The liberal religious revival is growing and Godless

Oct 26, 2020 by

Conservatives have been calling for a spiritual revival, another Great Awakening, to undo the cultural stagnation infecting the nation. Evangelicals debate whether they should engage in the political arena to address society’s ills. They agree on the need for increased religious fervor to solve the nation’s problems. They see in history a recurring Old Testament theme: that people persist in erroneous ways until they desperately turn to God, repent and flourish, only to repeat the cycle. Conservatives see these revivals occurring when things seem darkest and when believers were most prone to despair.

Conservatives see signs of America’s decay in the economic and moral realms and find solace in the Churchillian sentiment “you can count on Americans to the do the right thing after they’ve tried everything else.” No matter how bad things seem, they are confident America has endured similar trials before and always emerged stronger. They combine belief in an omnipotent, benevolent Creator with despair about how far society has fallen.

America is finally experiencing that long-anticipated revival, but one very different from what conservatives anticipated. Instead of Billy Graham preaching about Jesus and filling football stadiums, today’s prophets turn to the internet and cable television to extol more worldly gospels. While some conservatives invest their hopes in the political realm, looking for candidates to be their savior, it is more often young liberals turning to secular substitutes to fill the void previously occupied by the holy. Politics is displacing religion and plays an outsized role in the lives of many liberals who still have faith, occupying some of the importance it used to enjoy. Whereas progressives once turned to the church for inspiration and leadership in the great battles against slavery, racism, and for women’s suffrage, the church is now increasingly seen as a conservative force to be overcome.

Liberals look to politics to provide the transcendent goals that compel heroic sacrifice, give their lives meaning, and separate them from the nonbelievers. They are not satisfied with incremental progress, such as operating a soup kitchen, but rather seek to remake society by identifying structural inequalities that require larger systemic interventions. Because they are unable to fight the actual fascists or slaveowners their predecessors did, they transform anyone who disagrees with them into the moral equivalent of those extraordinary historical villains. Their political opponents are not merely mistaken but morally deficient.

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Liberals approach issues such as global warming, racial and gender grievances, and income inequality with a religious absolutism that does not easily allow for compromise or even recognition of progress. Increasingly strident environmentalists refuse to acknowledge ongoing improvements in air, soil, and water quality and declare impending doom if carbon emissions are not immediately and impractically eliminated. Waving the modern-day version of “The End is Near” signs, these activists do not subject their stringent policies to traditional cost-benefit trade-offs and refuse to be humbled as their previous predictions of dire consequences prove overwrought. The downsizing of homes, cars, and families and adopting politically correct outward lifestyle changes are prioritized, as virtue-signaling replaces mitigating and preventing environmental damage as the real goal. High-speed rail is in; nuclear and natural gas are out.

Identifying and eradicating today’s inherent bias and white privilege does not have the same cache as taking on yesterday’s Bull Connors and Nazis. Today’s liberals thus conflate symbolic lynching with the actual thing. They pretend joining a mob to deface inanimate statutes requires the same courage as confronting their living breathing inspirations when they were in positions of power. They constantly seek out new rationales for their vigilance. Even before they run out of conscious racism to fight, they take on subconscious racism. Each new discovery justifies their moral superiority and intensity.

Recognizing America has become less racist and more consistent with its founding ideals of equality, and offers more opportunity than other countries, diminishes their self-perceived moral righteousness. They thus enjoy spiritual growth individually while denying the same possibility to society. Their predecessors bravely fought slavery, Jim Crow, miscegenation laws, and redlining policies; they are reduced to identifying “devastating” “white male traits” such as “hard work,” “striving toward success,” and a “can-do attitude.” They vilify “objective, linear thinking,” “self-reliance,” “the nuclear family,” and “delayed gratification” as aspects of “white culture.” They selflessly work as diversity consultants to rid society of such racist evils.

Identity politics define a new hierarchy of sanctity. The elect belong to an oppressed gender identity, ethnicity, or sexual orientation, or all of the above. Hence, Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s desire to be Native American. This obsession with group identity over the individual perpetuates division, resentment, and ever-competing claims of victimhood. Straight white men, regardless of socioeconomic status, are permanently consigned to purgatory and can aspire only to becoming allies through much self-flagellation.

Though liberals have not adopted the physical violence of the Spanish Inquisition or Salem witch trials, they zealously excommunicate conservatives from mainstream society to enforce their orthodoxy and stamp out heresy. Cancel culture banishes heretics who refuse to confess identity politics from tenured faculty and editorial positions and endorsement deals. In contrast with the traditional liberal commitment to free speech and debate, to preserve minority rights and facilitate greater understanding necessary for progress, liberals are more interested in shaming and silencing their opponents than persuading and converting them, much less learning from them. A single transgression against the liberal catechism merits the professional death penalty as compassion is replaced with purity and reason with revelation.

The irony of America’s recent religious revival is liberals have adopted many of religion’s trappings they claim to abhor, but without the grace, charity, or humility of genuine faith. They seem more interested in accumulating power than serving others. What is missing from their creed is the Bible’s core teaching to love others (namely the Creator and fellow humans) instead of worshiping false idols.

Bobby Jindal (@BobbyJindal) was governor of Louisiana from 2008-2016. He ran for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

Source: The liberal religious revival is growing and Godless

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