It often seems to me that a secular society doesn't so much turn its face from religion, as invent substitutes. In a UK which has supposedly become more secular, we now have secular doctrines, secular clerics, secular gurus and secular rituals. I'm not sure I see the point. For example:-
Businesses and public bodies often invite itinerant preachers to tell the business what it already knows. Consultants we call them. They reaffirm doctrine examine the faithful and after being well fed and well paid are induced to bless the enterprise. We refer to their blessings as reports or action plans, absolving the penitent of past sins and exhorting them to sin no more.
Secular bishops (we often call them MPs) wrap themselves in the sanctity of political correctness while imbibing holy wine and screwing any novitiate they can lay their greasy paws on. Making things up as they go along, they wallow in the good life, having handed most of their duties to secular scribes – the Civil Service and EU Commission.
Local secular priests (they prefer the name councillor) try to keep the show on the road, sucking up to local squires and burghers. Sustained by meagre perks of office but little thanks, they jolly us along with hanging baskets in the summer and dull leaflets trumpeting their good deeds and endless efforts to comply with doctrine.
The secular Holy See (EU) has the last word on all matters temporal and spiritual, ever seeking to extend its influence over the minutiae of our lives, ever anxious to issue more exact and exacting interpretations of Holy Scripture – or Directives as they call them.
The Holy Office, or EU Commission as we misleadingly call it, seeks to re-establish the Holy Roman Empire, old glories and of particular importance - a lavishly appointed top table.
Pardoners, or Green political activists are among us again, issuing indulgences for everything from recycling and low energy lighting to incantations taken from sacred texts such as IPCC AR4. The middle classes in particular, are adept at amassing minor indulgences, encouraging their children to collect them too. They believe you see.
Religious symbols such as wind turbines have become much more conspicuous in recent years, while the truly devout are encouraged to express their devotion via solar panels stuck to the roof of their houses, highly visible symbols of piety within.
On a more serious note, these comparisons are not entirely frivolous. There are some parallels between religious and moral decline and a rise in secularism. We don’t simply become more rational as we lose our religious traditions as rationalists often seem to think. In many ways we become less rational, but hide the fact behind technical successes.