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Penny Nance’s Strange Bedfellows

Fox News host Steve Doocy recently invited Christian activist Penny Nance to comment on the so-called “Day of Prayer.” In response to Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx’s call for a “Day of Reason,” Nance denigrated reason:

You know, the Age of Enlightenment and Reason gave way to moral relativism. And moral relativism is what led us all the way down the dark path to the Holocaust. . . . Dark periods of history is what we arrive at when we leave God out of the equation.

Nance is not claiming merely that moral relativism and the Holocaust followed the Enlightenment chronologically; she is claiming that the Enlightenment, by elevating human reason over religious faith, led to the Holocaust.

Andrew Bernstein answered just this sort of claim during his debate with Dinesh D’Souza:

[T]he Nazis are overt emotionalists. There’s nobody who could be a better example of rejecting the Enlightenment and a commitment to reason than the National Socialists. How did they [allegedly] know their moral superiority based on racial inheritance? . . . Nazis answered it themselves. “We just feel it in our blood and our bowels.” . . . They were overt emotionalists. They reject reason and logic as a Jewish tool. It’s sensationalism, bodily, visceral sensations and emotions that animate the National Socialists—not reason and the Enlightenment commitment to reason.

As for what the Enlightenment actually led to, Bernstein addressed that as well:

It’s the American Revolution that was based in reason. The leading minds of the American Enlightenment were responsible for the American Revolution: Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, James Madison. Many of these men were deists; they were scornful of faith. . . . Thomas Paine, in his book The Age of Reason, said, “My own mind is my own church.” There’s the Enlightenment attitude. These were the men who created the American Revolution.

Bernstein broadened his point:

The real struggle in human history is not religion versus secularism; that’s only one example of it. The real struggle in human history is reason versus unreason, or rationalism versus irrationalism—those who support the mind and those who oppose it.

Nance has chosen her side in that struggle. It is up to each of us to decide what we stand for: reason or unreason.

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