The Religion of the Left

Of all the lies that are widely believed to be true, the greatest might just be the lie that the “left” has freed itself from the confines and constraints of “religion.” The talking point is often repeated, especially in political debates, that the judgment and decisions of those on the “right” are clouded by antiquated doctrine, dogma, and belief rooted in the Bible. At the same time, we are assured that those on the “left” are approaching the issues at hand without bias, as objective and scientific thinkers, and without the blinders of religion.

While those on the “left” may be approaching the big issues of our day without the framework of a Biblical worldview, they are certainly approaching those issues with a worldview. That worldview may be secular, naturalistic, humanistic, and thoroughly postmodern, but it is a worldview, nonetheless.

Additionally, every worldview manifests itself in some form of religion. The traditional Christian worldview manifests itself in various forms of organized religion, usually with buildings and clergy and structure and doctrinal statements. But make no mistake, the non-theistic worldviews that dominate our culture today also manifest themselves in religion, even if that religion is not organized and is quite decentralized.

Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay make this point in Cynical Theories:

“It is therefore no exaggeration to observe that Social Justice Theorists have created a new religion, a tradition of faith that is actively hostile to reason, falsification, disconfirmation, and disagreement of any kind. Indeed, the whole postmodernist project now seems, in retrospect, like an unwitting attempt to have deconstructed the old metanarratives of Western thought – science and reason along with religion and capitalist economic systems – to make room for a wholly new religion, a postmodern faith based on a dead God, which sees mysterious worldly forces in systems of power and privilege and which sanctifies victimhood. This, increasingly, is the fundamentalist religion of the nominally secular left.” (Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay, Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity, page 210)

Rod Dreher makes a similar claim in his book Live Not By Lies:

“Social justice warriors (SJWs) are playing a similar historic role to the Bolsheviks in prerevolutionary Russia. SJW ranks are full of middle-class, secular, educated young people wracked by guilty and anxiety over their own privilege, alienated from their own traditions, and desperate to identify with something, or someone, to give them a sense of wholeness and purpose. For them, the ideology of social justice – as defined not by church teaching but by critical theorists in the academy – functions as a pseudoreligion.” (Rod Dreher, Live Not By Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents, page 42)

Tara Isabella Burton makes this connection in her book Strange Rites as she analyzes the “remixed-religions” that now dominate our society:

“The rising Generation Z (those born after 1997) might be the least religious yet. Thirty-four percent of them say they’re religiously unaffiliated. Thirteen percent – twice the rate of the general population – identify as atheists. And yet, new gods are everywhere … the spiritual marketplace is overflowing … For the vast majority of Remixed spiritualists, this new religious landscape heralds an era o untrammeled self-expression, of spirituality conceived first and foremost as an instrument of self-betterment, a necessary and easily consumable product designed to optimize one’s life.” (Tara Isabella Burton, Strange Rites: New Religions for a Godless World, page 239-241).

The bottom line is this: every worldview will manifest itself in some kind of religion, some kind of cultic expression. Christians must keep this truth in mind as they press on as a minority in an increasingly “godless” and openly “pagan” society. We are not the only religious people in the United States. In fact, everyone in the United States is a religious person.

The truth that all people operate out of a worldview that manifests itself in religious ways reminds us that no one – no one on the left, and no one on the right – operates from a place of moral, spiritual, or religious neutrality. We all bring our theological presuppositions to the table, and we all base our morality, politics, and ethics on the theological presuppositions that form the core of our worldview. No one is neutral.

This means that when the United States Government, in particular, the Supreme Court of the United States, gives preferential treatment to “secular” people and organizations, they are basically favoring unorganized religion over organized religion. There is no neutral position to be had. All positions begin with worldview assumptions, and those assumptions manifest themselves as either unorganized or organized religions. Yes, our laws prohibit the official government imposition of a state-fueled religion, but our government must realize that favoring those on the “left” amounts to favoring unorganized religious expression at the expense of organized religious expression.

Those of us on the “right” need not lose our nerve when we are attacked as Bible-thumping-wingnuts. We need not panic when the “left” accuses us of wanting to establish a state religion or a theocracy. We need not back down when the “left” says we just want to legislate our preferred morality. These verbal attacks are often just ways for the “left” to shut down debate about issues or morality and the legislation of morality. There is no objective, theologically neutral, unbiased person on the other side – only people holding to godless worldviews that result in unorganized religious fanaticism, also known as, “woke” politics. There is no way to legislate apart from legislating morality.

Furthermore, the evangelistic and apologetic efforts of Christian people are all are directed at religious people. There are no non-religious people. Some people may hold to false doctrine that manifests in organized (false) religion – Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims, etc. Others may hold to secular, naturalistic, pagan ideas that manifests in unorganized religions operating under the guise of “left-leaning” political movements (Critical Race Theory, the LGBTQ+ movement, climate change fanatics).

All of us are religious people. The only question is whether or not our worldview is rooted in something true and transcendent, and whether or not our religious lives flow out of that worldview in God-honoring ways.