Liberalism is a Religion, For That Gives it its Satanic Power

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.

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31 thoughts on “Liberalism is a Religion, For That Gives it its Satanic Power

  1. I agree that Liberalism/ Leftism is a religion – especially since religions do not need to have a god – but it is a religion which denies it is a religion. On the other hand, there is a sense in which all religions simply claim to be the truth, and therefore not a religion.

    Liberalism simply claims to be the truth about things and that is how it seems from the inside (so long as you don’t follow lines of reasoning more than one or two steps).

    Also, Liberalism is sustained by its willingness to reject opposition on the basis that it is motivated by evil people of bad intent – who do not need to be answered but instead defeated. This is a religious stance.

    What Liberalism is not (or not meaningfully) is a Christian heresy. Of course, since the West was Christian, and Liberalism developed in the West, then there is an intellectual lineage connecting Liberalism and Christianity; but Liberalism is a reaction *against* Christianity – indeed that is its primary root.

    Liberalism stepwise rejected Holy Mysteries, Jesus, God and gods, and now Natural Law. It retains a few Christian similarities, of course, but it is as anti-Christian as anything can be – and this is not really a matter for debate, if we know the fate of Christians in several communist societies (but, in fact, not many people do know this – which is another triumph of Liberalism/ Leftism).

    Liberalism – yes it is a religion, but it is not meaningfully a Christian heresy.

    • Bruce,

      You state “…Liberalism simply claims to be the truth about things and that is how it seems from the inside (so long as you don’t follow lines of reasoning more than one or two steps).

      Also, Liberalism is sustained by its willingness to reject opposition on the basis that it is motivated by evil people of bad intent – who do not need to be answered but instead defeated. This is a religious stance.”

      Substitute the word Conservatism for Liberalism and what have you? Now try Christianity. From over here, it fits — all too well.

      Just sayin,
      M

      • That is exactly what he said. Liberalism is just like Christianity in all those ways we’re supposed to gasp and feel ashamed about. Might as well pick the best religion.

    • You might want to actually learn something about the history of liberalism, which is a product of…wait for it…English Protestantism. If you want to read a true proto-liberal, check out the political tracts of John Milton.

      There you’ll find a defense of republicanism, a qualified freedom of the press, disestablishment, a qualified religious toleration (though keep in mind that John Locke’s was similarly qualified and likewise excluded the same groups — Catholics and atheists), even the morality of DIVORCE (sure the raise the hackles of many here!).

      Nor was Milton an isolated eccentric. Many of his ideas were shared by the Levellers and other Dissenter movements at the time. English Protestantism even engendered PROTO-COMMUNIST movements like the Diggers! And since the continental Enlightenment philosophes took much of their inspiration from the English model, yes, we are indeed dealing with the real roots of liberalism here, no matter how much certain Christians would prefer to continue wearing their blinkers.

      So please, spare me and others the bullshit that liberalism emerged solely as a “reaction against Christianity.” As Spengler said: “Christian theology is the grandmother of Bolshevism.”

      • I do agree that Bolshevism would probably not exist without Christianity, but you should remember that Charlton and a lot of other commentators are not big fans of the Reformation anyways.

      • Says Drieu (speaking through Spengler) “Christian theology is the grandmother of Bolshevism.”

        Meaning that Christianity is responsible, in large measure, for Communism and Leftism.

        Even if that could be established (a highly questionable hypothesis), the fact remains that today, in the world with which we must actually deal, the Left regards Christianity as its deadliest enemy.

        (Real Christianity, that is, not liberal pseudo-Christianity.)

  2. Not only is it a religion, it’s a Trinitarian religion. Its god is Liberty, Fraternity and Equality. It’s a Satanic parody (literally “counter-song”) of Christianity. Like any good parody, it uses a lot of the same language and terminology as the original so it fools thoughtless people.

  3. “If, therefore, you insist on using another word than “religion” to describe liberalism, you are formally correct, I suppose.” [my emphasis, RP]

    Liberalism is to religion as carbon monoxide is to oxygen in the lungs.

  4. Robert Pinkerton is using an analogy similar to the one I would use. Leftism is to religion as phyto-estrogens are to estrogens.

    There are “estrogen-shaped holes” all over the place in the human body. Phyto-estrogens (which are not exactly the same chemically as human estrogens), fit into these holes not-quite-exactly-right and therefore have some but not all of the properties of estrogens.

    There is a religion-shaped hole in the human psyche. Leftism (which is almost but not quite a religion) fits it not-quite-right.

