When you hear the phrase “organized religion,” what comes to mind? Perhaps large groups of people performing rituals, proselytization campaigns, or emotion-laden sermons from on high. Or maybe you think of elaborate creeds, moral dogmas, or insistence upon unity.
As secularism becomes the norm, the 'fanatics' obsessed with organized religion have retreated from the spotlight. A record number of Americans claim to have no religious affiliation. It seems that religion has lost and that a new era of post-religion is on the horizon. Yet, a vocal group of religious minorities has donned the mantle of protecting once-celebrated sacred values.
The proselytizers of the progressive church have formed their own dogma, and conservatives have been exposed as the heretics. The Stanford religion reveals itself most vividly in the clergy of the leftist coalition and the administration’s policies toward sexual ethics. With the fervor of faith, this group has single-handedly revived the crusade against the hordes of heathenism, wielding institutional power in one hand and social power in the other.
In an act of supreme courage, they gathered their flock and held a service on campus last spring. Their mission was characteristically noble: to protest the prophesied Antichrist—and apparent scapegoat—the chosen one of Satan, Mike Pence.
I was only able to watch from a distance, but it was a sight to behold. A mass of students congregated in a tight group, chanting hymns of rebuke and raising their signs with ritualistic fervor. This religion, like any other, has its own ideology. With the rhetorical command of esteemed theologians, they masterfully redefined hate to mean “disagreement with modern social values,” condemning Pence as a bigot while absolving themselves of the same label, despite their copious use of targeted profanity and insults.
To protect themselves from the wicked heresies of the enemy, the preachers decreed that “we don’t need to learn from Mike Pence.” As the lost souls of the reprobate continued wandering into Dinkelspiel Auditorium, they zealously humbled the sinners by shouting “shame on you.” Sound familiar?
Progressivism blatantly fashions itself after dogmatic religion. Look no further than Stanford’s confession of faith on sexual ethics. On its Beyond SexEd page, Stanford pledges to help students “intentionally develop their sexual citizenship.” Apparently, this means ensuring that students are one click away from porn—you don’t even have to type, they actually link it for you.
The administration hopes to address sexual violence by encouraging the degeneracy that creates the problem in the first place. Forget virtue ethics and chastity; say hello to quizzes on “sexual projects,” where you can ponder over your desire to “acquire more partners” and experience “physical release,” “stress relief,” and “satisfaction of curiosity.” Stanford creates a plethora of sexual mores and constructs its own morality, and then expects you to show blind faith to these tenets—almost as if it were a church.
This university, like most others, has its own religion replete with dogmas. This is the religion of “modernity” and “liberal democracy”—the one that is taught to us in classrooms, the Daily, upvoted Fizz comments. It is a religion with one central tenet: it is forbidden to forbid. Do what makes you happy. “Happiness,” of course, just means “what makes you feel good”—so in come the priests and the priestesses with their asterisks of “consent” and “respect” to prevent sexual assault from becoming ‘church’ policy. Damage control par excellence. Does it work? Stanford’s safety reports seem to have rendered a verdict.
Maybe your sensus fidei (sense of faith) has already gone off, but here’s another shocker: in all likelihood, you follow this religion. In fact, you might even love this religion. Why else would you think that politicians like Mike Pence are unequivocally evil and that abortion is the greatest invention since sliced bread? Or that access to Indica should be a constitutional right and that you need to announce your pronouns within twenty milliseconds of introducing yourself?
Spoiler alert: it’s probably not because you cracked open Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics (the bedrock of modern Christian morality) and reasoned through your first principles.
This is not meant as an attempt to condescend or as a condemnation of dogma. The point is that we all have dogmas. These are the values that are not “updated” on a whim. They are the hidden principles on which we form our lives—the beliefs that we receive from ecclesial, social, and political authority. The only way to escape them is to never interact with another person or institution again (which is why GovCo exists). The question is not whether we should have dogma, but which authority we accept as infallible. Now, this is where we exercise our “intellectual vitality” and ask the tough questions: What is true? Why do I believe this?
If you’re an average Stanford student, your infallible authority is probably your friends, or that teacher you really like, or a politician you admire. Maybe it’s Lizzo. These authorities, in turn, receive their dogmas from other infallible sources. The result is a widespread fabric of belief and authority: a religion with its own rituals, creeds, and evangelistic spirit—all of which can be found in American liberalism.
Stanford has adopted progressivism as its organized religion of choice. But, I cannot bring myself to believe in this religion—not only are there simply too many unanswered questions, but there is too much at stake to blindly conform. One can only hope that I will be saved from this crisis of faith—perhaps a pretty progressive girl asking me whether I’m voting for Hilary in 2024 will do the trick. In the meantime, to the skeptics and doubters, know that you are not alone.