Left-wing, Jewish journalist Peter Beinart has a telling piece up at The Atlantic, “Breaking Faith: The culture war over religious morality has faded; in its place is something much worse,” about how the decline of Christianity has lead to an increase in racial identity, especially among many younger whites affiliated with the alt-right. He writes:
“Secularism is indeed correlated with greater tolerance of gay marriage and pot legalization. But it’s also making America’s partisan clashes more brutal. And it has contributed to the rise of both Donald Trump and the so-called alt-right movement, whose members see themselves as proponents of white nationalism. As Americans have left organized religion, they haven’t stopped viewing politics as a struggle between “us” and “them.” Many have come to define us and them in even more primal and irreconcilable ways.”
As if there is something wrong with whites supporting and promoting their own interests. Beinart then discusses Richard Spencer, Milo, and how secularization has lead to an increase in racial identity among both younger blacks and whites. He concludes:
“Maybe it’s the values of hierarchy, authority, and tradition that churches instill. Maybe religion builds habits and networks that help people better weather national traumas, and thus retain their faith that the system works. For whatever reason, secularization isn’t easing political conflict. It’s making American politics even more convulsive and zero-sum.
For years, political commentators dreamed that the culture war over religious morality that began in the 1960s and ’70s would fade. It has. And the more secular, more ferociously national and racial culture war that has followed is worse.”
Beinart is basically correct but there is more to this story. The two most basic forms of identity are racial / ethnic identity and religious identity. When the two intersect and form an ethno-religion, which is basically what Judaism is, the religion of Beinart’s co-ethnics, one probably has the strongest identity possible. (Most early pagan religions were also racial ethno-religions, and arguably some forms of Christianity were too.)
The problem, however, is that Beinart can’t just wave his magic wand and resurrect Christianity to police white people — as much as he may wish it. The irony is that mainstream Christianity today is on a universalist trajectory that would repel the very people that Beinart wants to police. As I noted in a previous post, “Is Contemporary Christianity a Suicide Cult?,” contemporary Christianity is becoming more and more effeminate and seems to repulse more manly men. For example, regarding the recent controversy to expel open-borders Russell Moore from his leadership of the ERLC, just take a look on Twitter at some of Moore’s most ardent defenders: Nearly all of them literal cuckolds or Christian SJWs.
In short, Beinart fails to recognize that Christianity had a greater hold on young white men when it was in fact more like the alt-right, when it wasn’t as extremely universalistic as it is today and didn’t eschew racial identity for whites.
(Crossposted at Occam’s Razor.)