The Righteous and the Woke – Why Evangelicals and Social Justice Warriors Trigger Me in the Same Way

cult prayingI was Born Again until nearly the end of graduate school, a sincere Evangelical who went to church on Sunday and Wednesday with my family and to Thursday Bible study on my own. I dialed for converts during the “I Found It” evangelism campaign, served as a counselor at Camp Good News, and graduated from Wheaton College, Billy Graham’s alma mater. I know what it is to be an earnest believer among believers.

I also know what it is to experience those same dynamics from the outside. Since my fall from grace, I’ve written a book, Trusting Doubt, and several hundred articles exposing harms from Evangelicalism—not just the content of beliefs but also how they spread and shape the psychology of individuals and behavior of communities, doing damage in particular to women, children, and religious minorities.

It occurred to me recently that my time in Evangelicalism and subsequent journey out have a lot to do with why I find myself reactive to the spread of Woke culture among colleagues, political soulmates, and friends. Christianity takes many forms, with Evangelicalism being one of the more single-minded, dogmatic, groupish and enthusiastic among them. The Woke—meaning progressives who have “awoken” to the idea that oppression is the key concept explaining the structure of society, the flow of history, and virtually all of humanity’s woes—share these qualities.

To a former Evangelical, something feels too familiar—or better said, a bunch of somethings feel too familiar.

Righteous and infidels—There are two kinds of people in the world: Saved and damned or Woke and bigots, and anyone who isn’t with you 100% is morally suspect*. Through the lens of dichotomizing ideologies, each of us is seen—first and foremost—not as a complicated individual, but as a member of a group, with moral weight attached to our status as an insider or outsider.  (*exceptions made for potential converts)

Insider jargon—Like many other groups, the saved and the Woke signal insider status by using special language. An Evangelical immediately recognizes a fellow tribe-member when he or she hears phrases like Praise the Lord, born again, backsliding, stumbling block, give a testimony, a harvest of souls, or It’s not a religion; it’s a relationship. The Woke signal their wokeness with words like intersectionality, cultural appropriation, trigger warning, microaggression, privilege, fragility, problematic, or decolonization. The language of the Woke may have more meaningful real-world referents than that of Evangelicals, but in both cases, jargon isn’t merely a tool for efficient or precise communication as it is in many professionsit is a sign of belonging and moral virtue.

Born that way—Although theoretically anyone is welcome in either group, the social hierarchies in both Evangelical culture and Woke culture are defined largely by accidents of birth. The Bible lists privileged blood lines—the Chosen People—and teaches that men (more so than women) were made in the image of God. In Woke culture, hierarchy is determined by membership in traditionally oppressed tribes, again based largely on blood lines and chromosomes. Note that this is not about individual experience of oppression or privilege, hardship or ease. Rather, generic average oppression scores get assigned to each tribe and then to each person based on intersecting tribal identities. Thus, a queer female East Indian Harvard grad with a Ph.D. and E.D. position is considered more oppressed than the unemployed third son of a white Appalachian coal miner.

Original sin—In both systems, one consequence of birth is inherited guilt. People are guilty of the sins of their fathers. In the case of Evangelicalism, we all are born sinful, deserving of eternal torture because of Eve’s folly—eating from the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden. In Woke culture, white and male people are born with blood guilt, a product of how dominant white and male people have treated other people over the ages and in modern times, (which—it must be said—often has been  unspeakably horrible). Again, though, individual guilt isn’t about individual behaviors. A person born with original sin or blood guilt can behave badly and make things worse, but they cannot erase the inborn stain. (Note that this contradicts core tenets of liberal, humanist, and traditional progressive thought.)

Orthodoxies—The Bible is the inerrant Word of God. Jesus died for your sins. Hell awaits sinners. Salvation comes through accepting Jesus as your savior. If you are an Evangelical, doctrines like these must not be questioned. Trust and obey for there’s no other way. Anyone who questions core dogmas commits heresy, and anyone who preaches against them should be de-platformed or silenced. The Woke also have tenets of faith that must not be questioned. Most if not all ills flow from racism or sexism. Only males can be sexist; only white people can be racist. Gender is culturally constructed and independent of sex. Immigration is an economic boon for everyone. Elevating the most oppressed person will solve problems all the way up. Did my challenging that list make you think you might be reading an article by a conservative? If so, that’s exactly what I’m trying to illustrate.

Denial as proof—In Evangelicalism, thinking you don’t need to accept Jesus as your savior is proof that you do. Your denial simply reveals the depth of your sin and hardness of heart. In Woke culture, any pushback is perceived as a sign of white fragility or worse, a sign that one is a racist, sexist, homophobe, Islamophobe, xenophobe, or transphobe. You say that you voted for Barack Obama and your kids are biracial so your problem with BLM isn’t racism?  LOL, that’s just what a racist would say. In both cultures, the most charitable interpretation that an insider can offer a skeptic is something along these lines, You seem like a decent, kind person. I’m sure that you just don’t understand. Since Evangelical and Woke dogmas don’t allow for honest, ethical disagreement, the only alternative hypothesis is that the skeptic must be an evildoer or bigot.

Black and white thinking—If you are not for us, you’re against us. In the Evangelical worldview we are all caught up in a spiritual war between the forces of God and Satan, which is playing out on the celestial plane. Who is on the Lord’s side? one hymn asks, because anyone else is on the other. Even mainline Christians—and especially Catholics—may be seen by Evangelicals as part of the enemy force. For many of the Woke, the equivalent of mainline Christians are old school social liberals, like women who wear pink pussy hats. Working toward colorblindness, for example, is not just considered a suboptimal way of addressing racism (which is a position that people can make arguments for). Rather, it is itself a symptom of racism. And there’s no such thing as a moderate conservative. Both Evangelicals and the Woke argue that tolerance is bad. One shouldn’t tolerate evil or fascism, they say, and most people would agree. The problem is that so many outsiders are considered either evil sinners or racist fascists. In this view, pragmatism and compromise are signs of moral taint.

Shaming and shunning—The Woke don’t tar, feather and banish sinners. Neither—mercifully—do Christian puritans anymore. But public shaming and trial by ordeal are used by both clans to keep people in line. Some Christian leaders pressure members into ritual public confession. After all, as theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Nothing can be more cruel than the leniency which abandons others to their sin.” Shaming and shunning have ancient roots as tools of social control, and they elevate the status of the person or group doing the shaming. Maoist struggle sessions (forced public confessions) and Soviet self-criticism are examples of extreme shaming in social-critical movements seeking to upend traditional power structures. So, it should be no surprise that some of the Woke show little hesitation when call-out opportunities present themselves—nor that some remain unrelentingly righteous even when those call-outs leave a life or a family in ruins.

Selective science denial—Disinterest in inconvenient truths—or worse, denial of inconvenient truths, is generally a sign that ideology is at play. Most of us on the left can rattle off a list of truths that Evangelicals find inconvenient. The Bible is full of contradictions. Teens are going to keep having sex. Species evolve. The Earth is four and a half billion years old. Climate change is caused by humans (which suggests that God doesn’t have his hand on the wheel). Prayer works, at best, at the margins of statistical significance. But evidence and facts can be just as inconvenient for the Woke. Gender dimorphism affects how we think, not just how we look. Personal responsibility has real world benefits, even for people who have the odds stacked against them. Lived experience is simply anecdotal evidence. Skin color is often a poor proxy for privilege. Organic foods won’t feed 11 billion.

Evangelism—As infectious ideologies, Evangelicalism and Woke culture rely on both paid evangelists and enthusiastic converts to spread the word. Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) and related organizations spend tens of millions annually seeking converts on college campuses. But many outreach activities are led by earnest student believers. Critical Oppression Theory on campus has its epicenter in gender and race studies but has become a mainstay in schools of public health and law as well as the liberal arts. Once this becomes the dominant lens for human interactions, students police themselves—and each other. Nobody wants to be the ignoramus who deadnames a transgender peer or microaggresses against a foreign student by asking about their culture.

Hypocrisy—Christianity bills itself as a religion centered in humility, but countervailing dogmas promote the opposite. It is hard to imagine a set of beliefs more arrogant than the following: The universe was designed for humans. We uniquely are made in the image of God. All other creatures are ours to consume. Among thousands of religions, I happened to be born into the one that’s correct. The creator of the universe wants a personal relationship with me. Where Evangelicalism traffics in hubris cloaked as humility, Woke culture traffics in discrimination cloaked as inclusion. The far left demands that hiring practices, organizational hierarchies, social affinity groups, political strategizing, and funding flow give primacy to race and gender. Some of the Woke measure people by these checkboxes to a degree matched in the West only by groups like MRAs (Men’s Rights Activists) and white supremacists. The intent is to rectify old wrongs and current inequities–to literally solve discrimination with discrimination. One result is disinterest in suffering that doesn’t derive from traditional structural oppression of one tribe by another.

Gloating about the fate of the wicked—One of humanity’s uglier traits is that we like it when our enemies suffer. Some of the great Christian leaders and great justice warriors of history have inspired people to rise higher (think Desmond Tutu, Eli Wiesel, Vaclav Havel, Nelson Mandela).  But neither Evangelicalism nor Woke culture consistently inspires members to transcend tribal vindictiveness because neither, at heart, calls members into our shared humanity. Some Christian leaders have actually proclaimed that the suffering of the damned in hell heightens the joy of the saved in heaven. Some of the Woke curse those they see as fascists to burn in the very same Christian hell, metaphorically if not literally. They dream of restorative justice for criminal offenses but lifelong, ruinous retribution for political sinners: Those hateful Trump voters deserve whatever destitution or illness may come their way. Unemployed young men in rural middle America are turning to Heroin? Too bad. Nobody did anything about the crack epidemic. Oil town’s on fire? Burn baby burn.

I know how compelling those frustrated, vengeful thoughts can be, because I’ve had them. But I think that progressives can do better.

Ideology has an awe-inspiring power to forge identity and community, direct energy, channel rage and determination, love and hate. It has been one of the most transformative forces in human history. But too often ideology in the hands of a social movement simply rebrands and redirects old self-centering impulses while justifying the sense that this particular fight is uniquely holy.

Even so, social movements and religions—including those that are misguided—usually emerge from an impulse that is deeply good, the desire to foster wellbeing in world that is more kind and just, one that brings us closer to humanity’s multi-millennial dream of broad enduring peace and bounty. This, too, is something that the Righteous and the Woke have in common. Both genuinely aspire to societal justice—small s, small j—meaning not the brand but the real deal. Given that they often see themselves at opposite ends of the spectrum, perhaps that is grounds for a little hope.