    A nit, though. CO has its analogically bad action in the blood rather than the lungs, doesn’t it? It likes to bind to hemoglobin. In fact, it likes it so much that it won’t let go very easily.

    • You corrected me with the respectful manner of one gentleman to another; and for that courtesy, no irony express nor implied, I thank you. There are places where civility is absent in the virtual as well as in the material world. Regrettably, it is often necessary to traverse these places in order to reach one’s desired destination. Though I am not of your Community of Faith — but often concurring on mundane sociopolitical situations — I find this site equivalent to an oasis.

      Bright Blessings.

  5. Not only have I no difficulty in perceiving the religiosity of liberalism, but I have understood liberalism as a substitute-religion for a long time, maybe since first encountering Eric Voegelin’s analysis of modernity thirty years ago. Strictly speaking, liberalism deserves the descriptor of an anti-religion, since one of the ways in which it constitutes itself is by its resentment against and relentless war upon received religion. It is well-known that through implacable hostility one thing can come to resemble that which it execrates and assaults. So it is with liberalism, or, to invoke liberalism’s other name, modernity: Those whose obsessive goal is the destruction of all churches tend to become a church themselves, or rather an anti-church. Formally, the anti-church will hardly be distinguishable from a church, and indeed one of liberalism-modernity’s early forms was Unitarianism, a confession for atheists who were, in the social context of their time, too embarrassed to call themselves that and who therefore camouflaged their profound unbelief under the rhetoric of Transcendentalism and pantheism. As it has developed, liberalism-modernity has come to resemble another religion, Islam, in its zealous prohibition of inquiry and its habit of issuing fatwas. (The latest fatwa is aimed at an enterprise called Chick-Fil-A.) This convergence of liberalism-modernity and Islam should surprise no one, for Islam too is an anti-religion, seeking, in a crudely gnostic manner, to trump Judaism and Christianity, on hatred of which it appears largely established. Liberalism-modernity and Islam resemble each other in another way: Both are crusading sects of the gnostic type that will never rest in their campaigns to subdue the entire world until or unless they are utterly, humiliatingly defeated. The widespread inability to see plainly the scale of ambition and implacability of the enemies of order and civilization explains much of the success of those enemies in the last one hundred years.

    • “Both are crusading sects of the gnostic type that will never rest in their campaigns to subdue the entire world until or unless they are utterly, humiliatingly defeated. The widespread inability to see plainly the scale of ambition and implacability of the enemies of order and civilization explains much of the success of those enemies in the last one hundred years.”

      Sounds a lot like Catholicism under the guise of Christianity to me.

      All the same coin (not-truth). All the same goal (power). All the same result (death).
      M

  6. 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.

    Only someone who *refuses* to understand will object to that use.

    ‘Religion’ isn’t about rituals, it isn’t belonging to this group or that, it is about fundamental world-view.

  7. LIberalism. Conservatism. Fundamentalism. They’re all the same picture – deceptions – but using different colors in the lines.

    Everybody is right but everybody is wrong…

    The basic error is following someone else – believing what someone else says, doing what someone else says – because that someone is an “expert”. This also applies to all religions (as well as to medicine, science, politics, etc.).

    Example: A certain man appears who really understands the truth – knows it, lives it. He shares it with others. Like the ripples from a stone thrown into a pond, the simple truth that this man speaks spreads to others. Then the man dies. Now where is the ‘center’? Where is the expert? Where is the living truth? Few actually saw/knew it to begin with. So now they begin to try to cement it into place. They take the living truth and turn it into dogma. They deem themselves the experts. In order for the experts to feel like experts, all non-believers must be convinced.

    It’s always the same. Yesterday, the man’s name was Christ. Today the dogma is Christianity. The living truth has become obscured. The blind are leading the blind. Few see. Few understand. Yet they go on spouting/spreading the dogma/deception.

    For the record, I believe in God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob, I believe in HIs Son, am told I am very spiritual, and read/study/search my Bible as well as the living truth.
    M

    • The basic error is following someone else

      This puts me in mind of one of my obsessions, the “you’ve got to think for yourselves” scene from Monty Python’s _Life of Brian_.

      While watching (it’s only a minute long, and it is really, really good), I suggest meditating on four questions. First, does SprinklinThoughts think he is Brian or does he think he is a member of the crowd? Second, is he, in fact, Brian or is he a member of the crowd? Third, is Brian, in fact, a member of the crowd? Finally, just who or what is really being satirized in that scene?

