you don’t replace something with nothing

I posted this briefly last night, then I took it down. I was torn because I don’t want to be heard to be saying that being a follower of Christ necessarily means being a political conservative.

Nonetheless, I do think the following post is a good example of the fact that people have a built in religious impulse that will be indulged. This anthropologist, Jonathan Haidt, expressly desires that the Democratic political party actively co-opt this religious impulse in service of its ideals.

So here is the post again. If anybody has an issue with it, let me know in the comments. Love the opportunity to dialogue.

yet another installment in an ongoing observation that post-christian society does not replace worship of God with secular atheism. You don’t replace something with nothing.

Jonathan Haidt has come to the same conclusion. In this attempt to explain why poor folks vote republican he says the following:

In The Political Brain, Drew Westen points out that the Republicans have become the party of the sacred, appropriating not just the issues of God, faith, and religion, but also the sacred symbols of the nation such as the Flag and the military. The Democrats, in the process, have become the party of the profane—of secular life and material interests. Democrats often seem to think of voters as consumers; they rely on polls to choose a set of policy positions that will convince 51% of the electorate to buy. Most Democrats don’t understand that politics is more like religion than it is like shopping.
……
The Democrats must find a way to close the sacredness gap that goes beyond occasional and strategic uses of the words “God” and “faith.” But if Durkheim is right, then sacredness is really about society and its collective concerns. God is useful but not necessary. The Democrats could close much of the gap if they simply learned to see society not just as a collection of individuals—each with a panoply of rights–but as an entity in itself, an entity that needs some tending and caring. Our national motto is e pluribus unum (“from many, one”). Whenever Democrats support policies that weaken the integrity and identity of the collective (such as multiculturalism, bilingualism, and immigration), they show that they care more about pluribus than unum. They widen the sacredness gap.

A useful heuristic would be to think about each issue, and about the Party itself, from the perspective of the three Durkheimian foundations. Might the Democrats expand their moral range without betraying their principles? Might they even find ways to improve their policies by incorporating and publicly praising some conservative insights?

emphasis added.

Go read the rest of his piece this weekend. Very interesting view from someone who understands that christian conservatives might have a point of view rather than simply dismissing them out of hand.

Hat tip to Jonah Goldberg. jonah wrote a book that is also a very interesting look at fascism’s attempt to replace worship of God with worship of the state. It is a simply excellent book, and I highly recommend it.

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