The relentless attack on public displays of spirituality and religion by progressive secularists has been extremely effective worldwide. Churchgoing in Western Europe, for example, has collapsed in many countries. Harvard professor Niall Ferguson calls the decline of Christianity in Europe "one of the most remarkable phenomena of our times."
Ferguson cites a Gallup Poll that shows barely 20 percent of Western Europeans attend church services at least once a week. The number is 47 percent and falling in the U.S. In Britain, only 10 percent of those polled said they would be willing to die for their religious beliefs. And guess who loves that statistic? Can you say the Islama-fascists?
The decline of religious influence in the West can be seen in two important areas. First, how the world is responding to the terrorist jihad. And second, how societies deal with citizens who commit the most dastardly of crimes.
As this column has stated before, if all the world's nations would unite against terrorism, it could not exist. If the fundamental moral tenet of protecting the lives of innocent people superceded all other political concerns, Osama bin Laden and the boys would be on the gallows right now. But that is not the case, as we all know.
Terrorist acts are routinely justified and accepted by people who feel little for their fellow man. A once-proud country like Spain essentially surrendered to al-Qaida after those killers bombed a Spanish train. The citizens of Spain had to know that pulling out of Iraq after that bombing gave al-Qaida a huge victory. But many Spanish citizens simply didn't care. To them, al-Qaida should be someone else's problem.
In America, the anti-religious forces are led by the ACLU and activist liberal judges who are aided by an increasingly secular media. It is no accident that we have thousands of child sex offenders running wild in this country. The crime of child sexual abuse used to be second only to murder. Now the ACLU defends the North American Man-Boy Love Association in court, claiming their free speech rights are being violated.
The Founding Fathers knew that religion, if handled correctly, could be a powerful force for good. The moral guidance provided by the Ten Commandments constrains bad behavior; that's why the Commandments appeared in Scripture. But now, the secularists insist there is no place in the public square for the Commandments. There is no place for constraints that may offend.
Think it over. If every human being chose to set up his or her own moral program, there would never be a consensus of what is proper and what is not. There would never be universal outrage over terrorism or terrible crimes.
Moral outrage is the only way to defeat terrible behavior. Today, many of us don't even know what terrible behavior is. Could gangsta rap music have existed 30 years ago? How about partial-birth abortion?
Hitler and Tojo were defeated by men and women who were willing to die so those villains could not enslave and kill other human beings. It was moral outrage over Pearl Harbor that led to the demise of the dictators.
We had a semblance of the same moral outrage in America after the Sept. 11 attacks, but that is ebbing away. The terrorists and perverts understand that only moral outrage will beat them back. A person or nation with no moral compass will never be able to summon up that outrage. A human being that lives in the gray area of right and wrong is not likely to make a stand against evil.
And that's what the evildoers are counting on.
Veteran TV news anchor and author Bill O'Reilly is a host on Fox News. His column appears on Friday.