The equitarian church
We do not, today, live in a society infused with traditional religion.
There are churches and synagogues and mosques and such dotted through American cities, but with certain exceptions, they do not act as the focal point for everyday life.
We are far from the signs and portents and saintly intercessions of the Middle Ages, distanced from the centrality of the church on the green that centered town life until only a hundred years ago, and even regular attendance of services by the whole family on a regular basis is now seen as a quaint tradition remembered mostly for tight shoes and sibling station-wagon struggles.
Houses of worship still play a crucial role in American life, but a cathedral today is just as likely to be appreciated for its architecture as its religious significance.
Religion is no longer everywhere -- it is very specifically somewhere, housed in a building you may or may not go into and that’s that. Some say they are “spiritual, but not religious” and that’s enough to end a conversation.
That is both true and false -- true in the Western world about religions that worship an external omniscient omnipotent deity, false about the new transactional religion that imbues society today.
Climate change, anti-racism, universal leveling, obsequity, credentialism, censorship, gender activism, alms for obedience, bureaucracy are the theological touchstones -- the Stations of the Cross, if you will -- of the new Equitarian religion.
Equitarianism , or “wokeness,” has often been compared to a traditional religion and that comparison is valid as far as it goes. But Equitarianism -- as an internally-based transactional belief system -- is not just comparable to belief systems but is in fact an actual religion.
It has sacred texts (data metrics, Kendi, the New York Times,) it offers forgiveness (albeit conditional) for original sin (not the Fall, but the mere fact of existence,) it imposes behavioral restrictions, it promises -- if everyone joins and does as they are told -- heaven on earth, and most importantly, it has saints and icons and priests who are trusted implicitly.
It demands unceasing belief, an addiction to cant, a willingness to sacrifice others, and has a dead-eyed certainty in its correctness.
And like the Catholic church in Europe in the Middle Ages and Islam in parts of the world today it is utterly ubiquitous. From cradle to grave, the church in Europe was there at even turn -- the calendar, holidays, your position in society, commerce, planting -- all aspects of life were subsumed into its beliefs and bureaucracies.
If, for example, newspapers existed in the Middle Ages, headlines like “Youth Worried Rosary Not Being Said Enough, Will Doom Humanity” would have been prevalent. Today, those headlines are real: "Is humanity doomed? Young Canadians share how climate change is affecting their outlook."
Equitarianism is inescapable. Sports teams wear special Equitarian uniforms, television commercials sell Equitarian products, and the religion even offers indulgences in the form of carbon offsets and approved charitable organizations that help the message to donate to.
Equitarianism claims vast swaths of cultural territory – for example, it believes in “science,” but willfully misunderstands that cannot be “believed in;” it is a process that cannot be “followed” just as one cannot follow a car one is driving.
Equitarians believes in civic virtue, compelled or not -- so did Robespierre.
Equitarians believe in a wrathful earth, hence the movement to appease it by turning back the civilization clock and the population numbers.
Equitarians believe in the many, not the one, hence the war on individualism.
Equitarians believe in control for the good the community, no matter what, hence the pandemic response and its suppression of both informed opinion and incontrovertible facts.
Equitarianism has a theological and hierarchical structure -- from text to teacher to true believer and back to the text for a self-fulfilling circle, even more hermetically sealed than a medieval cloister.
Equitarianism is not like a religion, it is not comparable to a religion -- it is a religion and it must be approached as such.
And it’s time for a reformation.
Thomas Buckley is the former mayor of Lake Elsinore, Cal. and a former newspaper reporter. He is currently the operator of a small communications and planning consultancy and can be reached directly at email@example.com. You can read more of his work at: https://thomas699.substack.com/