In my post “A Church of Liberalism,” commenter “The Man Who Was…” objects strenuously to my identification of liberalism as a religion. He maintains his position despite my pointing out that liberalism answers all the deep questions of life, that it demands worship and devotion, and so on. He thinks it grossly improper to call liberalism a religion.
The dispute comes down to the question of what the word “religion” means, and whether one believes it proper to use the word “religion,” as I have, to refer to something that fulfills most of the traditional aspects of religion without being a religion in the full and literal sense. Obviously liberalism is not a formally constituted “religion” in the textbook sense. But it has enough similarities with religion that I did not think anyone would object to my use of the word.
Because in calling liberalism a “religion” I am identifying crucial things about it that its followers almost never admit, especially to themselves. Liberalism dogmatically answers all of the big questions of life. It expects its followers to worship diversity and nonjudgmentalism, among other things, and this includes its demand that one value these things more than your life or the life of your nation. Liberalism has pastors and theologians in the persons of professors, therapists, and so on. And liberalism is the not-officially-acknowledged state “religion” of all the Western nations, in the sense that all good people are supposed to follow its teachings.
If, therefore, you insist on using another word than “religion” to describe liberalism, you are formally correct, I suppose. Bur you’re depriving yourself of an important way to think and speak about liberalism. For liberalism is not just a system of thought. Like a religion, it gives meaning to the lives of its followers and inspires them to great devotion. This is why conventional conservative activism has been unable to hold back the liberal juggernaut: Liberalism is not just a political platform, something that never inspires very much devotion in John Q. Public.
No, liberalism is something much deeper, more organic, more inspiring, more soul-grabbing. The strongest word that one can use here is religion. To call liberalism anything less is to miss its satanic power. Liberalism is a religion, and in order to have any chance of successfully opposing it, we must oppose it with the only thing that has a chance to defeat a religion: another, truer religion. And that would be Christianity.