—————–

Note: In this article I didn’t address why, despite these discouraging social and ideological dynamics, I continue to lean left. In the frustration raised by excesses of Woke culture it is easy to lose sight of more substantive issues. Here is some of my list: The best evidence available tells us climate change is human-caused and urgent. Market failures are real. Trickle-down economics has produced greater inequality, which has been growing for decades. Inequality is a factor in social instability. Social democracy (the combination of capitalist enterprise with a strong social safety net) appears to have produced greater average wellbeing than other economic systems. Investments in diplomacy reduce war. Reproductive empowerment is fundamental to individual political and economic participation. The Religious Right more so than classical liberals control social policy on the Right. Government, when functioning properly, is the way we do things that we can’t very well do alone.

I would like to thank Dan Fincke for his input on this article, and Marian Wiggins for her generous editorial time.

Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington. She is the author ofTrusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light and Deas and Other Imaginings, and the founder of www.WisdomCommons.org.  Her articles about religion, reproductive health, and the role of women in society have been featured at sites including The Huffington Post, Salon, The Independent, Free Inquiry, The Humanist, AlterNet, Raw Story, Grist, Jezebel, and the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies.  Subscribe at ValerieTarico.com.

About Valerie Tarico

Seattle psychologist and writer. Author - Trusting Doubt and Deas and Other Imaginings. Founder - www.WisdomCommons.org.
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163 Responses to The Righteous and the Woke – Why Evangelicals and Social Justice Warriors Trigger Me in the Same Way

  1. Joe Reedholm says:

    Thanks again for provocative musings. As I read this, I heard the condemnations of those capitalists who have wrecked the world and are beyond redemption. Tribalism benefits only those who game the tribe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gunther says:

      Many of these capitalists firmly believe that there is no God which is why they fear no punishment when they die or if they believe in God, they figure that they will repent when they see God and figure that God will forgive them for their terrible sins.

      Like

      • Sean says:

        Gunther, I suspect few people – if any – wake up in the morning thinking “There is no god, so I can do what I want because I won’t be punished”. I also think there are very few theists who get up in the morning thinking “oh.. I’ll do what I want because god will forgive me anyway”. I just don’t think people really operate like that. IMO, most – whether they believe in a god or not – only really think about themselves in the short-term. They just aren’t overly concerned about the long-term and damaging impact they have on others or their environment.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Anita McEntyre says:

    Well said, Valerie, as always. I, too, was raised Evangelical and recognize the code words exchanged among them. I also have worked among the Woke, and your article spells out why it’s been so uncomfortable. It still comes down to the time-consuming, energy-depleting determination to understand individuals based on their own complicated thoughts and decisions. Thank you for taking the time to point this out.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Anita. It is time consuming and energy depleting, as you say, and it’s a challenge not to fall into the same oversimplifications and ready dismissals of other people that critiqued.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Tara Nour says:

        If I may? I disagreed with many of your points, not because of the sentiment expressed but because of the logic you used to express yourself– a lot of nuance was missed. Half-baked rhetoric is conveniently used to tar the Woke. True, there are no social movements free from their extremes. Nevertheless, the topics you bring up as dogmas are academic in nature. Sociology, politics, and science. None are free of subjectivity, but none are as black-and-white as you’ve boiled them down to being via single-sentence assertions. I am a biochemist by training and can aver that sexual dimorphism in species across the board is not a matter of male-vs-female. Least of all is it so in the human species; our brains are astonishing things and from the uterine environment to the delicate chemistry of enzyme kinetics and environmental pollutants, to attempt separating human thought ability into man and woman is deeply flawed. It weakens your argument to write false facts. You write that I a reader must, at a point, assume you are conservative. I did not. I thought you were a white liberal woman caught in her limited worldview, but of course, the issue is framed in your rhetoric as liberal-vs-conservative.

        In the same blow, I can also attest to the growing popularity of queer culture among young people, white people in particular, who have an easy venue for opting into “struggle” by self-branding as a sexual minority. I do not believe that all the young women who are self-branded bisexuals or pansexuals today are actually queer. Am I able to say this without facing significant backlash? Of course not. But I also really don’t care about people who want to hoard labels to feel special and oppressed. On that note– “oppression” is a word that makes me stop reading. A serious author is a complex critic. The discussion of social mores and trends is not a race to the bottom, and your Appalachian coal miner’s son is a person who has been provided venues to success by the movement you are denigrating.

        The impact that voices of the historically dispossessed have had on how society looks at itself today is complicated, and sometimes flawed because the layperson is not a qualified sociologist or scientist. Perhaps this individual has been reading and forming opinions. Alternately, this individual might have found something which accurately describes the nagging feeling they have when they’ve been in certain society and company, or looked and spoke a certain way. I would also suggest that you have limited personal experience with the topic you’re writing about. This absence of experience strengthens your nagging suspicion that what we have here is much ado about nothing.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Janet Waite says:

    Dear Valerie, How I wish you belonged to the minority of Americans who know the difference between “uninterest” and “disinterest.” Believe me, there is an important difference which you can discover by consulting a dictionary

    Like

    • efic says:

      That is such a passive aggressive thing to say to a stranger.

      Liked by 3 people

    • JDavid says:

      Weird. I consulted a dictionary, and one of the definitions of “disinterested” was:

      2. having or feeling no interest in something.
      “her father was so disinterested in her progress that he only visited the school once”
      synonyms: uninterested . . .

      I then confirmed that definition by consulting multiple others dictionaries, including the Oxford English Dictionary. It seems Valerie Tarico is among the people who correctly use “uninterest” and “disinterest” (or, more appropriately “uninterested” and “disinterested”), so you can sleep safely with the knowledge that your wish has been granted and, in fact, was never even necessary.

      Liked by 4 people

      • Munroe Scott says:

        Both JDavid and Janet have intrigued me about “uninterested” and “disinterested”. Surely uninterested simply means never having been interested and disinterested means once interested but no longer — such as disenchanted means once enchanted but no longer. The language can be so precise when we wish it to be. Fun, ins’t it?

        Like

    • *That’s* your concern? Uh, OK.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Perry says:

    I’m probably misunderstanding something, but I’m a bit surprised and confused by your use in the subtitle of the term “social justice warrior” as a pejorative. The term was always, until very recently, a neutral or positive term, but it is now commonly used in a very negative way to denigrate and dismiss anyone who brings up social justice and human rights issues. I’ve had it frequently used as an insinuating slur against me in that way when debating various issues. I don’t understand how fighting and working for various human rights, as I have done for years, is considered a negative thing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Fighting for human rights as you have done for years is definitely NOT a negative thing. My guess is that you get backlash in part because things have become so polarized, and what should be universal human concerns get carved up into pro and con by different tribes. Also, though, the SJW term gets used pejoratively by some on the Right against even reasonable people on the left–in part because of the excesses of Woke culture–and in part because Right Wing media play up those excesses and talk as if that were the whole of the left. To my mind, it’s a way of not having to confront complexity and nuance.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Will Shetterly says:

      You are mistaken about the history of the term. It was rarely used. The “warrior” part of the name is to contrast the angry and self-righteous people who cite social justice with the long history of social justice workers who treated everyone with love and respect.

      Like

      • LH says:

        I remember this analogy (though unfortunately not where it was from) that said a social justice advocate might call for a ramp to be built to support those who can’t climb the stairs; a social justice warrior might demand that the ramp be built and that nobody be allowed to use the stairs.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Perry says:

        “From the early 1990s to the early 2000s, social-justice warrior was used as a neutral or complimentary phrase. … the term switched from primarily positive to overwhelmingly negative around 2011, when it was first used as an insult on Twitter. The same year, an Urban Dictionary entry for the term also appeared. The term’s negative use became mainstream due to the 2014 Gamergate controversy, emerging as the favoured term of Gamergate proponents to describe their ideological opponents.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_justice_warrior

        Like

      • Will Shetterly says:

        My point, which is not disputed, is that the term was rare before the internet began using it for the angry people who cite social justice as they dox and blacklist and censor and try to destroy people’s lives. The use of “warrior” should make that clear, though I wish whoever coined SJW had used “crusader” instead. SJWs are people who do horrible things and claim they’re serving social justice when they’re only unleashing their anger.

        Like

      • You are right. Crusader would have captured the intent and the analogy more clearly.

        Like

  5. goobiegoober says:

    The picture your give of social justice warriors seems to me like a caricature. Maybe a few Seattle acquaintances are like that, but not anyone among the progressive I work with. Neither I nor my progressive political friends use these terms you mention: “intersectionality, cultural appropriation, trigger warning, microaggression, privilege, fragility, problematic, or decolonization”. Similarly, I know nobody who would disagree with these ideas: “Gender dimorphism affects how we think, not just how we look. Personal responsibility has real world benefits, even for people who have the odds stacked against them.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lucky!!!! No seriously, it’s good to be reminded that this may be the bay I swim in but not necessarily the sea. And it’s more concentrated online, I think, than in real life. But all of those words kick around in my Seattle activist circles–and more.

      Like

    • Sandra Craft says:

      I wish it seemed like a caricature to me, but in So. Cal. I run into such “caricatures” all the time.

      Like

    • Candy Mercer says:

      I am in Olympia which has even a denser issue and these people exist, and surround me. I was one of them, until many factors woke me up. I feel like I have left a cult. This article is spot on, I did all of those things and did not realize how ugly and soul destroying they were. I am so glad to have taken the pill, but man, what once was a comforting bubble no longer is, it is ugly and to be fought against. It is a perversion of true activism.

      Like

  6. jamesbradfordpate says:

    Reblogged this on James' Ramblings.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. bewilderbeast says:

    You woke me to being careful about being too woke! As always, a well thought out angle on things that should be said. Thank you. Lessons: ALL extremists are extreme; Always THINK about what you’re doing.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. allanmerry@allanmerry.net says:

    Bravo, Valerie. Very Good Reminder not to be dogmatic, and to avoid these other ineffective postures. But Good Golly! Have I ever been so out of the Loop!! I’ve seen stuff about something called Woke; but had no idea about those Orthodoxies. (I’ve been playing around with a WordPress Blog of my own for a couple of years- intently at first but long intervals of neglect since- revising the initial pieces trying to decide if it makes enough sense to “Release.” Not yet. But thus far, intending to promote Goals that I know we share.) Another thing I must attend to: Be sure I’m paying attention to your new Posts.

