Whatever we may think of the relative claims of the two religions, one fact is now logically self-evident: that the new religion, every bit as much as the old religion, will be a persecuting religion. It will be, by its very nature, a thing fighting for its life against the normal forces of human nature; every bit as much as has been alleged of any system of asceticism or self-denial in the past. It is indeed a case in which extremes meet; though, in truth, extremes often meet because they are much less extreme than people suppose. The modern Pacifist is really very like the ancient Puritan; the man who now has a horror of all theology is very like the man who then had a horror of all things except theology. And the proof is in this practical case. The old Calvinist, like the new Communist, really did forbid children to read stories about fairies. The old Puritan, like the new peace-man, really would forbid boys to read a penny dreadful about pirates. This new idealist is not even new, in the manner of the babe unborn. He is our own Puritan great-grandfather dreadfully risen from the dead.
— G. K. Chesterton, “On the New Prudery”
All of that nags like an eyelash caught behind your contact lens, and it’s because you are watching a religion being born. That its adherents don’t realize they are under the influence of a religion is precisely evidence that this is what it is. No, that is not recapitulating The Elect’s circularity thing, that if you say you aren’t a racist then you are. When you say you aren’t a racist, you give reasons why – your commitments, your views, your history, these days often your dating history or even your spouse. This should qualify as coherent defense and it does. But with The Elect, if we tell them they are religious, they cannot defend themselves with even a stab at logic.
They insist that self-mortification is political activism – fail. They insist that being black is ever and only oppression from the white man – fail. That black people labor under threat of the return of disfranchisement as a people because Republicans try to depress black turnout to lower Democrat tallies, even though black women were central in determining the election of Joe Biden as President along with a black American Vice-President? Fail.
Only religion can explain why anyone would think that all of this doubletalk is sense. You, black or not, are not crazy to get that this stuff doesn’t wash. And your job is to learn to cover your ears against what feels like verbal jiu-jitsu from those whose sense of significance is founded in denying reason and teaching people who have already been through enough to build their identities around a studied sense of victimhood.
Of course, they call themselves pursuing “social justice,” thus telling the rest of us that we are resisting “social justice.” Some of them will claim that the thesis of this book is that “seeking social justice is just a religion.” Don’t get tripped up. They are using the term to refer to their very specific and questionable sense of what social justice is, and as such, to ask us whether we are “against social justice” qualifies as a dirty trick along the lines of being asked if you still beat your spouse. Or not – but only because they are arguing from religion, and for that reason truly do not imagine that their version of social justice is something other than scripture.
Do you see? I hope I am getting you to follow me, and I hope you will stay with me for the next chapter where I will outline the point more closely. That may sound dull, but I don’t think it will be – we just need to look at matters a little more closely to truly get what we are up against among people who seem so normal. We are genuinely in Invasion of the Body Snatchers territory. They will insist that they are not religious, but impotently so, before the simple propositions of this chapter. Adoring their kids, poaching their salmon, strumming their ukuleles barefooted, savoring their Stones and Coldplay and Adele, they may seem unlike what we think of as “religious.”
Don’t be fooled. Religion knows no culture. Nor do all religions entail the worship of a God (The Elect lacks one), or even forgiveness (which The Elect do not seem to have exactly caught up with just yet). As Eric Hoffer put it, religions don’t need a God but they need a devil, and The Elect have that down quite comfortably. Superstition, clergy, sinfulness, a proselytizing impulse, a revulsion against the impure – it’s all there. They think of it all as logic incarnate.
But so did Martin Luther.