himself from the other apostles. It was starting to undermine his very faith in Christ. But then something happens:
A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe." Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!"
Seeing the Resurrected Lord Thomas professes his belief in Jesus Christ as "My Lord and my God." He had discovered the alternative to cynicism. Rather than focusing on his own failure and disappointment, he began focusing on Christ, Who He is and what He has done."It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man" (Psalm 118:8) – even if that man is oneself.

Thomas was now beginning to believe in Christ again, but in a new way, and with that comes seeing himself in a new light too. Thomas failed because he was weak, lacked faith, and was a sinner. We all are. But he is also a forgiven sinner, a redeemed man, and Christ is now offering him a new life, a new beginning, a new hope, a new mission. So stop trusting in himself and his own strength and trust instead in Christ.

Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe."

With a new focus and graced with newfound conviction and strength Thomas would now be able to fulfill his earlier claim: To be willing to die for Christ. Tradition holds he became a missionary to Parthia, Persia and India. He may have arrived at the Malabar coast of India around AD 58. After 15 years of preaching and having established the Church there he was martyred in about AD 72. The Church in southern India claims him their own and holds that he is buried in Madras at the Church of Saint Thomas.

Thomas shows us the way to overcome disappointment with ourselves. He shows us the way to avoid cynicism. Stop looking at yourself! Do not let past failure define you. Put your faith not in yourself but in God. Trust in Christ. Keep your eyes on Him. In the Apostles Creed we profess, "I believe in Jesus Christ," not "I believe in [insert own name]." It is Christ who is our hope, our life, and our salvation. He who can change death into life can ultimately change you too. He can make us a new creation if we let Him. What is impossible for man is possible for God.

But the struggle within us continues. It does not completely end this side of the grave. Saint Paul warned us that the "old man," our fallen nature, still exists. But we are not discouraged for we are already putting on the new man in Christ, and we know He has won the final victory.

Easter is the celebration of the dawning of a new hope. Death is overcome, sin is forgiven, a new life is given. Let us live in the light of that hope. Christ is risen! May He change your darkness into a new and wonderful light.
By Richard Weikart |


If Michel Foucault had been a brilliant physicist whose theories revolutionized our views about nature, then perhaps it would be irrelevant—and even churlish—to question his status as an intellectual icon based on his moral character. However, Foucault was probably the most influential philosopher of the late twentieth century, and what many intellectuals today find so exhilarating about his philosophy is that it provides moral guidance. His views have profound political, social, and ethical implications.

As I demonstrate in my new book, The Death of Humanity: And the Case for Life, Foucault was one of many prophets of the death of humanity. Indeed, he argued forthrightly that the Nietzschean death of God—in which he gloried—entailed the death of humanity. He wrote, “Was not the death of God, in fact, revealed in a doubly murderous act that, at the same time that it put an end to the absolute, assassinated man himself? Because man, in his finitude, is inseparable from the infinite, which he both negates and heralds. The death of God is accomplished through the death of man.”

So, why would anyone look to a death-obsessed, sado-masochistic, suicidal, drug addict for moral guidance? The most radical Foucauldians may have such deadened consciences that they see nothing wrong with Foucault’s lifestyle. Indeed, they may exult in the free-wheeling, anything-goes, in-your- face amorality that Foucault epitomized. However, I suspect that not all of Foucault’s admirers are comfortable with his penchant for death, sado-masochism, suicide, and drug addiction, so why would they pay him homage?

Some might object that Foucault’s moral failings have nothing to do with his philosophy. This is the same approach some disciples of the famous German philosopher Martin Heidegger have taken toward his enthusiasm for Hitler and Nazism. They argue that Heidegger’s political commitments were completely independent of his philosophy. However, in Foucault’s case, this would be completely mistaken, because his philosophy was a way of coming to terms with his moral choices, and he often discussed sado-masochism, suicide, and drug use. They were not deep, dark, hidden secrets that plagued him and that he struggled against; rather he gloried in them, and they informed his philosophy.

These issues were not tangential, either. One of Foucault’s biographers, James Miller, argues that Foucault “had long placed death—and the preparation for suicide—at the heart of his concerns.” Not only did Foucault attempt suicide multiple times as a young man, but he discussed suicide in many of his writings, always glamorizing it. Near the close of his life he stated that we must “teach people that there is not a piece of conduct more beautiful or, consequently, more worthy of careful thought than suicide. One should work on one’s suicide throughout one’s life.” In a 1979 essay he proposed holding “suicide-festivals” and “suicide-orgies,” and another time he told an interviewer that if he won a huge lottery, he would set up an institution for anyone (not just the terminally ill) to come commit suicide, perhaps after seeking pleasure in drug use.

If suicide and death profoundly shaped his thinking, so did his sado-masochism. Foucault was a zealous disciple of the Marquis de Sade (from whom the word “sadism” derived), scorning anyone who was not conversant with Sade’s brutal perspective. Sade was so important to Foucault’s philosophy that Miller calls Foucault’s worldview “Sado-Nietzschean.” In search of intense pleasure, Foucault exulted in sado-masochistic sexual encounters.

Foucault admitted that his goal in life was to seek extreme pleasure, and he hoped that he would die from an especially intense episode of euphoria. In search of this pleasure, he regularly used mind-altering drugs, such as pot, hashish, opium, LSD, and cocaine. He described his first LSD trip in 1975 as the greatest experience of his life. In 1983 he stated, “Some drugs are really important for me because they are the mediation to those incredibly intense joys that I am looking for.”

Foucault’s claim that truth, including moral truth, is created, not discovered, was an attempt to normalize his own transgressions. His insistence that knowledge, such as what constitutes insanity, was socially constructed and fluid, justified his use of mind-altering drugs and his infatuation with suicide. (But alas, he found out too late that AIDS was not socially constructed). He defined his own psychological problems as non-problems, even turning the tables by accusing those who defended present social and moral norms as being power-hungry elitists bent on dominating everyone else.

Yet ironically, it was Foucault who promoted domination and violence, as long as it was directed against the hated status quo. When the progressive intellectual Noam Chomsky debated Foucault in 1971, he was shocked, stating afterward, “I felt like I was talking to someone who didn’t inhabit the same moral universe.” In that interview Foucault agreed with Chomsky about the necessity for revolutionary violence, but he went much further than Chomsky, stating, “When the proletariat takes power, it may be quite possible that the proletariat will exert towards the classes over which it has just triumphed, a violent, dictatorial, and even bloody power. I can’t see what objection one could make to this.” Contra Foucault, I can think of many reasons to reject violence, dictatorship, and bloodshed.

