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NeoMoral Imperialism

NeoMoral Imperialism

How Culture Imposes Its New Morality from the Minority

Mitchell Leach

Community Pastor

Peace Church

Published On:

July 17, 2023

There once was a day when Christians winced at the — once-progressive — notion of “coexist.” You remember the bumper stickers.


I remember going on a youth retreat with my church, and my youth pastor saw that bumper sticker and laughed at it. This was the time when Christianity and Christian morals were the dominant view in American culture.


I have heard Christians say — recently — that they wish the notion of coexistence could be extended to them.


No longer is it acceptable to say, “I believe this, you believe something different. But we can look past that and live in peace.”


Morality Based on Majority

Morality in Western culture has become based on an insular view of what the majority thinks. By that I mean, the average man walking down the street often doesn’t believe that their morality comes from a concrete source of authority, but rather it comes from how they perceive “the majority” sees what is right and wrong. And with social media algorithms becoming better and better, how we perceive the majority becomes smaller and smaller.


It becomes easy to see your world through the insular lens of your social media.[1] As wesaw in the 2016 and 2020 elections, and as we have seen every day since.


This affects our view of morality drastically if our view is based on the how we perceive the majority. If we are seeing — on our feeds — the a rhetoric that proclaims that not only the acceptance of homosexuality, but the requirement to affirm homosexuality, we will begin to believe — wrongly — that this is the dominant belief in America.


This leads us to a huge question...


Is defending a religious position homophobic?

This is a question that is progressively becoming more and more relevant in Western culture. Carl Truman, a professor at Grove City College, and author of TheRise and Triumph of the Modern Self argues,


Mere tolerance of homosexuality is bound to become unacceptable. The issue is not one of simply decriminalizing behavior; that would certainly mean that homosexual acts were tolerated by society.[2]


Truman hits on an important shift in the morality of what he calls a “culture of expressive individualism.” Simply being tolerant of a view of sexuality that goes against the religion you believe in is no longer acceptable. Now if you don’t celebrate these forms of sexuality, you are now a bigot and homophobic.


It is ok for someone to be tolerant of an action, and to yet not affirm it because of areligious based moral belief. To say it isn't is to say my morality is the only true morality. Which is itself intolerance toward most of the world's religions. In a sense, this becomes a form of — what author Alan Ryan calls liberal imperialism[3], or what I call neo-moral imperialism. Where white men from Europe came to a new world and because they believed it was their duty to colonize the savage beliefs of the uneducated natives, so it is today. People who would find themselves in the top 90% of the global income, are condemning nearly two-thirds of the world's populations [4] beliefs as archaic. If it was wrong for Europeans to colonize the native tribes of America, then this new form of imperialism must also be wrong too.


If you're saying that I can't believe what I believe about sexuality, because you think I'm wrong, you should then afford me that same right.


Freedom of speech and religion

Do we believe that freedom of speech is a universal right? Better yet, do we believe that for someone to talk about their own religious morality is protected by freedom of speech? If not then is it protected by freedom of religion?


Either all theism is for idiots, or it is acceptable for people to believe that there is a God who has a moral code. If you want to believe the narrative that all theism is for idiots, you are easily in the global minority. It is insulting to legitimately oppressed groups. In fact, it is Islamophobic and antisemitic.


How can you see the danger in wanting governments to require religions that don’t conform to a modern view of sexuality — that affirms homosexuality — to change their beliefs, as a huge danger to any belief system? [5]


It takes a special kind of arrogance to call an entire religion; wrong, intolerant, hateful, bigoted, homophobic, and archaic, based on their experience alone. It may sound harsh, but it is genuinely arrogant to believe, “I’m right and everyone else is wrong,” when you have no authoritative source to draw that morality. Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, they all have religious texts telling them what they believe their God tells them is right and wrong.


As a Christian, I believe that my God has told humanity who He is by giving his people rules about what is right and wrong. To say it another way, I believe the most powerful and righteous being in all of the universe has told me — among many laws — that homosexuality is a sin.


When someone — who isn’t committed to any form of theism, can stand on their own authority (void of any religious text or appeal), and condemn genuine religious beliefs, you’ve become the very intolerance you have fought so long and hard to defeat.


Can we actually coexist? Or is it necessary to imperialize your form of morality up to everyone who disagrees with you?

[1] Alexander George Theodoridis, “The Hyper-Polarization of America,” ScientificAmericanBlog Network (Scientific American, November 7, 2016),https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/the-hyper-polarization-of-america/.


[2] Carl R. Trueman and Rod Dreher, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to Sexual Revolution(Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020).


[3] Alan Ryan, “Liberal Imperialism,” The Making of Modern Liberalism, May 2012,https://doi.org/10.23943/princeton/9780691148403.003.0006.


[4] Conrad Hackett and David McClendon, “Christians Remain World's LargestReligiousGroup, but They Are Declining in Europe,” Pew Research Center (Research Center, May 31, 2020), https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/04/05/christians-remain-worlds-largest-religious-group-but-they-are-declining-in-europe/.


[5] Saskia Glas and Niels Spierings, “Rejecting Homosexuality but ToleratingHomosexuals: The Complex Relations between Religiosity and Opposition toHomosexuality in 9 ArabCountries,” Social Science Research 95 (2021): p.102533,https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssresearch.2021.102533.

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