Beneath the (Godless) steeple: How the left is a church


By: Garrick Hoffman, Staff Writer

In an epoch of rising secularism in America, with Pew Research Center reporting a six-point jump from 16 to 22 percent of Americans claiming atheism, agnosticism or non-affiliation of a religion, we are hearing at seemingly higher frequency a barrage of scathing criticism aimed at religion.
The late Christopher Hitchens, a brilliant journalist, atheist and writer, titled his bestselling 2007 book, God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, in which he describes at length how toxic religion is.
Bill Maher, a comedian and unrelenting critic of religion, produced a film just a year after Hitchens’s book was released, titled Religulous. Though it no doubt delivered the laughs, it was nonetheless another medium – in addition to his show – to express his opprobrium of religion.
Comedian George Carlin, also known for being an unabashed critic of religion, said, “I was a Catholic until I reached the age of reason.” However, it’s worth noting that Carlin also said at one time that “For a while, I thought of myself as an atheist until I realized it was a belief, too.”

This Carlin quote is telling not only because it’s true, but also because atheists would scoff at the idea, dismissing it as nonsense and believing they’re liberated from “a set of beliefs,” as if they’re untainted and autonomous freethinkers with complete agency. Faithless liberals would scantily consider how much their “sect” is religious. Yet even in their denial – or oblivion – the secular left does, in fact, occupy a pew of its own – the pew inside the Church of the Secular Left. Here’s why.

Some or many (radical) leftists – particularly in the Millennial generation it seems – essentially believe in original sin, a Christian doctrine found in Genesis. Under the idea of original sin, everyone born after Adam and Eve is born into sin because of Adam and Eve’s “wicked” behaviors in the Garden of Eden, where they ate a piece of fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. This resulted, according to the ancient Biblical story, in the fall of mankind.

Sure, in the doctrine of leftism there’s no such fruit. There’s no one naked in a garden, at least not typically. And there’s no serpent trying to tempt those people into unwise behavior (though this could be subject to debate). However, the Church of the Left’s version of original sin is the inherited sin of racism. They believe that being born white – male or female – by default makes an individual racist. Additionally, they tend to believe being born a male is essentially a sin in it of itself because it by default means that, as they argue, men are uniquely privileged in society, and thereby morally void and motivated only by sinister, selfish desires and an unquenchable thirst for power and dominance.

Regarding this ostensible racism, look no further than this Portland Forecaster quote from Deena Metzler, a white South Portland resident who publicly spoke before Portland City Council about the Black Lives Matter protest in July 2015:“I’m here to tell you if you are white, you are racist,” she said. “It is in all of us.”

Like Christians who tell you that being born human means you’re an innately dirty and condemned sinner who ought to repent to Jesus for salvation, Metzler and her cohorts essentially tell white people that being born as they are is tantamount to being born into sin; that they’re morally depraved racists who should feel guilty and repent for not only being white, but for harboring that inherent sin (and of course, for being “silent”). This is in part what fuels their exhortations for white reparations.

Although some white leftists like Metzler are likely just charged by their own white guilt and an aspiration for moral high ground when they make claims like this, it nonetheless comes across as a pernicious attempt to demonize and paint a scarlet letter on an entire people (aye, and with a broad brush, even though it seems I’m only ever hearing from the left that we ought not make “generalizations” about people). Further, it hardly seems conducive to societal success. You can’t galvanize people in action by shaming them, guilt-tripping them, and lobbing ad hominems at them – which, indeed, the lexicon of the left is rife with. Conversely, claims like this might actually alienate reasonable liberals because they oftentimes want to eschew the radicals but still aim toward social progress.

So what do these behaviors remind you of? The alienation, shaming, and guilt-tripping? Let me put it this way: do you remember that “preacher” standing outside in the first week of class?
And all of this is just the tip of the iceberg. I’ll be expounding on this further for next week’s issue.


  1. An interesting strong man, but I rather come in one it has been heard and debunked many times. I don’t know why I default to expecting intellectual honesty or journalistic integrity, but I am always consistently disappointed.

    Let’s unpack this uneducated nonsense, shall we?

    First and foremost, not only theist side on the left. There are liberal atheist, and conservative atheists. There are left, right, and Center. Being an atheist just means you do not believe that one or more gods exist. There are atheists who believe in all sorts of other stuff, just not dogs. By technicality all Buddhists are also atheists, reincarnation and visions. So right off the bat,”USM Free Press” is arguing against the straw man. He is trying to assign an artificial political and cultural position to a group of people that are not actually a cohesive group and who do not universally identify with the policies and beliefs he tries to saddle them with.

    While I respect George Carlin as a comedian and Entertainer, he’s not exactly a particularly skilled philosopher or someone that I would take vocabulary lessons from. Atheism is not in and of itself a belief. There are atheistic belief systems, of atheism is only a small component of them.

    Atheism has no tennets, no dogma, no rituals, and no authority figures. None of the traditional trappings of religion.

    S4 this author’s frankly infantile narrative, he or she has taken a variety of Fringe nut bags who happen to have left into a small amount of publicity, and woven them together as some kind of Representative of a political movement he does not agree with. This is the kind of ignorance, tribalism, fear-mongering, and frankly dishonest yellow journalism that we as a culture need to be putting behind us. Especially in the modern political and media climate, we should be striving for something better.


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