America's Godless Political Religion

America's Godless Political Religion

Demographers tell us that an increasing number of Americans, when asked to check their religion, are selecting “none,” thus the rise of the so-called “nones.” But this terminology is misleading. Americans may increasingly be checking the “none” box, but Americans are not becoming less religious.[1] What we’re doing is adopting a religion, a political religion, without God. Joshua Mitchell, author of American Awakening: Identity Politics and Other Afflictions of Our Time, writes,
Surveys may indicate that Americans have lost or are losing their religion; however, the fever of identity politics that now sweeps the nation suggests these surveys are looking in the wrong place and asking the wrong questions.  Americans have not lost their religion.  Americans have relocated their religion to the realm of politics (xx).
And this realm of politics (specifically identity politics, sometimes called social justice[2]) is a godless religion. As Mitchell says, “God is nowhere to be found in the identity-politics accounting scheme” (xix). Do not, however, equate godless with non-religious because at the heart of today’s political obsession is a fixation on the religious concepts of guilt and innocence. Mitchell offers, “Identity politics is concerned with the invisible economy of transgression and innocence…” (xvi).
This is a critical point to appreciate: modern man is no less religious than those who have come before him. It would, therefore, be more appropriate to speak of the “none of the aboves” (i.e. “none of the above” God-centered religion options on the surveys) rather than of the “nones.” Modern man is increasingly not identifying with religions that have God in the center, but he is every bit as concerned with transgression and innocence as his God-fearing ancestors, just without God.
This also explains why “nones” or “none of the aboves” are less like to attend church. Mitchell explains,
An ever-growing number of ‘nones’ no longer attend church. Why should they, if they can find a seemingly compelling account of transgression and innocence in identity politics? Christianity has not disappeared from America; rather, the Christian categories of transgression and innocence have moved into politics…” (34).
This is proving to be disastrous both for politics and for religion. When Christianity is overrun by politics, it loses the gospel of Jesus. When God is evicted from religion, man becomes a political tyrant. Unsurprisingly, identity politics is a godless, tyrannical religion. Whereas Biblical Christianity sees guilt in the heart of every single person, regardless of sex, skin color, or sexual orientation, and directs every person to Christ who bears the sins of every single person, granting us release from our sins and making us into new people, identity politics sees guilt in groups, specifically one group, and directs people to blame the members of this group for society’s ills.
To be more specific, individuals are assigned a group identity (by which guilt and innocence are gauged) based upon skin color, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, and/or gender identity. This group identity is supreme. You do not have an individual identity; you are your group. At its core, this group identity framework is about the religious concepts of transgression and innocence (just without God). As Mitchell explains, “Identity politics is not about who we are as individuals; it is about the stain and purity associated with who we are as members of a group” (xviii).
If this sounds like stereotyping,[3] it is, but it’s much more than that because, remember, identity politics / woke social justice is really a religious quest to identify the guilty and the innocent in society. So this is bigger than stereotyping. This is scapegoating. With God evicted, man must find the solution for evil among his fellow man, but no individual creature among man is big enough to bear the sins of the world. Identity politics / woke social justice, therefore, needs a guilty group to blame for society’s ills. It finds it in the white, heterosexual male. Mitchell says,  
In the world that identity politics constructs, the white, heterosexual man becomes more than who he really is. He becomes a member of a scapegoated group that takes away the sins of the world, rather than being a mortal of mixed inheritance, like everyone else, involved in transgression and searching for redemption (xxvi).
This de facto guilt group is scapegoated under the phrase “whiteness,” but contrary to what one may initially think, “whiteness” isn’t only about skin color; “whiteness” is about privilege and power. This is absolutely critical to understand: for identity politics / woke social justice, “whiteness” = privilege + power. Anyone guilty of “whiteness” – and identity politics is fanatical (think Salem Witch Trials on steroids!) about hunting down anything that looks like privilege and power, labeling it “whiteness,” and blaming it for society’s ills – must repent of their “whiteness” and perform endless penance before the innocence groups.[4]
Because, according to identity politics, the innocence groups lack privilege and power, they cannot be guilty of the sin of “whiteness.” So they have the freedom to say and do things that would be wrong for the scapegoated group to say and do. Whereas Christianity applies morality equally to all, indicating that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, identity politics / woke social justice differentiates morality by groups.
This is what drives the “anti-racism” efforts of identity politics / woke social justice. Consider two examples. In 2018 the New York Times hired Asian American Sarah Jeong to their editorial board. Sarah, among other things, was well known for tweets like these: #WhiteMenAreBull**** and #CancelWhitePeople. To the un-woke reader those sound racist. To the woke, however, these could not be racist because they came from an individual in one of the innocence groups who, despite serving on one of the most powerful communication platforms in the world, purportedly lacked privilege and power. Her group identity secured her innocence.
In 2019, self-proclaimed “anti-racist public theologian” Ekemini Uwan (a black woman) addressed a women’s conference on the evils of whiteness: 
Whiteness is wicked. It is wicked. It’s rooted in violence, it’s rooted in theft, it’s rooted in plunder, it’s rooted in power, in privilege.
To the un-woke hearer her words sound exceedingly racist, but to the adherent of the religion of identity politics / woke social justice, they cannot be because she, as a black woman, belongs to a group that lacks power and privilege rendering her perpetually innocent. As we mentioned before, when God is evicted from religion, man becomes a political tyrant.  
Do privilege and power exist? Of course. Have people with white skin abused privilege and power. Yes. There is no shortage of sordid examples throughout history and the present day of people with white skin behaving badly toward people who have lacked the same power and privilege. One need look no further than the way whites enslaved blacks in early America or the way they discriminated against them in post-civil war America. This was evil.
But is the abuse of privilege and power rooted only in white skin? Such a thought is absurd and flies in the face of any reasonable evaluation of history and reality. One need only mention names like Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Mao Zedong, Boko Haram, Genghis Khan, the Khmer Rouge, the Hutus and Tutsis, and the South American cartels. As Thaddeus William, author of Confronting Injustice without Compromising Truth, observes, "None of these plundering, thieving, enslaving, genocidal power-seekers involved in such injustices were white.” Pinning guilt on one scapegoated group is spectacularly naïve at best (and starts to look darkly sinister the closer you get). Christianity, however, insists that the human problem runs much deeper than one scapegoated group.
To acknowledge this, however, would undo the entire foundation of our modern godless religion of identity politics / woke social justice. Adherents need a scapegoat. In Christianity, Christ serves as every individual’s scapegoat. He bears our sins away. He releases us from our sin and our guilt. We find our innocence in Him even as He reorients the way we approach our neighbor, the way we see privilege and power as bringing with them the responsibility to serve, to use whatever privilege and power we might have for the benefit and blessing of others.
In identity politics / woke social justice the “whiteness” group serves as the scapegoat, but they do not bear our sins away, they stand as the perpetual guilty group for the innocence groups. They are not society’s savior; they are society’s punching bag. They cannot make anyone new and they can only make people innocent by a very biased comparison. This modern godless religion cannot and will never unify our world. It’s not designed to. It’s designed to crush its opponents and to fixate adherents’ minds on identifying injustice under every rock (thus the modern fixation with “microagressions”). It does not seek reconciliation or healing; it seeks power.  
This is what’s behind terms like LGBTQ Community, intersectionality, heteronormativity, and cisgender. The word community is attached to LGBTQ to suggest that those who claim such identities belong to a unified group, an underprivileged, innocence group that is to be distinguished from members of the guilty scapegoated heterosexual group. Notice how the letter H (for heterosexual) is not and never will be included with the LGBTQ.[5] H is the problem. It forever belongs to the scapegoated group.
This group is guilty of perpetuating heteronormativity (treating heterosexuality as normative, as the normal expression of sexual behavior) and cisgender thinking (seeing identity as connected to biology, i.e. seeing gender identity as connected to biological sex). This, according to identity politics / woke social justice is the evil exercising of privilege and power. The LGBTQ Community, according to identity politics, belongs to the innocence group. Why? Because, they claim, they lack privilege and power.[6]
Intersectionality is a way of measuring overlapping innocence groups. The more innocence group classifications a person can claim (i.e. being black and identifying as trans or being a woman who identifies as lesbian), the more innocent he or she is. Remember, the entire quest is about identifying who the transgressors are and who the innocents are. This is done through group identities.
The point for our purposes is to see the underlying religious nature of the quest. It’s about placing society’s sins on the shoulders of a perpetually scapegoated group. This political religion places man on a never-ending witch hunt (on a far more massive scale than anything ever witnessed in the Salem Witch Trials!) as he sniffs out and punishes “whiteness.” It turns neighbor against neighbor and trains us to be perpetually skeptical and untrusting of one another as it encourages us to interpret everything through the lens of power and privilege. Truly, it is exceedingly damaging for people’s emotional and mental wellbeing. It is a tyrannical religion.
What we need is a full-throated Christianity that locates guilt in every human heart, a full-bodied Christianity that identifies the willing scapegoat, Jesus Christ, who bears our sins away and establishes the innocence of every individual who trusts in Him and reorients us in a loving disposition toward our neighbor in which we are not eager to find blame, but ready to offer forgiveness and love. It is no exaggeration to say that politics needs religion (specifically Christianity) to save it from its Godless and tyrannical religious obsession. This is no time to shy away from Christianity’s message of the guilt of the individual before God and of the forgiveness purchased by Christ for every individual, no matter his or her sex, skin color, or ethnicity. This is a time to step into it with gusto, for the sake of our neighbor, for the sake of our world. – Pastor Conner  

