Wednesday 27 November 2019

The new fanatical religion of human rights

Toby Young writes well about fortieth anniversary of The Life of Brian, considered blasphemous by many, including my schoolboy self, in 1979. The song from it, 'Always Look on the Bright Side of Life', sung on the crucifix, formed part of the Opening Ceremony of the London Olympics. (I was invited to attend and foolishly turned the invitation down, damn!) That opening ceremony was a homage to an idea of Britain, shorn of its conservative aspects, that sophisticated, highly educated Londoners could admire. Presumably its mockery of religion is considered central to an idea of Britishness that the centre-left can respond to, along with immigration and the National Heath Service.

He says:
"Turns out, the Pythons were naive in thinking that mankind’s yearning for religious faith was an aspect of our nature we could outgrow. The ebbing away of the Christian tide has left a God-shaped hole in the Anglosphere and it has been filled with something more sinister — a constantly mutating moral absolutism. Its latest manifestation is Extinction Rebellion, but no doubt it will be something even more fanatical and millenarian in a few years’ time. These quasi-religious movements resemble Christianity in its fundamentalist, pre-Reformation period when believers were less willing to forgive heretics and sinners."
The whole article deserves to be read.

As I try to understand the madness of our times, the only explanation I can come up with is that we are living through a period of religious frenzy, the religion being the malign religion of human rights, to which is spliced the religion of climate change.

Back in the late 1970s this was all still in the future.

As a schoolboy, I remember listening spellbound in 1978 to the Reith Lectures, given by Dean Edward Norman of Peterhouse, Cambridge, then almost the only Tory clergyman of any note. It is astonishing that in the late 1970s they had a right-wing Reith Lecturer, something which would be unthinkable now. He said, among other brilliant things,

"The Churches themselves, in fact, have rushed to acclaim the new humanism - the `caring society - as the very essence of Christianity. But it is actually quite pagan, concentrating as it does on the merely worldly needs of people in a way which is plainly contrary to the renunciations indicated in the teachings of Christ. This is not an academic matter. For when Christians identify the present secular enthusiasm for humanity as basic Christianity - the love of neighbour - they are in reality acclaiming and legitimising their own replacement."

A left-wing Anglican parson friend told me he hated Edward Norman and one sees why. But, of course, welfare as a religion has long ago been superseded by anti-discrimination as a religion, leading to single sex marriage and the ultimate devilry of numerous genders.

This religion fills the need for the sacred that mankind has, but where does the anti-discrimination religion itself comes from? 

Some blame the Frankfurt School of Marxism, which others absurdly say is 'an anti-Semitic trope', but a blogger who often comments on this blog, called The Politically Correct Australian, thinks the problem all derives from the Romantic movement. He may have a point there.


  1. We are told we are living in a post-Christian era. But what has replaced the Christian moral system? What is it that can fill the spiritual void in the hearts of the individual person? And what is a system of values that can sustain human social life?

    We hear much today about our humane values. But, in the final analysis, what undergirds these values? What commands our adherence to them?

    What we call "values" today are really nothing more than mere sentimentality, still drawing on the vapor trails of Christianity.

    William P. Barr
    Remarks to the Law School at the University of Notre Dame

  2. 'This is not decay; it is organized destruction'

    In the past, societies – like the human body – seem to have a self-healing mechanism – a self-correcting mechanism that gets things back on course if things go too far.

    But today we face something different that may mean that we cannot count on the pendulum swinging back.

    First is the force, fervor, and comprehensiveness of the assault on religion we are experiencing today. This is not decay; it is organized destruction. Secularists, and their allies among the “progressives,” have marshaled all the force of mass communications, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and academia in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values.

    These instruments are used not only to affirmatively promote secular orthodoxy, but also drown out and silence opposing voices, and to attack viciously and hold up to ridicule any dissenters.

    One of the ironies, as some have observed, is that the secular project has itself become a religion, pursued with religious fervor. It is taking on all the trappings of a religion, including inquisitions and excommunication.

    Those who defy the creed risk a figurative burning at the stake – social, educational, and professional ostracism and exclusion waged through lawsuits and savage social media campaigns.