A review by Clare Walker

Holy Trinity Writer-in-Residence

In his 1994 encyclical letter Evangelium vitae (The Gospel of Life), Pope St. John Paul II coined the term “culture of death:”

“…we are confronted by [a reality] which can be described as a veritable structure of sin. This reality is characterized by the emergence of … a ‘culture of death’… a war of the powerful against the weak: a life which would require greater acceptance, love and care is considered useless, or held to be an intolerable burden, and is therefore rejected in one way or another … In this way a kind of ‘conspiracy against life’ is unleashed.” (Evangelium vitae, section 12)

In the early twentieth century, the culture of death arose from the ashes of pre-Christian paganism: atheistic science and philosophy pushed religious faith into the margins. Racism and extreme nationalism sparked eugenic schemes and genocide all over the globe. Libertine sexual ethics led to widespread lack of chastity, the scourge of abortion on demand, and an epidemic of divorce. The devaluing of human life also gave rise to the human euthanasia movement.

But who was responsible for all this? In Architects of the Culture of Death, scholars Donald de Marco and Benjamin Wiker attempt to answer this question in biographical sketches of twenty-three men and women of influence whom they believe drew the blueprint for the culture of death.

Wiker and de Marco divide the group into seven categories: the “Will Worshippers” (those who trumpet independence from all restraint in the pursuit of what we want); the “Eugenic Evolutionists” (those who would seek to perfect the human race by genetic manipulation); the “Secular Utopians” (those who envision a humanistic paradise with no reference to moral or religious tradition); the “Atheistic Existentialists” (those who reject God outright); the “Pleasure Seekers” (those who believe the purpose of life is the pursuit of carnal pleasures); the “Sex Planners” (those who promote so-called “free love” and all the things that make it possible, including contraception, no-fault divorce, and abortion-on-demand); and the “Death Peddlers” (those who promote euthanasia of human beings).

Some of the men and women on their list are household names: Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud. Others are less well-known but nevertheless played key roles in the ascendancy of the culture of death.

What’s interesting about these “architects” is that many of them came from seriously dysfunctional family backgrounds, which led to emotional instability as adults. Others lived immoral or strange lifestyles and spent their lives attempting to validate their aberrations by making them mainstream. The results have been tragic for humanity.

In Evangelium vitae, St. John Paul II described “the struggle between the ‘culture of life’ and the ‘culture of death.’ ” Architects of the Culture of Death is very helpful for understanding the roots of this struggle and how we can turn things around by building up a civilization of love. (Published by Ignatius Press

Direct link to the book:

About the Author

Clare T. Walker, a Holy Trinity Parishioner since 2003, writes for the National Catholic Register ( She is also an independent fiction author. Here are some handy links to her website and her books:

Clare T. Walker

author of The Keys of Death - a veterinary medical thriller
amazon | b&n nook | b&n paperback | Kobo

author of Startling Figures - 3 stories of the paranormal
amazon | b&nook | b&n paperback

Return to Blog News

Mass Times

Weekend Masses
Sat: 4:00pm
Sun: 7:00am, 9:00am, 11:00am

Daily Mass - Mon-Sat: 8:00am

Confession - Sat: 2:45 - 3:45pm

» View Holy Day Schedule

Contact Us

Holy Trinity Catholic Parish
25 East Richmond Street
Westmont, IL 60559