No Secular Option

The beheading of French priest, Fr. Jacques Hamel, along with all the other recent terrorist atrocities, demonstrates once more that we are truly in a civilizational war.

It’s not a war of all Christians against all Muslims.

But it is a moment when everyone -- Muslims, Christians, even those with no explicit faith commitment -- must decide which civilization they wish to be part of…

-- the civilization that honors the Judeo-Christian god?

-- or the civilization that submits to the god of Islam?

There is no secular option.

The sweet, all-accepting world of that cute little “COEXIST” bumper sticker is a myth.

Whether it’s murders of priests, or rapes of Western women, or attacks on night clubs or wine bars or civic festivals or government offices or satirical magazines -- everything the Islamist radicals are doing makes disinterested secularism impossible. Because everything has to do with advancing the cause of the caliphate and sharia law. Which is to say: Islam.

Don’t bother quoting the statistics that show church participation in decline or that the fastest growing “denomination” is ex-Catholics. These only demonstrate the extent of the secularist refusal to see.

As I ask my good-hearted, well meaning, non-religious friends over and over…

“How long do you think you’ll be free to live in comfortable, undemanding agnosticism should radical Islam triumph?”

Europe is coming to understand -- painfully so.

Italian journalist and author, Giulio Meotti, points out that European Union leadership has tried to enshrine secularism as a virtual state religion. Writing on the website of the Gatestone Institute, he observes how the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union only referred to the ‘cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe.’ The European Parliament had rejected a proposal from Christian Democrat MEPs [Members of the European Parliament] and Pope John Paul II, to include in the text Europe’s ‘Judeo-Christian roots.’”

This act of willful ignorance set the stage for the current tragedy, Meotti says “Not only has secularism no answers for terrorism; it also leaves Europeans unsure about what is worth fighting, killing, and dying for. If you believe, as the secularists do, that our values are mere accidents of history and that the highest good is comfort, then you will care nothing for the future of civilization.”

We are not far from that here in the U.S. with our own tendencies toward religious blindness.

This was certainly evident at the Democratic National Convention. On opening night not one of more than 60 speakers mentioned ISIS, the most threatening exponent of religion-themed barbarity our civilization faces.

Regardless what Hillary and her cadre might say, do you believe that the Democrats can disentangle themselves from their web of interlocking interests -- one key element of which is the huge block of illegal immigrants and Middle East refugees they see as a guarantee of future Democrat majorities -- in order to concentrate seriously on defeating Islamist radicalism?

I dare say, “civilizational war” is a concept they can’t wrap their heads around. The very idea that ISIS terrorism is motivated by religion disqualifies it as a fit subject for discussion at the highest echelons of party planning -- except as it validates the Left’s cherished principle that religion itself is inherently evil.

And what of the Republicans?

Certainly Donald Trump has made political hay with his call for suspending Muslim immigration. And while he’s lately tried to state his case in somewhat more nuanced terms, every new terrorist outrage only strengthens it, enlarging his base of support.

But does he -- this very worldly businessman -- fully comprehend the apocalyptic nature of the challenge presented by radical Islam? Does he even recognize its religious character? Has he thought through a reasoned, effective approach to meeting it? Is he consulting with thoughtful, knowledgeable advisors?

Up to now, thoughtfulness hasn’t been Trump’s defining characteristic.

Regardless who wins this election, the agenda of history is currently being driven by people who do not see history in human terms, but see themselves as the avenging angels of Allah. The argument over whether Islamist radicalism reflects authentic Muslim teaching will go on. But it surely reflects some understanding of Islam.

Which means that individual Muslims face their own choice.

They can choose silent assent to the horrors being perpetrated in the name of their religion. Or they can choose the heroic embrace of a faith-based civilizational vision that elevates love as the greatest ideal, even if we flawed human beings fall short of attaining it.

Accept this fact: The fundamental choice before all of us right now is religious -- in its essence, in its totality.

There is no secular option.

Bill Kassel is a writer, communications consultant, and media producer. His essays and random rants can be found at his blog, “The Guy in the Next Pew” ( The latest of his novels, My Brother's Keeper, has recently been released as an eBook.

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