Sunday, August 9, 2020

Americans Are Turning Away From Religion Toward Dangerous Secular Cults

On the right and the left, pseudo-religious cults are ensnaring a growing number of Americans as traditional religions decline.
For years now, pollsters and demographers have been chronicling the decline of religion in America. And it’s not just religious affiliation that’s declining. Along with lower rates of church attendance, religious weddings and religious activities in the household are also waning. By every measure, America is becoming a less religious country, with huge implications for our political and cultural life.
But the story of the decline of religion in America is incomplete. What has gone less noticed, and less studied, is the rise of ersatz religions in America—secular substitutes for traditional forms of faith. The fastest-growing of these pseudo-religions occupy either end of the political spectrum, and are themselves explicitly political. They are also dangerous cults with almost no redeeming qualities, and if left unchecked will inspire their adherents to commit violence. In some cases, they already have.
On the right, there’s the big-tent conspiracy theorists of QAnon, a kind of gnostic quasi-religion centered on the struggle between Trump and a shadowy “deep state” comprised of wealthy global elites, celebrities, and politicians—although QAnon, as its followers will tell you, encompasses much more than just Trump. (It’s worth noting that the mainstream press loves to publish long-winded essays holding up QAnon as evidence that Trump supporters are conspiracy-addled rubes while ignoring the extent to which outlandish conspiracy theories like the Russia collusion hoax are still accepted by the liberal media.)
On the left, there’s the entire institutional edifice of critical social justice theory, or what we’ll call the Cult of Woke, the most visible manifestation of which is perhaps the Black Lives Matter agenda, whose most fervent adherents come predominantly from academia, Hollywood, and corporate America. Here we should distinguish between the BLM movement broadly, which consists of a lot of suburban educated people who vaguely sympathize with antiracism, and the BLM organization and agenda, which is explicitly Marxist and incompatible with constitutional democracy, individual rights, and equal protection under the law.
Both of these forms of pseudo-religion offer ironclad answers to questions about what’s wrong with the world and what to do about it. But unlike established religions, they have obvious and sometimes menacing political undertones, and their effects on civic life are not salutary. You won’t see BLM activists or members of QAnon feeding the poor or ministering to the sick as an expression of their beliefs, but you will see them burning down buildings and planning terrorist-style attacks.
Both Left And Right Operate In Alternative Universes --->
Read the rest from John Daniel Davidson HERE.

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