  8. Catholicism as an institution, having to be implemented by human beings, often reflects the flaws of the human and all-too-human personnel on whom it relies for its existence in the world. The Catholic Church differs from the liberal-modern church and Islam in one supremely important way: Catholic doctrine has never sought the annihilation of everything not-itself. St. Basil of Caesarea, St. Augustine, and numerous other Fathers of the Church defended the integrity of pagan thought, and Basil urged that civilized people needed to study “pagan letters.” The current Pope cites among other telltale signs of de-civilization what he names explicitly as de-Hellenization, the trend of expelling and forgetting the Greek and Roman elements in the Western tradition. In Islam the zealots machine-gun statuary Buddhas and even speak, as now in Egypt, of pulling down the pyramids. It is hard to fathom the fathomless nihilism of these acts and these stated intentions. Liberalism too seeks the annihilation of everything not-itself.

    Pardoning the bluntness of it, but the insipidity of “Sprinklin Thoughts’s” thoughts is betrayed when he writes, “the basic error is following someone else,” a statement that follows uncountable previous statements by the founders (if that were the word) of liberalism and modernity. (The “because he’s an expert” part of the sentence is irrelevant.) I name Emerson and Whitman just to start. It’s another version of the tired old “do you own thing” or “march to your own drummer.” Yes, let’s all march to our own drummer, together! The statement is, in other words, the most jejune, unoriginal utterance that it is possible to utter.

    Respecting the iteration, “I am told I am very spiritual,” let us grant it. Every single gnostic-conformist with whom I have ever conversed has inserted into the dialogue thirty seconds after it begins the aside that, “I am, of course, a very spiritual person.” I have a response to this: Do you jump over your spirit, or does it jump over you?

    • Instead of religion one could use ideology, ersatz religion, religion substitute (but not substitute religion), metaphysic.

      Instead of worship one could use commitment, devotion, maybe even belief.

  9. Religion at a minimum has to concern the relation between man and personal beings or quasi-personal realities that transcend the mundane world in some way.

  10. @TMWW – I did not use the word religion to refer to Political Correctness (Leftism, Liberalism) in my Thought Prison book, and instead used terms like ideology, world view – so to that extent I agree with you that it can be unhelpful to do so (and a distraction)

    - but Jim Kalb used the R word in the blurb he did (at my request) for the book, and that was printed on the back cover – so I do not object to the usage, I do not think it is wrong (and for some people the R word perhaps helps them recognize that in Leftism we are not simply dealing with a disguised selfish corruption, but that this is underpinned by a genuine idealism).

    Incidentally, you may or may not be aware that serious, orthodox, traditionalist Christians usually hate the word and concept of RELIGION – ‘since’ it has been used for many decades as a stalking horse to relativize and dissolve Christian belief.

    For example the academic subject of Religious Studies (comparative religion) tends to be (and was founded to be) anti-Christian in effect (and in terms of the students recruited and the faculty employed) – since it treats all religions (and non-institutional spiritualities) as equally ‘valid’ and applies secular analysis (sociology, psychology etc) to religious topics.

    Indeed, *before* I was a Christian I had been working for some years in the researching the psychology of ‘religiousness’ (effects on happiness, personality correlates, fertility etc) – so I can vouch for the fact that an interest in religions is at least orthogonal (if not opposed) to Christianity.

    Religion is a kind of New Age concept – as with Prince Charles who is apparently pro-Religious, and advocates that people should have ‘a’ religion – or the Leftist advocacy of ‘faith schools’ under Tony Blair. In a Christian context all such views are both anti-Christian in effect (only allowing Leftist-pseudo-Christianity to operate), and also serve to support and grow other religions/ minorities.

  11. “Liberalism” is almost certainly pre-religion. Definitely pre-Christianity. “Liberalism” at its origin is a primitive ACTION. A self-annihilating action. The first and most primitive “liberal” archetype was/is the homosexual. “Liberalism” is the political expression of homosexual’s self-annihilating “nature.”

  12. Pingback: Liberalism and the religion-shaped hole in the human heart « The Orthosphere

  13. J. Gresham Machen’s 1923 book “Christianity & Liberalism” dealt with liberalism as religion; he call it a “modern non-redemptive religion.” The first chapter is reminiscent of Lawrence Auster’s writings—not for the style, but for the content.

    So Prof. Roebuck is following in a line of thinkers who have identified liberalism as a religious entity, even if it fails to do so itself, and even if it is better identified as a pre-religion or as a substitute religion, or even as an anti-religion. Regardless of the label, it has enough of the traits of a religion that it ought to be seen as one.

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