There was a time when critical thinking meant the ability to question prevailing dogma and subjecting it to logic, reason, and experience, and perhaps consequently, this led to religion being recently rebuffed, specially when its high priests haughtily rejected thinking’s demands by blithely escaping behind the notions of faith and obedience. Accordingly, many matters of faith that should have had a rightful place in public discourse are now roundly ignored.
But then along comes “wokeism.”
Supposedly, wokeism denotes a conscious “awakeness” to the plights of minorities and other forms of social inequalities. In reality, it is merely an ungrammatical descriptive of an insufferable self-righteous attitude held by people with incoherent set of mental synapses (which liberal progressives like to pose as “ideas”).
THE NEW RELIGIONBut wokeism has morphed into something else. “There is a new religion. It is moving like a tidal wave through every facet of western culture, shaping and redefining society as it goes. This religion masquerades under the guise of compassion and justice, but underneath is an evil ideology that is incompatible with western values and incongruent with the Christian worldview.” That new religion is wokeism. “Although it has not been organized into any formal religious structure, it has all the functions of religious doctrine. It has a unique epistemology (theory of knowledge), an evaluation of the human condition, and a redemption narrative” with the goal of “complete dismantling and rebuilding of western culture from the ground up” (“Wokeism: The New Religion of The West,” Max Funk, October 2020).
Princeton professor Robert George once conducted an informal Twitter survey with the question, “If an established religion is one whose dogmas cannot be publicly denied or questioned without risk of becoming an outcast, being fired or disciplined at work, or losing opportunities for educational or professional advancement, what is the established religion of the US today?” 89.5% of respondents answered: wokeism.
And one sees that today in the Philippines: the awe and reverence with which sexual identity is held, sacrificing womanhood in the name of “sexual orientation and gender identity” particularly that of transgender ideology and same sex marriage, the infallibility of climate change based on total worship of the environment at the cost of humanity and human innovation, and of “social justice” and Marxism while immolating human rights and self-responsibility.
MERE ORTHODOXYThe influence of wokeism is such that it has rammed its way through and infiltrated government, academia, media, and even the Catholic Church (the latter seeing a number of its clergy preferring to call boycotts on a movie rather than teach about the doctrines on marriage, the family, and sexuality).
Thus, local governments and businesses are forced to contend with mob mentality and mob-inspired legislation, holding “Pride parades” or applying hugely expensive CSR measures that no way could reasonably benefit the planet (particularly so when one considers that Philippine activity is miniscule when compared to the utter environmental damage done by a country such as China), actresses forced to mouth liberal progressive dictation for fear of being “canceled”, and universities terrified of upholding the truth and even cancelling lectures on homosexuality or alternative views on 1970s Martial Law for fear of offending students.
THE CHURCH OF COVIDThen, there is, of course, wokeism’s brightest sect, “COVID”: “It has converted us all, yet no one noticed. Without any conscious effort, or formal instruction, we have all become members of this newest and most widespread faith of all.
“The very orthodox ‘covidians’ entail being “strict adherents to the letter of the law. They follow the guidelines religiously, can quote UKGov [in the Philippines its IATF] rules without hesitation, are experts on what can be done when, by whom, to whom, inside or outside, with a mask, without a mask, before 10 p.m., after 10 p.m., with or without five others (preferably also Orthodox). They may get hot and bothered, even febrile, if others disagree with their approach. But don’t argue with them, they are the righteous, with the hotline to the Truth.” (“COVID is the new religion, and that is the Gospel Truth,” Pulse, December 2020)
The World Health Organization is the new Vatican, Anthony Fauci is the new pope. And covidism’s central sacrament, its modern day eucharist, is the vaccine. Vaccine has become so sacred that parents faithful to this religion would not even question the vaccine for the death of their vaccinated child, would not even permit the vaccine to be suspected as the cause of death, and instead blame everything else: COVID-19, the unvaccinated, or even God (“God’s will”). Blame everything else except the vaccine that did not even exist a year and a half ago and is still under emergency authorization.
Thus, “there is something seriously wrong with this viewpoint: the idea that woke ideology is secular. On the contrary, while many commentators have noted the quasi-religious fervor of social justice warriors, complete with foundational ‘sacred’ texts, go-to advocates (or rather, high priests), taboos and heresy trials, we propose that the time has come to treat woke ideology as being a belief system that places paramount ethical value on identity markers — race, sexual orientation and ‘gender identity.’” It operates as a religion, not least in the legal sense. (“Is Gender Wokeism the New Religion of the West?,” Heritage, July 2021)
Yet, “if their belief system is successfully enshrined at the societal level — and the winds certainly appear to favor them — it will mean the woke would have to compete on an equal basis with all other faiths, rather than claiming that their beliefs are incontrovertible facts which everyone must honor.”
SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATEIndeed. Since wokeism is now a religion, acting on faith rather than science or reason, then it should be treated as such. Yes, wokeism perhaps has indeed forced its way alongside the ranks of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism. But it should also mean that, in matters of government policy and public discourse, it must now be subject to the very same rule that liberal progressives always shriek out when women and men of faith chose to rightfully exercise their religion in public: “Keep religion out of government!”
Jemy Gatdula is a senior fellow of the Philippine Council for Foreign Relations and a Philippine Judicial Academy law lecturer for constitutional philosophy and jurisprudence.