    Like

  9. thesseli says:

    Thank you so much for posting this!

    Like

  10. Swarn Gill says:

    Your points are excellent here and I agree with what you’ve said, but like others I do think that being a warrior for social justice should not be seen as a pejorative term. Certainly the left has people ever bit as dogmatic and void of nuance as the right and absolutely such people worry me also, but I think we do have to be careful how we frame the discussion because the range of people fighting for social justice is far more broad than the way you’ve categorized them here.

    Like

    • No question about that. Unfortunately the term Social Justice Warrior (or more often simply SJW) has come to describe the excesses in this article. Also unfortunately, many on the Right love to sneer at anyone who is genuinely working for social justice, even if they are reasoned, nuanced, and evidence based, and so they use the SJW label as a broad insult. Some on the far left have now decided to embrace it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • luvyoto says:

        u just sneered away mens rights. you dehumanized half of humanity. was this out of fear or to signal to your group that you arent one of those evil ppl who thinks men should have equal rights.

        Like

      • Oh, nonsense. Get a grip. I nowhere sneered away mens rights, and in fact I defend them both in person and in my writings. I have found, however, that self-identified MRAs are not infrequently misogynist and unable to acknowledge the injustices of human history–just as SJWs are frequently unable to acknowledge their counternarrative racism and misandry.

        Liked by 1 person

    • LH says:

      i wouldn’t call everyone who supports social justice an SJW as a pejorative. i think the pejorative comes from the “warrior” part of the term, which is used sarcastically; the SJW’s are the ones who are often hypocritical, and the version of social justice they advocate for is the kind that can actually be a form of INJUSTICE to others.

      Liked by 1 person

      • thesseli says:

        The callout culture, the incessant search for any transgressions (against dogma, political purity, pronouns, etc.), and the holier than thou shaming from some of these people really turn me off. Most of us are just trying to be good people, but we will never be “woke enough” for some of them.

        Liked by 1 person

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  12. hostirad says:

    Of all of your insightful posts, Valerie, this one is one of your best. One line that really struck home was how social movements and religions “usually emerge from an impulse that is deeply good.” So true. I consider myself an environmentalist, yet I’ve seen how environmentalism can become as dogmatic and non-rational as evangelism. Keep up your great writing, Valerie–the effort is worth it!

    Like

  13. Munroe Scott says:

    Valerie, as usual I found your article very thought provoking and I thank you for it. I was intrigued, however, to learn that the past perfect tense for “to be awakened” has become a name for an entire category of people. “The Woke.” Delightfully mysterious. Being a professional writer just a couple of weeks away from my 92nd birthday I find myself wondering how I could have been so ignorant. Is it possible I have been living in the real world rather than on the fringes of the Internet?

    Like

    • Thank you. There’s no reason you would have run across this language unless you were surrounded by a spectrum of young progressive activists. :)

      Like

    • just josh says:

      Calling themselves “woke” highlights the religious parallels. Like being ‘born again’ or ‘enlightened’ or ‘clear’ it emphasizes a supposed privileged state of grace and awareness which separates one from the infidel masses.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Pingback: Look how ‘fringe’ Valerie Terico has become! | Questionable Motives

  15. It’s American culture in general. The Evangelical, like the Puritan, infects almost everything. By the way, the Evangelical is an offshoot of the Puritan, back when New England itinerant preachers traveled the then largely unchurched South, initially popularized among woman and slaves. That early Evangelical movement did lend itself to some political radicalism such as slavery abolitionism, feminism, separation of church and state, etc. The Evangelicals were a major force both with the Populist and Progressive movements. Even many left-wingers such as socialists were Evangelicals. Francis Bellamy who wrote the Pledge of Allegiance was a Christian socialist raised by a Baptist minister.

    This Evangelical tradition has long been part of American politics. In The American Jeremiad, Sacvan Bercovitch discusses this tradition. The jeremiad as a political call to action was used often going back to the colonial era but was most famously popularized by Martin Luther King jr. There would have been no powerful Civil Rights movement without Evangelicalism. It’s easy to forget that there has always been a large segment of Evangelicals that identifies as liberal or progressive, and it’s the majority of younger Evangelicals. At the same time, there has always been a reactionary element to this religious tradition. That can be seen in how socially conservative were many Civil Rights advocates, causing a division between one set of identity politics and another.

    I’ve also noticed how many right-wing libertarians are former fundamentalists (e.g., the biblical scholar Robert M. Price). They are still seeking personal salvation, but through capitalism instead of Jesus. And they are still hoping for an otherworldly utopia, but in space instead of in heaven. I know a right-libertarian who was raised by liberal Evangelicals and, having lost his faith, has paid to have his body frozen to be resurrected later when medical science has advanced.

    It’s almost amusing, this secularization and/or pseudo-scientification of theological dogma, no matter the form it take. But whatever one thinks of it, it is unlikely to disappear from American society. I was raised in the Unity Church, which is a super liberal denomination that developed out of the Evangelical movement. The Unity Church was among the early proponents of vegetarianism, same sex marriage, positive thinking, universal salvation, and much else along those lines. Unity members are as ‘woke’ as they come and no doubt the problems you describe are rampant among them. Religion and politics are so intertwined, all across the political spectrum.

    Like

    • Great context and a complexities. Thank you for taking the time to write this out.

      Like

    • One can even see an Evangelical-like component to colonial imperialism. The whole Western expansionism, Manifest Destiny, and White Man’s Burden. Christian missionaries, as with political reformers, were often found at the frontier of ‘civilization’, sometimes to help save the savages or bring redemption to other lost souls in lawless regions. Think of Bleeding Kansas. Numerous persecuted religious groups, including many utopian and apocalyptic communitarians, settled on the frontier.

      It’s good to remember that modern political thought of the individualistic, liberal, radical, and revolutionary began most clearly with the Protestant Reformation and the related religious dissenter groups. The earliest class war, socialism, and anarchism in Anglo-American tradition can be traced back to the English Civil War, which itself was the Protestant Reformation finally washing onto the shores of England, after the Puritans returned from mainland Europe where they had been influenced by the likes of the French Huguenots.

      The religious radicalism then overflowed to the colonies. The American Revolution and the American Civil War were reprisals of this religious-motivated conflict. Even a deist like Thomas Paine knew his bible intimately and used its rhetoric to foment revolt. Also, John Dickinson’s draft of the Articles of Confederation drew upon Quaker constitutionalism But interestingly, that religious-tinged politics was already being secularized at that time. The Quaker elite had given up their sole control of Pennsylvania governance. And as I mentioned, much of the South was dominated by the official state religion of Anglicanism which bred a populist non-religiosity among the masses that, only later once Anglican control was undone, transformed into populist religiosity.

      An interesting case is that of the Unitarians and Universalists, with much overlap with the Deists during the revolutionary era. There was an Evangelical mood to revolution. Many had the aspiration of spreading revolution throughout the world, not merely seeking political independence in their own country. Revolution meant political salvation of humanity, an old hope within certain strains of Protestantism. Many of the founders identified as citizens of the world and I can’t help but sense the religious zeal behind such an identity, in how it makes moral claims upon the entire earth.

      I was reminded of this radical religiosity because of the election to the Iowa senate of Zach Wahls who grew up in the same Unitarian-Universalist church I attended for a short time. He became well known when his speech in defense of same sex marriage went viral, an expression of UU ideology. Going back a couple of centuries, in 1822, Thomas Jefferson predicted that “there is not a young man now living in the US who will not die an Unitarian.” He was a bit off in his prediction. But as Zach Wahls election demonstrates, this religious tradition remains a force within American society.

      John Calvin’s American legacy by Thomas J. Davis
      Wandering Souls by S. Scott Rohrer
      From a Far Country by Catharine Randall
      The Cousins’ Wars by Kevin Phillips
      Churching of America by Roger Finke and Rodney Stark
      Nature’s God by Matthew Stewart
      America’s Communal Utopias ed. Donald Pitzer

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Douglas W says:

    “One of humanity’s uglier traits is that we like it when our enemies suffer.” One of my disappointments in Christianity was how much believers clung to the doctrine of hell, even though I could not find the concept in my reading of the Bible. Painful destruction, yes, but not eternal torment. Yet religion (and other philosophies) can warp one’s sense of justice so that excessive punishment seems fitting for someone who is simply believing and behaving differently than me; i.e., acting human.

    Liked by 2 people

    • So true. That was/is one of my big disappointments in Christianity too.

      Like

    • Carl says:

      Jesus spoke of Hell more than just about any subject. He also said nonbelievers would not understand Him, by design.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Perry says:

      Regarding “eternal torment”, have you read Revelation 20? Verse 10: “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” Verse 12: “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” Verse 15: “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” In other words, the same like of fire where the devil is tormented day and night forever. That sounds like eternal torment to me.

      Like

  17. Pingback: Fearless Friday: The Importance of Curiosity | The Green Study

  18. Carl says:

    I’ll leave you to your particular worldview. You have to know there is no such thing as a “former believer.” Your departure simply means you were never a believer; there are plenty of people going through the motions of religious practice who are no more believers than Richard Dawkins.

    Like

    • Ah, yes. The old No True Scotsman.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Carl says:

        Not at all. It is a part of the character of God at He loses no one who is His. You claimed you “were” born again. If God is real and the Bible is true, you have to accept one cannot be formally born again. If it is not true, then there is no such thing as being born again. Neither logically allows for formally being born again. Perhaps, you believed at the time you were born again (saved, same thing), but now you don’t even acknowledge it as a real thing, so how can you say you “were” born again?

        Like

      • Paul Douglas says:

        “If God is real and the Bible is true,” are two enormous assumptions for which you will need to offer some compelling evidence for an outsider to consider.

        Like

      • Carl says:

        Paul, I know God is real and the Bible is true, however that is not my point in this thread. The point is “was born again” cannot work logically by its very definition. On can reasonably say, “I once thought I was born again and now 1) I now know I wasn’t, or 2) I now don’t accept that is real.” I don’t try to share the Gospel with those openly hostile to it (because Jesus said not to) but I will correct incorrect use of terms, in this case, born again.

