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Attorney General William Barr blamed secularism in society for a series of problems such as drug overdoses, violence and poor mental health while speaking at Notre Dame's law school.
Barr, in a speech largely focused on the role of religion in law, decried what he described as an effort to drive religion away while promoting secularism.
"We see the growing ascendancy of secularism and the doctrine of moral relativism," he said. "Basically every measure of this social pathology continues to gain ground."
He described several social issues as "consequences of this moral upheaval."
"Along with the wreckage of the family, we are seeing record levels of depression and mental illness, dispirited young people, soaring suicide rates, increasing numbers of angry and alienated young males, an increase in senseless violence and a deadly drug epidemic.
"Over 70,000 people die a year from drug overdoses," he added. "But I won't dwell on the bitter results of the new secular age."
Barr also slammed "so-called progressives," saying that many are "among the militant secularists."
A spokesman for the university told the South Bend Tribune this week that the topic of Barr's speech would be "religious freedom."