This was not just a slip of the tongue, either, for when debating Maoists, whom he thought were not radical enough, Foucault objected to their desire for revolutionary tribunals, because he did not want anything restraining the violence of the mob. When the Ayatollah Khomeini revolted against the shah of Iran, Foucault was excited. He met with Khomeini,travelled to Iran, and enthusiastically supported the Iranian Revolution (until it became the oppressor).

The key to understanding Foucault, I think, is that he was motivated more by hatred for bourgeois society and its norms than by love for the oppressed. Gary Gutting, editor of The Cambridge Companion to Foucault, claims that Foucault’s hatred for bourgeois society “gives power and intensity to his prose,” but also leads him to serious misunderstandings about its institutions.

However, it seems likely that Foucault himself is badly misunderstood by some of his supporters, many of whom probably don’t exult in mob violence, dictatorship, sado-masochism, suicide, and drug addiction. At the end of his biography, Miller claims that many academics mistakenly view Foucault as the patron saint of their progressive political and moral views. Many American progressives, however, want a society committed to compassion, and this is not what Foucault preached. Miller concludes, “Unfortunately, Foucault’s lifework, as I have come to understand it, is far more unconventional—and far more discomfiting—than some of his ‘progressive’ admirers seem ready to admit. Unless I am badly mistaken, Foucault issued a brave and basic challenge to nearly everything that passes for ‘right’ in Western culture—including nearly everything that passes for ‘right’ among a great many of America’s left-wing academics.”

Surely many progressives delight in Foucault, because he is an ally in their rejection of Judeo-Christian sexual mores, in their hatred for authority, and in their opposition to the political and economic elites. However, how many of them would want their children to become sado-masochistic, suicidal drug addicts?

Richard Weikart is professor of history at California State University, Stanislaus, and author of The Death of Humanity: And the Case for Life; and a forthcoming book, Hitler’s Religion.


Recently published by Richard Weikart:




What is this world coming to? Some zoos around the world have put humans on display. A University of Texas evolutionary biologist received a standing ovation after telling his audience he hopes that ninety percent of the human population will perish through ebola. Physicians in Switzerland are killing “suicide tourists,” even when they are neither sick nor in pain. Some bioethicists are promoting “after-birth abortions.” These are just a few shocking examples of the dehumanizing tendencies that permeate Western culture today.

In this book Weikart explains how secular ideologies have undermined the Judeo-Christian sanctity-of-life ethic. He shows the harmful consequences of this and demonstrates the poverty of secular alternatives to the Christian vision of humanity. Finally, he defends the sanctity of human life, addressing suicide, abortion, euthanasia, eugenics, and transhumanism.



Upcoming: November 2016. For a man whom history can never forget, Adolf Hitler remains a persistent mystery on one front—his religious faith. Atheists tend to insist Hitler was a devout Christian. Christians counter that he was an atheist. And still others suggest that he was a practicing member of the occult.

None of these theories are true, says historian Richard Weikart. Delving more deeply into the question of Hitler's religious faith than any researcher to date, Weikart reveals the startling and fascinating truth about the most hated man of the 20th century: Adolf Hitler was a pantheist who believed nature was God. InHitler's Religion, Weikart explains how the laws of nature became Hitler's only moral guide—how he became convinced he would serve God by annihilating supposedly "inferior" human beings and promoting the welfare and reproduction of the allegedly superior Aryans in accordance with racist forms of Darwinism prevalent at the time.


photo credit: 20/52 via photopin (license)
By Lea Z. Singh |


British philosopher Roger Scruton has gained legendary status among conservatives and liberals alike for both his massive intellect and the unusual direction of his political leanings. As one of the few conservatives in an ocean of left-wing academics, he has become the flag-waving Robinson Crusoe of Western civilization. In Culture Counts (Encounter Books, 2007), Scruton takes it upon himself to explain why the cultural inheritance of the Western world is a treasure of immense importance, and one that must be passed down to younger generations.

Scruton’s conclusion used to be so obvious as to require no explanations. Today, his attempt to prove the importance of works by ‘old dead white men’ is a herculean task with precarious chances of success. Most universities have become masterful trick artists, charging parents more than the average household earns in a year and then producing, in a surprise sleight-of-hand students who prefer feminist literature to Shakespeare, Jay-Z to Mozart, and a urinal to the work of Leonardo da Vinci.

The cause of this confusion, Scruton explains, is the neo-Marxist philosophy of French philosopher Michel Foucault, a modern-day Aristotle in terms of his influence throughout the humanities. Foucault is no longer alive: he died of AIDS in 1984. But his ideas are being taught on campuses across the globe, and are continuing to hoodwink generations of students into repudiating Western classical music, literature, art, architecture and even philosophy as the rotten fruit of a sexist, racist, elitist, capitalist and oppressively Judeo-Christian heritage.

... continue reading at LifeSiteNews

Photo courtesy of Policy Exchange at Flickr Creative Commons (altered). 
By Paul Malvern |

"Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?” Matthew 7:9

One of the wonderful things about vacations is that they give you a chance to read books and articles you might not otherwise come upon. A good example is an op-ed piece I saw recently in the French language newspaper, Le Journal de Québec, by sociologist, Mathieu Bock-Coté, entitled, “Les nouveaux curés” (“The New Priests”).1 In it he expresses the view that Quebec - a region that has pursued aggressive secularization ever since the “Quiet Revolution” of the 1960s and 1970s - has not really rid itself of religious dogmatism. Rather it has simply replaced Catholicism by a rigid secular religion based on politically correct ideas du jour.

According to him, this new way of looking at the world has many elements that justify calling it a religion. For example, it has a priesthood which seeks to regulate important aspects of people’s daily lives - including their diet and sexual lives. And these modern day priests feel called upon to prohibit any number of pleasurable activities that are in their view harmful or undesirable. Not content to simply tell people how to live their daily lives, this clerisy makes pronouncements on a wide range of social and political issues – such as supporting higher taxes, big government, a world without borders and the idea that the sexes don’t exist but are merely imaginary constructs that must be deconstructed. As with other religions, this new secular creed possesses powerful tools to deal with “heretics” who question its dogmas. And should you commit the sin of expressing doubts concerning this new religion, the consequences will be swift and severe. For, as Bock-Coté points out, their reaction may be as follows: “On vous fustigera, on vous excommuniera. Raciste! Xenophobe! Islamophobe! Sexiste! On vous collera ces etiquettes pour vous transformer en monstre.” (Trans. “We will whip you. We will excommunicate you. Racist! Xenophobe! Islamophobe! Sexist! We will paste these labels on you to transform you into a monster.”)2

Strong stuff - to be sure! But is he right? Are we seeing the development of a new secular religion that seeks to replace Christianity? Or is this simply a case of a few politically correct busybodies who cannot resist the temptation to meddle in other people’s live?
 