        Like

      • Carl says:

        Upon some further reflection something else occurred to me. Your “testimony” in the beginning reminds me of Matthew 7:22 which provokes perhaps the scariest response from Jesus in the Bible: “I never KNEW you.” Please correct me if I have the wrong impression, but it seems collective and individual behavior of other professed Christians pushed you away from the Church (here I mean the universal church, the body of Christ). It breaks my heart, but doesn’t surprise me since we are all in some state of depravity. I do wonder if I’ve driven people further from Christ instead of being a true ambassador (2 Cor 5:20). I know God irresistibly draws who He wills, but I want to be obedient toward that purpose. Ultimately, faith dependent on the words and actions of others is not faith at all; perhaps religion, but not faith. Perhaps I should read more of your writings to get a better understanding of your journey! Have you concluded that the God of the Bible is not real?

        Like

      • That is generous of you, Carl, but it wasn’t people who pushed me away from the church. It was the moral depravity of Christian teachings themselves. And then once I was outside enough to examine the origins of the Bible record—the very human handprints indicating that we had sculpted God in our own image–it became more clear why that was the case.

        Liked by 3 people

      • Carl says:

        Obviously, I disagree. Beyond substance, I assessment of morality without God is impossible. Whether it is the God of the Bible or some hypothetical other higher power, any moral judgement without universal truth from higher is merely personal preference. Before I came to Christ I used to believe natural law as a practical matter was real and possible but that doesn’t account for the total fallibility of the author, man. I also think it is odd you think God as described in the Bible is in the image of men who supposedly created it. Depraved men would never choose that God for themselves. No person naturally chooses to be held accountable. Clearly you’ve thought about this a lot. I’d be curious about at least some “greatest hits” examples of depravities of Christian doctrine and the basis for assessing them as such. What is your source what is good, if not God?

        Like

      • hostirad says:

        Carl, I am not sure why you say “assessment of morality without God is impossible.” Researchers have found that, around the globe, people think that care, fairness, loyalty, deference to legitimate authority, and purity are moral, while harm, cheating, betrayal, subversion, and contamination or immoral. This is true for both believers and nonbelievers. See Moral Foundations Theory, https://moralfoundations.org/ .

        As for examples of God-given edicts that represent depravity, there are many in Exodus and Leviticus, although there are also examples in other sections of the Bible as well, including the New Testament. Illustrating this is the following excerpt from “The Myth of Secular Moral Chaos” by Sam Harris (https://samharris.org/the-myth-of-secular-moral-chaos/), although the entire article is worth reading because it also addresses morality without God:

        “The notion that the Bible is a perfect guide to morality is really quite amazing, given the contents of the book. Human sacrifice, genocide, slaveholding, and misogyny are consistently celebrated. Of course, God’s counsel to parents is refreshingly straightforward: whenever children get out of line, we should beat them with a rod (Proverbs 13:24, 20:30, and 23:13–14). If they are shameless enough to talk back to us, we should kill them (Exodus 21:15, Leviticus 20:9, Deuteronomy 21:18–21, Mark 7:9–13, and Matthew 15:4–7). We must also stone people to death for heresy, adultery, homosexuality, working on the Sabbath, worshiping graven images, practicing sorcery, and a wide variety of other imaginary crimes.

        Most Christians imagine that Jesus did away with all this barbarism and delivered a doctrine of pure love and toleration. He didn’t. (See Matthew 5:18–19, Luke 16:17, 2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 20–21, John 7:19.) Anyone who believes that Jesus only taught the Golden Rule and love of one’s neighbor should go back and read the New Testament. And he or she should pay particular attention to the morality that will be on display if Jesus ever returns to earth trailing clouds of glory (e.g., 2 Thessalonians 1:7–9, 2:8; Hebrews 10:28–29; 2 Peter 3:7; and all of Revelation).”

        Liked by 3 people

      • Carl says:

        I assume “hostirad” is also you, Valerie. If not, I suppose I can respond to anyone who joins in.

        “Carl, I am not sure why you say “assessment of morality without God is impossible.” Researchers have found that, around the globe, people think that care, fairness, loyalty, deference to legitimate authority, and purity are moral, while harm, cheating, betrayal, subversion, and contamination or immoral.”

        Who says any of these are good or bad, or that there has been some similarity among cultures is any form of validation? Morality, righteousness, and good are concepts that require authority. Beyond, that, there are plenty of variations and outright contradictions It between cultures on what is considered right or wrong. Even though we are at our core sinful beings, we do have a conscience, implanted by God, which is also Biblical. However, on its own it is of very limited use. The research you reference all comes back to “it feels right so it must be right.” So, to stump the chump, who says loyalty is a good thing? fairness? Who says betrayal is a bad thing?

        “As for examples of God-given edicts that represent depravity, there are many in Exodus and Leviticus, although there are also examples in other sections of the Bible as well, including the New Testament.”

        You’ll have to be more specific. People often erroneously mix up the human behavior documented in the Bible with the character of God. People also presume to judge God by their own untested sense of morality.

        “The notion that the Bible is a perfect guide to morality is really quite amazing, given the contents of the book. Human sacrifice, genocide, slaveholding, and misogyny are consistently celebrated.”

        Utter nonsense. None of these things documented in the Bible are celebrated.

        “Of course, God’s counsel to parents is refreshingly straightforward: whenever children get out of line, we should beat them with a rod (Proverbs 13:24, 20:30, and 23:13–14).”

        Those proverbs never suggest a parent should beat a child.

        “If they are shameless enough to talk back to us, we should kill them (Exodus 21:15, Leviticus 20:9, Deuteronomy 21:18–21, Mark 7:9–13, and Matthew 15:4–7). We must also stone people to death for heresy, adultery, homosexuality, working on the Sabbath, worshiping graven images, practicing sorcery, and a wide variety of other imaginary crimes.”

        God did have seemingly stark consequences for transgressions of the Law for the people of Israel. At least those who would choose to reject God on the basis of presuming to judge God with limited human ability are honest about they are doing (rejecting God). The Law and the disobedience of the Israel were never meant as a means of oppression or control. It all illustrated the depravity of man, the necessity for sin to be dealt with, and the need for a remedy. That makes no sense to unregenerate people who think they are “generally good people.” What makes less sense, and is more dishonest, but the very same rejection of God, is pretending God doesn’t exist because one doesn’t like what God has to say.

        “Most Christians imagine that Jesus did away with all this barbarism and delivered a doctrine of pure love and toleration. He didn’t. (See Matthew 5:18–19, Luke 16:17, 2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 20–21, John 7:19.) Anyone who believes that Jesus only taught the Golden Rule and love of one’s neighbor should go back and read the New Testament. And he or she should pay particular attention to the morality that will be on display if Jesus ever returns to earth trailing clouds of glory (e.g., 2 Thessalonians 1:7–9, 2:8; Hebrews 10:28–29; 2 Peter 3:7; and all of Revelation).””

        I suspect you’re right about most self-professed American Christians. It is easy to self-identify as Christian here, so it is easy to ignore Christ when He said to count the cost. For there to be “good news” (the Gospel) there must be bad news. No honest Gospel presentation leaves out the bad news, in fact, it must start with it. It seems, not only do you believe people can be good on their own, that people are generally good by nature. I used to think that, even though it is clearly not true.

        Like

      • hostirad says:

        Carl, I am not Valerie. Anyone can respond to anyone in these conversations. My real name is John A. Johnson. I am a professional psychologist who has studied morality all my life. I felt compelled to respond to your claim that morality is impossible without God because the claim is false. Yes, there are obviously variations across cultures (within cultures, too) on what is considered good and bad. The https://moralfoundations.org/ site discusses that. Variation does not invalidate the fact that most people share the same strong intuitions about right and wrong, independently of their religious beliefs. These strong intuitions are shared by people of all religions and no religion because they are the result of human evolution, not a conscience implanted by a biblical God. The summary words in moral foundations theory (care, fairness, loyalty, etc.) are defined more precisely and at greater length by the research, so we’re not talking about “misplaced loyalty,” “justified harm,” or other variations that might appear to be exceptions. Read the research. I think that you would enjoy it.

        For the record, I do not reject God because passages in the Bible say that we should stone people to death for heresy, adultery, homosexuality, working on the Sabbath, worshiping graven images, practicing sorcery, and a wide variety of other imaginary crimes. What I reject is stoning people to death for heresy, adultery, homosexuality, working on the Sabbath, worshiping graven images, practicing sorcery, and a wide variety of other imaginary crimes. Stoning people to death is barbaric. The same is true for slavery. Christians were wrong to defend slavery before the Civil War by referring to the Bible. Religious people have tried to use scripture to justify inhumane behavior, but it is not the alleged word of God or Allah or Jehova that makes an act moral or immoral. It is the very real, actual help or harm that acts have on other people that makes those acts moral or immoral.

        The Sam Harris article is not long. Again, I encourage you to read it. His short list of Biblical abominations–overly cruel punishments for small transgressions–barely scratches the surface of the absurdities, cruelty, violence, injustice, intolerance, and other terrible things condoned and encouraged in the Bible. Way too many abominations to detail here. If you want more examples, there are many websites that document them, for example, https://skepticsannotatedbible.com/lev/outline.html .

        Liked by 2 people

      • Carl says:

        “Variation does not invalidate the fact that most people share the same strong intuitions about right and wrong, independently of their religious beliefs.”

        Actually, variations invalidate the whole argument. Morality (right vs. wrong), by definition must be absolute. It also cannot vary through time.

        “The Sam Harris article is not long. Again, I encourage you to read it. His short list of Biblical abominations–overly cruel punishments for small transgressions–barely scratches the surface of the absurdities, cruelty, violence, injustice, intolerance, and other terrible things condoned and encouraged in the Bible.”

        OK, I read it. I will try to be gracious in simply saying he is all over the place and mistaken about the basic concept of good. He concocts an arbitrary framework purporting happiness (vs. suffering) as a measure of what is good. That is the way of the sinful world. Happiness is circumstantial and is of no real importance, much less related to morality. It is telling that he would hold up places like Scandinavia and Iceland as model examples.

        Saying “stoning people is barbaric” is no more compelling than a toddler thinking his mother is cruel for making him eat peas. I will never try to argue biblical points with an non-believer, because I know it is futile and dishonors God. However, I will argue that the human pursuit of building one’s own moral structure is nothing more than arrogant self-righteousness. If I sin any less because I belong to God, I would be surprised. The main difference is I know the core truth that leads to repentance, that I, like ALL people, am a sinner.

