There are loads of obsessives today: folks fixated on their phone, TV, sports, race, sex, etc. But the only ones labeled “fanatics” by secular media are religious. And, Lord knows, they are among the last people with whom I’d ever want to get stuck in an elevator. In this article, I discuss the oppressive moralism of secular political fanatics.
Oppressive Moralism of Secular Political Fanatics
As Deepak Chopra said, “God gave man the truth. Then the Devil came in and said, “Hey, let’s organize it and call it ‘religion’.” The bumper sticker version is more blunt: “Dear Lord, save me from your followers.” Yet there are secular (worldly) fanatics too. Because they lack a religious center, many have a spiritual or emotional hole crying to be filled. So as traditional religion declines, we see a marked rise in political activism, especially save-the-world groups concerning “climate change,” “equity,” and “social justice.”
For many, their new religion is politics, their faith is their political ideology, their church is their party, and their Christmas-Easter observations are elections and primaries. Like religious zealots, they fervently believe they have a monopoly on truth and are hell-bent to spread their convictions, whatever the consequences.
Political fanatics lack a coherent moral compass
But history shows secular political fanatics do far more harm since they lack a Golden Rule, Ten Commandments, or fear of a judgmental God to restrain them. The godless want to create a heaven too — but right here today since they think this is all there is. So they have a peculiarly uncompromising urgency to remake society now.
What a horrific toll many political true believers have wrought. With no religious humility to reign them in, they have created the first totalitarian dictatorships in which the party-state (national secular church) prescribes every aspect of citizens’ lives.
Inspired by the French Revolution’s Jacobins who sought to create “a republic of virtue,” 20th-century communists fought to forge a new “revolutionary man.” So Marxists in Russia, Eastern Europe, North Korea, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Cuba criminalized all religious, political, social, and even private personal conduct deemed “ideologically incorrect.”
A Russian Bolshevik once asked dictator Joseph Stalin to execute a group because “They have no [communist] faith.” The stridently secular Nazi Adolf Hitler declared, “Anyone who interprets National Socialism merely as a political movement knows almost nothing about it. It is more than religion; it is the determination to create a new man.”
Obsessive moralism leads to intolerable tyrannies
The death toll alone from such anti-religious regimes is light years worse than that of all religious wars and tyrannies combined — and in such a terribly brief span of time. Indeed, tolerance and forgiveness can be mortal sins to atheist political puritans.
Since the 1980s, as America has become ever more secular, there’s been an explosion in the number of college campuses with draconian “hate speech” codes (and most of my university students said they could not discuss any controversial issue in high school), in state-mandated anti-smoking bans on even private property, in confiscatory taxes (the Bible says tithing — just 10 percent — is enough), in gun control laws, in ever more censorship on social media, and state diktats against even church attendance during the Covid panic. Many secular do-gooders want to further regulate and tax fatty foods and soda, as well as to dictate where we can set our thermostats.
Obsessive moralism from fanatical experts
Like religious meddlers, secular idealists piously protest that all their efforts are simply to help everyone from harming himself. But they seek to use the state to impose their worldview far more than most religious believers. “Be safe,” “public health,” and “protecting the environment” have become their mantras. C.S. Lewis described such neurotic reformers well:
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”
There’s also an intellectual smugness among a great many seculars lacking in most believers: “science proves it, I believe it, and that settles it.” For example, many Darwinists resemble theocrats in their ferocious opposition to any alternative theories to evolution even being mentioned in government schools. They are blind to their own religious bigotry.
Rage alongside the machine
Lots of political activists appear to be miserable rageaholics endlessly trying to control others’ speech and behavior. The Orwellian irony is that they are typically the very “woke,” politically correct “multi-culturalists” most loudly preaching “diversity” and “tolerance” while condemning “hate.” They desperately need to build a life of their own because no politician, party, or government can ever fulfill us. As the Persian mystic Rumi observed, “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” Only you can find the keys to unlock your own potential.
Though there are plenty of exceptions, most believers don’t get remotely as hung up on politics since their emotional and social outlets are family and church or synagogue. They’re far more concerned with personal salvation and morality while letting God take care of the rest. In contrast, so many secular people are hell-bent on saving the world through aggression. What they really need is to work individually and in their communities to solve their own problems rather than be moral busybodies. And, in the end, we could all practice a lot more humility and tolerance.