The Toxic New Religion
The faith of our time in Western Society is postmodern relativism which denies the existence of a real world “out there” that we must conform to. There is no God, no transcendent morality, no good or evil. Rather, reality is socially constructed. Without objective, transcendent truth, reason and logic are undermined and we are left with feelings in the driver’s seat. And while emotions are good and important, they are also very powerful. They can be downright dangerous when decoupled from reason, which is what the new religion does.
In his famous confrontation with aggrieved students at Yale University, Nicholas Christakis asks the students, “Who gets to decide what [speech, language] is offensive? Who decides?” A female student answers: “When it hurts me.” Which being translated means: “My claims of hurt, emotional pain and suffering trump your right to free speech. End of discussion!”
John Corvino, a professor of philosophy at Wayne State University, and one of the foremost proponents of the new religion is laying the groundwork for a new legal standard that he describes as “dignitary harm.” This would replace “material harm” (physical injury, stolen or damaged property, etc.) as a new legal standard for prosecution and punishment by the state. Corvino defines “dignity harm” as “causing people to feel inferior, intentionally or not; treating people as inferior, regardless of whether anyone recognizes the mistreatment”; “contributing to systemic moral inequality, intentionally or not.”
Note once again, my feelings override your right to free speech or freedom of religion. If this standard prevails, the state could fine or even jail people on the grounds of claims of “hurt feelings.” In this Orwellian-type-double-speak lingo, “violence” now means “hurt feelings.”
This idea of dignitary harm may be the biggest single threat to religious liberty in our immediate future.
According to the tenets of the toxic new religion, victimization accumulates power. Here’s how it works:
First, the religion sees reality entirely within the Marxist framework of oppressor and oppressed. Further, the principal oppressors are white, Christian or Jewish heterosexual males. They are uniquely oppressive, “white supremacists” who have abused cultural power and privilege at the expense of every other group.
These are givens. They function as “core doctrines” of the new religion. Try arguing these points with adherents; they will be incredulous, as if you were asserting a flat earth. These are simply “self evident” realities. If you are not white, male, Christian/Jewish, heterosexual, you are, by definition, a victim, and victimization accrues power.
Examples of this abound in the news. In just the past year we’ve read about mobs of students shouting down those who disagree, almost always combined with vitriol, cursing, property damage, threats of violence and actual violence: Berkeley, Evergreen, Missouri State, Yale, Middlebury, and the list goes on.
A (white female) Evergreen professor wrote about her own experiences of the riots:
“Student activists gain license to harass and intimidate members of the Evergreen community in an effort to achieve their ends. Last Wednesday on two separate occasions I was followed by white students who yelled and cursed at me, accused me of not caring about black and brown bodies and claimed that if I did care I would follow their orders and join the protest in the library. They stood in front of me, blocking my way as I attempted to walk across campus.
“In the first occasion, three female students and one male who claimed to not be a student surrounded me with raised voices and twisted my words when I responded to them. When I stopped to try to talk with them they refused to actually engage in conversation. The only thing which they would accept was my obedience, which you won’t be surprised to learn I was not going to give. They followed me all the way across Red Square … while berating me. By the time I got to the venue for the faculty meeting, I was shaking.
“When I left the faculty meeting I was followed by two new students who were waiting outside the door for me. These two followed me and asserted that nothing I could possibly be doing was more important than following their orders. If I did have something important to do, I should tell them what it is so they could evaluate whether my decision to leave was valid. I tried to get them to question their own assumptions but they were incapable of engaging in dialogue. Their passions were running too high. High enough to violate principles on which this institution depends to exist at all.
“All they could say to me was: Imagine what it’s like for black and brown people to experience that kind of threat all the time. They have no idea how or whether throughout my life and in spite of appearances (my white skin) I may have had to deal with and overcome intimidation, threat and harassment. I’m not saying that my trauma is worse or more important or the same as that of people of color. I’m not competing with anybody. But it’s simply wrong to erase someone’s humanity in the name of not erasing someone else’s.
“And while this was a terrible experience for me, I’m much more concerned with the students lack of understanding of what they allowed themselves to do, which was to willingly erase their own humanity by treating me in the way they did. I’m telling you about this because I’m also concerned that the students are being egged on by faculty who approve of this kind of thing and ignore the tactics for the sake of the goal. Some of you, in essence, are telling the students to do it again. Maybe they’ll show up in my classroom next week and demand my resignation because I’m a racist. I wouldn’t be at all surprised.
“And yet, it seems none of the students who shouted and cursed at this professor have been disciplined. On the contrary, as the letter points out, some of the professors were egging the students on in this behavior.
“This is the same totalitarianism of the Maoist Cultural Revolution or the Russian revolution!
“If this new religion gripping our college campuses and the larger culture continues to grow and expand, not only in the west, but around the world, I fear it will result in similarly destructive ends. Out of a love for our neighbors, and in a desire to faithfully carry out our mission to bless the nations, this new ideology must be understood and resisted. We must tenaciously cling to the truth, live it out, and in doing so, demonstrate a better way. (I am indebted to Scott Allen, a contributing author at http://darrowmillerandfriends.com for much of the contents of this article.)
Wade Trimmer has been in full-time Christian service since 1971, thirty-five of those years as a senior pastor. He pastored Grace Fellowship of Augusta for 30 of those years.
In 2008, Pastor Wade formed Training for Reigning Institute of Disciple-making, a non-profit organization, for the purpose of equipping leaders, especially in Third World countries in being more effective in carrying out the Great Commission (Visit website:TRIDM.org). The past 9 years have taken Pastor Wade outside the USA to more than 25 different nations.
He is the author of 46 books, a conference speaker and leader of international mission’s training. He is married to Anne and they have three grown children, five grandchildren, and five great grandchildren. They are members of Grace Fellowship of Augusta, Georgia and make their home in North Augusta, South Carolina.