        Like

    • Gunther says:

      Gee, Carl, what all the babies that die at birth, seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, or months after they were born. They did not have much of a chance to be believers or non-believers.

      Like

      • Carl says:

        Gunther, though God doesn’t owe an answer to humanity about salvation or any other thing, the salvation of infants is well explained in the Bible. Imagine that!

        Like

      • thesseli says:

        Debating a fanatic who “knows” he’s right and won’t consider the possibility he might be mistaken only legitimizes dubious beliefs. This is why Carl Sagan didn’t debate Madame Cleo the Astrologer, and why astronauts and geologists don’t debate Flat Earthers. You can’t change a fanatic’s mind with evidence and reason and logic.

        Liked by 2 people

  19. Jim says:

    Valerie, this is 100% outstanding, and you should consider expanding into a book. It might reshape your entire career, but it would be so worth it.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. I see your point that “too often ideology in the hands of a social movement simply rebrands and redirects old self-centering impulses while justifying the sense that this particular fight is uniquely holy.” Indeed, each of us must manage the ever-present risk of our own ego, and probably any ideology threatens to quickly slide into self-righteousness. Underexamination (of ourselves and of our beliefs) is one cause of these ills.

    There are, of course, relevant differences between the two groups you present here as the Evangelicals and the Woke. A major difference that jumps out at me is that the former group is defined by theology and the latter by politics. I find it curious that you, with your background examining theological dogmatism, perceive political dogmatism as “something [that] feels too familiar.” I don’t intuitively have the same feeling. To me, other people’s dogma may of course seem silly, annoying, or threatening, and that’s a similarity between all forms of dogmatism, but, beyond that, theological and political dogmatism don’t rub me the same way. They bother me for different reasons. Would be hard to put my finger on why that is. In any case, I appreciate your perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Jacob says:

    I enjoyed this piece. It really is amazing how modern “social justice” politics mirrors fundamentalist religion. I always found it funny how secularists would mock Christians for not believing in evolution but insist that any differences between men and women are the result of social conditioning and have nothing to do with biology.

    Like

  22. Amy B Dean says:

    Brava!

    Like

  23. evan effa says:

    Thank you for this very insightful article Valerie.

    As a former, very committed, Evangelical Christian, I have found it puzzling to note how similar my reaction is to both Christian and “Woke” Dogma. They both share this earnest absolutism that is impermeable to evidence or any sort of honest challenge. When confronting either in my daily life, I find myself struggling to suppress the urge to react and push back. Your essay helps illuminate how both perspectives share a puritanical and insular smugness that is ultimately divisive and toxic to healthy community life.

    Thank you.

    -evan

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Max Dean Esmay says:

    Humans irrefutably evolved to be religious (assuming one believes in evolution), and become quite insane and when you take it away. The dirty secret is that religion actually makes people more able to think independent of authority, which is why the Authoritarians left and right always wants to destroy all existing religion–so they can indoctrinated with their own ideology. I get the same vibe off of Ideological Atheists as I do the SocJus Left and the Race Realist AltRight and religious fundamentalists: all presume themselves the enlightened rational ones and no one else is.

    Notice some time how often people will virtue signal their own atheism, or their position as a “skeptic,” as if that automatically makes them smarter, more virtuous, more scientific, and braver than the rest of humanity. Such people will also routinely suggest that their atheism says nothing at all about them or their views, BUT, will accept endless propositions about religious people as if religion says EVERYTHING about others. Self-declared lack-of-religion somehow says nothing about you at all (except good things of course), whereas religion says nothing about you except maybe you’re dim or delusional and possibly dangerous.

    And being a “doubter” is somehow better than a believer, as if doubt and lack of conviction are superior to conviction.

    Your chosen religion of “skepticism” or “doubt” says as much about you as any other religion you choose.

    Like

  25. J. J. Lazzaro says:

    I just found your article via Alternet and had to hunt down a way to contact you because I am so excited to see someone put my thoughts into words. Until earlier this week I was admin of Facebook for those who had left Evangelicalism and the major thing that pushed out the door was the feeling that the group had swung from being Evangelical to just finding another set of morals to enforce blindly. They are doing it with a good heart but I felt uncomfortable being the final say on what people should get kicked out of the group for what when I often didn’t think the charges against them were merited. I have actually just put in a book proposal to write about this in more depth and would love to talk to you.

    Like

  26. Gustavo Salinas says:

    This proves the point that whatever side you are on. You should be open to conversation people are too stuck in there ways and don’t want to hear opinions. That’s the opposite of evolving if we want to better ourselves then we have to leave the dialogue open. Great article.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Betsy H says:

    Great article that resonates with me. Possible typo: I think the word “spend” (or similar word) may be missing from “related organizations tens of millions.”

    Like

  28. Carl Augustsson says:

    As an MRA myself I am quite puzzled by the swipe you took at us. I urge you to watch “The Red Pill” and learn who we really are. Remember, it was made by a (former) feminist who was hostile to us at first.

    Like

    • Hi Carl–
      I just wrote a whole article critiquing the excesses of people whose values and goals I mostly agree with. I would urge you to take a similar look at the Men’s Rights movement.

      I feel strongly that the goal of feminism should be equality, not simply flipping who beats up on who. I think that some of my fellow feminists are straight-up misandrous. I think that, historically, when it comes to sexual consent no has sometimes meant yes, and as we transition away from that–which we should–some decent people are going to get harmed by the mixed messages and shifting mores.

      I think that many young men who say stupid mean things about women and queers–or who posture and fly confederate flags and wear MAGA hats–are genuinely struggling to adapt to multi-culturalism and to a future that increasingly values collaboration and communication over determination and physical strength.

      As someone who works on reproductive empowerment, I think that it sucks that women have birth control that’s near perfect while men have to rely on something with a 1 in 6 annual failure rate. I think it’s bullshit to say that men shouldn’t have feelings and opinions about abortion even if, in the end, the decision defaults to the person most affected–the woman. And no, a fetus isn’t a person.) Demanding better options for guys is asking for gender justice to my mind, just as it would be if things were reversed.

      I think the refrain, “the future is female” is as sexist as “the future is male” would be, and no you can’t trust all women and yes some men are falsely accused and yes we ask men to do horrible things that we wouldn’t ask of women like spend their life underground in a coal mine, and sometimes affirmative action is zero-sum.

      But if you are “puzzled” by why I would lump MRA in with SJW and White Supremacy, I suspect you haven’t been listening to some of the horrible misogyny including fantasies of violence and sexual violence being vomited onto the internet and onto specific female public figures by some of your fellow MRAs.

      Liked by 1 person

      • specieshuman says:

        I’m not an MRA, but I will reiterate what Carl has said, watch The Red Pill. To clump MRAs in with White Supremacists is a statement based on ignorance- like ‘woke’ level ignorance. You just finished explaining in your essay how Christians and the woke demonize non-believers. Funny how you’ve fallen into a similar trap- again.

        I’m an atheist that left the Catholic church a long time ago. Some atheists, I find, put the pursuit of truth as their core value and strive to make sure their beliefs are true to the best of their ability i.e. they become ‘skeptics’. Conversely, I find some atheists leave their theistic religion and simply replaces it with a secular religion. Based on your comments above I’d say your level of leftist religiosity is probably similar to that of a Unitarian Universalist Christian. Basically, you reject the craziest bits of leftism (i.e. being ‘woke’), but still hold onto enough of it where it makes non believers cringe when they talk to you at a dinner parties. ;)

        Anyhow, I think your essay does a good job of comparing symptoms of theist and secular fundamentalism. If you haven’t checked it out already, I’d highly recommend looking into the Grievance Study Affair and the follow-up interviews that are happening with the purveyors (James Lindsay and Peter Boghossian) in the Trojan Horse series. Basically two liberal atheists sit down with a conservative Christian minister and do a deep dive on the underlying epistemology of ‘woke’ culture. Fascinating stuff.

        Additionally, if you don’t need Christianity to live by the golden rule, then you don’t need Feminism to pursue equality. Ideologies don’t have ownership over values. Just think for yourself. Isn’t this what it’s all about?

        Like

      • I don’t equate the two, and I respect Peter B. (Nor do I equate SJWs and white supremacists, for that matter.) But I have found people who actively identify as MRA are often identitarian to a fault, and unable to acknowledge gender disparities that don’t fit the MRA narrative, which is a counternarrative and so defined in significant part by feminist ideology.

        Like

  29. Gunther says:

    Gee, Carl, what all the babies that die at birth, seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, or months after they were born. They did not have much of a chance to be believers or non-believers.

    Like

  30. Gunther says:

    @Sean

    “Gunther, I suspect few people – if any – wake up in the morning thinking “There is no god, so I can do what I want because I won’t be punished”. I also think there are very few theists who get up in the morning thinking “oh.. I’ll do what I want because god will forgive me anyway”. I just don’t think people really operate like that. IMO, most – whether they believe in a god or not – only really think about themselves in the short-term. They just aren’t overly concerned about the long-term and damaging impact they have on others or their environment.”

    Sean, many people I have met may not get up in the thinking that there is no god, so I can do anything I want to people; however, many of these people are devout followers of right-wing evangelists who twist the Bible around to justify their acts and then tried to twist the Bible that will absolve them of their actions which means that they firmly believe that they will get to heaven despite what they have done to their fellow people.when they die.

    Like

  31. notabilia says:

    So you yelled at a few “Woke” kids to get off your lawn – feel better?
    What gets your goat so much about this alleged “far left”?
    How many oil rigs do they operate?
    How many nuclear bombs do they possess?
    How may judges with extraordinary powers to imprison are part of this alleged “wokeness”?
    How many abortion clinics does the “far left” run?
    How many wars and coups are run by this “far left”?
    How many children’s lives are being destroyed by parental bullying based on alleged tenets of “wokeness”?
    How many American presidents and CEOs and congresspeople and corporate managers and bank executives are “far left”?
    How much of the racism-based US wealth chasm between whites and black/brown is due to this “far left”?
    That would be about zero in that column.
    As for the other side’s social basis point average, I think you, as you say you are on the “left” (though it sounds like you’re getting ready to jump ship) know the score.

    Like

    • Will Shetterly says:

      If there was any evidence that SJW tactics helped any of those causes, you might have an argument. They seem to only polarize people.

