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Have you noticed that American culture seems to be drifting away from its founding Judeo-Christian values? Does this mean America is secularizing? Does it matter?

Hi, I’m Rex Rogers and this is episode #107 of Discerning What Is Best, a podcast applying unchanging biblical principles in a rapidly changing world, and a Christian worldview to current issues and everyday life.

When I was in grad school in the late 70s-early 80s, one of the issues we talked about was “secularization,” the “historical process in which religion declines in social and cultural significance. As a result of secularization the role of religion in modern societies becomes restricted. In secularized societies faith lacks cultural authority, and religious organizations have little social power.”

OK, fair enough. Many examples can be cited. But the mistake much of the scholarship made back then was to assume that people would move from religion to irreligion, from religion to religionlesness, that somehow human beings could and would reach a point of development in which faith in God and religious practices were no longer necessary to life. Those scholars envisioned a world without religion.

But it didn’t happen. While traditional religion has become publicly less important in the West, including in the United States, worldwide, religion is as great an influence, if not more so, than ever.

One of the problems with those secularization studies is that they were written with a bias. Many academics were themselves religiously non-practicing. They often came from religious homes but tossed this aside in college. So, they expected to find others doing the same, because for them this was the rational, reasonable, scientific thing to do.

But let’s offer a counter thesis: There are no religionless human beings. Since Adam and Eve, no individuals have ever existed who are not at their core a religious being.

By “religious” I do not mean adherents of traditional or institutional religion. Bureaucracies.

By religious, I mean one possesses an innate God consciousness, a moral capacity to reason about right and wrong, a desire to know who we are, what is our purpose, and what is our destiny, and with this to consider the existential questions, Is there a God? Does he know me? What is the source of evil or sin? What happens when I die?

I believe God instilled all this in human beings when he said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:26-27).

Now many people claim to be religionless. But even atheists position themselves as not believing in what? God. They form a presupposition about the Almighty, which is an inherently religious action.

The Collins English Dictionary defines religionless as, “people lacking religious beliefs. Lacking or devoid of religion.” But this is colloquial not philosophical definition. No one is wholly lacking in religious beliefs.

Merriam-Webster gets closer, defining religionless as, “atheistical, lacking religious emotions, principles, or practices.”

OK, people who do not act religious. They exist, but they are still religious because to live in the world, every human being must make assumptions about God, humanity, life and being, purpose, truth, morality. It is impossible to live without making these judgments, whether consciously or subconsciously, and these assumptions determine one’s values and choices. 

So, yes, there are many examples of people acting out in a manner that suggests they are without religious understanding. But still, as our thesis posits, at their core, they are religious.

In America today we are experiencing a downward trend in those who say they are religious and an upward trend in those who say, “No Religion,” now 30% of the population, a figure that has nearly doubled in the past 15 years. These are “people who self-describe as atheists, agnostics or ‘nothing in particular’ when asked about their religious identity” – the so-called “Nones.” 

Now we could just write this social development off as, live and let live. It’s a free country. What someone else believes really doesn’t matter all that much to me, right?

But is this the case?

When a person rejects traditional religious understanding, which in the United States is Judeo-Christian principles, what he or she is doing is replacing one set of assumptions with another set of assumptions. These folks may be Nones in terms of engagement with institutional religion or Judeo-Christian outlooks on life, 

but they are not Nones in terms of religious ideas. Remember our thesis – there are no religionless human beings. 

So as Americans jettison Judeo-Christian religious affiliation a new religious persuasion, not secularism per se, is replacing it, and with this new persuasion, new values.

Christian social researcher George Barna calls the new DIY religious persuasion Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, a mouthful for sure, but it simply means belief in a God, no moral absolutes, doing the best you can, being nice meaning inclusive, and focusing upon your well-being. 

Again, why does another person’s religious assumptions matter to you or me?

Well, because when a lot of people adopt views different from, even contrary to Judeo-Christian principles, then they act on their values, they create a chaotic culture. That’s what we are seeing today.

In contemporary culture, if you just watch social developments and read or watch social and legacy media, you’ll find incessant messaging arguing the following values define life:

  1. Personal happiness is the end all, be all of life.

Such a culture embraces and promotes abortion on demand, prenuptial agreements and easy divorce that diminish marriage and family, and affluence as the measure of wellbeing, all of which are evident in programs like “Real Housewives” of name-the-city.

  1. Sexual fulfillment is the greatest source of happiness.

Such a culture embraces sexual libertinism, equates lust with love, allows or promotes child sexual abuse in the form of transgenderism, even embraces perversion-as-normality, like “50 Shades of Grey.”

  1. Socially determined gender, not biological sex, defines human reality.

Such a culture celebrates men identifying as women and cheating in sports, allows them access to women’s locker rooms and prisons (guess what assaults result from this) and parades twisted men or women as examples of bravery or achievement, like Bud Light tried to do putting a man trans woman on their beer cans, only to experience “Go Woke, Go Broke.”

  1. Racial determinism means offenses based upon race are now found in virtually every experience of daily life.

Such a culture embraces so-called “anti-racism,” a philosophy tragically racist in values, attitudes, and impact. We see this in the activities of charlatan groups like Black Lives Matter and the Critical Race Theory taught in schools. 

  1. Truth is a matter of preference.

Such a culture allows gender, race, and ideology to trump truth. Consequently, laws are unenforceable, and order is at risk, organized looters steal at will in major cities, and criminal perpetrators go unprosecuted. Utterly irrational ideas are promoted, like defund the police, no prosecution for social statement crimes, which we see in how youthful looters and even those wielding weapons are ignored in Chicago.

  1. Mental health is the definition of well-being.

Such cultures are built upon churches that have reduced the gospel to psychological conversations about wellness, self-care, safety, and affirmation. Sin, judgment, guilt, hell, forgiveness, repentance, and salvation are unwelcome topics, because people want to be told: I’m okay, you’re okay, we’re all okay.

Our non-Christian neighbors are not secular. They are not religionless. They may think of themselves as Nones, but in their pursuit of happiness, they are following a false DIY religious worldview.

So, yes, if our neighbors embrace a surrogate, idolatrous religion, there will be, and there already has been, consequences for American culture. What someone else believes really does matter.


Well, we’ll see you again soon. This podcast is about Discerning What Is Best. If you find this thought-provoking and helpful, follow us on your favorite podcast platform. Download an episode for your friends. For more Christian commentary, check my website, r-e-x-m as in Martin, that’s 

And remember, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm.

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2023   

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