Saturday, 24 September 2016

Frauke Petry: “refugees welcome” attitude has become a new religion


Frauke Petry, leader of Alternative for Germany (AfD), is reported in Die Welt as saying welcoming refugees has become the a substitute religion.

She said that many Germans are so blinded by this over willingness to help everyone in the world that they cannot see that many of those they endeavour to help do not share German values in regard to minorities, religious freedom, or the rights of women.

Secular religion is exactly the right way to understand the phenomenon, a religion of solidarity, charity and human rights. Since the end of the Cold War and Communism, anti-racism and anti-discrimination has been a substitute religion all over the developed world. As Edward Norman said years ago, welfare considerations have taken the place of the sacred in the West. He accurately blamed 'neo-Puritanism' and said,

"When Christians identify the present secular enthusiasm for humanity as basic Christianity - the love of neighbour - they are in reality acclaiming and legitimising their own replacement."
When he wrote that back in the 1980s he imagined that the replacement for Christianity would be secularism. Now it looks as if secularism might be replaced by Islam.

Frauke Petry is married to, though recently separated from, a Lutheran pastor and religion may drive her as it did the East Germans who protested against Communism in 1989.

It is interesting how many powerful German politicians come from religious families and are, as far as one can gauge, motivated by a religious impulse. Chancellor Merkel grew up in East Germany as the daughter of a very left-wing Lutheran pastor and President Gauck was a pastor himself. I wish they saw that loving ones neighbour does not necessitate moving populations from Asia to Europe.


  1. It is a bit like the brain process that leads eccentric ladies into founding donkey sanctuaries.

  2. Hi Paul,

    I have done some research on the hypothesis that much left-line ideology from the 18th century serves as a sort of substitute religion, but am always eager for new insights.

    You might want to try the work of Michael Burleigh (forgotten the name of the book, 'Sacred Causes' perhaps - the one on the French revolution). His whole thesis is on just that: French philosophes and humanism as substitute religion.

    As a culture drifts from Christianity it needs to satisfy the religious impulse, which then comes out in unconscious unintended ways. Thus many of the Godless isms of our day as substitute religions, Communism, Nazism, etc. If one analyses these things with a sociological eye, one can see whiffs of the quasi-mystical in feminism, and others. The cause becomes every bit as radical as any religion. Mao and Che become pseudo-messianic saviors (and other names I daren't mention!)

    As I said, I have done a fair amount of research, but am always on the lookout for work others have done, new insights, etc.