Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2010-10-08

The way a nation thinks of itself is connected to its acceptance of religion, or absence of religion, British political writer Melanie Phillips said at Samford University Wednesday, Oct. 6.

She said that she sees America’s pride in itself as being wound up in biblical values. “From where I sit, America remains a religious country,” said Phillips, who views her native Britain as being very secular. “Studies say Britain is a post-religious nation, and paganism is increasing by leaps and bounds.”

Phillips, known for her conservative columns on political and social issues that appear in London’s Daily Mail newspaper, began her career with the  Guardian, considered to be the city’s primary left-leaning paper.

Phillips says she hasn’t moved from the left to the right but rather, has changed her opinion of people on the left. “I decided they were intolerant and anti-progressive,” said Phillips, who spoke as part of the Cordell Hull Speakers Forum sponsored by Samford’s Cumberland School of Law.

She is author of several books, including the 2006 best seller Londonistan. Her most recent work is The World Turned Upside Down: the Global Battle over God, Truth and Power. 

When she began writing about such issues as family and multiculturalism, Phillips said, she found that many values were “turned on their heads.”  Education had turned into de-education, and certain victims groups were given a free pass for their behaviors.

She said she soon grew to feel  that when some groups were presented with facts, those facts were brushed aside as opinion.

“People on the progressive side seemed impervious to reason,” she said, citing as examples issues related to global warming, Iraq, Israel and scientism.

Phillips maintains there is little to support global warming, that “greens” believe they will save the planet, and that the movement is based on the belief that things would be better if reverted to a pre-capitalistic phase.  “Any dissenters on that issue are considered to be against humanity,” she said.

Likewise with scientism, which is the belief that science can deal with everything.  People who support scientism believe that life formed spontaneously, that “something can be formed out of nothing,” and that everything can be explained.

Such thinking is at epidemic levels in Britain, she said.

Discussion on such topics plays differently in different countries, she said.  While the U.S has culture wars, Britain has nothing similar because it’s “complete surrender,” and hass no mechanism for discourse such as the U.S. has with Fox News channel and talk radio.

The U.S. still has a belief in itself as a nation, and part of that is a  strength of church and a faithfulness to scripture, she said. “In Britain, increasingly we’re told that we have to get rid of religion to have reason. That’s why we’re entering into a darker age.”

She did note that Catholic Pope Benedict XVI’s recent visit to Britain, with his message to stop the tide of secularism that is suppressing rights, was well received.

“Many people are searching and not finding answers,” she said, adding that the English church is not meeting the needs of the people.

Religious impulse is gone away, but not lost, she said. “But it will be if not turned around.”

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 66th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 104th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,683 students from 47 states and 19 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference, and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.