Erica Wanis

One of the primary critiques of religion popular among New Atheists and secularists generally is that it is arrogant and close-minded for any group to claim a monopoly on Truth. The idea that a divine creator had a plan and ordered things a certain way, that he (or she, or it) revealed the Truth to an elect group and that all mankind will be judged by how closely they aligned their lives with the Truth... nothing could be more offensive to the secular progressive worldview. On the contrary, secular progressives claim the mantle of open-mindedness and tolerance. They understand that what feels true for some may not be true for others. They value individual perspective and individual experience and recognize that nothing in life – not morality or values or culture or lifestyle – is one-size-fits-all.

The tolerance that secular progressives boast, however, is little more than a hollow facade. There is nothing tolerant about the secular progressive worldview, and secular progressives are just as arrogant as the most self-righteous holy roller when it comes to their certainty that their version of "the Truth" is the correct one. Offenses against the established secular orthodoxy are increasingly met with a fiery scorn that would have shamed the most zealous of Puritans.

First Things editor R.R. Reno recently addressed this issue in a short essay entitled "The Bolshevik Moment." Drawing parallels from the revolutionary movement that transformed Russia after the fall of the Tsar in 1917, Reno observes:

"American in 2014 certainly is not Russia in 1917. Our society is stable. Our liberal elites are very much in control of the institutions they dominate, and their watchword increasingly is sustainability, not revolution. But theirs is a muddy, ad hoc ruling mentality. We're to be inclusive – except when we're not to be. We're to be tolerant – except when faced with the intolerable. We're to affirm – except when we're to deny and denounce. We're to think critically – except about liberal pieties. Our Ivy League presidents are all liberals, but I sincerely doubt they could give a coherent explanation of or justification for where the lines are to be drawn. This fuzziness makes them vulnerable. They're easily intimidated by students and faculty who out-flank them on the left. They're cowed by the Party of the Pure."


Erica Wanis

Erica Wanis is a consultant for the John Jay Institute's Center for a Just Society. She resides in Leesburg, VA, with her husband and son.