The Triple Threat to Christians and the Church

The watered-down religion of human fraternity which some Catholics hope to bring about will be no match for either militant secularism or militant Islam.

(Photo: sergio souza | Unsplash.com)

Jesus assured us that the gates of hell will not prevail against his Church. But we’re not told how much damage will be done to the Church in the meantime. So much damage has been done in recent years that, from a purely worldly perspective, it sometimes looks as if Christianity is on the path to extinction.

Polls in the U.S. and in Europe reveal that fewer people identify as Christians with each passing year, while a growing number—the “nones”—don’t identify with any religion. That trend seems likely to continue.

One reason is that advances in technology, medicine, and science have created the illusion that our needs can be met on a purely secular level. The gospel of wealth and health and positive thinking that was popular with many Protestant Christians in the first half of the twentieth century has been revived—only this time without the Gospel. You can easily find it on the internet: “8 Life lessons everyone should learn before 2020”, “Neuroscience says listening to this song reduces anxiety by up to 65%”, and “5 ways to reduce your risk of developing dementia according to new research”. And this is only a very small sampling of the myriad ways you can improve your life and boost your self-esteem without recourse to religion.

Thus, the Internet with its many answers to life’s problems, can, for some, become a substitute for religion. And for most of the rest of us, it serves to distract our attention away from the deeper questions about the purpose of our life.

But the decline of Christianity is caused not just by the many distractions of modern life, but also by direct attacks against it. And these seem to be escalating. The three main assaults against Christianity come from secularism, Islam, and, ironically, from within Christianity itself.

Most Christians who pay attention are aware of the first threat. Committed secularists maintain that Christians are free to believe whatever they want just as long as they don’t bring their beliefs into the public realm. Thus, you are free to believe that marriage should only be between a man and a woman, but if you’re a baker, a florist, or a wedding photographer, you must lay your beliefs aside for the sake of “community standards”—that is, for the standards of the ideological left.

It’s becoming apparent, however, that secularists won’t be satisfied merely with policing the public sphere. It’s not unreasonable to conclude the day is approaching when the reading of an epistle at Mass will be a hate crime, priests will be forced to perform same-sex “weddings”, and it will be compulsory for Catholic schools to teach the joy of LGBT sex.

Even if militant secularists could be stopped from breaking down the doors of Catholic churches and schools, they have already managed to undermine Christianity in significant ways. One of the most effective ways is to consign Christian teachings to the realm of the unfashionable, or worse. How is this accomplished? It’s simple enough. When the fashionable people who control advertising, the entertainment industry, the NFL, and the public schools say that trans and gay are A-OK, any individual or institution who says otherwise is, almost by definition, unfashionable. And that’s all that those who aspire to “woke” status need to know about Christianity.

The second major attack on Christianity comes from Islam. In places where Muslims are a distinct minority, the attack often comes in the form of demands for equal treatment which soon become demands for special rights. In Europe, Muslims present themselves as the “new Jews”—victims of racism and discrimination who deserve special treatment to compensate for their sufferings. In liberal, secular Europe this ploy is quite effective. Thus, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that criticism of Islam is a crime. And in England, police arrest Christian street preachers for fear that the Christian message will offend Muslims.

In parts of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, Christians come in for much harsher treatment. They face daily persecution and even genocide. But relatively few Christians in the West are aware of the extent of the Islamic assault on Christianity, either in Europe or in the developing world.

Why? Because the same fashionable people who think its fine to bring drag queens into your public library act like Victorian-era prudes when it comes to Islam. Persecution of Christians at the hands of Muslims? You should be ashamed of yourself for even broaching such a delicate topic. Polite people don’t talk about such things. Indeed, the fashionable people who feel that they have a perfect right to teach your children that gay is okay, also believe that they have a God-given (excuse the language) mandate to teach them that Islam is a religion of peace and justice—unlike that other religion that supposedly introduced slavery, sexism, and homophobia to the world.

The frequency and intensity of Muslim attacks on Christians is magnified by the media’s silence. Reporters and journalists who raise an outcry whenever other groups are persecuted, are stricken with laryngitis when Christians are the target. When elephants are hunted in Africa, reporters jump to their defense, but when it’s Christians who are in danger, all they can muster is a shrug of the shoulder.

The tacit and sometimes not-so-tacit alliance between secularists and Islamists means that Christians are up against a combination of formidable foes. What makes the situation worse is that the Church is also under attack from powerful people within its own ranks.

These Churchmen seem intent on transforming the Church from a God-centered institution to a man-centered organization. Their goal is not to seek the Kingdom of Heaven, but to create a humanitarian and egalitarian community here on earth—possibly in partnership with the United Nations.

