Fr Stephen Smuts

Posts Tagged ‘Secularism


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Please would you take a moment to remember and pray for those who have been caught up in the horrific coordinated terror attacks in #Paris last night.

With over 150 dead and scores more injured, this is the deadliest violence in Paris since World War II.

Now while I have my own opinions as to what is going on not only in France, but Europe on the whole, and why, let me just say that things are going to get worse before they get better. Secularism will be their complete undoing. So while the French borders have now been closed, ISIS is long inside the gates. And Western Civilisation is left teetering.

St Joan of Arc, pray for us!

Charles Martel, aid us!

Read also, if you will, The Paris Attacks: The Consequence of Goodness Without Truth.


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

November 14, 2015 at 11:38

Inside the Church Without a God

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With 700 mostly evangelical places of worship Nashville, Tennessee is often described as the “Protestant Vatican”, but even here a secular church is finding its niche .

In the Telegraph:

Viewed from the outside, the pointy-roofed building in a suburb of Nashville, Tennessee deep in the heart of America’s Bible Belt, looks very much like a church.

And stepping inside, where a congregation is swaying along to music, listening to sermons and discussing ways to help their local community, it sounds very much like a church too.

There is, however, one rather fundamental missing ingredient that sets this congregation apart from the hundreds of others turning out to worship this Sunday morning in Nashville: this is a church without God.

“I pass seven big churches between my house and the main road two miles away, there are plenty of churches in Nashville, but we needed a place for us,” says David Lyle, a founder-member of the Nashville branch of the “Sunday Assembly” secular church movement.

Started in London in January 2013 by a pair of British stand-up comedians, Sunday Assembly offers a church experience but without the ‘God part’ and, according to organisers, it is starting to catch on in America…

Rest here, with a video. And whatever it is, it ain’t Church.

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

July 27, 2014 at 17:01

Secular South Africa?

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The Christian Century:

Article image

Twenty years ago, in 1994, democracy finally came to South Africa, the wealthiest and most powerful nation of sub-Saharan Africa. Most South Africans would agree that the subsequent years have been difficult, and levels of violence and poverty remain intolerably high. But the turn to majority rule was a massive political and moral achievement, to which Christian churches contributed mightily.

Beginning in the 1960s the antiapartheid cause featured centrally in Christian debates worldwide over political activism and the legitimacy of armed resistance to tyranny. Anglican archbishop Desmond Tutu became perhaps the best-known face of the antiapartheid movement.

Obviously, the churches that struggled against apartheid did so from a sense of religious obligation and not with any thought of advancing their own power or influence. But with 20 years of political freedom behind us, what can we say about the religious consequences of the revolution? Who were the winners and losers? And has religious radicalism faded from political life?

Even more than in most Global South nations, South Africa’s religious statistics re­main fiercely contested. A fair consensus, though, suggests that while the country remains predominantly Christian, familiar mainstream denominations are much weaker than in most of black Africa. The most successful religious movements lie on both extremes of the spectrum: among highly charismatic faith-oriented healing churches and among secularists. In religious terms, the emerging South Africa looks at once thoroughly African and surprisingly European.

Mainstream churches—the squeezed middle—claim the loyalty of about a quarter of South Africans. About 7 percent of the population are Catholic, with another 20 percent belonging to the main Protestant churches—Methodists, Anglicans, Lutherans and Dutch Reformed.

Who are the nation’s other Christians?

Find out more here.


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

January 25, 2014 at 08:29

Read Bible Favourites to Children, Parents Urged

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A new campaign, an initiative of the Bible Society, urges parents to read tales from the Old and New Testaments to their children.

The Telegraph has the details:

Organisers are hoping to introduce a new generation of British children to stories from the Bible with which their grandparents would have been instantly familiar

It might not feature boy wizards, magic wardrobes or Hobbits, but its epic cast list does include a giant, a talking snake and a man who lived for 969 years.

Now parents reading stories with their children are being urged to mix favourites such as Harry Potter or the Narnia books with tales from the Bible as part of a new campaign aimed at a million young people.

The initiative is timed to coincide with the release of a string of blockbuster Hollywood adaptations of stories from both the Old and New Testaments.

Organisers are hoping to introduce a new generation of British children to stories from the Bible with which their grandparents would have been instantly familiar.

They fear that ignorance or open hostility towards religion by some parents could lead to a generation of children growing up unaware of many of the stories which have formed a foundation of western art, literature and music.

