Many on the progressive left claim to have no faith in a particular religion. Many are atheists, while others describe themselves as spiritual but not religious. While most Democrats do not carry animus toward their churchgoing neighbors, there appears to be a propensity for reviling religion — as long as it’s Christianity, that is.
Those social justice warriors (SJWs) who look at everyday Christians as legalistic mini-despots and judge others do not practice the gospel they preach. In the world of Western Christianity, this tendency is exemplified by the Pharisees, a powerful sect of Judaism during the time of Jesus Christ. the Pharisees were known for enforcing strict compliance with Mosaic law, and their cruelty was apparent when they lobbied the Roman government to crucify Christ.
As much as some on the far left are fond of describing Christians as being similarly inflexible on laws, it is the behavior of many Social Justice Warriors that most exemplifies the Pharisee of the 21st century.
Placing an Unbearable Yoke
One of the ways Pharisees maintained power was by making it nearly impossible to go through everyday life without breaking one of their laws. Indeed, even those enforcing these myriad regulations were unable to remain blameless. It is for this reason that Jesus confronted them, saying, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them (Luke 11:46).”
Similarly, through their fixation on political correctness and call-out culture, the social justice left imposes an extensive set of cultural laws with which individuals must comply to avoid social media wrath. Their version of PC culture mandates that people who do not have the correct views on sensitive subjects may not discuss them at all. Because of this, the social minefield is impossible to navigate safely.
That makes it difficult for people to interact with their peers for fear of accidentally committing a microaggression. Even worse, what happens when someone discovers that you posted a tweet ten years ago, expressing a view you no longer support? Even the “wokest” of the woke can easily slip up and make an observation that violates the dogma of intersectionality. Read a blog like Everyday Feminism, and you’ll get — aside from a good laugh — a firsthand view of how many ways there are to become offended.
Even folks on the progressive left have run afoul of the social justice Sanhedrin. Comedian Kevin Hart lost his Oscar-hosting opportunity after the social justice mafia fomented outrage about his years-old tweets now deemed homophobic for which he had already apologized. Media Matters pretended to be outraged by Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s offensive comments that he made 13 years ago on a shock jock’s radio show. MSNBC host Joy Reid came under fire after ten-year-old blog posts surfaced that included homophobic comments. Of course, Reid, a liberal darling, is in a protected category, and the left didn’t mobilize the smear machine against her. This brings us to the next point: hypocrisy.
One might think the Pharisees’ penchant for judging others would be nearly absolute. We have all sinned, haven’t we? But this was not the case. Members of the leadership were harsh with ordinary individuals who failed to conform to the law. As for themselves, they were not exactly the epitome of righteousness. Many were consumed with greed and a lust for power. For instance, the Pharisees allowed money changers to conduct business for personal profit in the Temple, which was expressly against Mosaic law.
Perhaps it is for this reason that Jesus said to them, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and of all kinds of filth. So you also on the outside look righteous to others, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness (Matthew 28:26).”
This tendency may be seen in the social justice left when it comes to the subjects of its ire. While some progressives are intellectually honest enough to condemn bad behavior on their side, many focus their outrage only on those with whom they disagree politically. The instance of Joy Reid is a prime example; left-leaning organizations such as Media Matters have launched numerous campaigns to remove conservative pundits such as Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham from the airwaves, but they vigorously defended Reid.
It’s almost as if SJWs don’t care about following their laws and only use them to crush their political opposition. Progressives are quick to call out bigotry — whether it exists or not — when it involves a conservative. But when it comes to one of their own, they turn a blind eye or even defend the person breaking their guidelines.
Last, another important similarity between the SJWs and the Pharisees is the propensity to puff themselves up with outward displays of virtue and righteousness. Jesus noted this type of behavior when he told this tale: “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people — cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’”
While the Pharisee made a point to pray loudly about his holiness, the tax collector in the story came to the Temple with a different attitude: one of humility and repentance. Jesus noted a clear contrast between the two, and this analogy also applies to the progressive movement. An important facet of progressivism is the need for its adherents to show the world — or at least Twitter — how wonderful they are. Indeed, it is part of the victimhood economy: When SJWs perceive that someone is being victimized, they take to social media to tell everyone what they think of the supposed atrocity.
While the progressive left would likely disagree, it is clear that many in their ranks embrace their ideology in a way that mirrors this type of religious observance. But theirs is not the religiosity that is content with allowing others to live their own lives; it’s a doctrine that compels its adherents to enforce their theology on the unbelieving. It also happens to come in handy when you wish to silence others whose political views do not align with yours. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that those who oppose far-left ideas are not simply arguing against ideas — they are debunking a religion.
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