To answer these questions we need to take a closer look at the ideology of secularism in order to better understand its goals and how they are being translated into reality in our modern world.

The Roots of Secularism

As anyone with even the briefest knowledge of history knows, the problem of reconciling religion and secular power is as old as human civilization itself. An early example is the attempt by the 14th century BC Egyptian Pharaoh, Akhenaten, to introduce monotheism against the wishes of a strongly entrenched polytheistic priesthood - a battle of wills which ended badly for both the ruler and his legacy. Almost a millennium and a half later, another great religious reformer, Jesus of Nazareth, also waded into this religion versus State conflict, calling on his followers to give onto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and onto God that which is God’s. Sadly, this eminently sensible formula was unable to save Christendom later on - in no small measure because ecclesiastical and secular rulers frequently differed on just what exactly was Caesar’s and what was God’s. This ongoing disagreement came to a head with the 17th century bloodbath we now call the Thirty Years War. Originally a religious dispute between Protestants and Catholics, it quickly became a political and military tar-baby that sucked in much of Europe, killing millions of quite innocent human beings and ending only with the more or less total exhaustion of all concerned.

This particularly nasty holocaust, whose devastation has been compared by some German writers to that which might be seen following a nuclear war, scarred the European intellectual psyche, planting in it the idea that religion - when applied to the political realm - is simply too dangerous to be left unchecked. A little more than a century later this idea would see its full flowering in the French Revolution for which secularism became a hallowed article of faith - a key principle which has become part of the culture and continues to impact our lives even today.

Implementing the Philosophy

As with most ideologies, secularism sounds quite reasonable at first glance - especially given the seriousness of the past abuses it seeks to address. Simply put, it involves two basic principles: “the strict separation of the state from religious institutions” and the idea that “people of different religious groups and beliefs are equal before the law”.3 Who, you might ask, could disagree with such a reasonable set of goals? Who indeed! The problem is that, as with everything else in life, the devil is in the details.

Part of the problem is that Man does not live by bread alone (or at least shouldn’t), as Jesus notes in the Gospel of Matthew - a truism with which even many non-believers agree. One excellent example being that great hero of secularism, the French philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who believed that all societies need some sort of religion or common belief system to hold them together. Viewing Christianity as too supernatural in its orientation, he called for the creation of a civic religion that would link citizens and bind them to some central political authority.4 Taking his recommendation to heart, many such experiments have been conducted since then to fill the void left by the expulsion of Christianity from the intellectual and cultural life of the West.

Two particularly noteworthy experiments in the creation of a civic religion involve those seemingly polar opposites - Nazism and Communism - each of which contain elements (e.g. holy books, dogmas, saints, adoration, myths and rites) which qualify them as true political religions. Still, no ideology or system of government lasts forever. And when they inevitably do collapse, their appeal to adherents evaporates quickly. That is clearly the case with Nazism whose supporters are restricted to tiny numbers of fanatics in Europe and the United States. And to a lesser extent it is also true of Communism whose true believers are to be found only in isolated enclaves in North Korea, Cuba, China and college campuses across Canada and the United States.

Still, no truly bad idea ever dies completely, does it? So it should come as no surprise that the collectivist fantasy which is Communism has not disappeared totally but has instead simply morphed into cultural Marxism - the West’s current ideology du jour which brings together a mishmash of bourgeois sexual and racial obsessions that would make Marx and Lenin spin in their graves. And it is here that we find the roots of our current experiment in secular religion.

Current Practice of Secular Religion

The idea that secularism might somehow be a religion seems laughable to those who support and advocate for this particular ideology. And the very suggestion is dismissed as a vile canard bandied about by right-wing loonies and fundamentalist Christians. In their minds secularism is just common sense, pure and simple. For instead of relying on the pie-in-the-sky mythology that Christians seem to require, secularists can take their reality straight (or so they say), basing pretty much everything on truth and hard facts.

And to hear secularists talk, their philosophy is not a threat to religion but rather the best guarantee of religious freedom. That’s certainly the claim made by the National Secular Society in the United Kingdom whose website says that secularism “seeks to ensure and protect freedom of religious belief and practice for all citizens”. It adds reassuringly that “secularism is not about curtailing religious freedoms; it is about ensuring that the freedoms of thought and conscience apply equally to all believers and non‑believers alike.” And better yet, “Secularism protects free speech and expression. Religious people have the right to express their beliefs publicly but so do those who oppose or question those beliefs.” 5

That sounds great, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, there is a catch - namely, that the right to freedom of religion and speech may be subject to some limitations. For in the mind of some secularists, there are ideas and policies that are so obviously right and moral that they take precedence over what some religions may say on the subject. One sees intimations of this in the Society’s statement that, “Secularism champions human rights above discriminatory religious demands. It upholds equality laws that protect women, LGBT people and minorities.” 6 Such a qualification virtually guarantees that those religions of the Abrahamic tradition which hold unfashionable views on the social and moral issues of the day will find themselves at a considerable disadvantage in the cut and slash of public life and run the risk of being marginalised or even suppressed because of their beliefs.

And while secularists often talk a good game in terms of equality and freedom of speech and religious belief, the playing field can at times be anything but level when secularist principles are put into practice - a truism obvious to anyone who has ever followed Supreme Court deliberations or mainstream media coverage of contentious social issues. To paraphrase George Orwell in his book, Animal Farm, all ideas are equal but some ideas are more equal than others.

In a way, this reluctance on the part of some in government, the judiciary and the media to allow a level playing field is understandable - flowing as it does from the major cultural shift that took place in most Western industrial countries during the political and social upheavals of the 1960s and early 1970s. As anyone old enough to have witnessed the chaos of the period knows, this was the golden age of political hell-raising by middle and upper-middle class students who brought entitlement to a whole new level. Coming from comfortable - and at times privileged -backgrounds, these young troublemakers were treated with a patience and forbearance previously unheard of - as authorities caved in time and again to the young people’s demands. In time these young rebels entered the workforce, quickly rising to positions of authority in politics, government, education, journalism and the media, bringing with them the idea that compromise is unnecessary and undesirable. And eventually this intolerance toward the ideas of others became fixed in stone in the culture.

Of course, not everyone back then sold out their principles in order to gain entry into the establishment. Rather, small numbers of activists did remain faithful to the dogmas of their respective secular religions - successfully transmitting their faith to new generations of believers. And this new generation of true believers - which includes some of the more radical advocates of abortion on demand, gender issues, atheism, and various forms of socialism, communism and anarchism - continues to march under the secularist banner today, injecting great energy into the movement.

