The Righteousness and the Woke – Why Evangelicals and Social Justice Warriors Trigger Me in the Same Way

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by Neil Godfrey

Yes, indeed. Not only Social Justice Warriors, but I am sure I am not the only one who has experienced the same in other political, social and religious groups, too…

The Righteousness and the Woke – Why Evangelicals and Social Justice Warriors Trigger Me in the Same Way / Valerie Tarico

It occurred to me recently that my time in Evangelicalism and subsequent journey out have a lot to do with why I find myself reactive to the spread of Woke culture among colleagues, political soulmates, and friends. Christianity takes many forms, with Evangelicalism being one of the more single-minded, dogmatic, groupish and enthusiastic among them. The Woke—meaning progressives who have “awoken” to the idea that oppression is the key conceptexplaining the structure of society, the flow of history, and virtually all of humanity’s woes—share these qualities.

To a former Evangelical, something feels too familiar—or better said, a bunch of somethings feel too familiar.

. . . .

Reaction points:

Two kinds of people, black and white thinking, shaming and shunning, evangelism, hypocrisy, . . . . and the list grows.


Even so, social movements and religions—including those that are misguided—usually emerge from an impulse that is deeply good, the desire to foster wellbeing in world that is more kind and just, one that brings us closer to humanity’s multi-millennial dream of broad enduring peace and bounty. This, too, is something that the Righteous and the Woke have in common. Both genuinely aspire to societal justice—small s, small j—meaning not the brand but the real deal. Given that they often see themselves at opposite ends of the spectrum, perhaps that is grounds for a little hope.

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16 thoughts on “The Righteousness and the Woke – Why Evangelicals and Social Justice Warriors Trigger Me in the Same Way”

  1. I’m currently re-reading Animal Farm. It sums it all up pretty well…

    But a real issue I have with “social justice warriors” is social media bullying, especially of minors. The recent uproar over that kid and the Native American guy (I forget the details because I never really followed the thing) is a perfect example. First of all, the kid, despite wearing a Trump hat, didn’t even do anything. And second of all, no matter how much of a smug jerk he was perceived to be, he’s a minor who was captured on video by a 3rd party and posted to social media without his permission. He doesn’t deserve on-line and real-life harassment because he happened to be somewhere that weird stuff was going on and he was naively participating.

    And I think I’m perhaps more sensitive to this type of stuff because I grew-up in the American South, and had plenty of racist friends and family members and said and did all kinds of stupid stuff as a teenager and young adult, including racist stuff, but that’s not who I am now and many of those same friends and family members no longer hold those views either. The idea of labeling and shamming people based on some point in their life, especially when young, is absurd, and I’m embarrassed that there are those on the left that do it and don’t see the hypocrisy of it.

    Yes, if someone holds a consistent pattern of views that’s one thing, and if people are currently espousing views that’s one thing, but please, stop digging up old out of context photos from 20 years ago, or putting up out of context photos/videos of people, especially young people, who are just being stupid, and then ruining their lives.

    1. Per Animal Farm, indoctrinating the young, is a good way to maintain power.

      • Crypteia ap. “Agoge”. Wikipedia.

      [S]ome youths were allowed to become part of the Crypteia, a type of ‘Secret Police’, where the members were instructed to spy on the Helot population. They would also kill Helot slaves who were out at night or spoke about rebelling against the Government, to help keep the population submissive.

      “Hitler Youth”. Wikipedia.

      The Hitler Youth were used to break up Church youth groups, and in anti-Church indoctrination, used to spy on religious classes and Bible studies, and interfere with church attendance.

      • Red Guards ap. “Cultural Revolution”. Wikipedia.

      To eliminate his rivals within the Communist Party of China (CPC), Mao insisted that revisionists be removed through violent class struggle. China’s youth responded to Mao’s appeal by forming Red Guard groups around the country.

      1. Per “Nathan Phillips Reveals Truth About Viral Protest Video”. The Young Turks. 22 January 2019.

        • Mainstream media originally relied on a dubious Facebook video post as the video source for the story, without checking the sources validity.

        • The “<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CovingtonCatholicHigh_School”>Covington Catholic High School” students were participating in—the “March for Life”—protesting against legally sanctioned abortion.