However, in the process of making the Church more acceptable to the world, they have weakened the Church in the eyes of the world. When the Church claimed to be the One True Church, she commanded more respect (though sometimes grudgingly) from the world. Now that leading Churchmen make no claim to exclusivity, the Church commands much less respect.

Of course, this loss of respect is compounded by the recent revelations of corruption in the Church—sexual and financial corruption and everything in between. It may well be that this corruption is the direct result of exchanging the goal of sanctification for more humanistic goals. In any event, it seems fair to say that the Church in recent years has lost both respect and credibility, and has even become something of a laughing stock—an old boys club where the old boys act like frat boys. The world, however, seems willing to overlook these “foibles” because the “new Church” has proven useful to progressive causes.

This has proven useful to the Muslim world. That’s because various Churchmen have become apologists for, and enablers of, Islam. Many Church leaders long ago joined the chorus of world leaders who—with hardly a shred of evidence—claimed that Islam is a religion of peace—a tranquil faith that has nothing to do with terror.

Not only were Church leaders willing to whitewash Islamic history and doctrine, they were, in large part, willing to overlook the Muslim slaughter of Christians in the developing world.

When Benedict XVI had the temerity to decry the bombing of Christian Churches in Egypt, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar broke off the university’s dialogue with the Vatican, and only agreed to reopen it if Pope Francis promised not to cross the “red line”—namely, criticism of Islam.

Francis gladly agreed, presumably on the assumption that terrorists are misunderstanders of “true” Islam. As he stated in Evangelii Gaudium: “Authentic Islam and a proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence.”

It appears that Francis and his circle not only think that Catholicism can be turned into a sort of humanistic religion, they apparently think the same of Islam. The “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together” which was signed jointly by Francis and the Grand Imam is full of humanistic nostrums, and it seems to assume that the coming one-world religion is only a step away.

Of course, if Francis’s assessment of Islam as a nascent humanistic religion is correct, then there is reason to hope for a more peaceful world. But if he is wrong—if, as President Erdogan of Turkey has said, “Islam is Islam, and that’s that”—then the newly humanized Church has put itself in a very bad position vis-à-vis both Islam and secularism.

In times past, the Catholic Church was a rallying point against both the aggressiveness of Islam and the excesses of secularism. In its present weakened state, however, it is hard to imagine it as a rallying point for anything other than LGBT initiatives and socialist schemes. Like Francis, secularists long for a one-world government, but it takes a special kind of naiveté to believe that the one they envision will be hospitable to Catholics and other Christians. Like Francis, Muslims, too, yearn for a one-world religion, but the one world religion they have in mind is Islam—not a syncretic blend of spiritualities.

The watered-down religion of human fraternity which some Catholics hope to bring about will be no match for either militant secularism or militant Islam. And it will certainly be no match for a simultaneous assault from both forces.

From a worldly perspective, the odds for the survival of Christianity do not look good. On the other hand, we have Christ’s promise that the Church will emerge victorious. And that changes the odds considerably.


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About William Kilpatrick 71 Articles
William Kilpatrick is the author of several books on religion and culture including Christianity, Islam, and Atheism: The Struggle for the Soul of the West (Ignatius Press). His new book, What Catholics Need to Know About Islam, is available from Sophia Institute Press.

29 Comments

  1. Christ’s revelation to Man cannot be defeated as I’m confidant William Kilpatrick would agree. Man defeats himself by ‘adopting’ multiple identifiable causes as indicated in the author’s essay. Although that self defeat is interior, a willful choice. Why? Why should he turn from the City of God to that of Man. Who can explain the arc of faith that initially rose peaked during the medieval age then fell dramatically beginning perhaps with the advance of the sciences? We can easily identify the varied rationale in the expansion of knowledge, reconsideration of truth, even Descartes Methodical Doubt leading to critical thinking. Free will? Of course it is freely willed. As the Psalmist says how tortured is the human mind who can fathom it [but God]. All of these were not causes simply symptomatic of our unwillingness to retain the Cross as the means of interior purity, humility, and salvation. Faith is a spiritual gift requiring nurture in constant conflict with the sensual. The tragedy is if faith had grown likened to the mustard seed the giant tree it became has now withered down to its doctrinal roots – though not entirely. The likelihood of rebirth though possible doesn’t appear likely when it has been tasted now increasingly spit out. God we know can do all things and he may once again intervene on our behalf. Christ we know will triumph in his own fashion. Whether for the good of all we hope if not for the many. And unfortunately to the dismay of many. For our part we know the way and with that we can come to their aid while their is time.

  2. Your observations all are too accurate. In my workplace–all I can say is that my views are considered “Puritan” etc., so I’ve learned to keep to myself for years now. At mass today, in a half-filled church, I had a sense that we are losing, and all we can do now is save what we can and retreat, in a sense. At the public library a few towns over, there was a DQ Story Hour, so I’m concerned about my 5 year old grandson. This is on Long Island where there’s a large Catholic population.

