Flowers Planted in Gravel
"It is true that secularism champions human rights (when convenient), but how they justify the idea is more difficult to ascertain. The truth is they borrow it from the Christian moral tradition that built the Western world and brazenly claim it exclusively as their own. They wrench the flower of human dignity from its deep, rich native theological soil and transplant it into secularist gravel. Its survival is very much in doubt.
We know it is in doubt because, as I just said, secularists champion human rights when convenient. For when human rights get in the way of some other perceived “good,” those rights are very negotiable. It is astounding in hindsight, for example, how many intellectuals and journalists who otherwise paid lip-service to human rights deliberately looked the other way and provided cover for the Soviet Union’s mass purges in the early 20th century. The Soviet Union was the model progressive utopian project, and the value of human life was sickeningly easy to subordinate to the goals of progress. Or, in the more contemporary context, consider how the inalienable right of “choice,” for example, trumps the rights of a baby in the womb. The “greater good” of convenience or economic productivity sometimes trumps the rights of the disabled or elderly who are seen as a burden to society. These kinds of exceptions to the rule positively demonstrate that secularism is unable to ground its notion of human rights in anything transcendent, reliable, or stable. “Rights” are only sometimes rights."