Like pop stars wearing crucifixes and dabbling in Jewish spirituality, yet another staple of traditional religious belief has been turned into just another pop-culture event. The oldest Catholic pilgrimage, the annual six-week journey to Santiago de Compostela in Spain has become hip and trendy and devoid of its Catholic meaning for many of those making the trip. Jenna Bush made the trip recently. Lou Reed and the Red Hot Chili Peppers are holding concerts in Santiago at the end of the pilgrimage.
As Spaniards - like many other western Europeans - replace their traditional Catholic worldviews with an inclusive, non-institutional “spirituality,” official religion no longer provides the glue that has long served to define national identities, and structure public mores. Indeed, as was evident in the European Union’s recent decision to purge reference to Europe’s “Christian heritage” from its constitution, “secular religion” is now widely accepted as the norm in communal and public life.
So-called “secular religion” is not religion at all, but a pastiche of pseudo-religious beliefs covering a real emptiness and a desire to justify that which would normally be called immoral.