As you can imagine, these hardy souls are a study in themselves, at times demonstrating a fortitude and commitment that is really quite admirable. To begin with, many believe themselves to possess a special knowledge not available to their less-enlightened fellow citizens - in no small measure due to the inspired work passed on to them by their ideological ancestors. As such, they resemble the 1st and 2nd century Gnostics who posed such an existential threat for the early Christian Church. Armed with this special knowledge, they see themselves as locked in mortal combat with the forces of evil - where the stakes are nothing short of the future of mankind. Given such a vision, it is little wonder that they are unwilling to consider any concessions to their foes. And little wonder that they are in such a hurry to bring about their respective secular utopias. For as Marx stated in another context in the Communist Manifesto - “They have a world to win”. And if winning means playing political, judicial or media hard ball, well, so be it. For, as every revolutionary knows, you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.

Sadly for believers, many long-cherished tenets of Christianity have ended up as broken eggs in recent years - apparently much to the delight of those zealots who nurse a certain animus toward the Christian faith. Why this should be such a source of great joy for them is a difficult question to answer, given that people vary enormously - as do their motivations. I presume that for some this is a highly personal matter - possibly flowing from some injustice or trauma suffered at the hands of one or more of those less-than-consistent adherents of the Christian faith we all have met at one time or other. While for others, it is just business - a simple tactical necessity flowing from a belief that religion (especially Christianity) must be confronted since it stands in the way of human progress. The feminist version of this objection to religion was ably laid out some years back in a Guardian op-ed piece, entitled “I’m not praying”. In it, feminist Cath Elliott states, “Christianity is and always has been antithetical to women's freedom and equality, but it's certainly not alone in this. Whether it's one of the world's major faiths or an off-the-wall cult, religion means one thing and one thing only for those women unfortunate enough to get caught up in it: oppression.” 7

Unfortunately, this view that there is something inherently regressive or repressive about Christianity has gained considerable traction in recent years - with many in government, the judiciary and media embracing this notion as if it were holy writ. Acting on this less than neutral view of what secularism is all about, political, media and judicial elites have handed social conservatives setback after setback in such areas as abortion, gay rights and euthanasia. And with each year the slope gets ever more slippery - as seen by the recent strange preoccupation of the President of the United States with the question of where people should go to attend to their bodily functions.

Faced with the prospect of even more defeats in the future - no matter what they might do to try to reverse the trend - some Christians have concluded that the fix is in. Realizing the full extent of their marginalization, many now believe that they have also been abandoned by the Church - a conclusion that is far from ridiculous, given some of the actions and statements of Pope Francis, that most politically correct of Pontiffs. Whether it be his down-playing of the importance of abortion, his mocking of Catholic wives and mothers who in his opinion breed like rabbits, or his laissez-faire attitude to sexual morality (“Who am I to judge?”), many Catholics who take their faith seriously are finally getting the message. Namely, that for the next few years at least, the agenda of Holy Mother Church will bear a striking resemblance to that of the secular religions now holding sway over the industrialized West. And recent Wikileaks revelations suggesting that billionaire George Soros may have spent large sums of money to influence Catholic bishops during the Pope’s U.S. visit only strengthen the suspicions of the faithful.8

Preparing for Better Times

So what is to be done?

Well, to begin with, we need to recognize the extent of the mess we are in. As noted earlier, the last few hundred years have not been good ones for Christianity in the West – which is, after all, the spiritual heart of Western civilization. This rich spiritual legacy has been elbowed aside time and again, only to be replaced by a succession of secular religions masquerading as the real thing. And our current age is no exception with Western elites seemingly determined to consign our Christian spiritual heritage to the dustbin of history. Like it or not, this is a serious matter that strikes at the very core of everything we in the West are and believe. And hoping that we will be left alone if only we are nice and willing to make a few small compromises is just not in the cards. For the reality is that those in our elites who are determined to drive religion (especially Christianity) from the public square have no intention of leaving us alone - or our children or our grandchildren. So we need to accept this hard truth and act accordingly.

While facing this reality is bound to be unpleasant, the good news is that there is reason to hope – and it is to be found in the most unexpected places.

One major source of hope is the experience of Christians forced to live under Communism - an aggressively atheistic philosophy that made no secret of its hostility to religion. For decades governments motivated by this ideology tried to completely secularize the countries they ruled, launching program after program aimed at eradicating religion in any form. As history shows, try as they might, many of their efforts failed. And in some countries – such as Poland, Slovakia and possibly Russia as well - they failed miserably with faith quickly rising from the ashes. Even more telling is the explosive growth of Christianity in a number of communist countries – such as China – that never had a very strong Christian presence. All of which suggests that the Christian message has an eternal relevance that can be suppressed for a time but which can never be eradicated forever.

To my mind, one other important source of encouragement and counsel must surely come from that most un-Christian (or even anti-Christian) of political theorists, Niccolo Machiavelli, who has unwittingly provided believers with a model for how they should act during the dark years to come.

For Machiavelli, human affairs are often driven by an external force – which he calls luck, chance or fortune (‘fortuna’ in the original). This force, he believes, is very much like a raging river. When the river floods, it cannot be controlled and carries away everything in its path. Realizing this, wise people build dams, dykes and canals in advance when the river is quiet so that its flood waters can be controlled later on when it overflows its banks yet again – presumably either to control the damage that might otherwise occur or to use the water for beneficial purposes.

Of course, Machiavelli’s concern was not with agriculture and hydrology, but rather with how these lessons from nature could be applied to life – and in particular public life. And the lessons to be drawn are many and striking – with the recently ended 20th century providing more than a few examples of how powerful social, economic and political forces, if unforeseen or uncontrolled, can destroy the lives of tens of millions of ordinary human beings in a just a few years.

Machiavelli’s vision of the forces that drive history – and how wise men and women can control and benefit from them – should be of special interest to those of us in our current century who are appalled on a daily basis by the mayhem and moral decay that greet us whenever we open a newspaper or turn on the television. For he provides us with a way to mentally survive the current flood tide of those most toxic fruits of secularism – cultural Marxism, materialism and the Culture of Death, which Pope John Paul II described so eloquently in his ground breaking work, Evangelium Vitae. 9 And Machiavelli provides us with a helpful way of viewing the current period where the fortunes of Christianity clearly resemble a once raging river that is now very quiet indeed.

Given this backdrop, the question then becomes, “What are we to do?” My own view is that instead of capitulating or becoming despondent, as is often the case now, Christians should rather use Machiavelli’s model and prepare for that time in the future when the river of faith (and social sanity) once again floods its banks and the situation on the ground changes for the better.