      Like

      • notabilia says:

        They “polarize people”? O, the poor people being “polarized”!
        If it’ll help, I’ll go to the 3 “SJW” folks that are allowed by law to live at any one time in any city and tell them to knock it off, and we’ll all be A-OK, non-polarized, simple happy decent centrist people.

        Like

      • Sarcasm is fun but it often obscures the partial truths it reacts against.

        Like

      • Will Shetterly says:

        If you don’t care that they’re hurting the cause they claim to be supporting, okay.

        Also, I’m a socialist. You seem to have missed the fact that many of the people who get called SJWs are neoliberals.

        Like

    • thesseli says:

      The “far left” — those who fit the stereotype of the SJW — are often too busy calling out their fellow leftists because of perceived political impurities than in fighting the far right. It’s much easier to punch sideways than up.

      Like

  32. Did you catch the article in Wired by Robert Wright on the “Myth of Perfectly Rational Thought”? It’s very interesting because it explores the same ideas yo talk about here but from a different angle – in particular how purism, orthodoxy, shaming and so forth apply to the Sam Harris school. Of course they’ve gone so far as to invent special language as well (ie inventing the word “deplatforming” because dis-inviting didn’t serve the purpose of the victimhood narrative.) If you have a moment, have a look because it’s fascinating reading: https://www.wired.com/story/sam-harris-and-the-myth-of-perfectly-rational-thought/

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Pingback: What happened to the political left and why I bailed out? | Observation Blogger

  34. Gunther says:

    @Carl

    “Gunther, though God doesn’t owe an answer to humanity about salvation or any other thing, the salvation of infants is well explained in the Bible. Imagine that!”

    Oh really? I was never given anything in the Bible about the salvation of infants. Instead, I was given the same stories about Adam and Eve, the Jews leaving Egypt, the life of Jesus, etc, year in and year out.

    Like

    • Carl says:

      Gunther, I’m not sure who was “giving you” the Bible, but it is widely available for your perusal from quite a few sources. Though the biblical doctrine of the “age of accountability” is not precise, the bible is clear on either end of this spectrum; babies are not accountable and adults are fully accountable. The account of the salvation of the baby born of David’s adultery with Bathsheba is the clearest certainty of the salvation of infants. https://biblia.com/bible/esv/2%20Sam%2012.21%E2%80%9323

      God is a God of justice, mercy, and grace, not of fairness. If it were fair, we would all go to Hell.

      Like

      • thesseli says:

        I am so very, very thankful I do not worship the “god” of Abraham.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Carl says:

        We all worship something. Perhaps you worship yourself, which is the most common option.

        Like

      • thesseli says:

        No, I’m just a member of a non-Abrahamic religion.

        Like

      • Carl says:

        Really a distinction without a difference.

        Like

      • thesseli says:

        You might think that. I couldn’t possibly comment.

        Like

      • Carl says:

        This is one of many topics in which what I think doesn’t matter. You’re dispute is with God, not me. Ridiculing me doesn’t change anything. My concern for your condition remains the same. I’m just a beggar telling others where I found bread.

        Like

      • thesseli says:

        Your concept of God is not mine. So your opinion of God doesn’t matter to me or my beliefs, just as I’m sure that my opinion on the “God” of Abraham — that it’s actually a demon or an egregore created by the emotions of its followers — doesn’t matter to yours. You have your religion, I have mine, and as long as each person’s religion doesn’t interfere with the practice of someone else’s, that’s fine.

        Like

      • Carl says:

        There was a time I had opinions about God. Not anymore. Opinions don’t matter. I actually hope to interfere as much as I can because 1) it is the only reason for being alive on this Earth, and 2) the consequences are so dire. You responded to someone else about me… perhaps a divine appointment!

        Like

      • Gunther says:

        It was the religious authorities that were giving me the Bible so put the blame on them. They were the ones that were giving me the same stories year in and year out.

        “God is a God of justice, mercy, and grace, not of fairness. If it were fair, we would all go to Hell”.

        If God was of justice, then people would be going to hell. If it is not fairness, then why should we trust in him and believed in him to be fair and just? I guess that why many people dropped out of religion because they don’t believe that there is a divine being that is fair and just?

        Like

    • Carl says:

      Gunther, like you, the vast majority will not even acknowledge their own sin, thus choosing it over God. When one erroneously sees himself as good, God would seem arbitrary and unfair. However you are NOT good. No one is. That he provided the propitiation through his own sacrifice is the very definition of grace.

      Like

      • Gunther says:

        What makes you think that the majority of people choose sin over God considering the fact that most people in the world do not belong to Christianity? What do you mean not good when we have good people in this world? Furthermore, it is usually the bad people that see themselves as good. Furthermore, if a good person is good person, how does it prove that God is arbitrary and unfair?

        So what if God sacrifice his son? It hasn’t stop humans from sinning so it is God’s mistake for creating the human race and giving it free will.

        George Carlin and Stephen Fry believe that God is unfair:

        Like

      • Carl says:

        Gunther, as I said, no one is good. Not one. Not even Christians. The only way to salvation from the deserved consequences is Jesus, the way, the truth, the life. George Carlin was a funny guy but he is in Hell.

        Like

      • Gunther says:

        How do you know Carlin is in Hades? Did the God actually tell you that he is in Hades?

        You have not answered the question about people choosing sin over God considering the fact that many of them belong to other religions and their view of God is totally different from that of Christianity and some of them probably have no concept of sin in their religions.

        Like

      • Perry says:

        What a sad sad man you must be with such self-loathing and misanthropy based on absurdly irrational beliefs, such as the idea that an eternal, omnipotent god who allows its human manifestation to be killed is actually making a sacrifice. According to the myth you believe, Jesus knew he was the son of God and therefore would live forever, so his supposed death on a cross was no sacrifice at all.

        Like

  35. thesseli says:

    Some of the comments on this article have been an excellent demonstration of the rigidity, the self-righteousness, and the condescension we see in many evangelicals and SJW’s. Which kind of proves the point of the article.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. notabilia says:

    Hey, I’ve talked with all the “SJW”s and they’ve agreed with all of the tone-policing going on here. No more “rigidity” – the catchphrase now is “whatever.” No more “righteousness” either – they are going to stop so damn uppity and so damn smug and they are going to be blase, henceforth. And they will give up their new words and terms and strong feelings about racism and the horrors of the alt-right and they are not going to offend anybody on the “left” with their speech, thoughts, or actions, ever.
    Oh, and, of course, no more “sarcasm” – it can never be dead-on, either.
    Wow, is “socialism” going to take off now, with such studied non-offensiveness and adoption of the other side’s pejorative terms duly enforced.

    Like

  37. Gunther says:

    @Carl

    How do you know Carlin is in Hades? Did the God actually tell you that he is in Hades?

    Like

    • Carl says:

      Gunther, he was not saved (by his own outspoken statements) so he is in Hell. He has a lot of company. It is where you’ll go too unless you come to terms with your need. There is good news, but you have to know the bad news first.

      Like

  38. Gunther says:

    @Carl

    You have not answered the question about people choosing sin over God considering the fact that many of them belong to other religions and their view of God is totally different from that of Christianity and some of them probably have no concept of sin in their religions.

    Like

    • Carl says:

      Gunther, I did answer the question. Religion doesn’t matter, since it is a creation of man. I don’t have a religion. There is only one way to God. Their religions are no different than atheism.

      Like

      • Carl, I’d like to ask you to please stop proselytizing on my website. Most of my readers are former Christians, and they are perfectly familiar with the verses, dogmas, and the mantras of Evangelicalism. As persuasive as they are to you, they are not persuasive to us. There is no need for you to keep repeating them here.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Carl says:

        Valarie, he asked the question and I answered it. Truth is truth. I will respect your desire to be spared it.

        Like

  39. Thanks for bringing this up and exploring the landscape so thoroughly. In a political time when it’d be good to find allies, the Left seems to delight in attacking those who are kinda on the right track but not completely.

    Like

  40. Susan McLean says:

    Wow. Phenomenal article.

    Like

  41. Did you really dismiss intersectionality? I get why your white male readers are good with that but wow.

    Like

    • Hi Andrew – I don’t mean to dismiss the concept of intersectionality. As first articulated by Kimberly Crenshaw, I think it’s very useful in understanding how different kinds of oppression or disadvantage both accumulate and have interaction effects on people affected. But the term as interpreted by some folks has become a quasi-religious concept that defines people rather than offering hypotheses about individual experience or group norms. I wrote about that with a little more sophistication (though perhaps not enough) here. https://valerietarico.com/2018/03/30/political-narrative-ii-why-some-progressives-are-tearing-each-other-apart/

      Liked by 1 person

      • Honestly, my biggest problem with posts like this one–I came to your site via Seth Andrews, btw–is that you’re not naming names. You’re attributing these characteristics to wide swathes, then walking it back. I’m sure you’re very busy but I highly recommend the introduction to the chapter, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, in Blair Imani’s MODERN HERSTORY.

        Among other things, it’s a literal “professional Woke” sinking your “Black and White” section. I’m actually not trying to be a jackass in that recommendation, I think everyone should read it, but it’s rather relevant here.

        But mostly I just hate the lack of naming names. If you have a problem with someone, point it out. It leads to comment threads full of cishet white men telling you how right you are. And if history has told us anything, cishet white men are a godawful population.

        Like

  42. I don’t know how you can critique me for overgeneralizing, which may be fair enough, and then a few sentences later say “cishet white men are a godawful population.” I personally cherish and respect quite a number of cishet white men, many of whom are as decent, generous, high integrity, open minded and kind as any queer, female or POC that I know, and more so than some.

    Liked by 1 person

  43. rob bullock says:

    Good Morning Valerie,
    Thank you for this article and for appearing on the Thinking Atheist podcast. Don’t worry about the heat you receive from those who are offended by what you wrote about in this article.
    I used to think that those on the extreme religious right were the biggest internal threat to our republic; however, I have recently been convinced that the moderates on the right and the moderates on left both need to fight the extremist in their own tribes.
    I value the opinion and intellect of a person, not the identity someone will chain themselves too.

    Like

    • Hi Rob –
      Thank you for your kind words. So far I’m not getting any heat about the show. I personally still think the extreme right is the biggest threat to our republic, but like you i also am now convinced that moderates on the Right and Left both need to fight the extremism in their own tribes. Certainly nobody on the outside can do so.

