The Secular Side of the Culture War

The spiritual side of the "culture war" going on in the United States was on display at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.


This week we heard some wonderful news. In fact, I just heard it this morning on the morning news, and that is that in Iran Pastor Nadarkhani, who has been in prison for two years and facing execution for being a Christian in Iran, has been released. This is, indeed, joyful news. The Iranians, I think, under the pressure of the international outcry over this, have seen fit to allow Pastor Nadarkhani to go free. Certainly, thanks is due to all of these people who have brought this to the worldwide attention of people and helped to isolate Iran so that they would make this decision.

Also in the news today we saw the culture war, I think, emerge last week in a very striking way. I’ve said in the past that the so-called culture war going on in the United States is not just political. It has a religious, or spiritual, side as well that I think is very pronounced. That was on display at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte this week. The Democratic platform has, over the years, progressively removed any references to God in the platform. The last Democratic platform mentioned God only in one place in the words that “everyone should exercise his God-given talents and be all that he should be.”[1] Well, that is not even a reference to God. I mean, what that is is just a use of an adjective – God-given, God-given talents. But even that was too much for the political correct forces of secularism in the Democratic party. Now that was eliminated and instead language was substituted to the effect that everyone should realize his human potential and be all that he should be.

Well, when this got into the news, the Democratic platform committee beat a very hasty retreat and decided to add the language of God back into the Democratic platform. But the way in which this occurred at the convention was amusing were it not so sad.[2] The mayor was chairing the meeting and called for a voice vote on the amendment to add the word “God” back into the Democratic platform. He said, “All in favor of amending the language, say ‘aye’” and there was a loud voice vote. Then he said, “And all opposed” and there was this huge response from the audience equally loud – “No!” They didn’t want to add the language of God back in. You could tell the mayor was rather rattled. He hadn’t expected this reaction. This wasn’t the way it was supposed to happen. So he said, “Let’s do that again. Let’s do that again.” Almost prompting the audience. He said, “All in favor say ‘aye’” and there was a loud response. “And those opposed say ‘nay.’” And again this loud response, equally loud at least as the ayes. And he didn’t know what to do. He was like a deer in the headlights. He then said, “Well, I think we need to do this for a third time.” He wasn’t getting the reaction he was supposed to get. The people in the audience weren’t getting it, he thought. So he said, “Let’s do this a third time.” Again, “All in favor of amending the language of the platform say ‘aye’” and there was a voice vote. Then “All those against, ‘nay’” and equally loud – a divided convention – “nay!” They don’t want this language added back in. At which the mayor then says, “In the opinion of the chair, there have been two-thirds of the delegates voting in favor of adding the language back in. The motion is passed.” It was so clearly engineered. In fact, on the teleprompter it showed his very words about “In the opinion of the chair, this is passed by a two-thirds majority.” It was all written out on the teleprompter in advance.

What was very evident was that there is a great, great many people in this party who, I think, have allowed the leaven of secularism to permeate the party in such a way that there is a real opposition to mention of God or any sort of religious implications for politics. I think this is so unfortunate. You don’t have to be politically conservative in order to be a Christian or to believe in God. When Jan and I lived in Europe for thirteen years, what we discovered was that many, if not most, of our Christian brethren in Europe are very left of center politically. Many of them are socialists. They think that the best way to fulfill Christ’s command to care for the poor and the needy is through government. So you don’t have to have this alliance between secularism and liberalism, I think, politically speaking. Nevertheless, it is very evident, I think, that in this country and in this party, those who are left of center politically are also largely very secularized and very adamant against religion’s role in the public square. And I find that very disturbing. That kind of secularism in the culture war and in that kind of politically correct ideology was very much on display, I think, at the Democratic convention in Charlotte.[3]

[1] The actual wording of the only place in the 2008 Democratic National Platform which mentioned God is: “We need a government that stands up for the hopes, values, and interests of working people, and gives everyone willing to work hard the chance to make the most of their God-given potential. ” See (accessed September 21, 2013).

[2] Videos of this portion of the Democratic National Convention can be found on YouTube.

[3] Total Running Time: 6:11 (Copyright © 2012 William Lane Craig)