by Bob Barr
Just as “communism” is no longer seen in a negative light by many younger Americans, “atheism” no longer carries with it the adverse connotations that it held in the 1960s. Madalyn Murray O’Hair, founder of American Atheists, won the sobriquet the “most hated woman in America.” In fact, according to recent studies, atheism, Wicca and other forms of paganism are growing faster among Millennials and Generation Z than any other demographic groups.
Emory Professor Mark Bauerlein has studied these matters at length, and as noted in his new book, “The Dumbest Generation Grows Up,” America’s youth clearly seem to no longer possess the “spiritualism” that Alexis de Tocqueville recognized as a national strength in his seminal work, “Democracy in America.”
As the “metaverse” increases in popularity and as the number of religiously unaffiliated Americans increases, the trend about which Bauerlein writes is likely to accelerate, and with it, the further erosion of an historic and moral underpinning of our representative democratic political system.
Regardless of whether one practices or is affiliated with one or another of the world’s great religions, being thus affiliated provides at least the nucleus of morality and ethics on which a freedom-based political and social system can grow and prosper. Becoming unmoored from both history and religion will, again as Bauerlein posits, result in citizenry, particularly the younger generations, searching for “happiness” in all the wrong places, especially the digital world.
Interestingly, there already are emerging debates about whether “committing” criminal acts in the metaverse can, or even should be punished. Regardless of how such a question as this may be answered, the simple fact that users immersing themselves in the metaverse are committing acts that would be considered punishable as crimes in the real world, should be a concern to parents and educators (if only the latter would take a momentary break from their fixation on students’ sexual identity).
Other arenas increasingly attractive to Millennials and Generation Z, and which openly disdain traditional religion and politics, include Satanism (now recognized by the IRS as an organized “religion”), Wicca (included in the lengthy list of “religions” recognized by the Department of Defense) and “Humanism.”
The movement’s 1973 “Manifesto” includes many of the shibboleths openly espoused by the Left today, including among many others, free education at all levels, abortion, and globalism
Of these decidedly nontraditional belief systems, Humanism (sometimes referred to as “Free Thought”) in recent years has made the most significant moves toward legitimacy in the political arena. Although no Member of Congress admits openly to being an atheist, since 2018 there has been a “Congressional Freethought Caucus” that currently counts 16 representatives as members.
All members of the Freethought Caucus are Democrats, including two members of the extreme left “Squad” (Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Pramila Jayapal of Washington state). This membership characteristic reflects the accuracy of one of the key findings of a 2019 Pew Research Center study on atheists. In addition to concluding that atheists tend to be young, male and well-educated, they tend to align with the Democratic Party and harbor liberal political ideas.
Bearing all of this in mind, we can expect to see persistent efforts by the Democratic Party to foster and press ideas that appeal to these demographics; that is, younger, college-educated Americans with no or very weak ties to organized religion. This process will be facilitated by the rise of the metaverse, which its chief architect, Mark Zuckerberg, sees as an “immersive digital world” where “we live our lives and spend our time.”
Buckle up and pay attention, conservatives.
Bob Barr represented Georgia’s Seventh District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. He served as the United States Attorney in Atlanta from 1986 to 1990 and was an official with the CIA in the 1970s. He now practices law in Atlanta, Georgia and serves as head of Liberty Guard.