The Religion of Modernity

Political/economic ideology is the religion of modernity. Like the adherents of traditional religion, many people find comfort in their political worldview, and greet critical questions with pious hostility. Instead of crusades or inquisitions, the twentieth century had its notorious totalitarian movements. “The religious character of the Bolshevik and Nazi revolutions is generally recognized,” writes Hoffer. “The hammer and sickle and the swastika are in a class with the cross. The ceremonial of their parades is as the ceremonial of a religious procession. They have articles of faith, saints, martyrs and holy sepulchers.”

Bryan Caplan, The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies

It is easy to recognize the religious character of Bolshevik and Nazi ideology. But of course American Progressivism and nationalism have their own parades, articles of faith, saints, martyrs, and holy sepulchers. Are they any less religious?

It is easy to behold the mote in the Nazi’s eye—harder to consider the beam in our own eye and to ask whether our own political ideologies are any more compatible with Christianity (and Reality) than Bolshevism and Nazism.

But the question must be asked how and why and to what extent Progressivism or nationalism (or moderation, or withdrawal from political life, or anything else) is compatible with the faith. Otherwise, we risk fighting on the wrong side of America’s holy civil war—or fighting on the right side (if there even is a “right side”) in the wrong way.

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