Ed Driscoll

Inventing Your Own Religion

The other day, Power Line had this interesting item:

The Pew Research Center has published an interesting survey on the political parties and religion. The finding that is getting the most press is that only 29% of respondents view the Democrats as religion-friendly, down from 40% just a year ago.

In general, the public seems to view the parties and their attitudes toward religion as mirror images. Almost exactly equal numbers think the secular anti-religion forces have too much control over the Democrats, and the religious conservatives too much control over the Republicans. In almost exactly equal proportions, respondents see the Republicans more concerned with protecting religious values, and the Democrats more concerned with protecting individual freedoms.

In one critical respect, however, this parallel breaks down. The public is equally divided on the question whether conservative Christians “have gone too far in trying to impose their religious values on the country.” But in answer to the slightly more specifically worded question whether liberals have gone too far in trying to keep religion out of schools and government, 67% answer “yes,” and only 28% “no.” This amounts to a national consensus; it is noteworthy, too, that the numbers are even more stark among black respondents: 75% think liberals have gone too far in trying to keep religion out of schools and government.

These numbers have to be very troubling to the Democrats, but, given the centrality of these issues to the party’s activists and donor base, it’s hard to see the Democrats making much of a change.

Actually, the results of this Pew Poll shouldn’t be very surprising to anyone who’s read Rod Dreher’s seminal “The Godless Party” article during the past few years.

But while many on the far left are self-declared atheists, man seems fairly obviously hardwired to want to believe in some sort of higher being. In the late sixties and early seventies, rock stars such as Pete Townshend, George Harrison, and Carlos Santana were more than willing to abandon western religion for a variety of eastern versions. For a while, it became the norm for superstar guitarists to have their own personal guru or avatar. (Jimmy Page went as far as he could in the opposite direction, but to each his own was certainly a key facet of the 1960s.) Madonna’s Kabbalah worship is essentially a variation on this phenomenon.

But these days, the modern far left seems to want modern religions, created in the 20th century (see Hubbard, L. Ron). This is also true in the case of another movement with its roots in the late 1960s, environmentalism, as Jonah Goldberg writes:

A great many people tried to pin the 2004 tsunami on global warming too, even though that wasn’t even theoretically possible (it was caused by a deep-sea earthquake). Tony Juniper, director of Friends of the Earth in Britain, spoke for many when he proclaimed, “Here again are yet more events in the real world that are consistent with climate change predictions.”

But I also think there’s something much deeper going on. It cannot be disputed that not just the activists but millions of normal people honestly believe these self-fulfilling prophecies which explain virtually every kind of weather