    • Eleanor,
      They had a DQ story time planned in a town not far from us and it became so controversial that they first held a public meeting to get input. So many Christian people showed up to protest that the DQ storytelling event was eventually canceled.
      Our area has a large Catholic population but the overwhelming majority of concerned Christian folk who came to the public meeting were Baptist and Pentecostal. Not a single Catholic priest was in sight but several Protestant preachers were present and the pastor of the largest Baptist church gave his testimony at the hearing and his church donated their parking lot for the overflow parking of those attending.
      It’s sad to say this as a Catholic mother but maybe Long Island needs more Baptists and Pentecostals. Most Catholics seem to just sit on their hands these days. I worry about what world my grandchildren will inherit also.
      God bless!

    • Eleanor we need to avoid what your 5 year old grandson is subject to as we would the plague. Our culture is morally diseased and collectively seeks to enforce its spread. Retreat as in the military is considered strategic. We muster our strength and better prepare for confronting lies with truth. Your children and grandchildren are blessed to have you.

      • Fr. Peter,
        Thank you for your comment. My grandson is my treasure, and he’s currently attending Catholic nursery school. I hope his parents can afford to send him to Catholic elem school in Sept. In fact, my St. Andrew’s Novena was for that intention.
        We don’t know where to retreat to, though I have read about Catholic communities, such as in Hyattsville MD. I’m thinking more and more that we should start one on LI.

  3. So what’s your point, Mr Kilpatrick? We do NOT need to be reminded, via this very fine publication, that the Church is under seige. We need to know what we as good Catholics can do! We already know what the problems are. Once again, what’s your point?

    • I took the article as a “wake up” call to the faithful. As the saying goes, to be forewarned is to be forearmed. I don’t assume most faithful Catholics do get the point, or understand how grave the crisis truly is. Pretending that all is well is not an option.

      As for what to do about it, I guess the matter is on the table, open for debate. Any suggestions? My starting point would be to pray with the specific concerns stated in the article in mind. After that certainly bringing them to the attention of our fellow Catholics is imperative.

      • At a nearby parish that my mom attends, one of the priests, not the pastor (thankfully) said in his homily that we should respect all families, even those with same sex parents.
        Several people walked out.
        A few years ago, I wrote to a priest after he said that the Ascension did not really happen–it is a metaphor. He replied with such mumbo jumbo–I don’t even remember.
        I’ve written to the bishop many times about certain events at retreat houses such as “drumming,” and changing “he” to “she” in hymns.
        Should we protest this way? I wonder if it helps.

    • It is imperative that we need to be reminded. We are immersed in an increasingly secular society. I am acutely aware of this, but I still need to be reminded. Perhaps I am remiss and weak; many of us are, most of us, perhaps. The strong few don’t require reminding, but they are still the few.

    • Jeff Bishop asks: “We need to know what we as good Catholics can do.”

      When asked “how should a possible schism be averted in this phase of weak Roman leadership,” Cardinal Mueller responds: “Just don’t add fuel to the fire!” BUT then minces no words in getting to the “point.” He quotes St. Paul in full: 1 Tim 6:3-5, 11-14 (Roman Encounters, 2019, p. 149).

    • I agree Mr. Bishop. The challenges and sins of the Church are very well described by Mr. Kilpatrick. In fact, in any faithful Catholic media, you can get them listed every day. They are no less disheartening in their repetition.

  4. Nearly a quarter century ago and before becoming pope, Ratzinger characterized the Muslim mind as it compares itself to the moribund West.

    “We [Muslims] are somebody too; we know who we are; our religion is holding its ground; you don’t have one any longer. This is actually the feeling today of the Muslim world: The Western countries are no longer capable of preaching a message of morality but have only know-how to offer the world. The Christian religion has abdicated; it really no longer exists as a religion; the Christians no longer have a morality or a faith; all that’s left are a few remains of some modern ideas of enlightenment; we [Muslims] have the religion that stands the test” (Ratzinger/Benedict, Salt of the Earth, Ignatius Press, 1997).

    Meanwhile, talking-head secularists still mouth specious social science nostrums while humanitarian bishops externalize across the entire globe their discredited “fraternal collegiality.” Fraternity, yes, but some depth perception and steadfastness and clarity in the faith and in morals are still fashionable. Instead, Abu Dhabi, plus Amazonia and Germania, not to mention Communist China being painted as a model of the Church’s social teaching.