The campaign also follows a series of studies suggesting that fewer and fewer parents are regularly reading stories to their children at all.

The campaign, an initiative of the Bible Society, aims not to promote religious teaching but simply to introduce a new generation of children to the drama and adventure contained in the Bible.

Research commissioned by the charity found that British adults who recognise themes and stories from the scriptures in modern films and music are in the minority.

The study, which will be published this month, also found that only just over a third of adults think that having an understanding of the Bible is an important part of young people’s education.

However, it found that where they are introduced, Biblical stories still carry a strong resonance with parents and children alike. Separate polling conducted for the campaign identified the nativity as the nation’s favourite Bible story for both children and adults, followed by Noah’s Ark and the life of Joseph.

But there was then a divide along gender lines. The story of David and the giant Goliath ranked fourth among boys, while for girls it was Adam and Eve, which featured the talking snake. The story of Methuselah – who lived to the age of 969 – did not feature.

The organisers of the “Pass It On” campaign are understood to be working on a new app for iPads and other tablet computers containing a selection of Bible stories designed to be read to or by young children.

They are also in talks with popular children’s authors to come up with their own exciting retellings of once familiar Biblical stories.

“Despite being the world’s all-time bestseller, the Bible today faces its greatest challenges in the UK for centuries,” said James Catford from the Bible Society.

“Its stories open the door to understanding much of our history, as well as our cultural and literary heritage. But many of us have never opened its pages and only a tiny minority read it regularly.”

The campaign hopes to capitalise on a string of Biblical blockbusters, including Ridley Scott’s Exodus starring Christian Bale as Moses, and Russell Crowe’s forthcoming appearance as Noah.


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

January 19, 2014 at 17:25

Christendom’s Greatest Cathedral to Become a Mosque

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Turkey is reclaiming its jihadi past, while Europe is simultaneously erasing its own Christian heritage.

PJ Media:

While unrest in Turkey continues to capture attention, more subtle and more telling events concerning the Islamification of Turkey — and not just at the hands of Prime Minister Erdogan but majorities of Turks — are quietly transpiring. These include the fact that Turkey’s Hagia Sophia museum is on its way to becoming a mosque. Why does the fate of an old building matter?

Because Hagia Sophia — Greek for “Holy Wisdom” — was for some thousand years Christianity’s greatest cathedral. Built in 537 A.D. in Constantinople, the heart of the Christian empire, it was also a stalwart symbol of defiance against an ever encroaching Islam from the east.

After parrying centuries of jihadi thrusts, Constantinople was finally sacked by Ottoman Turks in 1453. Its crosses desecrated and icons defaced, Hagia Sophia — as well as thousands of other churches — was immediately converted into a mosque, the tall minarets of Islam surrounding it in triumph.

Then, after the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, as part of several reforms, secularist Ataturk transformed Hagia Sophia into a “neutral” museum in 1934 — a gesture of goodwill to a then-triumphant West from a then-crestfallen Turkey.

Thus the fate of this ancient building is full of portents. And according to Hurriyet Daily News, “A parliamentary commission is considering an application by citizens to turn the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul into a mosque…. A survey conducted with 401 people was attached to the application, in which more than 97 percent of interviewees requested the transformation of the ancient building into a mosque and afterwards for it to be reopened for Muslim worship.”

Even lesser known is the fact that other historic churches are currently being transformed into mosques, such as a 13thcentury church building — portentously also named Hagia Sophia — in Trabzon. After the Islamic conquest, it was turned into a mosque. But because of its “great historical and cultural significance” for Christians, it too, during Turkey’s secular age, was turned into a museum and its frescoes restored. Yet local authorities recently decreed that its Christian frescoes would again be covered and the church/museum turned into a mosque.

Similarly, the 5th century Studios Monastery, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, is set to become an active mosque. And the existence of the oldest functioning Christian monastery in the world, 5th century Mor Gabriel Monastery, is at risk. Inhabited today by only a few dozen Christians dedicated to learning the monastery’s teachings, the ancient Aramaic language spoken by Jesus, and the Orthodox Syriac tradition, neighboring Muslims filed a lawsuit accusing the monks of practicing “anti-Turkish activities” and of illegally occupying land which belongs to Muslim villagers. The highest appeals court in Ankara ruled in favor of the Muslim villagers, saying the land that had been part of the monastery for 1,600 years is not its property, absurdly claiming that the monastery was built over the ruins of a mosque — even though Muhammad was born 170 years after the monastery was built.