[1] This is an important point to appreciate: Man is a religious being. He will make something his ultimate. He will have a god. Rejecting belief in the God of the Bible is not the rejection of religion; it’s the transfer of allegiance from the Creator God to something else. In America it is increasingly being transferred to politics. As this article will make clear, this is largely a religious quest to scapegoat a group who will bear the blame for society’s ills so that the other groups can assert their innocence. 

[2] Social justice is a slippery term. Its meaning can change depending on who’s using it and how they’re using it. For our purposes, we’re talking about the woke version of social justice that is fixated on unequal outcomes (referred to as disparities). For this version of social justice, disparity of outcome = injustice. To ensure justice, then, you must force equal outcomes. 

[3] It is politically incorrect to say, but such stereotyping by group is what used to be understood as racism. As we will make clear, however, the definition of racism has changed from stereotyping by group (which is what identity politics / woke social justice does) to using privilege and power to establish moral norms. 

[4] Forgiveness is never offered. Forgiveness erases a debt and restores alienated parties. Identity politics / woke social justice is built on the perpetual existence of a guilt group who will forever bear the blame for society’s sins. To forgive would destroy its very foundations. 

[5] This lies beyond the scope of this article, but Scripture does not classify people by their sexual orientation or gender identity. Scripture classifies people first by their creational designation: male or female. We may then speak of the various desires we, as individuals, experience. Therefore, we would not classify a person as homosexual or heterosexual. We would, instead, identify a person as a male or female with same-sex desires or hetero-sex desires. The creational identity is primary. The desires, then, can be evaluated against what God has called good.

[6] Whether this is, in fact, true given the great power this group exercises in academia, the corporate world, congress, the legal world, and on and on, is debatable. Our point for now is to see the underlying religious nature of the quest.


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