This is a chaotic time. The Christian has been forced to think and rethink his or her deeply held beliefs and presuppositions regarding the many claims of systemic social injustice, sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer.
Let’s get one thing straight: any clearly identifiable act of injustice is rightly opposed and condemned by the Christian, regardless of whether it was motivated by race, sex, religion, or other social background. The details of George Floyd’s death appear to indicate an act of cruel injustice.
But opposing individual acts of injustice is a different task than that of the Social Justice movement.
The Social Justice movement — that is, the academia and activist backed social and political movement that makes most of the noise — are the folks that have rewritten the playbook on civil rights and are using more radical definitions of racism to move the hearts and minds of the American public to specific ends.
It may surprise some Americans that the Social Justice cause is so widely accepted in media, schools, businesses, and much of the public square. It may also surprise Christians to learn that Social Justice is accepted in many churches and Christian institutions.
What I wish for you, dear brother or sister in Christ, is to see the Social Justice movement as more than a group of angry young people or a grassroots campaign that has emerged recently. It is more than a political movement wishing to change a few policies.
It is more than a call for people of different races and backgrounds to treat each other with the same love and respect that we treat our family and expect in return. It is a movement that no longer works at the micro or individual level, but has demands at the macro or institutional level because it sees race as the primary force driving the world’s problems.
Moreover, the Social Justice movement has become a religion that is thoroughly in opposition to basic tenets of the Christian faith. And Social Justice is not only a religion, it is the civic religion of our day.
The Religion of Social Justice
I feel the need to say again; there are well meaning individuals that have taken up the cause to bring peace among social classes and provide aide to those in need. These are not necessarily practitioners of the Religion of Social Justice.
Movements like Black Lives Matter, corporations like the New York Times, academic institutions like the Smithsonian Institute, and many prestigious universities are the ardent evangelists of the Religion of Social Justice.
Just turn on the news and you will see religious acts every night.
You will see the mass proselytizing on the streets of major cities in the United States.
You will see the iconoclasm of the Religion of Social Justice urging the removal of competing symbols.
You will see the raising of new icons of martyrs and symbols of the religion
You will see religious rites; symbolic or real gestures of religious significance.
More importantly, the Religion of Social Justice promotes an ideology. The ideology speaks to the minds and hearts of followers in religious and anthropological terms. The fact that dissenters of the ideology are punished so extremely turns the ideology into religious dogma.
First, the religion provides a framework for seeing the world, which traditional religions have always done for their adherents. In the case of Social Justice, it portrays the force driving the plight of humanity as class struggle; and the salvation from that plight as a dismantling of classes so that humanity can flourish. For example, in this view, the reason why there is poverty and crime is because one group (whites, males, etc.) have more power than others. Salvation would be to ensure that all races have the same amount of power, causing crime and poverty to naturally be eliminated.
Because class struggle drives the course of humanity, every aspect of life must be seen as something that either furthers or dismantles class struggle. It is either holy or anathema. For this reason, the new morality of the Religion is determined by your efforts (or lack thereof) to dismantle systems of class struggle. Every word you say, every gesture you make, every commercial interaction, every political policy or candidate you support, every historical figure, every academic article, every scientific discovery, every classic novel, every government organization — every aspect of life — is either encouraging class struggle or not; holy or anathema.
With the new morality comes new moral judgments and condemnations. First, the mob — I mean, the Magisterium — will punish a person, their family, or their business for sinful behavior. For example, a liberal yoga studio owner in Denver who employs homosexuals and people of color was accused of not doing enough to speak out against racism. Within days, the yoga studio, financially hurting from the effects of COVID, received hundreds of angry emails and cancellations of their support, forcing the owner to close all nine locations for good.
Sometimes, pure sacrifice of innocents is needed in the Religion of Social Justice. Consider the two employees of a Portland bakery who were fired for refusing to serve a black woman after the bakery had already closed. The owner admitted they were following company protocol and did nothing wrong. However, his reason for firing the employees was that “sometimes impact outweighs intent”.
A sin in the Religion of Social Justice is any act that does not give a minority race, ethnicity, gender, or social class whatever it is they demand. The Religion claims that any inequality of any circumstance for members of different classes furthers injustice amongst the classes and is punishable to the most extreme extent.
Recently, Tucker Carlson (conservative analyst for Fox News) has said that the New York Times (major media outlet for the Religion of Social Justice) will publish his new address, even though he moved from Washington D.C. to avoid death threats him and his family have received for his critical view against Black Lives Matters. The Religion does not look lightly at unbelievers.
Because there are so many examples of the Magisterium pronouncing judgment and enacting punishment to individuals, their families, and their businesses, many feel the need to placate this religious mob. They go out of their way to pronounce their faith in the Religion of Social Justice to avoid judgement. Companies like Amazon, the NFL, Marvel Studios, Coca-Cola, and a host of others have made public statements ensuring they’re on the right side of the Religion’s righteous anger.
— Amazon (@amazon) May 31, 2020
When one commits the sin of questioning the beliefs of the Religion, one must quickly repent and pay penance; often times they are not absolved of their sins.
Like the former Obama campaign strategist who tweeted data showing that race riots reduce Democratic voting. The mob was angry. He tried to repent, saying he was irresponsible with data, but he was not absolved and was fired days later. A Los Angeles soccer player was fired for views that his wife made public, suffering for the sins of the family. Or the liberal economics professor who lost his job because he didn’t think BLM asking to defund the police was a good strategy. Once a believer, excommunicated as an apostate.
