The Battle for the Mind, A Subtle Warfare

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The Battle for the Mind, A Subtle Warfare is a critique of secular humanism and its century-old challenge to traditional Christianity. Written in 1980 by the California clergyman Tim LaHaye, the book contends that humanists accept their views of atheism and the related theory of evolution on the basis of secular faith, not scientific proof, as many of the adherents claim.[1]

Book review

Christians also accept their faith, La Haye acknowledges, through the Lord Jesus Christ on the basis of revelations in the Bible, which traditionalists see as inerrant even though the text includes some allegories and illustrations that would not be taken literally in every case.  LaHaye claims that humanists take repeated positions from an "amoral" or even immoral standpoint while condemning traditional Christians as "narrow-minded" and "bigoted". In 1980, humanists numbered no more than 275,000 persons in the United States, but most were in positions of influence in the media (such as Walter Cronkite), higher education, foundations, and government and could widely spread their secular views. Humanists reject the fall of sinful man in the Garden of Eden and claim that mankind is "inherently good" and will do the right thing when confronted with temptation. Though themselves small in number, humanists believe that a majority of the American people accept some parts of their philosophy even if they are not secular advocates per se. The humanists, he claims, are as fully dedicated to the propagation of their views as are Christians, many of whom have lost interest in their churches and the promise of eternal life through the Redeemer Jesus. In 1980, there were an estimated 60 million "born-again" believers in Jesus, and many were organized politically, but the struggle for victory was intense and uncertain. The book was published just before Ronald Reagan unseated Jimmy Carter in the presidential election that year, a decision which displeased humanists.

LaHaye, a Reagan supporter since the former actor was the governor of California, questioned how the proclaimed "born-again" Carter could assert a basically traditional Christian witness and still appoint no "born-again" persons to the Cabinet or in  lesser federal positions. LaHaye also noted the humanist background of Vice President Walter Mondale, a contributor to The Humanist magazine who attended the 5th Congress of the International Humanist and Ethical Union held in August 1970 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. At that conference, Mondale, then a popularly-elected U.S. senator from Minnesota, said: "Although I have never formally joined a humanist society, I think I am a member by inheritance. My preacher father was a humanist ... and I grew up on a very rich diet of humanism from him. All of our family has been deeply influenced by this tradition including my brother Lester, a Unitarian minister ..." Indeed Robert Lester Mondale (1904-2003), Walter Mondale's older half-brother, was the only person to sign each of the three Humanist Manifestos of 1933, 1973, and 2003.

By 1980, humanists had gained control over many organizations such as the feminist  National Organization for Women and the American Civil Liberties Union, all three television networks, both news and entertainment coverage, as well as dominance in the national and state governments, and universities and public education too. Only churches had remained somewhat free of humanist design, but some Christian denominations were influenced by repeated movement to the left through the National Council of Churches

LaHaye noted that humanists believe world population is too large and must be curtailed through abortion, euthanasia, and assisted suicide. They also reject the spiritual well-being of human beings, oppose prayer in the public sector, and advocate in many cases for widespread pornography, justification or even encouragement of adultery and homosexuality, and decriminalization of marijuana and other narcotics

The humanist (sometimes called "progressive liberal" or "socialist") and Christian views are irreconcilable, but both operate, LaHaye argues, on the basis of an individual's faith and practice. LaHaye believed in 1980 that humanists had the upper hand in the struggle against Christianity because of the unwavering dedication of the principal adherents, who would outorganize and outwork docile Christians, many of whom were unaware and uninformed about the moral chasm dividing the nation. He attributed this situation to clergymen hesitant to become involved in political matters for fear of dividing their congregations along partisan lines and risking a decline in financial donations.

Thirty-seven years after LaHaye's book, humanists had gained even greater control over American society. The results of the 2016 elections with President Donald Trump (LaHaye died more than three months prior to Trump's election.) could swing the pendulum into the more traditional Christian direction, but the verdict is still very much unknown. Humanists expect to rebound whenever they face setbacks and believe still that the majority of Americans are on board with their set of secular beliefs.


  1. Tim LaHaye, The Battle for the Mind, A Subtle Warfare, (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Power Books (Fleming H. Revell Company), 1980), pp. 1-247.