Editor’s Note: Diane Schrader attended the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s West Coast retreat this past weekend and will be filing several reports on the various speakers and panels. This is the first.
I’ve got a few weighty things on my mind that I’m about to unpack on you. But let’s ease into it gently, courtesy of Rush Limbaugh:
Q: What do God and Barack Obama have in common?
A: Neither has a birth certificate!
Q: What is one difference between Obama and God?
A: Leftists love Obama!
Q: What’s another difference between Obama and God?
A: God doesn’t think he’s Obama!
Heh heh. El Rushbo tells a good joke. And that’s a lighthearted introduction into a heavy topic – a topic that talk show host and nationally-syndicated columnist Dennis Prager opted to take on as the final keynote speaker at this weekend’s David Horowitz Freedom Center retreat in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.
God, according to Prager, is in trouble.
Of course, God is not really in trouble. We’re the ones who are really in trouble, because of what we as a society are doing to God. For the purposes of this discussion, it really doesn’t matter if you’re an atheist – the ramifications apply to us all. But Prager thinks he knows why atheism might be more attractive to a lot of people right now, and he outlined a number of reasons.
The first is the evil that people are doing in God’s name. And no, he’s not talking about the Westboro crazies (although they’re definitely in the running for consideration). He’s talking about Islam. Every time someone yells Allahu Akbar as they blow something up, or slit someone’s throat – they’re claiming to act for God. This, no doubt, is a turnoff to many.
What’s perhaps an even greater turnoff is what Prager calls the “pathetic response” to this evil from (mainstream) Judaism and Christianity. The fact that only Orthodox Jews and evangelical Christians are consistently speaking out against Islam’s crimes (a good deed for which they are roundly condemned as “Islamophobic”) is indeed a sad commentary on the state of those who claim religious faith in this country.
It’s not enough, as Prager indicated, to condemn religious violence in general – because nobody is slitting anyone’s throat in the name of Jesus Christ, and nobody is yelling “Yay Torah” before blowing themselves up. Evil should be identified and denounced – and most Jews and Christians are doing a terrible job of that. It appears that their God has no teeth.
What passes for faith in most mainstream (liberal) Christian denominations and most of Judaism (outside Orthodox) has become a mushy pablum of warm fuzzy feelings instead of concrete moral standards. One can’t even discuss concepts like sin and hell (which are necessary prerequisites, by the way, for mercy and grace) without being accused of “extremism” and, in a torturous logical twist, of being just like “radical Muslims.”
The lack of critical thinking skills from which these illogical flights of fancy emerge is of course the fault, in part, of our current educational vacuum, but Prager frames it in an interesting way. If a student was homeschooled in a strict Christian home his or her entire life, never allowed to watch television, listen to popular music, read anything other than the Bible, get on the internet, or even leave the house – would you consider them somewhat brainwashed? You might – although of course, I defy you to actually find anyone who has experienced this (despite the fevered imaginations of teacher unions that oppose homeschooling or any type of Christian education).
Now Prager turns this on its head. Keeping in mind the virtually lockstep leftist leanings of popular culture, the media and our educational institutions – if a student went to a secular K-12 school system his or her entire life, absorbed countless hours of secular TV programming, listened to nothing but popular music, read nothing about teen-oriented magazines and books, and went to movies, concerts etc. that were all completely non-religious and non-conservative in nature, would you consider them to be somewhat brainwashed? Because you should – and I guarantee that you can find thousands and probably millions of kids whose lives mirror this set of experiences.
What does this have to do with God? Well, an entire generation has been inoculated against thinking about Him in any kind of serious way. And without an understanding of God, as Prager says, our concepts of good and evil grow blurry indeed, and we get all mixed up, just like the leftists who confuse hating people who fight evil with hating evil.
What’s more, as Prager points out, “When you don’t fight great evil, you fight little evils.” If you can’t be bothered to denounce the decapitation of an Israeli infant by murderous Palestinians, but you get all agitated about someone burning a book (I’m looking at you, Joe Klein, Harry Reid, and Lindsey Graham) – you’re part of this problem. If you’re an animal rights activist who is okay with PETA’s “Holocaust on Your Plate” program, which compares a barbecued hamburger with the gassing and incineration of 6 million humans – well, frankly, words fail me on that one.
But this is the kind of world we humans create when we shut out God. Our country was founded by men who, regardless of their personal relationship to any particular religion, recognized both the existence of a Deity and the moral imperative of aligning oneself with Him. They were not all Christians (although most of them were), but they all believed that the best government would be that system that understood man’s true nature (we are eminently corruptible) and crafted a system of checks and balances in full recognition of that nature.
Today, we still enjoy (some of) the fruit of those wise decisions. When we insist on denying the importance of God in our societal life, as Dennis Prager so eloquently reminded us, we do so at our own peril.