    2. When I first read the story I ran the video for myself and I have to confess I was slightly confused because I had been told what to expect, but I was not really sure that what I was seeing was what I had been told I would see. But I looked for what I had been told to see, so kind of saw it. A day or so later the other side of the story came out and I realized how I had been manipulated into seeing what I was told to see.

  2. Jesus was a social justice warrior. Christianity has long been divided between those who sought to implement those social justice teachings on this world, and those who focused on expectations of life after death. As those expectations become increasingly untenable for reasonable people, Christian institutions have increasingly become dominated by angry reactionaries unable to adapt to the changing world, and by hucksters who channel this anger for their own gain. If Christianity has a future it will have to embrace the social justice warrior mentality. Without it, Christianity offers nothing but empty promises.

    1. “…a bag of empty promises//all lies and jest//yet a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.” — Simon & Garfunkle (via Demosthenes)

  3. This is one of my big problems with New Atheism.

    Getting rid of religion won’t usher in some golden age of rationality. The psychology that made us religious and irrational will just manifest in other ways.

    1. (Not to mention the fact that it’s pretty solidly established now that spirituality/religiosity is part and parcel of our evolutionary development; that we are “hard-wired” for faith. “Man appears most human to us, when we see him on his knees…..praying.” — Nietzsche)

  4. Recently someone remarked elsewhere that the reason many people issue ‘social justice warrior’ (SJW) sorts of comments is because it is ‘fun’.

    I wonder whether one could more precisely reformulate this remark as follows:

    Many people may issue such comments in large part for two sorts of reasons–

    First, to release aggressive drives without being at great risk for deleterious consequences, or at least punishment from people they respect and who they like socializing with – and-
    second, to enjoy the feeling of being part of a supportive group and receiving its approval.

    Thus in the case of some people, perhaps, the behavior might be similar at least in motivation even if supporting a completely different ideology. For example, if magically placed long-term amongst white racists some would be baiting non-whites and liberals, according to this hypothesis.

    I do not know how to prove or disprove this hypothesis.

    I do not know that the first part of this point (expression of aggressive impulse) typically applies to evangelicals, but the 2nd one (ability to reap approval from peers or revered leaders) probably does.

    This hypothesis of course does not address whether or to what extent the comments of SJWs are correct. It may partially address why the tone of some of some of SJW-type commentary does not feel right to some people, namely that they perceive it as aggressive and shallow, as bullying, in some cases, whether correctly or not.

    1. Hard to say. Somewhere Camus notes that when our ancestors would gather in throngs to witness a witch-burning some would bring along bales of straw to throw on the conflagration to shorten the suffering of the condemned, some would add their straw to increase the flames to add enjoyment to the spectacle; some brought bales to utilize as stools to sit and watch.
      Nietzsche regarded the erection of guillotines in 1789 as a “resurgence of Christian value sentiments.”

  5. Regardless of the matter of content, the tone of SJWism can* feel like the zealous tone of an attack on heretics, on nonbelievers, or on members of a despised competing religion–or perhaps even a despised ethnicity–depending of course on how it is expressed, by whom, etc. In these cases it is not an appeal to reason. It is not even a seductive appeal to emotion of the sort proselytizers often employ. It does not attempt to win over its targets. Perhaps it intends to win over uncertain or wavering members of its audience.

    ( * not all SJW expression fits this description by any means–I refer to a certain sort!!!!)

  6. The SJWs criticised as: unreasonable, sanctimonious, biased, and self-aggrandizing. Will seek to portray themselves as paragons of “social justice”, perhaps comparable to the totalitarians (Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin) appropriation of Marx’s work.

    Meyers, Steven A. (1 October 2007). “Putting Social Justice into Practice in Psychology Courses”. APS Observer.

    Although liberals are often concerned with social justice, the movement traces its origins far beyond contemporary progressive politics. The Hebrew Bible exhorts followers to care about the well-being of and justice for the poor (Leviticus 25:8-55, New International Version; Proverbs 29:7) and to maintain the rights of the oppressed (Psalm 82). Christian Scripture highlights virtue in marginalized groups (e.g., Parable of the Good Samaritan, Luke 10:25-37) and underscores the need to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and care for the stranger (Matthew 25:31-46). The roots of social justice also are evident in the writings of philosophers such as Rousseau and Locke.

    Cf. “Social justice”. Wikipedia.

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