Sunday 7 June 2020

A new religion supplants Christianity (but not Islam)

"For when a new sect—that is, a new religion—emerges, its first concern is to extinguish the old to give itself reputation." Machiavelli

Has the world gone mad over the last few years and especially this year? It looks like it because it is hard to find a rational explanation for what is happening. Perhaps we should be looking for irrational explanations instead.

Ed West writing in The Tablet is one of my few soul mates in the mainstream media and clearly thinking along very similar lines to mine. Human rights ideology is a religion, a Christian heresy like the ideas of Voltaire, Rousseau, Robespierre and Marx. As a religion it cannot be understood rationally. and indeed mkes no sense rationally. Think instead of Albigensians, although they were not in fact Christian heretics but believed in an entirely different religion. Who will lead a crusade against this

As Christianity started to seriously haemorrhage support in the 1960s, so a new faith arose, with “privilege” a form of original sin and so-called “vulnerable groups” the new sacred. Once large sections of the population abandon Christianity, liberalism becomes their default setting. If you meet any well-meaning and highly moral person under the age of 45 today and they aren’t religious, the chances are that they will be heavily into social justice causes – people need that religious impulse, with all it brings.

Today just 16 per cent of liberals in the US think religious faith gives them a “great deal” of meaning in life, compared to 62 per cent of “very conservative” Americans, yet almost a third of those very liberal Americans find a “great deal” of meaning in political causes, compared to just 9 per cent of conservatives. Politics seems to satisfy the same thirst as religion, fuelling a new form of political sectarianism that is intense in the US and growing in the UK.

Progressivism seamlessly takes the place of faith because it is a heresy of Christianity, and its followers have inherited the Christian traditions of equality, universalism, individualism, free will and eschatology, the idea that we are moving towards an end time of triumph – that “right side of history”. And yet these secular believers lack much of the doubt that has evolved in modern mainstream Christianity and made it more tolerant. I think this new religion is winning, not because it’s true, but because it’s better suited to the age and to the needs of the ruling class.

What matters is how much ideologies are associated with high-ranking and successful people. Despite the recent electoral victories by the Conservative Party, Donald Trump and Vote Leave, things are still moving in a liberal direction. Demography is on its side. For all the right-wing clichés about the liberal metropolitan elite being “out of touch”, historically, the religion practised by high-status members of society becomes adopted by the rest. The caustic insult “gammon” reflects the fact that conservatism is now most commonly associated with older men of low status.

In contrast, religions that attract large numbers of young women tend to predominate, the most obvious being Christianity, where females heavily outnumbered males in the early centuries, in some areas by six to one; likewise, with Methodism in eighteenth- century England and evangelical protestantism in modern Latin America. So the fact that young women backed Labour over the Tories by 65 points to 15 at the 2019 election should be a cause for alarm for conservatives, as should the fact that both young British and American women are now overwhelmingly liberal, having been more consistently conservative than men until the 1970s.

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