Social justice has become a ‘new religion’, making politics feel ‘like we’re already in hell’: Atlantic article

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Atlantic staff writer Helen Lewis observed in an article Thursday that many modern Americans have replaced the traditional religions of the past with political ideology.

“Quick question. If someone yells ‘repent’ at you on the street, are they more likely to be (a) a religious preacher or (b) a left-wing activist?” Lewis asked to begin the piece.

He recalled examples of outraged social justice advocates and said, “We might expect that religious concepts (repentance, hellfire, heresy, apostasy) would have become less salient as a result” of an increasingly secular population. , and warned “But it’s not like that. .”

He explained: “For some activists, politics has usurped the role that religion used to play as a source of meaning and purpose in our lives, and a way to find community.”

People protest in front of the Netflix building in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles, Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. Critics and supporters of Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special and his anti-transgender comments gathered in front of the company’s offices on Wednesday.
(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)


The writer speculated about how “the non-religious are younger and more liberal” than the older population, while also being “the group most likely to be involved in high-profile social justice outbursts, especially of the found on college campuses.” As she summed it up, “they have replaced one religion with another.”

Lewis noted many parallels between religions that bind people together through society and social justice orthodoxy.

“Many common phrases of social justice have echoes of a catechism: announcing your pronouns or doing a reconnaissance of the land demonstrates fidelity to a common belief, reassuring a group that everyone present shares the same values,” he observed. “But treating politics like a religion also makes it more emotionally volatile, more tribal (because differences of opinion become questions of right and wrong), and more prone to outbursts of moralizing and piety.”

Lewis observed that as American politics and norms have changed, the tribal lines along which people are divided have also changed, noting: “In countries where racial and religious intermarriage has become in a common place, dating across political lines is the new taboo Young Brits writer Tomiwa Owolade told me he often saw dating profiles insisting on “non-conservative”.

Church attendance among young people has been declining in much of the Western world.

Church attendance among young people has been declining in much of the Western world.


It raised Atlantic contributor linguist and writer John McWhorter, who has spoken and written extensively about how awakening has gone too far and become a new religion. Lewis explained: “He sees other parallels, suggesting that notions like white privilege and male privilege are versions of original sin, a stain that humans are born with, regardless of their individual circumstances. Problematic, he argues, is the new way of saying it. heretic.”

Lewis cited a statement by Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner in which she explained that traditional religious organizations ensure that communities remain united despite internal conflicts. “[A person] it can be so annoying and have different opinions, and you still have to go to their family’s funeral,” Rabbi Janner-Klausner explained. “You still have to take something from them when they just give birth; you still have to go to their mourning prayers.”

Lewis warned readers that as America trades past religions for political tribalism, it risks going down a dark path as a nation.

(Photo by Wathiq Khuzaie/Getty Images)

(Photo by Wathiq Khuzaie/Getty Images)
(2005 Getty Images)


“In real life, churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples force into their congregations a random assortment of people who just happen to live near them. But today’s social activism is often mediated through the Internet, where dissenting voices can easily be excluded,” he warned. “We’ve taken religion, with its innate potential for sectarian conflict, and fed it through a machine of polarization. It’s no wonder politics today can feel like a wasteland of angst, and as if we were already in hell.”

Alexander Hall is an associate editor at Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent to

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