The Curious Rise of Anti-religious Hysteria

To the outspoken British libertarian Frank Furedi, nearly
everything that staunch liberals believe about conservatives is
wrong. Simply looking at the terms we’ve cooked up for
conservatives — right-wing, fundamentalist, extremist — betrays
the amount of emotion and vitriol that has seeped into the left
versus right debate. ‘Until recently,’
Furedi
writes in Spiked
, ‘cultural expressions of religious
faith were simply considered old-fashioned and gauche. But over the
past decade, scorn has turned into bigotry and hatred.’

This ‘bigotry and hatred,’ Furedi argues, has created a skewed
series of myths about the religious right that most liberals seem
to hold dear to their hearts. Among these myths is that Hollywood
pulp like the Chronicles of Narnia represents the
religious right’s attempt to push its doctrinaire agenda on
everyone (on your children, even), and that evangelical
Christianity is on the rise in this country (the numbers suggest it
is not). Furedi argues that these commonly held beliefs are just
that — beliefs, with little or no evidence backing them up.
Rather, they provide a scapegoat, allowing the left to find
everything they dislike about our culture embodied in one
identifiable political and cultural group. Beyond alliteration,
however, there is no need for ‘right’ to constantly follow
‘religious.’ To highlight what the left has lost, Furedi quotes
Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of TIKKUN Magazine: the ‘last
time Democrats had real social power was when they linked their
legislative agenda with a spiritual politics articulated by Martin
Luther King.’

Furedi sees the liberal mindset as blinded by its own dogmatic
assertions and condemnations, deriding the conservative base as
‘thick and gullible.’ Furedi suggests that until the fear of
religious sentiment is removed from the liberal platform — and
replaced by a more soulful, honest, and meaningful doctrine of true
inclusivity — liberals in the United States will remain in a
position of embattled snobbery. That position resents both the
public’s need for larger meaning (through religion-laden politics)
and their own party’s inability to provide such meaning. However,
Furedi cautions that the remedy he calls for will be useless if it
is simply political opportunism that lacks substantive moral
vision.
Nick Rose

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Curious rise of Anti-religious Hysteria

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