      Like

      • I see it in terms of the reactionary mind. It is true that those on the political right tend to be more overtly stereotypical in their reactionary rhetoric and behavior. Still, liberals and left-wingers are far from immune. There was a period of time when I wanted to get more involved with leftist political organizing. But I was turned off from it once I realized how much reactionary attitudes permeated most groups. It was a toxic environment and I had to leave it for the sake of my mental health.

        It seems to me that our entire society has become reactionary or at least highly prone to it. I suspect it partly has to do with the rate of change that has sped up and is hard for humans to adapt to, and so causes immense stress, anxiety and fear. These are abnormal conditions for humans and evolution didn’t give us the coping abilities for dealing with long-term continuous stressors. I like this description of the phenomenon:

        https://newrepublic.com/article/76822/the-look-time

        ““A man of the past”—recently I had been re-reading John Stuart Mill’s essay, “The Spirit of the Age” (1831), and was taken by the peculiar way he employed that phrase. The essay is about what it is like to live in an age of “change,” what it was doing to people, existentially speaking. Mill thought that “men are then divided, into those who are still what they were, and those who have changed.” I expected the first group to be those who have been left behind—the superannuated—and the second to be the men of progress. But Mill thought it was the opposite: those who embrace change are “men of the present age”; by changing with the times they stay the same. Those who do not change with the times are changed into “men of the past.” To the former, “the spirit of the age is a subject of exultation; to the latter, of terror.” It then occurred to me how, because of the incessant speed of the Internet, no one is able to change fast enough to remain in the present; we were all being turned into “men of the past.””

        High inequality also appears to be a major factor in causing people to become aggressive and act in very strange ways. Most on the left can tolerate more cognitive dissonance and cognitive load than those on the right, as studies show. But we all have our limits and our breaking points. Inequality, in particular, pushes nearly everything and everyone to the extremes. Corey Robin is good at explaining the reactionary mind of the political right, but he doesn’t grasp how this affects all of society. A better writer on how a society goes mad with a specific focus on inequality is Keith Payne in his book The Broken Ladder:

        “Inequality affects our actions and our feelings in the same systematic, predictable fashion again and again. It makes us shortsighted and prone to risky behavior, willing to sacrifice a secure future for immediate gratification. It makes us more inclined to make self-defeating decisions. It makes us believe weird things, superstitiously clinging to the world as we want it to be rather than as it is. Inequality divides us, cleaving us into camps not only of income but also of ideology and race, eroding our trust in one another. It generates stress and makes us all less healthy and less happy.”

        https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2017/06/25/inequality-means-no-center-to-moderate-toward/

        https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2017/06/26/on-conflict-and-stupidity/

        Liked by 1 person

  44. Kate Toldness says:

    Thank you for the article Valerie! I found myself in pretty much complete agreement. I am a liberal, an old-school feminist who firmly believes that women are people (and sometimes people suck). I am also it seems in the current climate a heretic.
    I am also an atheist. I detest not just specific doctrines of religion but the thought processes behind them. I believe any doctrine of original sin be it religious or secular is immoral. People have enough to do being responsible for their own actions.
    My SO once fell through a Woke blog hole online and apologized to me profusely for all the ills of white males throughout history. I replied by apologizing for prohibition. “Women get the vote and what is the first thing we do but support one of the most boneheaded policies America has ever seen.” He looked at my and said “but you didn’t vote for any of those people or policies. You’re not to blame.” And I said, “Exactly. If I’m not to blame for prohibition, then how are you to blame for what white men have done in the past?”
    I question the need to constantly point out white, male privilege. Because I view these privileges as paltry substitutes for the real benefits of equality. I want to talk to that unemployed man from Appalachia, validate his experiences of being poor and ground down and help him see ways his life might be better given equality.
    I think we do need male allies in feminism. But I’d like them to join us not out of guilt but because of actual shared goals which I think exist.

    Liked by 1 person

  45. Thank you, Benjamin. That was a valuable addition to the article. Much appreciated.

    Liked by 1 person

  46. J says:

    Feel the same way.
    I was in a “racism and privilege” group. It brought me straight back to sitting in a church youth group feeling like the only non believer in the class.

    I have been thinking about this for a long time. Great to see it articulate so well.

    Like

  47. humanist7 says:

    Nothing to contribute, Valerie. I just want to say how much i enjoyed your piece. And thank you for asking Carl to quit. I find nothing quite so annoying as a believer in an imaginary god trying to get the rest of us to believe before it’s “TOO LATE!”

    Like

  48. melhpine says:

    Reblogged this on Truly Open Minds and Hearts and commented:
    Valerie Tarico lays it all out here. — MHP

    Like

  49. At least SJWs have some truth in their worldview. As a matter of fact, evangelicals and other religious fundies are wholly responsible for much of, if not most of, the oppression suffered by women, minorities, and children throughout history.

    Like

  50. Nihal Jayamanne PC says:

    Why not Evagalists and the Wokes just live a simple life without complicating every thing…….your type are the cause of misery for self and others who have the misfortune of coming into contact with you.
    Sin and discrimination is what your type is feeding on… you are welcome to rot in this cess pit.
    Let the simple folk be… they are by and large normal people…..happier than your lot.
    There are billions of people who are content with their lot/life …… they are happier than your lot

    Like

  51. jokermtb says:

    “ Prayer works, at best, at the margins of statistical significance. ”. Why hedge your bet with that assertion? Prayer is really at best, a type of meditation, with no magical properties to affect reality. Aside from this small point, this essay is spot on. Well done

    Like

  52. Hazrat says:

    The problem with atheists is that they paint believers with one brush. Not everyone associates themselves with organized religion and it’s true that a lot of it got corrupted over the years. BUT, the essence of any religion is one in the same, it has not changed and survived the test of time.

    Like

  53. Pdas says:

    Thanks you for your thoughts. Your have a way of getting to the heart of the matter in an eloquent way.

    Like

  54. Dave Rieke says:

    It seems to me, Valerie, that almost all of your critique of evangelicalism and social justice activism could be said equally of every worldview/philosophy of life. I have found that communists, atheists, anarchists, libertarians, animal rights activists, BLM, #MeToo, etc. are all equally dogmatic and equally likely to demean their detractors (as your article does, I think). Perhaps it isn’t ideally educational or charitable to say, “Unlike most worldviews, these two worldviews really bug me because their proponents have strong opinions and because they disrespect their detractors.” Perhaps a logical presentation of the best data available, for one specific issue at a time–capitalism, institutional racism, democracy, etc.–would turn down the outrage of our culture a couple decibels.

    Like

  55. Helen Hupe says:

    What is your center? What positive attitude do you espouse? What is your function in life? Are you content to be a critic of others or do you consider yourself to be a part of something greater than yourself. I really would like to know because I see that you are quite the thinker!

    Like

  56. Robin Auld says:

    I have for some years now been thinking that the primness of the Woke echoes more and more the tight lipped Presbyterians of my Scottish childhood town. Burn’s poem “Address to the Unco Guid” refers…”Oh ye wha are sae guid yersel, so pious and so holy” …and
    “What maks the mighty differ;
    Discount what scant occasion gave,
    That purity ye pride in;
    And (what’s aft mair than a’ the lave),
    Your better art o’ hidin.”
    In 100 years students will be studying this idealogical phenomon with the same curiosity as we study Victorian mores.

    Like

  57. PixelHell says:

    I think better comparisons can be made between the woke left and the alt-right. Both are obsessed with identity politics. Richard Spencer frequently uses terms like “white identity”, and many alt-right groups have the word Identity in the names of their organizations, eg. Identity Evropa.

    Like

  58. Lucy says:

    This is a bit comical, but I am a former feminist/postmodernist turned evangelical! We seem to have switched places to some degree. I have many of the same woes with the far left, and consider myself a libertarian, or a classical liberal. I also acknowledge much of the harmful history in the evangelical church, even as I love my own. I appreciated your critical thought of both.

    I came to feel emotionally manipulated by the left, and found that complete compliance is expected. If you move one degree to the right, you become the opposition.. It’s truly an exhausting game, and one that leads to conformity… it sacrifices the very individualism they claim to value.

    But, I wanted to challenge something you mentioned about evangelical Christianity. You said that you were a “believer among believers”. You used your church involvement on Sundays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, your Alma Matter, and experience as a camp counselor to defend where you were in the evangelical world. I have no doubt you were enmeshed into that world! But, that is incredibly different from being entangled in a personal relationship with Jesus. You didn’t mention any of that in your history as an evangelical.

    I have been burned by the church, have been angry for my excluded friends, and have wrestled with my womanhood and what that means in light of scripture… oh, what a process!

    But, as I understand the gravity of my own sin, and the weight of what Christ has done on my behalf, no amount of criticism I have for the church can lead me to leave it. It seems you were face to face with church culture, but maybe not face to face with the living God. At the end of the day, our purpose is to be reconciled to God, not reconciled to the church (though hopefully that can be a bi-product). I am terribly sorry that this is all very assuming! But I would love to talk with you and hear more about what your relationship with God looked like outside of your relationship with the church, and also invite you to my church in Birmingham, AL, if you’re ever in the neighborhood :)

    thank you for your thoughts in this article!
    (I apologize if this comment has posted already.. having technical difficulties with wordpress!)

    Like

    • Thank you for your gracious comment, Lucy, and for your candor. My personal relationship with Jesus was very important to me both during my years of church involvement and even as I moved away from the church toward a more idiosyncratic sense of worship. So, it wasn’t church hypocrisy that stopped fitting for me. It was that I gradually came to understand God and goodness in a different way that seemed less shaped in our own image and, as I learned more about humanity’s multi-millennial spiritual quest,, including the roots of the Bible and Christianity, that ceased to fit theism or eventually deism.

      I love your kindness and invitation.
      Warmly,
      Valerie

      Like

    • If you don’t mind me jumping in, I had some thoughts. It’s interesting that, although irritated, I never felt exactly manipulated by the left nor felt that what went for the left was particularly ‘far left’. Many activists on the left often felt rather ‘conservative’ or ‘reactionary’ to me, in the psychological sense… more conventional and normative than radical.

      I’ve never found the American left to be all that threatening, at least not in my lifetime. The American left has been mostly disorganized and weak, since FBI COINTELPRO destroyed the truly radical leftist movements that once existed. The bickering and divisive left we now see is the remnants and aftermath of that earlier time.