For many people such a strategy will seem unrealistic or pointless, especially given the strength of the forces ranged against them, which include virtually all of the corporate, political, judicial and cultural elites in the West. And they do have a point. However, so do those unfortunate souls forced to live under communist rule, who eventually saw their nations rise from the ashes following the fall of communism. For such people communism at one time also felt invincible. And yet, as strong as it appeared, it did collapse – and quite suddenly and unexpectedly at that! When it fell, those people who had prepared in advance for such an eventuality and who had a plan for reconstruction were able to direct events as they wished and minimize the pain experienced during the transition.

To my mind this is one of the great lessons we can draw from the fall of communism - namely, that even the most powerful regime eventually comes to an end. And when it does, those who keep the faith during the dark times and patiently draw up plans in advance for national and spiritual revival are the ones who determine the course of events later on.

This then should be the great hope and call to action for believers living in an increasingly anti-religious West – namely, that the nightmare will one day end and better times will come. And rather than becoming despondent and resigned, we instead need to prepare for that day when our current secular religions are replaced by the real thing – when we can once again give our children bread instead of stones.


  1. [1] Mathieu Bock-Coté. “Les nouveaux curés”. Le Journal de Québec. August 18, 2016. p. 16.
  2. [2] Ibid.
  3. [3] National Secular Society.  "What is Secularism?" Retrieved from: http://www.secularism.org.uk/what-is-secularism.html
  4. [4] "Political Religion". Wikipedia. Retrieved from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_religion
  5. [5] National Secular Society.  Op. Cit.
  6. [6] National Secular Society.  Op. Cit.
  7. [7] Cath Elliott. “I’m not praying”. The Guardian. August 19, 2008. Retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2008/aug/19/gender.religion
  8. [8] John-Henry Westen. “Leaked e‑mails show George Soros paid $650K to influence bishops during Pope’s US visit”.  LifeSiteNews. August 23, 2016.  Retrieved from: https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/breaking-leaked-e-mails-show-george-soros-paid-to-influence-bishops-during
  9. [9] Pope John Paul II. Evangelium Vitae. Retrieved from: http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_25031995_evangelium-vitae.html


We the People, I mean, Parents, of Ontario call upon MPP Patrick Brown to declare himself on education. Many in Ontario believe that Kathleen Wynne has sailed this beautiful province well onto the rocks and is unable to steer it back. However before we entrust Patrick Brown with the well-being of the province, we first want to ask about the well-being of our children.

We, the consumers of Ontario’s failing yet daring education system, want assurances that teaching math will have as great, or greater priority as teaching sex-education. If we are to believe the current Masters of Flip in the ONT government, sex education will be taught throughout all subjects, incorporated into every lesson possible. If grade school students can learn in music class about the sexual proclivities of a certain composer, then by-golly, let’s tell it. I mean teach it. And so on in history and art and shop classes. If a teacher can’t find a way to incorporate into their lessons, information about sexual identity, sexual health, sexual reproduction, sexual pleasure etc… well, they just aren’t trying hard enough.

Because sex is given this high priority in our province’s approach to education, teachers will use the tried and true methods of constant repetition and re-enforcement. Since repetition and re-enforcement have proven themselves to be worthy of sex-education, will Patrick Brown ensure that these proven learning tools will be used for math lessons? Will you ask teachers to give math the same emphasis they give sex-education? Will their teaching methods be held to the same standard?

The parents of Ontario await your decision Mr. Brown. Does Math=Sex-Ed in Ontario?

Photo credits: https://flic.kr/p/6RPbA5 by Krissy Venosdale (detail) and https://flic.kr/p/otUHxv by VAC/ACC (detail)

By Mariola O'Brien |


I wake up at night to nurse my baby. It's dark and quiet. All I hear is her drinking with delight. Her little body is so soft and warm, I have to smile. Then my thoughts start to wander and my heart sinks...

Our neighbor had come for a visit to congratulate us on the birth of our daughter. She brought gifts, and news... She was unexpectedly pregnant and "couldn't" keep this baby. Even though both her husband and parents wanted this child, she was considering abortion. Nobody could have given her better advice than we did at that moment. She went home, time passed and her tummy didn't seem to grow.

When we bump into her she smiles and wants to show our baby to her son. No questions are asked and I smile dutifully. Showing her my baby I am about to say she's alive, but hear myself say she's awake. My baby reminds me of her baby who is no more and never will be. She had her reasons; they all do. Every time I see her I want to ask what happened to your baby? But all we talk about is the weather. As I turn my back and continue walking I hear myself asking what happened to your baby?

How heavy is my heart! To have a conversation with a mother who told me she was going to have her baby killed and then followed through! Her abortion has traumatized me. How will she be doing in the years to come? Only time will tell the effects, not only on her, but her son, husband and parents. The memory of her dead baby haunts me like a ghost. Will it not haunt her and her family? Legalized murder by the mother herself. And nobody reacts. I feel so powerless! We tried to talk to her, we prayed. But in the end, there was nothing we could do.

What has happened to the world?

"Hope to see you soon again. Have a great day!"

~~~~~

We're out with our kids when a neighbor calls on us from his backyard. We join him for tea. I know something about his pain and his wife's pain. Only God has all the answers. Only God knows the right time to be given a child, or not be given one. Their boy is sitting in his highchair eating. Very slowly. His father says it can take up to an hour to have one meal. Soon they will celebrate his second birthday, but he cannot walk. He looks at us and smiles, because he doesn't speak yet either.

He looks very sweet in his blue eyes and blond hair. He is very sweet, and loved. But he was ordered from the doctor and had to come into existence. He wasn't received as a gift, but ordered like a product. He wasn't created in love, union and a gift of self, but rather in a laboratory. He has seven siblings or so who will probably never be. They weren't good enough to have. Their brother beat them to it. Barely. They'll be thrown away, or serve as guinea-pigs at best.

What has happened to the world?

"Thanks for the tea and give our greetings to your wife. Bye for now!"

~~~~~

On the way to the park we stop to talk to our neighbor, a nice young woman whom we know from the play-center. Her daughter waves to our son and he waves back. The mother is very kind and goodhearted, and adores her little girl. I like her a lot. We laugh and chat. My husband notices scars on her wrists. The little girl was just picked up from her dads'. Sorry, that's not a typo. No, it's not dad's; it is actually dads'. They had had her over the weekend.

