Robert Maynard
Religion resurgent
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By Robert Maynard
January 6, 2010

According to Mark Steyn in his book, "America Alone: The End Of The World As We Know It," the combination of a demographically prolific Islam, coupled with their strong cultural confidence, presents a major long term threat to a western civilization that is in demographic decline and is paralyzed by self doubt. He considers the cause already lost in Europe and sees America as standing alone in defending the values of a civilization that brought us the notion of human rights, technological progress and unprecedented economic development. This is a battle of demographic numbers and will, which could result in a coming dark age if America is to lose it. As Steyn points out, while the developed world used to have a 30% to 15% edge over the Islamic world in demographic numbers as a percentage of total world population, the numbers are now about equal at 20% each. The trend is tilting even more in favor of radical Islam as time goes by.

This picture does tend to look a little bleak until one accounts for other demographic trends not explored my Mr. Steyn. In an article in the current edition of "First Things" magazine entitled "Secularization Falsified," Peter L. Berger, director of the Institute for the Study of Economic Culture at Boston University, explores these trends. Mr. Berger points out that:

"Looked at globally, there are two particularly powerful religious explosions resurgent Islam and dynamic evangelical Protestantism. Passionate Islamic movements are on the rise throughout the Muslim world, from the Atlantic Ocean to the China Sea, and in the Muslim diaspora in the West. The rise of evangelical Protestantism has been less noticed by intellectuals, the media, and the general public in Western countries, partly because nowhere is it associated with violence and partly because it more directly challenges the assumptions of established elite opinion: David Martin, a leading British sociologist of religion, has called it a "revolution that was not supposed to happen." Yet it has spread more rapidly and over a larger geographical area than resurgent Islam. What is more, the Islamic growth has occurred mostly in populations that were already Muslim a revitalization rather than a conversion. By contrast, evangelical Protestantism has been penetrating parts of the world in which this form of religion was hitherto unknown. And it has done so by means of mass conversions."

In addition to being a match for Islam in the demographic trends, evangelical Protestantism is also a match for them in the area of cultural confidence. It has been observed by the group "Christian Freedom International" that there have been more Christian martyrs in the 20th Century than all the other 19 combined. Today's Christians in what is called "The persecuted Church" see themselves as the heirs of early First Century Christianity, which grew rapidly despite heavy persecution and martyrdom. In fact, groups like "Voice of the Martyrs," sees their rapid growth as a result of patiently suffering martyrdom for their cause. As Burger points out, this movement has strong ties and origins in America, which is its major funding base.

This trend is also attested to by Philip Jenkins, Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies and History at Penn. State., in his book "The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity " While, as Mr. Steyn points out in his book, worldwide Islam makes up 20% of the world's population, Christians make up 30%. They are mostly growing in what Jenkins refers to as The Global South. Another interesting book is one by former senior correspondent for Time Magazine David Aikman entitled "Jesus in Beijing: How Christianity Is Changing the Global Balance of Power." Aikman points out that Christianity is experiencing strong growth as an underground movement in China. Many of the pro-Democracy demonstrators from the late 1980's have become Christian and a growing number of Chinese intellectuals are coming to see Christianity as the source of the success of western civilization. They are coming to believe that China must adopt Christianity if it ever wants to match the west. This penetration is even starting to reach into the Communist Party. The book predicts that, in a generation or two, the rise of Christianity in China could make that country an ally of the U.S. in the struggle against radical Islam, as Christians gain more influence there.

Military Intelligence expert Ralph Peters wrote a book entitled "New Glory: Expanding America's Global Supremacy." In that book he talks not only about the growing decline of Europe, but the coming importance of places like South Africa and the countries of South America. In regards to the countries of South America, he believes that the explosion of a charismatic/Pentecostal form of Christianity, which is somewhat individualistic and prone to favor free markets and democratic politics, will make them a natural ally of the U.S. I think that a similar argument could be made with respect to South Africa, which seems to be ready to make at least a regional impact.

Berger also mentions that:

"Religious dynamism is not confined to Islam and Pentecostalism. The Catholic Church, in trouble in Europe, has been doing well in the Global South. There is a revival of the Orthodox Church in Russia. Orthodox Judaism has been rapidly growing in America and in Israel. Both Hinduism and Buddhism have experienced revivals, and the latter has had some successes in proselytizing in America and Europe."

The resurgence of Russian Orthodox Christianity in Russia is a wild card. Right now, Putin is channeling this energy into support for a resurgent Russian nationalism, which could be another threat to our freedom in addition to radical Islam. In the long run though, it is hard not to see a resurgent Orthodoxy in anything other than conflict with radical Islam.

Finally, there are movements within Islam such as neo-Sufism that we might want to consider partnering with. It seems that there is no way that a secular response to the threat of Islam has any chance of succeeding. In order to successfully combat this threat, we need to steer the natural human religious impulse in a pro freedom direction.

© Robert Maynard

 

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