  5. This latest round of feel good mumbo-jumbo of watering down of our faith is evident in our Parish.Our Bishop has passed on the edict.That we must now before Mass starts.Turn to those around us and say:”I will pray for you”.We already say after the Our Father Prayer by turning to those around us.”Peace be with you”.Now I’m told at the beginning of Mass? This new edict has become our Parish custom.It never has been to my knowledge.Many,myself included prefer to pray in quiet meditation before Mass.More liberal mumbo-jumbo seeping into our Mass.

    • Then don’t cooperate. Pray with your eyes closed and if someone insists on speaking to you, look at them but dont reply. Maybe they will get the hint. The Bishop or pastor can only enact these crazy changes if all the people cooperate.

  6. Perhaps a point that should have been made more clear (it was implied) in this article is how militant secularism, Islam, and politically liberal churchmen work together on many issues. It is their cozying up to each other and their many mouthpieces in the media (such as NPR which is a sympathizer to all three) that people must be made more aware of in this new conglomeration of progressivism. As to what can be done about it – perhaps one thing is “holiness in place”. For example responding to G Raff I would say – go to church, kneel and pra,y and and don’t stop kneeling until the Mass begins with opening prayer. Ignore the pre-Mass handshakes which are not part of the Church’s liturgy. You may seem like a rebel but you will be a buoy of hope in a sea of raging activism. Then suggest coffee and donuts “after” Mass.

  7. G. Raff, please allow me to suggest that you attend the Extraordinary Form of the mass. You will find no innovations there but you will find the desired quiet, meditative setting you seem to prefer.

  8. Feast of St.Andre today – http://holycrosscongregation.org/holy-ones/st-andre-bessette/
    how God can do much with one good saint , small in stature , not in great health ,
    yet , healing many , did not allow the death of his father , from a tree cutting accident dampen his love for St.Joseph , instead allowing same to be the source of much of his strength and love for The Father .
    Would it have been Angel Gabriel – ‘the strength of God ‘ who appeared to St.Joseph , to strengthen him, in his doubt ..that , thereafter , he too would have often uttered those words of the holy Angel ,to Bl.Mother , in his heart – ‘ Hail , filled with grace , blessed are Thou ..’
    And the simple , beautiful words of the Holy Father , on what true worship is , hopefully being read by many world over – https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2020/01/06/pope-francis-when-we-do-not-worship-god-we-worship-ourselves/
    Let us hope and pray too that , like the faith of those who brought the paralytic helped him, that the faith and holiness of all these holy persons are our blessings , to help heal all the paralysed areas in all our lives and hearts as well .
    Sts Joseph and St.Andre , pray for us all , that we too deepen in our love and gratitude to The Father , to be set free from all holds of the father of lies , in all areas of all our lives .

  9. If I read Kilpatrick right -and I always do- once again a nefarious cabal of homosexuals join league with another cabal of self-hating homosexuals, to undermine and destroy a third cabal of homosexuals, while being egged on by a media comprised of homosexuals.

    Soon it will against the law to be an anti pro-homosexual for anti-homosexualism. Gay sex will be the law of the land. What is a poor anti-pro-homo-pro-anti-homo to do?

      • A sad aspect of the faith is that honest “God-fearing” people have had to put up with apocalyptic wags and nags for hundreds of years telling us every new cultural development is a sign of the end. I too remember a time when Obama was the Antichrist and I had to ‘stay vigilant’ for the next trumpet blast.

  10. “On the other hand, we have Christ’s promise that the Church will emerge victorious.”

    But He does not promise that all jurisdictions will emerge unscathed.

  11. Aside from his obvious scholarship and exposure of many evils afflicting the Church, what I also greatly admire about William Kilpatrick is his courageous faith and willingness to fight the good fight from within the Church. This is in stark contrast to recent well-known people in the media like fellow Islam fighter Robert Spencer who left the Catholic Church in 2016 primarily because he did not like the criticisms he received from the hierarchy, and Shawn Hannity who apparently was persuaded by people like David Limbaugh to profess a broader, more generalized approach to Christianity in general. Pray for William and other people within the Church to maintain their courageous faith despite the silliness now in vogue, and also pray for Robert Spencer and Shawn Hannity to regain their senses soon and return to the Catholic Church.

  12. One small piece of information: the “gospel of wealth and health and positive thinking” ought not be described in the past tense. This perversion of basic Christian doctrine is alive and well in what is now called the “prosperity gospel”–same song, different hymnal.

    While the “gospel of wealth and health and positive thinking” movement was largely white, educated, relatively affluent, and mainline Protest-ant, the new “prosperity gospel” is laser-focused on those who are poor and uneducated.

    Some of the better known “prosperity pimps” (with no formal education nor ecclesial certification or oversight) include Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, T. D. Jakes, and Creflo Dollar (and 100,000 lesser knowns). Except for Hinn, each of these men also pastor one of the largest Protest-ant fundamentalist megachurches in the United States.

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