13 June 2020

Wokeism Is a Hateful Religion

by Phil Johnson

BTW, "Get Woke or get out" is no way to promote Christian unity.

John McWhorter, professor of linguistics, comparative religion, music history, and Americana at Columbia University has been pointing out (since at least 2015) that Woke anti-racism is a religion. McWhorter says, "When someone attests to his white privilege with his hand up in the air, palm outward . . . the resemblance to testifying in church need not surprise. Here, the agnostic or atheist American who sees fundamentalists and Mormons as quaint reveals himself as, of all things, a parishioner."

Wokeism satiates the religious cravings of the human spirit for people who have rejected conventional expressions of theistic worship. It has therefore become the current orthodoxy in the academic world and the official religion of secular society.

It has also become a kind of plaything for evangelicals who crave the world's admiration and approval—and who don't mind dabbling in syncretism. This is a frivolous and dangerous experiment, however, because no one who holds any real evangelical convictions can ever be truly Woke. Too many of Wokeism's cardinal tenets flatly contradict biblical principles. The truly Woke are militantly pro-abortion; devoted to the LGBTQAFLCIO agenda, rabid socialists, and high-handed secularists. Pure Wokeism is openly hostile to any whiff of evangelicalism.

Wokeism has become a kind of plaything for evangelicals who crave the world's admiration and approval—and who don't mind dabbling in syncretism.

Plus, Woke religion has a very insular creed. Soul liberty is antithetical to their fundamental convictions. They have a deep and abiding hatred for every worldview, idea, or person that challenges any point of their authorized credo. Indeed, to challenge Wokeism on any point or at any level whatsoever is deemed damnable heresy. Wokeism ironically fosters this extreme illiberality in the name of "tolerance and diversity."

Wokeism is as narrow-minded as any brand of fundamentalism—and getting more narrow every day. Every article of faith must be formally affirmed and faithfully adhered to. A catalogue of insider jargon signals other adherents that you too are Woke. But there are forbidden words that must be carefully avoided on pain of excommunication. And the list of taboo expressions is constantly being revised and expanded, so you must stay conversant with the approved vocabulary or risk being publicly shamed and shunned.

In addition to the strict cardinal dogmas, Wokeism has its own sacraments and rituals, high priests, saints, and martyrs—even a kind of hymnology. The flavor of Woke rhetoric is homiletical rather than scholarly; it's a sermonic appeal to deep emotions, utilizing personal testimony and a carefully-crafted narrative (the Woke mythology) rather than statistics.

It's an odd religion—teaching people to nurse grudges, cast blame, cultivate ill will against whole people groups, and deepen that personal sense of resentment. But it is nonetheless fully religious in character, for all the reasons noted.

The push to spread Woke doctrines therefore has all the characteristics of a religious campaign—a crusade to win converts by any means possible. Conversion conveys a moral standing that non-converts (the uncooperative, unwashed, unWoke) don't have. It's a limited veneer of virtue that offers a provisional reprieve—nothing like full forgiveness. (More on that later.) But it entitles the penitent to join the Woke in heaping full-throated condemnation on the unWoke.

To a devotee of Wokeness, being unWoke is tantamount to being a rank heathen or an evil infidel. They see Wokeness not merely as a matter of politics; it is the only righteous worldview, and it must be embraced with pure religious fervor. Indeed, Woke anti-racism has quite literally become a point of religious doctrine so important that even in the minds of the kinda-Woke evangelicals it has upstaged and eclipsed abortion as the number one moral crisis in America.

Wokeism is a nasty religious cult. Its votaries routinely declare people guilty for the sins of others, elicit rote confessions, and then refuse to offer absolution. They define sin mainly (if not entirely) as a horizontal offense—but not necessarily even a personal offense. You are guilty mainly for what your ancestors may have done. And even if your ancestors were themselves poor subsistence farmers who never oppressed anyone, if other members of your ethnic group did, you are made to bear the guilt for that. Guilt is therefore a corporate responsibility, apportioned differently to different ethnicities.

If you don't have the right kind of victim status or skin color, it would be utterly foolish for you even to think of asking for forgiveness. Still, you must confess the guilt you bear by kneeling and reciting the prescribed confession. And if you don't do this, your refusal to genuflect on command will mark you as a fascist. The fact that you dissent from the received opinion intensifies the criminality you inherited when you were born into the wrong ethnic group. Preachers of the Woke doctrines will do everything they can to make sure you are shunned by polite society. Apologize publicly and you will merely be mocked (and subjected to endless re-indoctrination). But if you remain stubbornly unWoke, those who are Woke will scold and harass you publicly, relentlessly, trying to get you fired from your job.

Or worse.

On the other hand, if you are a cop, a civic leader, or a Christian, kneeling and accepting the Woke credo will do nothing to make you any less worthy of public contempt and censure.

After all, this is a religion that has no doctrine of atonement, no concept of forgiveness, and no possibility of real redemption. The recent demonstrations and riots made clear that no matter how frequently they use the word, reconciliation is not the real goal of Wokeism.

In short, the Woke worldview is impossible to blend with gospel truth—and its inevitable drift will take today's wanna-be-Woke evangelicals exactly where the social gospel of Walter Rauschenbusch took the mainline denominations in the twentieth century: into rank theological liberalism and unbelief.

The notion that the gospel can be improved by blending it with Wokeism is sheer folly anyway. The Woke worldview is rooted in secularism—and arguably, Marxism. Its central claims and distinctive jargon are taken not from Scripture but from secular political discourse. It is a canon of doctrine deliberately designed to provoke conflict, prolong resentment, and foster bitterness between different ethnicities. It encourages people to be offended by things that never actually happened to them—while blaming others for sins they did not actually commit. It doles out guilt and shame rather than grace and redemption. Though it is promoted by people who say they oppose ethnic strife, it is a blatantly racist worldview, condemning entire ethnic groups for sins that were committed generations ago by people long dead.

All of that hits at the heart of the gospel message of forgiveness, grace, oneness in Christ, and unity in the church. It is as anti-Christian as every other cult or false religion, and faithful followers of Christ should recognize that.

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