It is the waning of this secular vision of life that is perhaps the most significant indicator of Mr. Trump’s win. We are now entering into what scholars call a post-secular society age. As the name implies, a post-secular society is one that no longer subscribes to the two fundamental commitments of secularism: scientific rationalism and personal autonomy or lifestyle values. At a very basic level, post-secular society is about the return of religion and religious values in the public square. We’ve seen this with the advent of Sharia councils in the U.K. that arbitrate between conflicts among Muslims, the resurgence of the Russian Orthodox Church as a major political, moral, and cultural force in the Russian Federation, the revival of imperial Shintoism at the highest levels of the Japanese government, a revitalization of Confucian philosophy among Chinese officials, Hindu nationalism in India, Islam in Turkey, and on and on.
Here in the U.S., similar processes are evident in the increasing collapse of multiculturalism and political correctness, which together represent the value system of secularization. Multiculturalism is the idea that America is made up of a plurality of cultural identities that consumer-defined individuals get to pick for themselves, with no single culture being dominant or superior. And political correctness is simply multiculturalism married to the state, wherein government policies favor some cultural or ethnic groups at the expense of others. Hence, Van Jones, on the night of Mr. Trump’s victory, could spout on CNN that white people voting their interests is racist and nativist bigotry while black people voting their interests is liberation and justice.
We can see evidence of a revitalized civic religion here at home. In his recent campaign speech in Maine, Mr. Trump said: “Imagine what our country could accomplish if we started working together as one people, under one God, saluting one American flag.” This became a refrain in his campaign speeches: one people under one God. And while some can’t get past the potential threat to religious freedom such a hypothetical statement represents, we have to understand that this is precisely the kind of revitalization of public religion that accompanies the ascendancy of nationalist sentiments.
Thus it appears that the waning of multiculturalism and the rise of a nationalist populism indicates the dawn of a post-secular age. Despite the sporadic protests to the contrary, a Trump presidency signals to the wider culture that it is now open season on political correctness. And as far as I’m concerned, it couldn’t have come soon enough.
Where, exactly, is this evidence of revival? If Hillary Clinton had won — as she nearly did — conservative Christians would be decrying the secularization of post-Christian America. And now the surprise victory of a thrice-married Republican candidate who brags about grabbing women by the p*ssy and who says he doesn’t need to be forgiven by God for anything — this heralds a new Christian dawn?!
Here in this post is the temptation the church faces in the Trump Era: embracing a weaponized Eisenhower-era civil religion masquerading as Christianity. Because it worked so well for us in the 1980s.