Yes, Secularism is a Religion, and Here are its Witch Trials

David P. Goldman, whose magisterial good sense is to be found all over his “Spengler” column, analyzes secular progressivism as a post-Protestant religion, aimed less at promulgating sound public policy than at creating a means of saving America from its sins:

Joseph Bottum, by contrast, examines post-Protestant secular religion with empathy, and contends that it gained force and staying power by recasting the old Mainline Protestantism in the form of catechistic worldly categories: anti-racism, anti-gender discrimination, anti-inequality, and so forth. What sustains the heirs of the now-defunct Protestant consensus, he concludes, is a sense of the sacred, but one that seeks the security of personal salvation through assuming the right stance on social and political issues. Precisely because the new secular religion permeates into the pores of everyday life, it sustains the certitude of salvation and a self-perpetuating spiritual aura. Secularism has succeeded on religious terms.

The right opinions and the right votes thereby become a means of redemption for whatever personal errors of racism, sexism, etc. Suddenly the enormous hypocrisy of say, feminists continuing to support Bill Clinton or Ted Kennedy, makes a perverse kind of sense.

But belief in a good carries with it a beleif in an evil, and when the devil will not manifest himself openly, one needs must go hunting for him. Thus, the witchcraft trials of earlier centuries, and thus, the secular inquisition over things like “white privelege,” “heteronormativity,” and “rape culture”:

Anyone who follows the contemporary media closely is doubtless familiar with the suddenly ubiquitous phrase “rape culture.” In the context of higher education, the phrase implies two interlocking beliefs. First: despite crime statistics showing sexual assault (as well as all violent crimes) to be very uncommon on campus, colleges and universities are, in fact, hotbeds of rape (but not, it appears, of all other violent crimes). Second: despite the fact that most college faculties and nearly all administrations are extraordinarily sympathetic to the activists’ position on gender issues, the campus culture over which these figures preside nonetheless–somehow–actually encourages the prevalence of rape at college.

That little, if any, evidence exists to sustain either of these beliefs has not deterred the “rape culture” believers; if anything, the lack of evidence for their claims appears to have emboldened them.

This is standard procedure. To deny that you are a counterrevolutionary, to deny that counterrevolution is a grave threat, is prima facie evidence that you are a counterrevolutionary. Confess and you shall be forgiven; dissent and you shall be purged.

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