Turkey’s Christian minority, including the Orthodox Patriarch, are naturally protesting this renewed Islamic onslaught against what remains of their cultural heritage — to deaf ears…

And from the conclusion:

Indeed, at a time when Turkey is openly reclaiming its jihadi heritage, Europeans are actively erasing their Christian heritage which for centuries kept the Islamic jihad at bay. Among other capitulations, Europeans are currently betraying church buildings to Muslims to convert to mosques and scrubbing references of the historic Turkish jihads against Europe from classroom textbooks, lest Muslim students be offended.

Meanwhile, here are neighboring Turkey’s Muslims openly praising the same jihadi warlords who brutally conquered a portion of Europe centuries ago, converting thousands of churches into mosques, even as they openly prepare to finish the job — which may not even require force, as Europe actively sells its own soul.


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

June 20, 2013 at 08:42

Report: Canadians Turning Away from Organized Religion

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Religion News Service reports:

A new national study shows that while Canada remains overwhelmingly Christian, Canadians are turning their backs on organized religion in ever greater numbers.

Results from the 2011 National Household Survey show that more than two-thirds of Canadians, or some 22 million people, said they were affiliated with a Christian denomination.

At 12.7 million, Roman Catholics were the largest single Christian group, representing 38 percent of Canadians; the second largest was the United Church, representing about 6 percent; while Anglicans were third, representing about 5 percent of the population.

Observers noted that among the survey’s most striking findings is that one in four Canadians, or 7.8 million people, reported they had no religious affiliation at all. That was up sharply from 16.5 percent from the 2001 census, and 12 percent in 1991.

The Canadian trend seems to mirror but even exceed levels of non-affiliation in the United States. A 2012 survey from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life pegged the ratio of religiously unaffiliated Americans at just under 20 percent.

But Pew also has found that more than one-quarter of American adults (28 percent) have left the faith in which they were raised in favor of another religion — or no religion at all.

The Canadian study showed that just more than 7 percent of the country was Muslim, Hindu, Sikh or Buddhist, an increase from 5 percent a decade earlier…

Officials in Ottawa stressed that the NHS results, which also examined trends in immigration and ethnic diversity, could be unreliable. Because it was a voluntary survey, it is “subject to potentially higher non-response error than those derived from the census long form,” Statistics Canada cautioned…

Reginald Bibby, a sociologist at the University of Lethbridge and one of Canada’s foremost trackers and interpreters of religious trends, said the NHS findings “do not point to the demise of religion in Canada. But the findings document the tendency of Canadians to reflect the pattern of people across the planet in variously embracing or rejecting religion.”


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

May 16, 2013 at 13:15

Namibia Mulls Relaunch of Bible Classes in Schools to Counter ‘Moral Decay’

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Well, what better answer is there to ‘moral decy’ (sin is what they actually should be calling it but won’t) than a return to the Word of God? In Namibia, as far as I know, Lutheranism is the major denomination. 

Namibia is considering reintroducing Bible studies in public classrooms in order to combat the rising problem of alcohol and drug abuse that some say is eroding the country’s moral values.

The Ondonga Traditional Authority (OTA) in Namibia said that it is time for the country to look back to its religious roots. Bible study has not been permitted in schools ever since the African country won independence and declared itself to be a secular state.

OTA Secretary Josef Asino has also called for a National Prayer Day that will look at the rising rates of violence inflicting the country, and consider how bringing back Bible study can help the nation’s youth learn about proper morals, website New Era Namibia reported Wednesday.

“At every second or third house, in most suburbs, there is a shebeen (liquor outlet) and in some cases, these shebeens – whether licensed or not – are set up in close proximity to schools and this is where most of the crimes are committed,” Asino said at the residence of the King of Ondonga Elifas Kauluma, during the visit of Minister of Information and Communication Technology Joël Kaapanda.

“Traditional Leaders are neither consulted nor involved in the process of formulating policies that have a direct bearing on their day to day activities. The institution of traditional believes and religion has been in existence since time immemorial and have survived many hardships under past colonial regimes,” he continued.

The OTA Secretary noted that Bostwana and South Africa also have very high numbers of liquor outlets, which he claimed has created many problems in those countries related to alcohol abuse, corruption, and passion killings.

“Our children do not have respect for the elderly anymore. There is a need for collective efforts to develop the interest of future generations about indigenous knowledge and the role of traditional leaders in our communities,” Asino added…

Read more here.


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

August 2, 2012 at 16:20


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