Hunter Baker of Houston Baptist University has produced a rare book. It is a book of serious explication both accessible to layman or beginner at the subject, and illuminating to those long immersed in its twisted passageways and forbidding streets. That subject is secularism, a tormented subject indeed in American history. For definition, my friend admirably gives, early in his book, several useful definitional statements: “private religion is at the heart of secularism.” “Secularism means that religious considerations are excluded from civil affairs.”
But the essence of secularism, according to him, is a cheap rhetorical trick. It is the pretense that you can kick out the supports for the edifice of traditional morality, stand in some bewilderment as it falls in a cloud of dust, and then proceed about in the ruins, appealing like some madman to a vague consensus in order to convince everyone a new structure has already been built. How the secularist has convinced so many with this particular chicanery is a story, perhaps, for our psychologists or novelists.
For our philosophers and historians and simple readers like me, Hunter gives us a serviceable narrative, succinctly composed and carefully worded, which not only summarizes the state of things now, but also incorporates some unappreciated scholars and thinkers into the conversation.
There is no sense in hiding my view that it will be a blow not merely for clarity, but for justice and truth as well, when the end of secularism has come. It is little to be doubted that when that day dawns, Hunter will have had his part in the victory.
In due time we will have occasion to excerpt Hunter’s new book The End of Secularism. For now I’ll leave readers with what may be my favorite part. To some bewildered secularist who, faced with a strongly argued religious position, throws up his hands in frustration and shouts, “why do religious people always have to make things so difficult!” — we can answer, with Hunter, that the reason people “bring their comprehensive views to bear” on political reality, “is that they have integrity.”