Both her daughter and our son have the same right to a normal and wholesome family. But the laws don't agree. I wonder to myself which one is her dad. Will she grow up knowing she only has one father? Or will it dawn upon her in grade four? Will her mother explain to her that she exists thanks to a deal between two homosexual men and herself, that she is a product of loneliness and sadness? A band-aid to give comfort and joy, kind of like a pet? Will she tell her that there is no love-story behind her conception? Why does this make me think "sophisticated trafficking"?

What has happened to the world?

"Well, take care and see you soon!"


You don't choose your neighbors, but you can definitely pray for them and their children...

By Lea Z. Singh |


Canada’s commitment to free speech is about to be tested in a major new case involving Bill Whatcott, a Saskatchewan nurse and Christian activist whose leaflets were the subject of a 2013 decision by the Supreme Court of Canada. This time, Whatcott has been slapped with a C$104 million lawsuit by two of Ontario’s most prominent gay heavyweights: iconic activist Christopher Hudspeth and former Liberal Deputy Premier George Smitherman.

They are suing Whatcott for mental distress on behalf of Toronto's entire gay community and for libel against various Liberal leaders including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The lawsuit stems from Whatcott’s activities at this year’s Toronto’s Pride, which Whatcott and a handful of others managed to infiltrate while dressed as “gay zombies” in green suits. They handed out leaflets which graphically warned about the health dangers of gay sex and accused the Liberal party of being in cahoots with the gay agenda.

Click here to read the rest at MercatorNet.
By Jasbir T. Singh |

Take a wild guess where I am in my grade 6 class!

Thomas Sowell's call to eliminate affirmative action made me reflect on my own experience as a visible minority (East Indian) growing up in Ottawa in the mid-1970s. I also thought about my current situation as a public servant in the Government of Canada. I strongly support Thomas Sowell's position against affirmative action, and want to explain why.


My parents are first generation immigrants from India, and I was born in Canada. All throughout elementary school, I was always one of two visible minorities in the class. The beauty of being a child is that you naturally don't think of racial issues, and while the majority of my friends were white growing up, it never occurred to me that I was different in any other way, other than my skin tone. I never felt held back in any way, and I was never discriminated against in school. I can only recall one instance when I was around 10 years old while riding my bicycle when I heard some kids yell out  "paki!" as I rode by. I didn't turn back and just ignored it, but I remember feeling hurt by it and somehow ashamed that I was different from everyone else.

Other than that instance, which made me aware that some people could be mean to visible minorities, I knew that this was an exception rather than the rule. I never once blamed white people for putting me down or holding me back. I had a wonderful childhood, and all opportunities were open to me.

Then, as a young adult, when I started filling out government forms and employment application forms, I felt strange when asked to mark the check box next to my racial ethnicity. I thought to myself, why ask this? Why do "they" want to know if I'm East Indian? I think I'll leave that question blank, thank you very much.

I instinctively thought that such questions were somehow immoral and unfair, and that they could be used against me, possibly to discriminate against me for not being white. Later on I learned that these ethnicity questions were designed to "help" visible minorities rather than to discriminate. This was my introduction to the world of affirmative action and employment equity.

To this day I detest such questions on job application forms. I never asked for special treatment just because I'm a visible minority, and I don't want special treatment just for being brown. It's an insult, and simply unfair to win a job competition on these grounds.

It reminds me of an East Indian woman I know who is approximately 5'2". Approximately 20 years ago, when she was in her 20s, she was successful at becoming an Ottawa Police Officer. It baffled me because my 6'0" 180 lb. male friend didn't make it, and to this day he knows he didn't make it because he is a white male. He explained how the year he competed for the position, several visible minority women were hired instead. I feel really sorry for my friend, and I do believe he was discriminated against for being white, reverse discrimination if you will.

What is even more upsetting to me is that the East Indian woman who somehow "passed" and was hired, barely lasted 5 years as a police officer, and eventually resigned. Meanwhile, my friend today is a struggling auto mechanic, and I'm sure still bitter about not making it. There's nothing wrong with being an auto mechanic, but the point is that his dreams of being an officer were crushed due to employment equity policies. He had everything going for him, a degree in criminology, superior athleticism and strength, conviction about justice being served, you name it. He really wanted to serve and protect.

Any time employment equity policies are applied, they tend to favour one group over another, and at the same time act as a barrier to another group. Such policies simply override merit-based hiring practices, and therefore, should be eliminated. As Thomas Sowell points out, visible minorities did not ask for employment equity. This notion is in the minds of the white people who fabricated it on their own volition to apparently "correct" the unfair discrimination of visible minorities. Affirmative action was the wrong reaction to an apparent problem. For more thorough discussion, read The Case Against Affirmative Action.

The better course of action would have been to fire any white person who perpetuated discrimination against a minority group, and to further promote a merit-based system based on education, experience, and potential for good performance.

Related
Audio lead in music (altered), Sunset Moments, by Scott Holmes licensed 
under an Attribution-NonCommercial License at the Free Music Archive.
By Jasbir T. Singh |


In elementary school during recess, Bobby (bully) pushes and punches Greg (good guy) repeatedly and doesn't stop. A teacher has already been informed about Bobby bullying Greg, but Bobby doesn't care. No adult is present when Bobby bullies Greg repeatedly.

What do you think Greg should do?

a. He should run every time.

b. He should fight back.

c. He should block the blows defensively without fighting back.

If you selected, a, then you have failed to help Greg address his situation. Greg will learn that he has to run when faced with adversity, and his self esteem will likely plummet. He is at risk of not learning how to stand up for himself and face adversity. You have also allowed Bobby to continue with his behaviour, knowing that he won't stop. Greg could be affected for the rest of his life. By answering, a, you have failed him.

If you selected, c, then you probably think that any form of violence is wrong because it implies an "eye for an eye". You may think that only non-violent means should be used in every situation in an effort to make peace. In the adult world of course we should refrain from retaliation. After all, the following teachings are great lessons for humanity:
To him who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from him who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Luke 6:29

But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Matthew 5:39-41
However, in Greg's situation, the non-violent approach is not appropriate. It will have failed to help Greg, the victim, and Bobby will continue to bully Greg. There would also be no sense of justice.

Option, b, is the right answer. It is perfectly acceptable and legitimate for Greg to fight back in order to defend himself. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (2263-2265) has an excellent explanation of legitimate defense. It teaches that:
...If a man in self-defense uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repels force with moderation, his defense will be lawful...
In my opinion, not only is Greg justified in fighting back, he should be encouraged to do so. It will help to develop and shape his character for the better, possibly for the rest of his life. He should be taught that fighting is not the answer in most situations, and that it should be avoided when possible. However, if someone attacks you, you are perfectly in your right to defend yourself with as much force as is necessary (with moderation) to ward off the aggressor.

