AG Barr once again attacks secularism - Freedom From Religion Foundation

I wonder if Barr is one of those people who thinks that the 1950’s were “the good ol’ days” when secularism was allegedly minimal and life was wonderful and pious. Barr does not speak for nor represent all evangelical Christ-followers. (I know that Patrick knows that but I’m compelled to say that for the benefit of all readers, especially our PS lurkers.)

The 1950’s and 1960’s certainly were no nirvana. Especially for many minorities and the poor. Does anybody else remember “Harvest of Shame”? It even shocked hardened Congressmen who said, “I had no idea that the richest country in the world had starving children.”

The alleged piety of that era (and the eras before) was largely oblivious to many starving people—and people living under Jim Crow laws.

Humans are depraved in every generation, whether secular or not.

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Oops. I just now noticed that FFRF website went off the rails with this uninformed cliche:

The centuries-long humanitarian catastrophe that resulted — aptly called the “Dark Ages” — is what made the Founders of this country realize that religion and government should never be mixed.

While concerns about the mixing of religion and government, the term “the Dark Ages” is both archaic and inaccurate. It was originally coined to contrast what was considered the “light” of classical Greco-Roman antiquity with the “dark” of the centuries following the collapse of the Roman Empire. The term became particularly faddish during the Age of Enlightenment, largely because they had a poor understanding of those centuries and many wished to make religion a scapegoat for the economic collapse that came with the loss of a ruthless but reasonably efficient empire. (In actual fact, the Roman Catholic Church’s influence helped prevent the total collapse of civilization, and helped support the preservation of knowledge from the ancient world, and generally filled many voids.)

During the 1800s and 1900s the term became more and more minimized in scope and eventually restricted to just the Early Middle Ages–but as more evidence was collected by scholars, the term was rejected entirely. It just wasn’t accurate.

Today I can’t think of any historians who use the “Dark Ages” term. The vast majority of peer-reviewed scholarship considers the term misleading and cliched. The negative connotations make it popular among non-scholars, especially among anti-religion essayists. Films and novels continue to misrepresent the Middle Ages as an stagnant, violent, and backward era. Historians reject these tropes and want the term retired.

FFRF is promoting the popular misconception that scholars somehow consider the “Dark Ages” to be dark because of religious influences in Europe.

. . . is what made the Founders of this country realize that religion and government should never be mixed.

No. The Founding Fathers of the USA were not primarily motivated by the events of the so-called “Dark Ages” of the 5th to 10th century. I’d say they were far more concerned with what was happening in Europe centuries later.

The FFRF should avoid the propaganda tropes and stick to the facts of history.

Or was that the Byzantine Empire (the Eastern Roman Empire)? I think the Holy Roman Empire came later.

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Yikes. That was a severe “senior moment” on my part. I meant to refer to the rise of Roman Catholic Church influence in Western Europe (seeing how that is the “civilization” that most impacts the cultural history of most Americans), developing into the Frankish region and growing into Charlemagne’s empire and eventually to encompass much of the continent.

Yes, the Holy Roman Empire was far later. (Wow. Don’t know why that got swapped for the Roman Catholic Church influence. I probably shouldn’t post after 9pm.)

This is quite long. I want to read it later

Good, we are agreed about history. The Byzantine Empire bridged over the Dark Ages and interacted with Western European Dark Ages culture in many ways. I remember visiting my cousin in Aachen – once Charlemagne’s capital Aix La Chappelle – and seeing the octagonal tower at the Cathedral which is its oldest part and Charlemagne’s original construction. On the walls are murals in Byzantine style, because he hired the only artists in Europe who knew how to do such murals in about 800 AD, Byzantine artists.


After about 6 paragraphs, I don’t.

We should also keep in mind the enormous role of the Moors beginning with the conquest of Hispania in 711. Islamic scholars played huge roles in the preservation of Greco-Roman texts and ancient knowledge and helped transmit the Greek scriptures. I found that very few of my students have been aware of their contributions to Western European civilization. (Of course, for that matter, most people I deal with have heard the word “Byzantine” but have no idea what it means. They’ve also no knowledge of the Great Schism.)

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In the year 2020, we have the Attorney General of the United States blaming atheists for the evil in the country, oy vey.

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Yep, two wrongs don’t make a right. Both sides rely too much on easy tropes and political spin.

You seem to be trying to shift the focus from the horrendous nature of Barr’s statements to “both sides are not perfect”. I find that tactic objectionable.


FFRF is on the front line of church and state violations. Clearly this administration from the Vice President, Secretary of State, Attorney General, Secretary of Education, are attempting to impose Christian Nationalism on US Government Policy. Time to vote and restore our secular roots.

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