      The failing now is that the left is often barely to the left at all. For example, Bernie Sanders gets portrayed as a radical left-winger, but when you look at his actual views they are smack dab in the middle of public opinion. That would oddly mean that the vast majority of Americans are radical left-wingers with even leading Democratic politicians typically being to the right of that.

      On the other hand, my viewpoint is biased by having been raised in a liberal church. But it also was a church that came out of the evangelical tradition. There was a strong emphasis on having a personal relationship with or personal experience of God/Christ. The church I grew up in was doing same sex marriages during my childhood in the ’80s and probably long before I was born. I’m fine with a certain kind of political correctness, as it was common in that religious tradition such as referring to the divine in various gendered or non-gendered terms.

      I’m curious if you’re familiar with the writings of Thomas Paine. In The Age of Reason, he strongly criticized Christianity as organized religion, even as he admired the teachings of Jesus. He did so as a deist. His position was once more common, as he wasn’t the only American founder who was deist. Thomas Jefferson famously cut up the Bible to remove the claims of miracles he considered false.

      Anyway, I suspect Paine was influenced by his father’s Quakerism. That tradition emphasizes the personal relationship aspect over the demands of organized religion.

      Like

      • Gunther Von Hoffman says:

        The left was never allowed to grow in the USA long before the FBI COINTELPRO operations had occurred. You had the Palmer Raids, the Socialist Party of Oklahoma being taken down in the 1920 and 30s, communists being hounded by the police when they were organizing the workers in the early 20th century, no multiple diverse political parties were allowed to grow in the USA, etc.

        Liked by 1 person

      • @Gunther – I basically agree. But COINTELPRO was the killing strike. There was still some active radicalism of that time, if not as radical as it had been earlier in the century. We now think of the South as conservative, but it once was a hot bed for labor organizing. This was not only for Appalachian mining communities but also blacks in the Deep South. There was even cross-racial labor organizing in the Deep South, even in one case where the KKK provided security. Imagine that! Radical cross-racial labor organizing with Klansmen protected by the Klan.

        It’s true that left-wing movements in the late 1800s to early 1900s was like nothing seen since. Back then, there were mass movements sometimes involving hundreds of thousands of participants. They had mass strikes, they marched on state capitals, they camped out on the White House lawn, and they even fought back with guns when anyone tried to take their rights away. The political left was already on the wane by the time the ’60s came around. But even then, there was radicalism. Many on the left realized that it was desperate times and so they sought out solidarity for protection — together we stand, divided we hang. What people today forget is that why groups like the Black Panthers were so feared wasn’t merely because they were blacks with guns but because they reached out to ally with other groups: feminists, Native Americans, and poor whites.

        Here is something I wrote about that era:
        https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2014/09/23/poverty-in-black-and-white/

        I was reading a book about the activism and organizing of poor and working class whites during the 60s: Hillbilly Nationalists, Urban Race Rebels, and Black Power by Amy Sonnie and James Tracy. It is about how these white groups formed alliances with black groups in common cause, both groups dealing with poverty and oppression. The book is eye-opening. This isn’t any history you were ever taught or even likely to have come across. As far as I know, this is the first book written about it. In one instance, the Klan provided protection to a black group during a strike that blacks and whites were organizing together. That is hard to imagine, but it happened (Kindle Locations 149-154):

        “We organized a meeting of Movement organizers, including members of the Republic of New Afrika (RNA), for the Patriots delegation. At the time, the New Orleans chapters of the Southern Conference Education Fund (SCEF) and the RNA were working together supporting a strike by pulp mill workers in Laurel, Mississippi, not far outside New Orleans. Virginia Collins , the local RNA leader and one of the organization’s founders, told the Patriots about the white and Black workers who had been enemies before the strike but were now working together. She shared that the local Klan actually provided security for the SCEF and RNA organizers when they came to hold meetings, and that sometimes they met in the Black Baptist church, sometimes in the white Baptist church.”

        One group was the Young Patriots. They were lower class white Southerners who had moved North. They all lived in a neighborhood in Chicago where poverty and unemployment was rampant. These were the poorest of the poor whites. So, just like poor blacks, they organized. But they never got the attention from the MSM. Even the middle class white activists largely ignored them. Poor Southern whites were supposed to be the bad guys, but some blacks were able to empathize. It took the Black Panthers to acknowledge these struggling whites (Kindle Locations 262-266):

        “The Young Patriots’ own chairman, William Fesperman, even let some heartfelt gratitude show in between jibes about the “pig power structure” when he explained how the Patriots came to be at the conference: “Our struggle is beyond comprehension to me sometimes and I felt for a long time [that poor whites] was forgotten … that nobody saw us. Until we met the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party and they met us and we said let’s put that theory into practice.” Summing up why they had all come to Oakland, he added, “We want to stand by our brothers, our brothers, dig?””

        Like

      • I guess it’s too early in the morning. I wrote that, “Radical cross-racial labor organizing with Klansmen protected by the Klan.” I meant to say that the Klansmen were protecting black labor organizers. The world is a lot more complex than gets portrayed in mainstream narratives.

        The world we now exist in was created through mass and often violent oppression combined with propaganda campaigns. We are able to sit around complaining about political correctness and wokeness because any left-wing movement as a serious threat was systematically destroyed generations ago.

        Like

      • Gunther Von Hoffman says:

        Thank you for the book. I will be ordering it at my local library since they have a zip book program where the federal government provides funding for the libraries so people can read books without having to pay for it themselves.

        Liked by 1 person

  59. Allan says:

    What I find missing from these debates about religion and human behaviour is a discussion about the origins of religion in antiquity, in early humankind. It’s an important perspective given humankinds relatively short time on earth. As has been pointed out by others, the fundemental fact is that all life forms eventually die one way or another and that while alive there is a need to consume other lifeforms in order to remain alive. Religion began with the observation that life is cyclical – birth, life, death, rebirth. All the myths boil down to this. In terms of humanity, psychology is a key factor that is often neglected. Religion was born from fear of death and a notion that death is caused by outside influences. This neccesitates sacrificing to these influences to curry life prolonging favour. Early humans projected like crazy, which suggests a lingering aspect to human nature. Study the origins of magic to find clues to the origin of religion. From these early beginnings, the human mind has come to a point where individual and group numanistic experiences, proves the existence of a higher power, whether it be a god or the self. This is the mystical nature of humanity that most depend on for psychological survival. I speak of antiquity but that is only in human terms. In terms of the universe as we know it today, humanity just came about a fraction of a second ago. We have a lot of evolving to do.

    Like

  60. I found your article last night after writing this article. All the best in your work and bringing sanity and balance to the political sphere. https://medium.com/@eliotmay_68700/think-before-you-shoot-sane-advice-reflecting-on-the-political-landscape-75c7353d0d9a

    Like

  61. ytttu y says:

    short, to the point, and no bullshit. well done

    Like

  62. …I’m only semi literate, that’s why I find it hard to conceptualize how a cosmic Jewish zombie can make you symbolically eat his flesh and then telepathically tell him that you accept him as your master, so that he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree. Maybe you can help us with that? Do tell.

    Liked by 1 person

  63. Amy says:

    As a former Evangelical Christian and young person who was caught up in the “woke liberal movement” this article deeply speaks to me. I studied Sociology in college and was all aboard the woke social justice train for a while, but then, through listening to others voices and stories (mainly podcasts and friends) I realized how repressive the extreme left is. I also moved to the San Francisco area and saw some ideas being taken way too far. I was backing off my social justice soap box and learning to hold my ideals a little more loosely, recognizing I was young and probably didn’t know everything (but that I also did have some fire and theres some real injustice we need to talk about). As I came to realize this I would explain to people, “Well I used to be a totally sold out Christian then came to realize I was wrong and lied to about A LOT, so now I hold my beliefs (social, political, spiritual) a little more loosely). This article REALLY echoes what I’ve experienced on my own. THANK YOU.

    Like

  64. KayinColwyn says:

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    By logging in you’ll post the following comment to The Righteous and the Woke – Why Evangelicals and Social Justice Warriors Trigger Me in the Same Way:

    Hi Valerie, I’m a little late to the party here as I only just now ran across this article today, but just wanted to thank you for writing it and sharing it. :)

    I’m an ex evangelical Christian like yourself, and while I am still open to spirituality and open to there being some kind of transcendant or metaphysical reality behind things in large part because of my own personal experiences, even so I am averse to much of religion, or more specifically fundamentalist religion, because of my own negative experiences with evangelicalism.

    My experience with evangelicalism is a long story so I will just say that it wasn’t completely negative and I learned some important lessons from it, but it was definitely hellish at times and much of it was a ‘dark night of the soul’, if you want to call it that.

    Anyways, I’ve always been a registered Democrat and leaned a little left even when I was an evangelical, and I dabbled in ‘woke’ culture a little bit after leaving the church, but quickly realized what you did, that it had very much the same mentality behind it, the same old bullshit I had gotten out of.

    To be fair I have also seen this kind of thing in my observations of and experiences with militant atheism and far right ideology, as that kind of dogmatic zealous mentality can exist as much in those worlds as in militant theism and far left ideology.

    Part of it is the irrational or twisted doctrines that get thrown around in these religious or political ideologies, but a bigger part I think is that same dogmatic and zealous mentality, that same lack of humility and lack of willingness to try to dialogue and find some common ground, that people can fall into.

    Im my experience not all theists or atheists, nor all liberals or conservatives, are this way, in fact most aren’t as far as I can tell, and are more or less decent and reasonable people, but there are enough who are like that, and they are loud and influential enough, that it makes life more difficult for all of us who are just trying to live our lives and find a path that makes sense to both head and heart.

    Of course I have to keep in mind that it really isn’t the people who are trapped in that mentality, but rather the mentality itself, which is almost like a disease that can infect people.
    It’s tempting to harshly judge people like that, but I know I really shouldn’t when I been infected with that kind of mentality myself at different times in my life.

    I guess what I am looking for is a balance between healthy skepticism and open-mindedness, between caution and curiosity, and want to try to weigh different sides on different issues as best I can and find a more nuanced and balanced view, and I imagine that I’m not alone in this.

    Well anyways, just wanted to comment here, and thank you again, and while I may not have agreed with you on everything here I did resonate with much of it and it definitely spoke to me and put into words much of what I have been thinking for awhile now.

    Like

  65. Pingback: SJW, Horseshoe Theory dan the Woke Culture – AMF life

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