Daily Herald

Why did our secular elites refuse to call the Sri Lanka martyrs Christians?

(Getty)

As they shed their religious past, they also shed any recognition of actual Christian martyrdom

Many were surprised by the arm’s length way in which many politicians described Catholic martyrs in the Sri Lanka bombings.

Yet as William Cavanaugh so persuasively shows in his book The Myth of Religious Violence, liberalism is premised on the conceit that it brought an end to “religious violence,” and ushered in peace between all (mostly protestant) religious views. John Locke even seems to envision a sort of Pax Christiana that makes the secular state an neutral agent of Christian unity, and so makes martyrs a thing of the past. So long as liberalism was built on the basis of a (mostly protestant) Christian culture, this claim looked somewhat plausible.

As many elites attempt to shed this ecumenically Christian past, it follows that they will also attempt, in fits and starts, to shed any recognition of actual Christian martyrdom wherever it occurs. We should resist these attempts, and not only in defense of Christians.

For the moment, calling martyrs “Easter worshippers” isn’t so bad. Yes it awkwardly tries to hold Christian faith at arm’s length, but it could be worse. Perhaps it is still possible even for our cultured despisers to turn, recognize God, and in doing so, truly recognize those who bear witness to Him. Such things have happened in history.

The more worrying trend — the sign that we will have reached rock bottom — will be when they describe the martyrs as hostis humani generis. Yet even then, the martyr is always a sign of God’s active presence in history. The good news is that somewhere in the world, right now, God is planting seeds precisely where the wicked are shedding blood.