This reminds me of a time when I was five years old. The townhome we lived in at the time backed onto a public park with swings and play structures. I would often play there, and I was always within earshot of my mother, who I think could see me from the kitchen window. Back in the 70s parents were rarely seen in the park with their children.

I'll never forget Guy, who was probably my age. He had long hockey hair, always had his shirt off, and his body was usually covered with black grease stains. At least that's how I remember him. He was the tough guy, the king of the 5-year-olds in the park, and he was aggressive towards me, always acting as if he would hit me.

I was afraid of Guy, and he knew it. He would practically bully me out of the park whenever I was playing there. It got to the point where I refused to play at the park anymore because of Guy's threats.

One evening, my Dad asked me why I stopped going to the park. I told him that I was afraid of Guy, and that he would hurt me. I'll never forget how my Dad handled the situation...I'm forever grateful to him for it. He basically taught me how to stand up to Guy, and that I should continue to play at the park. He explained that if Guy ever approached me to punch or hit me, then I should be ready with my fists clenched. He taught me how to make a fist for the first time in my life.

He then went on to show me how to throw a sideways knuckle-punch landing right on the deltoid muscle. Of course my 12-year-old brother was there to help me practice.

The next day, I went to the park, and was confronted by Guy. Before I knew it I was trapped in a circle of boys surrounding us as they were shouting, fight! fight! fight! Of course there wasn't a parent in sight. When Guy approached me with his chest all huffed up and sticking out, I reacted out of fear and panic, and threw my knuckle punch. It landed perfectly on his left shoulder, and he went down, wincing in pain. I looked at my hands, and said, it worked! Guy ran off, and never bothered me again.

This was a defining moment in my life, and I remember it clearly almost forty years later. I know for certain that it helped to give me confidence as a boy, and probably helped to shape my character, giving me a good start in life. I learned right from wrong in those days, and about standing up for myself.

I never grew up to be a fighter, and I never had to resort to fighting since then. Nobody, except for my big brother, has had to face my side-way knuckle-punch, and even then, it was just during play fighting when trying to escape his headlocks.

Audio lead in music (altered), Sunset Moments, by Scott Holmes licensed 
under an Attribution-NonCommercial License at the Free Music Archive.
By Paul Malvern |

Some years back I attended a two-day conference on Sufi spirituality held at the University of Toronto. The keynote speaker was the late Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, who was at the time the leader of the Sufis in the Western Hemisphere. A warm and wise man, he began his speech by citing Jesus’ statement, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”, adding as an aside that, before that happens, it will first make you very unhappy.

This is a particularly apt warning for those of us committed to the democratic traditions that have made the U.S. and Canada prosperous and stable nations in which freedom and justice are the birthright of every citizen. For there is a growing sense among many that our current democratic systems of government are not all they should be. Nor does political discourse seem as vibrant and intellectually challenging as it once was – a prime example being this year’s U.S. Presidential election cycle which offers more than a few examples of this unhappy truth.

Sadly, such incidents are just the tip of the iceberg – with democratic dumbing down now taking place in virtually all Western nations. In this ‘low information’ Brave New World, election campaigns have become tasteless extravaganzas in which parties and policies are marketed very much as your might sell a box of laundry soap. Candidates are chosen and sold to the public on the basis of their appearance and demographics rather than their grasp of issues or potential for governing well and wisely. Political debate has become increasingly rancorous with charges and counter-charges hurled with little concern for the truth. And the breadth and depth of political discourse shrinks daily as politicians and the media avoid discussing issues that might offend the sensibilities of some special interest group. As a result, honest, open and intelligent discussion of issues is replaced by a stifling conformism that makes dealing with the real problems facing us virtually impossible.

Low Information Citizens

To date, much of the discussion of the ‘dumbing down’ of our political and governmental systems has focused on ‘low-information’ voters – a term which encompasses both those who do not vote and those who do vote but have inadequate information upon which to make a well-informed choice. While originally simply descriptive, this term has over time taken on a nasty, insulting and judgmental quality – being little more than a euphemism for ‘stupid’. In its new role as the ultimate political insult, use of the term seeks to shut down debate and allow those wielding it to feel morally and intellectually superior to others. Those benighted souls who embrace Christianity as a living faith or who hold socially conservative views are all too familiar with how this particular game is played – being frequently characterized as poorly educated rubes, bigots, and anti-sex, anti-science, ‘bitter clingers’ who are unable to understand the complexity of the world they live in.

Even so, there are some gentler spirits out there who are not prepared to consign the great unwashed masses to outer darkness. These enlightened souls view the low information citizen as someone to be embraced and redeemed, not scorned and rejected. For them the low information syndrome cries out for better voter education so those afflicted by it can join the rest of us in happily exercising their democratic rights and responsibilities. One such group of idealists are the officials at Elections Canada, the government body charged with ensuring the integrity of the election process, which also sees a role for itself in encouraging greater citizen participation in national elections. Apparently, this second goal is proving to be a daunting one, given the increasingly jaundiced view many have of politicians, government institutions and the value of voting generally. In an attempt to better understand why so many Canadians do not vote the organization commissioned a major study of non-voters and why citizens are choosing to opt out of the electoral process. Judging from the results, it could not have provided them with very pleasant reading since the clear message from those polled was that they have had it with politicians in particular and government in general. And they feel that elections have become meaningless exercises that have nothing to do with them. The study reported that, “There is a widespread perception that politicians are untrustworthy, selfish, unaccountable, lack credibility, are not true to their word, etc. Similarly, the government, sometimes with a capital "G" and sometimes without, betrays the people's trust, and accomplishes little.” 1

Clearly, not the sort of thing you can build on to restore trust in the country’s political and governmental systems!

Of course, leaving aside the details as of why each approach is problematic, there is a more general problem to consider – namely, that both approaches focus on the supposed failings of citizens and more or less totally ignore how our political and governmental systems may contribute to the situation. And they fail to consider the possibility that many of those who disengage from the political process may have good reasons for doing so.

Profiling the Low Information Voter

So who are these ‘no shows’? And why do they show so little interest in voting or staying abreast of current events?

Studies conducted in the U.S. and Canada show heavy concentrations of disenfranchised citizens among youth and the poor – many of whom see elections as irrelevant to their lives. Sadly, they do have a point. For governments and political parties in Canada and the U.S. often put more emphasis on issues of interest to older and affluent voters who have better access to information and political contacts, a stronger sense of entitlement, and higher voter participation rates. And the points of view of powerful and well-financed lobby groups and those special interests represented in the governing coalition are much more likely to be taken seriously than the concerns of individual citizens, no matter how well they might present them.

