Our Pagan Theocracy

Our Pagan Theocracy June 30, 2023

The estimable Joy Pullman of The Federalist has written a stirring critique of “Pride Month,” which requires all good people and all socially-acceptable institutions to do obeisance to the LGBTQ+ cause by flying the rainbow flag and making other symbolic gestures of submission.

She argues, in the words of the title of her article, that Pride Is The Flag Of American Occupation, showing how the rainbow flag has often displaced the stars and stripes–even on embassies and other official government buildings–and how it represents a regime change from our constitutional order.

But what struck me most about her article is her contention that we are seeing the rise of a “pagan theocracy.”  As the overall society rejects Christianity, it turns to other belief systems that are given absolute moral and spiritual authority.  While progressives keep raising the specter of a Christian theocracy–as if that could happen–the real threat to our liberties is coming from a pagan theocracy.  She writes:

Paganism doesn’t keep the trains running or un-looted, but it does keep people involved in rituals that distract from their own dysfunction. Some religious rites resolve dysfunction — penitence and forgiveness, for a key example. Others, such as scapegoating, perpetuate dysfunction.

Through repentance, people take responsibility for their actions and promise to improve. Through scapegoating, people transfer responsibility for their actions to uncontrollable entities like the rain god, white supremacy, and global warming. You should be able to see why a society based on the former would have more functioning infrastructure and why a society based on the latter would have less.

It’s no accident that cancel culture mushroomed as a ritual in the age of identity politics. Its entire cycle of repeat public shaming without resolution is a pagan religious ritual.

Identity politics unites pagan religious impulses with legal structures for enforcement and validation. This intertwined religious and political system — a theocracy — is displacing basic American rights like being assumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law and being legally protected from public slander and libel.

Now our own government endorses this religious impulse and elevates its symbols atop the symbols of our former constitutional order. It’s an occupation flag signifying regime change.

It’s ultimately not surprising, because every government has to operate upon a widely accepted code of morality. Every government is informed and affected by the religion of its people. The basis of culture, as Russell Kirk noted, is the cult: a religion. From that religion’s philosophical underpinnings flow government, the arts, and all the rest.

I would add, though, that this is not orthodox paganism, if I can use that expression.  Most paganism is built around fertility but this heretical paganism is built on infertility.  Most paganism reveres  nature. Today’s heretical paganism  pays lip service to nature by consuming organic foods, by adhering to the tenets of environmentalism, and by its apocalyptic preaching about global warming.  But by assuming that human beings control nature–to the point of being able to destroy it–and by insisting that human beings are not part of nature, as well as by denying the sexed natural body and by downplaying the imperative to reproduce, they are violating pagan orthodoxy.

Still, Pullman gives us a useful “explanatory paradigm,” as the postmodernists say, that can help us to understand our times.  And she suggests, drawing on what some of the adherents are themselves saying, that the pagan deity being served is not one of the ancient deities of antiquity or one of the nature spirits of animism, but someone else:  the father of lies himself.


Photo: Pride Flag flying at the United States Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. via Rawpixel, Public Domain, CC0

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