This is the sequel to Woke Fragility: Part 1 What is Woke?
While watching a YouTube video from Bloggerheads I heard Dr. John McWhorter, a linguist who teaches at Columbia University, make the bold and accurate claim that “wokeism” is a religion. It is this claim that is the central argument in Dr. McWhorter’s forthcoming book, titled Woke Racism: How a New Religion Has Betrayed Black America. Even though I have not had the pleasure to read this book yet (so I don’t know the specifics of McWhorter’s argument), I agree with his premise that “wokeism” is a religion. This post explains why I think this way.
But first, what is a religion? Most common definitions for religion focus on a belief in a god or gods, an origin story of the universe, and teachings on how to live a good life. More comprehensive definitions also mention that religions rely on rituals, a code of ethics, ideas about who or what is sacred and unworthy, a philosophy that shapes teachings and practices, and a community of believers. I would say that a belief system would have to embody most of these components to qualify as a religion because religions are quite diverse, ranging from monotheism to pantheism.
The irony is that while “wokeism” aims to dismantle traditional religious beliefs, particularly Judeo-Christian beliefs and values, the woke are actually following the tenets of a new religion eerily similar to Christianity. Unlike the God of the Bible, however, the woke do not recognize infinite individual worth, free will, and the need for grace (among other things). In fact, “wokeism” is far less tolerant and far more militant in its insistence that everyone should bow before it.
Do you think I’m overstating this comparison? First, I highly recommend this video from Dr. Steve Stanley on Christianity vs. Wokeism titled Reality Chucked (the message starts at 32:25).
And then consider this:
Original Sin and Predestination
The Bible teaches that sin originated in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and that God will save the elect (predestination) from an eternity in hell when the elect accept Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for sins on the cross. These biblical teachings provide an account of the origins of sin, who is worthy and unworthy, and what unites the community of Christian believers.
“Wokeism” also believes in original sin and predestination, although the woke version of these are unbiblical, to put it mildly. First, the woke assign collective “original sin” to a certain gender, race, and sexuality (male, white, straight, respectively) based on a narrow, incomplete, and often misrepresented view of history. Unlike biblical teachings that explain that the sin nature is a part of human nature and is therefore universal, “wokeism” teaches that an individual’s identity determines their degree of sin.
What’s more, “religious tomes” like White Fragility and the ways in which the woke talk about “white privilege,” “male privilege,” and “whiteness” makes it clear that those with “privileged identities” are born (predestined) oppressors. Think that’s an overstatement? Read this, this, and this, then and watch this:
Yes, white children and adults are being told that they are demons and subhuman because of the color of their skin. To say this of any race is clearly racism. But according to the woke (some of them in the very least), the decedents of the “white oppressors” had it coming.
(For more on the collective nature of “wokeism” and how identity is the basis for morality, see There’s No “I” in “Identity Politics.”)
Repentance and Atonement
Rituals and practices are ways in which believers can live the good life, which is defined by their religion’s doctrine. The Bible explains that anyone who believes that he/she is a sinner, that Jesus Christ is God and Jesus died for his/her sins, then he rose on the third day, and accepts Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for his/her sins will be saved from eternal damnation.
After a believer makes this statement of faith, he/she is saved and called to act in accordance with that faith. Then that believer can participate in communion and baptism. Other religions that use the Bible as one source of their doctrine believe that believers can earn their way to heaven by doing good works.
“Wokeism” also teaches the importance of good works. White people are called to step back and shut up so people of color can shine. This is what the woke mean when they tell white people to “decenter” themselves. Those with privileged identities must also feel guilt and shame during this “decentering” process. Anyone who refuses to do so “lives in the sin” of their privilege.
And since western civilization is a product of straight, white men (the most privileged), all of society must atone for its sins through more aggressive affirmative action policies, reparations, defunding the police, and ensuring equity and racial justice (see Woke Fragility Part 1 for more on this).
The Great Commission
Most religions include missionary work and evangelism as a part of their believers’ duties in living the good life. In Christianity, this is called the Great Commission, which instructs Christians to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to every corner of the earth.
The woke are also charged with a “great commission” as a way to live out the tenets of their religion. As explained in Part 1, the woke see everything through a lens of power, in which there are the oppressed and oppressors. Since all of our systems, according to “wokeism,” are the product of power and the oppressed/ oppressor relationship, these systems are inherently corrupted (i.e., “systemic racism”) and cannot be saved.
Therefore, the woke are called to dismantle and destroy these systems through whatever means necessary in order to establish a new, just socialist paradise based on identity instead of class. And those who stand in their way will be “canceled,” and be told that they are being held accountable for not being woke.
Religions can be a source of meaning and liberation as well as intolerance and domination, and Christianity has been used by many in history to accomplish all of these ends. We have learned throughout history that forcing religious beliefs on people has horrendous consequences, which is why most religious Americans aren’t calling for a theocracy. Our founders recognized the importance of religious freedom and included the “free exercise of religion” in the 1st Amendment.
“Wokeism” is ignoring these lessons of the past (because it believes the past is a racist construct of the privileged, I suppose), and has become a totalitarian religion in its own right. But don’t just take my word for it. Dr. D.L. Devonshire has more expertise on this subject that I do and wrote a compelling, eloquent piece highly recommend reading.
The woke are too fragile to allow the expression of any other belief system or philosophy, religious or secular. Ironically, most of the rest of us are willing to tolerate (and debate) “wokeism,” even though none of us should support their dangerous policies. But if someone does, they’re within their rights to do so. The rest of us aren’t so fragile.
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