Much has been made of how the “woke” left’s political program resembles a new religion. Columbia University linguist John McWhorter made the point in his discussion with evolutionary biologist Bret Weinstein, James Lindsay describes how “wokeness” resembles a cult, and Hans Fiene wrote a satirical article in The Federalist describing the religious program in the “Cathedral of Blessed Wokery.”
The woke Left’s program does seem to resemble a religion. This should not, however, be all that surprising to us. Jonathan Haidt points out how humans use sacred ideas, rituals, and symbols as unifying forces that allow us to participate in large scale societies. Most non-insect social creatures participate in small social networks of very close kin. Insects such as bees may have large scale societies, but they’re all essentially siblings and share a very high percentage of genetic material.
Humans are different. We aren’t all direct siblings with whom we need to cooperate and co-exist, yet we collaborate at a scale like no other species on earth. This is accomplished by a collective recognition of something as “sacred,” be it a rock, an ancestor, an idea, or even a god. Then, we organize around that shared sacred artifact. We become brothers and sisters in religion, almost as if we were created to do just that. It shouldn’t shock us, therefore, that with the left’s increasing rejection of Christianity, a new religion would necessarily emerge to fill the void. It is inevitable. It’s hard for humans to function without some sort of unifying force like religion. Indeed, we seem hard-wired to seek one out.
So, how is the Woke Left similar to a religion? Well, even without a supernatural element, it has all the trappings of one. It has a core set of beliefs that you cannot question and remain in the tribe with myths that aren’t subjected to normal academic scrutiny (the 1619 Project); it has sacred texts (White Fragility), its idea of original sin (being born white and/or male), rituals (including self-flagellation), symbols, heretics (hello, JK Rowling), and de facto priests and prophets to enlighten and then initiate us into this new religion. All will be shown a new way of viewing everything about the world, and we must adopt this without caveats or questions.
There is, however, one conspicuous yet critical thing missing from this new religion — one central to Christianity but absent from the “faith” of the Woke Left: Atonement.
The Need for Atonement
You see, with the idea of sin comes the desire for atonement. If we sin, good believers want to make things “right.” It’s natural. Religions have tried to deal with it in various ways. The issue is that even if I repent of my sins, I still am a sinner. What am I to do for my past sins, much less my original sin that I cannot escape? Does there not need to be some balancing of the scales? How can I atone for it? Well, that’s where the idea of sacrifice comes into the picture. A price has to be paid for our sin, even if we have since turned from it. Whose sacrifice? Surely not mine!
Enter cancel culture, public shaming, and performative wokeness. It seems like the people who are most vocally woke have had an awful lot of things come out about them that us non-celebrities are a little perplexed at. As Ricky Gervais pointed out, while they’re typically not in a position to lecture the public about anything, but they routinely do — loudly.
This brings me to Jimmy Kimmel, the comedian, and late-night talk show host. Kimmel’s early career entailed being a host on “The Man Show,” which featured segments of women jumping on trampolines, skits in blackface, and routines that mocked the women’s suffrage movement. This, it should go without saying, is hardly an acceptable background if one wants to be a member of this new Woke Left religion.
More recently, however, Kimmel seems to have “converted” and has been quite performative in his progressive stances, not simply stating progressive beliefs. “It just so happens that almost every talk show host is a liberal,” Kimmel quipped on the Pod Save America podcast, “and that’s because it requires a level of intelligence.”
He also called out a Republican representative for “lacking a soul.”
Search all you want, you won't ever find it https://t.co/jy2fhtoIMT
— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) December 14, 2017
Now it has been reported that Kimmel used the n-word in recently rediscovered sketches that he wrote and produced. The obvious question is why does this happen so often with these people? Why are they so vitriolic, so eager to doxx people they disagree with, and to get them fired or publicly shamed if they do not repent to their satisfaction, and pile on to people no matter their age or circumstances? Why do they do this especially when they keep getting caught doing worse than those they are trying to cancel?
To answer that, let us return to the idea of sin and sacrifice. The issue is that wokeness offers no possibility of atonement other than human sacrifice. Maybe we don’t have to put people to death, but getting them fired and shunned by society is good enough, even if the specific offense doesn’t warrant that. As this new religion requires sacrifice, what better way to balance the cosmic scales than the zealous sacrifice of other sinners? But it’s not really about the sinners that we sacrifice. It’s about atonement for the faithful.
The Sacrifice of Others
You see, the members of the Woke Church, according to their religion, are sinners. Many of the most performative of them have done and said things that are beyond the pale for even the run of the mill non-woke liberal (see: Harvey Weinstein). Yet, even though their new religion offers a new path, original and past sin remains and must be atoned for. So sacrifice we must, and who better than the non-woke or heretics? Ratchet up the self-righteous anger, direct the mob their way. Burn the heretics. We must summon the zealotry to sacrifice as many as needed, even in numbers that would make the Aztec’s blush, for that is where atonement is to be found.
It wouldn’t be surprising, then, for that zealotry to be proportional to the sin of the zealot. The worse my past the more performative I need to be. The bigger my sin, the bigger the sacrifice that is needed. Though, not me, of course — other people. This is not only meant to demonstrate my devotion to my new religion despite my past but to help atone.
Contrast that with the religion it purports to replace, at least in the United States, and the difference could not be starker. This is precisely where Christianity shines. In John 8 we read:
The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, ”Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.
Jewish law mandated that this woman was a sinner who deserved to be put to death. Jesus’s response, however, became one of the most famous quotes in the New Testament: “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” And once the crowd dispersed, none of them wanting to represent themselves as without sin, he told the woman, “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.”
He did not say the woman did not sin, he simply refrained from supporting mob justice. Then, he offered her grace. He didn’t downplay the sin either, instead, he simply told her to go and sin no more. Later in the Christian story, Jesus sacrificed Himself for the sins of the world. Atonement was indeed achieved via sacrifice, but it was the self-sacrifice of God Himself, not the sacrifice of other people. Through that self-sacrifice, atonement was achieved for everyone. Forgiveness and Atonement are already available to us without having to do anything except to ask sincerely.
Jimmy Kimmel is not without sin by any religion’s standards. But his and the Woke Left’s performative demands for the sacrifice of other people will not — and cannot — atone for that sin. Jesus taught us to refrain from mob justice, to refrain from condemnation, and tell each other to go forward and sin no more. We should extend that same courtesy to Jimmy Kimmel, and everyone else caught in the crosshairs of the Woke Left’s desperate seeking of atonement. We should remind our fellow Americans to think twice before seeking atonement via this newfound religion. After all, we know Jesus Christ offers a much better way.