In such an environment, those who are the strongest and wealthiest and have the best political clout and connections almost always get the most attention – while those who are poor, powerless and lack patrons to argue their case get further marginalized. Given the seeming hopelessness of their situation, many of them concentrate on those tasks that can make a difference in their lives – such as finding a decent job, paying the bills, and getting a good education and place to live for their kids.

Fostering the Low Information Environment

So if “low-information” behaviour is not the result of some arcane form of original sin on the part of citizens, where does the blame lie? To answer this question, we need to look higher up in the food chain to identify those people who may have a vested interest in fostering the growth of a low-information polity.

As we do that, we need to constantly remind ourselves that there is a huge difference in politics and government between the truth and what is touted as the truth. This means rejecting the sunny picture of politics and government portrayed in high school civics classes in favor of a model that more accurately mirrors reality. For the harsh fact of life is that for many in government and politics, the goal is less about public service than it is about career success, getting power and keeping it. And one of the best ways to achieve these goals involves managing the flow of information to citizens, trumpeting your successes and hiding or spinning your failures. None of which bodes well for the future of our democratic system of government!

Then too, while most governments and politicians may claim to want open, transparent government and extensive public input, the reality is often quite different. For nothing is as terrifying to those in power as a well-informed, fully-engaged citizenry that knows where the bodies are buried, politically-speaking, and is mad as hell. To counter such a threat many politicians and government officials do their best to make sure the public receives as little real information as possible, especially information that might be negative or embarrassing.

Political parties may also attempt – occasionally in concert with their competitors - to keep citizens ill-informed or misinformed. Sometimes this takes the form of partisan attacks and counter-attacks that suppress some facts and distort the importance or meaning of others. At other times, this may involve tacit agreement among parties not to discuss certain issues, as happens with the abortion issue in Canada. And the growing centralization of parties hinders free-wheeling, open discussion by fostering a system in which party insiders develop policies and positions behind closed doors, using party discipline to force rank and file compliance. Teamed with this is the growing tendency to treat elections as marketing exercises rather than opportunities to meaningfully discuss issues and policy options. In this world of political gamesmanship and image polishing, building your brand is all that matters. And the frank discussion of ideas and facts is replaced by crass appeals to emotion. As a result, candidates are chosen and sold on the basis of their likeability, physical appearance and demographics. And mud-slinging and negative advertising is used extensively to damage rivals’ brands.

Many lobby and special interest groups may also seek to limit the information available to citizens. And they may attempt to prevent full-scale debate on issues impacting their area of interest – particularly when those issues involve such controversial matters as abortion, which is portrayed as the exercise of personal choice by a woman rather than the ending of the life of her unborn infant.

In recent years, some journalists have also joined the ranks of the “low-information”, either out of some strong ideological conviction, a lack of commitment or intellectual prowess, or a desire to avoid rocking the boat. Part of this may flow from the media’s increasing use of an entertainment model rather than pursue serious journalism which is invariably difficult, intellectually demanding and time-consuming. Under this new paradigm, many news and public affairs programs now entertain, tranquilize and enrage rather than inform and encourage serious consideration of issues. And some on-air personalities are little more than ‘teeth and hair’, as long-time journalists are wont to describe them. Equally deadly is the flight from objectivity in favor of advocacy journalism where truth becomes whatever your favorite political party or special interest group says it is. Coupled with this is the practice of some journalistic zealots to cherry-pick or distort facts and smear the other side in order to advance their agenda – a practice which mirrors the growing ideological and cultural divide seen in both Canada and the United States.

But while many governments, parties and journalists foster the growth of a low-information polity, they are also unwitting victims of it themselves at times. For example, many career politicians have never had a real job outside of politics, which severely limits their knowledge of ‘real life’ and their grasp of issues. Many senior bureaucrats also have limited knowledge of how the world works outside of Ottawa or Washington. And many journalists are inhabitants of the same bubble in which senior bureaucrats and politicians operate. Those inhabiting this bubble often live in the same neighborhoods, have the same friends and share a similar culture. And they frequently share a similar worldview, which causes them to view alternate opinions as ill-conceived, illegitimate and occasionally even evil. The result is an information deficit and group-think that cripples the policy making process and discourages journalists from exposing bad governmental policies, poorly thought-out political platforms and those incompetents and rogues in government who are less than a credit to their office.

Not a happy picture – to be sure! But at least now we know.

Summing Up

So coming back to our original point - is Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan correct in saying that knowing the truth will make you unhappy? Judging from the realities of our political and governmental systems, he does have a point. But Jesus is also right. For it is only by knowing the truth – not some media-generated fairy tale - that we can ever hope to fix what is broken and restore democracy and citizen participation to their former place of honor. And that’s a hope all of us should cherish and build on.

[1] Jon H. Pammett and Lawrence LeDuc. Explaining the Turnout Decline in Canadian Federal Elections: A New Survey of Non-voters. [Ottawa]: Elections Canada, 2003. Retrieved from: http://www.elections.ca/content.aspx?section=res&dir=rec/part/tud&document=reasons&lang=e



My article, published by The Federalist today:

The new hiring policy at the University of Cincinnati is straight out of a George Orwell novel. Since July 1st, everyone from full professor to part-time custodian is now required to swear allegiance to the cult of Inclusion and Diversity.

If you want to apply to any hourly-wage job on the UC campus, you will need to write a paragraph explaining "how your qualifications prepare you to work with faculty, staff and students from cultures and backgrounds different from your own."

...Continue reading at The Federalist.

By Lea Z. Singh |

My latest piece, published today by Crisis Magazine:

Every year, pornography tangles up millions of people in its sticky spider webs. It rolls them up like hapless flies, and sucks out their brains until they are pretty much the walking dead. Christians are not exempt. And we are finally starting to admit it and talk about it.

But there is still something missing in the discussion. Most of the time, articles about the negative effects of pornography focus on men. Women have set up lawn chairs on the sidelines, often as despairing wives who wonder how to deal with their porn-entangled husbands.

And this seems only right, because many of us believe that pornography is mostly a male problem. Although women are increasingly consuming pornography, the majority of users of internet porn are still men. For instance, CovenantEyes reports that "68% of young adult men and 18% of women use porn at least once every week","64% of Christian men and 15% of Christian women say they watch porn at least once a month", and "Men are more than 543% more likely to look at porn than women."

But what if these statistics are not giving us the whole picture? What if they are ignoring a huge segment of the pornography industry, a segment which affects millions of women just as powerfully and negatively as internet pornography affects men?

Click here to read the rest at Crisis Magazine.