There’s a certain class of intellectual that likes to compare anything they don’t like to a religion. But rather than come out and say it, it’s usually posed as a clickbait question — Is feminism a religion? Is the NRA a religion? — so as to maintain the illusion that this is serious intellectual debate and not mere mudslinging.**
Religion, as an ancient and diverse human institution, is incredibly complex. It’s really not hard to find superficial similarities between it and just about any other human activity. A homeowner’s association is a lot like a church, for example: a group of geographically proximate families of similar race, education, and social status form a dues-bound organization that meets regularly to celebrate and argue existential issues relevant to the local community and to make rules that bind behavior.
Is your HOA a church? Story at 11:00.
These kinds of comparisons are not just the junk food of intellectual criticism, they’re actually a punch below the belt because they pretend to be serious where the only real point is to avoid discussion by staining the other point of view as unworthy of it. Because religion is one of the classic blunders, as everybody knows, the lowest form of human thought, and if one believes in a deity, one does so unquestioningly and completely without reflection. (Disclosure: I am not religious.)
Never mind that some of the greatest minds in history — giants of science, art, and statecraft — were devout. The midgets who stand on their shoulders babbling like monkeys are certain they know better, and if they can paint “Darwinism” (or Apple or FOX News or whatever) as a religion, then they can defame it as junk, uncritical, the worst kind of gobblety mumbo-jumbo, without ever having to engage it on the issues, all while appearing critical and reflective — the rhetorical equivalent of faking an injury to draw a red card.
In that way, it’s no different than the tired practice of trotting out Hitler, who’s found eternal life on the internet as everyone’s favorite foil. Both are a good sign that genuine creative thought has already left the building.