President Trump and Our Post-Secular Future by Stephen Turley, Ph.D.
(Turley Talks, Stephen Turley: 2017)
“Humanism is dying, if not dead.” --R.J. Rushdoony[i]
For many years, R.J. Rushdoony predicted the death of humanism and analyzed its causes. He was often described, and even mocked, as a lone voice crying in the wilderness.
But now it’s the year 2020. A Chinese virus shut down the world’s economy—trillions of dollars, thousands upon thousands of jobs, innumerable small businesses destroyed. Cities have been torn by daily riots. There are rumors of a military coup against the president (https://americanmind.org/essays/the-coming-coup/). If this is the best humanist government and ideology can do, someone had better start looking into funeral arrangements.
It’s not so hard, anymore, to find observers who agree with Rushdoony’s prognosis. One of these is Dr. Stephen Turley, a professor of theology and other studies at Tall Oaks Classical School and Eastern University. His conclusions are simply stated.
“The old secular order, rooted in a rotted-out modernity, is collapsing … [It will be replaced by] a new political order rooted in nation, culture, and tradition … A new conservative, nationalist age has begun” (pp. 61–62).
“Secularization,” Turley explains, “… [is] a process by which religious ideas, institutions, and interpretations lose their significance” (p. 8). It is teamed with globalization, which consists of “capitalism, urbanization, technology, and telecommunications within a mass transnational economic system” (p. 9). And secular globalism has emerged, since World War II, “as our dominant political paradigm” (cover blurb).
But a lot of people don’t like it anymore.
Turley sees in the 2016 election of Donald Trump as president a symbol of a worldwide “traditionalist blowback” against secular globalism. Secular globalism “hollowed out” native cultures (p. 23), and conditions people to rely on elites and experts even as their traditional way of life is “disembedded” (p. 10). A “consumer-based culture” crowds out the nations’ native culture, replacing religious and moral standards with “lifestyle values and beliefs” (p. 19). Corporate CEOs avidly cater to and promote “alternative lifestyles”—because consumers will buy more and more products that help them reinvent themselves (p. 19). I have long wondered why they do this; now I know.
This is what people have learned not to like about it—along with political correctness, open borders, and a fetish for “multiculturalism” and radical “tolerance and inclusion”—which is swiftly “withering away,” Turley says (p. 12).
And really, the whole thing is quite absurd.
“Science,” for instance, elevated by humanists to a rank tantamount to God’s, promises the best of everything in this best of all possible worlds. By disembedding Christian moral standards—they’re not “scientific,” after all—humanists bait the hook with a vision of near-absolute “personal autonomy” (p. 10). But the “autonomy” part is a scam. Just try to exercise it against the state—by, for instance, refusing to cater a same-sex “wedding”—and see what happens to you. By permitting sexual license, the secular state creates an illusion of autonomy: and undermines the traditional family while they’re at it.
Citing C. S. Lewis’ The Abolition of Man, Turley writes of the two classes of people making up the secular globalist system: “the conditioners,” the “experts” and elites who rule the world, and “the conditioned,” the ruled and the manipulated (pp. 16–18). The elite experts are seen as providing for the masses, who are conditioned to rely on them. As long as we do as we’re told, the experts will provide us with the necessities of life. Dependence keeps the people tame and tractable—
In 2019 the Catholic bishops of Poland, with the country’s president there in person, declared Jesus Christ the rightful king of Poland (p. 25). In Hungary the government rejected “gay marriage” and reconfirmed traditional marriage (p. 25). The pro-life movement is growing stronger, worldwide (Chapter 7), even as several Democrat-controlled states in America doubled down on abortion and expanded the “right” to abortion up to the child’s moment of birth. But that happened after Turley’s book was written.
The Religious Right has grown stronger, not weaker, by defending “nation, church, and families” (p. 42), school choice and homeschooling are increasingly popular (p. 40), and secularists lament “the war on science,” which of course is only traditional religious people pushing back—all over the globe.
Which brings us to Donald Trump.
How Did Trump Win?
In 2016 Donald Trump defied the conventional wisdom by running for president against four supposed taboos that should have sunk him—
Cutting immigration; rejecting globalist trade deals in favor of bringing jobs back to America; reasserting America’s traditional “moral climate”; and defying and rejecting political correctness (Chapter 3): these four, says Turley, got him elected.
It shouldn’t have happened! America’s news media, cheerleading for the Democrats, wrote him off as a crank candidate who would be swamped by Hillary Clinton (p. 45).
They couldn’t have been more wrong. But as ironbound secular globalists themselves, they were “incapable of understanding and interpreting non-secular conceptions of life” (p. 46). And Donald Trump, meanwhile turned out to be the only candidate who knew which way the wind was blowing: our professional politicians didn’t.
Trump hasn’t finished, either. Just recently he banned “diversity trainers” and the teaching of “Critical Race Theory” throughout the federal bureaucracy, where it had spread like kudzu (https://www.dailywire.com/news/breaking-trump-bans-federal-money-from-funding-far-left-anti-american-critical-race-theory); and a few days later, ordered the defunding of schools that taught The New York Times’ “1619 Project” in the classroom (https://www.newsweek.com/after-1619-project-threat-trump-accused-trying-censor-history-slavery-1530077?ocid=uxbndlbing). A howl of pain went up from the news media and the academic establishment, but Trump has not backed down. Both of these Far Left enterprises he condemned, and rightly so, as “divisive” and anti-American.
Fighting for Our Lives
One thing, I think, Turley got wrong. In Chapter 8, on “Feminist Futility,” he cites demographic data showing Christians with a much higher birth rate than can be found among secularists. But leftists don’t need to have children of their own: they use the public schools to turn children against their families, their country, and their God—and college to put the finishing touches on it. Unless this problem is acknowledged, and countered by more and more homeschooling and Christian schooling, the Left will not run out of useful idiots.
But on the whole, Turley’s argument is strong. All over the world, secular globalism faces intense blowback from populations who now believe they’ve had to pay too high a price for globalism’s goodies. He expects this to continue; and for as long as nations support conservative, populist leaders like Donald Trump, it probably will. Meanwhile, this is a fascinating little book that can be read in the time it takes to watch a feature film.
This election year in America, we are fighting for the life of our country, our families, and our faith; and we mustn’t let up, because the secular world order is desperate to keep its power and willing to do whatever it takes to defend itself. The Russia hoax, the failed impeachment trial, the lies, the riots in the streets—secular globalism will not go gently into that good night.
May God grant us the courage and the wisdom to see that it does.
[i] R. J. Rushdoony, Roots of Reconstruction (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1991), p. 700.