The most quoted phrase from Karl Marx refers to religion as the opiate of the masses. Often quoted to show disdain for religion, Marx's quote in context tells us slightly a different story:
The struggle against religion is, therefore, indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion. Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo.Marx thought that people could only be happy by removing religion. Yet this conclusion doesn't follow the premises of Marx's own thought. He understood that in order for his vision of the world to come to fruit, he had to replace the Christianity of his day with a new system, which he thoughtfully supplied. Yet Marx's system, tried in various forms across the world stage, has failed time and again to supplant religion and has, by its very nature, produced some of the most despotic regimes of the last century. It has failed for the simple fact that Marx failed to create a system that could, indeed, replace the human urge toward the religious.
There is a growing social element within the US to attempt to supplant religion, to replace it with some form of benign secularism. This element argues that traditional religion is the most dangerous of all ideologies, that our secular government demands complete disregard of religion, and that religion itself, without any authority or political power, is still a dangerous beast that must be held in check by the strictest of social forces. In so believing, this element denies the reality of religion-less ideologies that swept the world in terror throughout the twentieth century.
Unfortunately, what has grown up in the US out of secularism is not benign, beholden to the rigors of the founding principles of democracy. What has emerged is a new religion, loosely based on the gospel of secularism, and beholden to no other ideals than those of popular opinion connected by the doctrines of moral relativism and statist control over the population. It caters to overt emotionalism and crass sentimentality. It is every bit as illogical and irrational as the traditional religion it supplants.
This is the religion of modern liberalism. It is highly secularized, which denies any higher power than that of its current leader. It answers only to the tides of popular opinion, based on a few standard principles. It represents a broad range of beliefs, all held in common by a disdain for such things as the Constitution, the free market, or traditional religion. Its goal is to sweep the country under its all-encompassing beliefs, ridding it of any unworthy or unapproved thought. Its dogma disguises itself under the rubric of political correctness.
The religion of modern liberalism bases its liturgy on the nebulous ideals of social and cultural relativism. There are no absolute values in this religion, except those values that stand as monuments to previous social prophets. Its liturgy consists of engineering new social values such as abortion, race baiting, neutering marriage, breaching taboos, or preaching cultural relativism. It consists of economic engineering values such as the redistribution of wealth, the distrust of the wealthy, the distrust of corporations, controlling the means of production, and the distribution of huge and unwieldy entitlements. It consists of statist control values, using good ideas to impose draconian responses with dubious conclusions: cap and trade to control global warming; nanny-state healthcare to control health insurance costs; huge deficit spending to control money supply; taking over corporations to control bad corporate management decisions.
The religion of modern liberalism denies the validity of other religions. It simply cannot stand to compete with any other system or any individuals who may believe differently from its dogma. Therefore, it reifies traditional religion into some monolithic beast that must be attacked and subdued. It conveniently forgets that religion only exists because individual people are religious. It cannot understand, then, the religious person. Instead, it sees that person as deluded at best, or as a threat at worst. By attacking traditional religion it creates the false hope that somehow the world will be a better place, if only religion would just go away, crying out to the world "Imagine!"
By extension, religious people are marginalized according to the gospel of modern liberalism. To the modern liberal, there is nothing more dangerous than a religious person, especially one who dares express religious thought in public. It cannot countenance the Glenn Becks or the Rush Limbaughs of the world, not because of their boisterous voices, but because they dare to publicly oppose the doctrines of the new religion and dare to turn liberal arguments against it. The religion of social liberalism has no qualms about attacking the individuals who disagree with it. Seemingly, it is only through personal attacks that it sees that the country can be washed clean from the stench of unapproved dissent.
This new secularist religion gains ground every day. Its purpose is to supplant traditional religions with its own world view, relegating the religious as a voiceless element in politics. With its doctrines, government grows to ever greater control, threatening the very foundations of the Constitution and the Republic. It gives legitimacy to socialized programs, appealing to the poorest and the weakest elements of society to create a false hope in salvation through government programs. And it accomplishes this with every bit of zeal and fervor that it accuses religious people of having.
The conclusion is clear and simple. beware of those who wield power under the banner of the new religion. They have only their own interests at heart and they are guided by their own, inner voices.