These stories that are printed and repeated in our culture demonstrate that the Religion of Social Justice is the civic religion of the United States. The effect of repeatedly publishing these stories is, anthropologically speaking, a demonstration of who is good and who is evil in our culture. They set the terms for who is “us” and who is “them”. They teach members of our culture that to further this specific Religion is the right thing to do; and to oppose it will bring ruin.
Institutions from universities to companies and charities to churches have pathetically surrendered to the Religion without thinking through its tenets. For this reason, the mob feels justified in every act of its vengeance. The conclusion is that we have impassioned religious wars playing out on the streets of major US cities in the form of “protests”.
The Religion of Social Justice is Anti-Christian
The Christian is undoubtedly seeing the rise of the Religion and considering whether it is compatible with the Christian faith. The societal pressure to adopt its tenets is immense.
There are many who have openly and simplistically syncretized the two seemingly well. After all, doesn’t God promote Justice? Didn’t Jesus command us to care for the least of these1?
First, it should be noted that Justice is not the goal of the Religion of Social Justice; at least in the traditional sense of impartially setting things right, or even the Biblical sense of holding individuals and groups accountable to the laws of God.
The goal of the Religion is Equity. Equity, which is kind of a new buzzword, is literally defined as all classes having all the same social-economic outcomes. In other words, everyone has the same material things and social privileges. From the Center for Social Inclusion:
we achieve racial equity when race no longer determines one’s socioeconomic outcomes4
Popular social justice author Ibram Kendi defines equity like this:
Racial inequity is when two or more racial groups are not standing on approximately equal footing.5
This is different from equality. Equality gives everyone the same rights and opportunities, but makes no determination of outcome. For example, the Religion of Social Justice says that more whites than people of color owning their own homes is an example of inequity. Even though legally all people have the same rights and opportunities to own their own home, the disparities in actual home ownership among people of different races needs to be fixed. And this can be played out in all areas ad nauseam; college graduations rates, individuals in jail, number of CEOs running big companies, number of teachers and law enforcement, percentage of doctors, number of lawyers, number of chefs, and artists, and bankers, and pilots, and on and on.
(Curiously, I’m waiting for the Religion of Social Justice to protest the inequity in racial makeup of major league sports like the NBA and NFL)
Never mind that the goal of equity is statistically impossible, the theory is also founded in a very radical principle. According to the Religion of Social Justice:
One either believes problems are rooted in groups of people, as a racist, or locates the roots of problems in power and policies, as an antiracist.6
In other words, all of the world’s problems are somehow rooted in improper racial relations. In their view, (Kendi calls it Antiracism), if we wish to solve the problems within humanity, it can only be solved through radical equalizing measures, like forcing more people of color to be doctors, professors, bankers, politicians, etc.
It should be obvious by now that the Religion’s understanding of Humanity and its goal for Humanity’s progress is completely different from orthodox Christianity.
The Christian faith teaches that Humanity’s problems are due to the effects of a broken world and a Human race imbued with a propensity towards sin. Sin driven by race is only one facet of mankind’s tendency toward evil.
The curse that God has placed on this world7 in response to Adam and Eve’s sin is a world where resources (food, materials, etc.) require hard labor and cooperation with God’s creation (plants, animals, rocks, etc.). Many of the things that aid life — Buildings, electricity, engines, cars, or a single house — is the result of an amazing cooperation between Man’s labor and God’s creation.
This also means that there will always be the possibility of scarcity. Mankind has and will always experience the scarcity in the form of hunger, or poverty, or lack of physical care. Life will always have struggle; Christians have known and accepted this since the beginning.
The job of the Christian is not to undo that curse and bring about material salvation, for only Christ can and will do that. The job of the Christian is to work within the confines of that curse and care for every human being that they can because every human being is a creature endowed with the image of God8.
The Religion of Social Justice views humans as essentially moral and good and the world in full cooperation with mankind and itself. When classes are dismantled, mankind will naturally flourish. This comes from its Marxist roots and 18th century philosophy in the Religion of Humanity, but is ultimately in complete contradiction with essential Christian orthodoxy and Biblical teaching.
As long as there is sin, there will be violence and improper treatment of our fellow man. As long as we live in a broken world, there will be disparities in individuals and people groups’ resources and living conditions. This is not to say that the Christian should give up caring for one another, indeed our work on this earth is to bring the love, peace, healing, and beauty of God to broken individuals in a broken world. And we get to experience God ourselves as broken people now filled with the Spirit of the Living God.
But the salvation of the human soul is the job of Christ alone and his work on the cross. And the redemption of a broken world belongs to God at the return of Christ when he restores the world to the state of Eden.
I pray that our brothers and sisters in Christ who are deeply contemplating this new Religion will consider that the Christian faith has given us the answers to these persistent and global problems. Our job is to be obedient to the way of Christ and to patiently await the restoration of our broken world at the return of Christ.
- Matthew 25.40-45
- Matthew 7.12
- Leviticus 19.15
- Kendi, Ibram X.. How to Be an Antiracist (p. 18). Random House Publishing Group.
- Kendi, Ibram X.. How to Be an Antiracist (p. 9). Random House Publishing Group.
- Genesis 3.17-20
- Genesis 1.26,27