Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Political converts

I only recently became aware of Andrew Tate and his considerable influence in some quarters. Shadi Hamid on the significance of Tate's "conversion" to Islam:
....[W]hen Tate explained why he chose Islam, he didn’t mention theology, salvation, the Quran, the Prophet Muhammad—or anything to do with spirituality or faith. ....

As Tate sees it, where Christianity in the West is weak, undemanding, and devoid of firm rules, Islam is exacting, masculine, and vigorous. It refuses to be mocked, and it refuses to accommodate itself to progressive norms—particularly when it comes to gender and the family. Where Christianity has, in effect, accepted defeat, Islam, Tate said in the same interview, “feels like the last religion on Earth,” the only faith that stands a chance of mounting an effective resistance to moral decay and decline. (Whether Tate himself is moral, or wishes to be, is secondary.)

It is difficult to say just how widespread “political conversions” are, but recent survey data shows they are spreading. According to a 2020 Pew poll, evangelicals, for example, were one of the few religious groups to gain members over the last four years.

But there was a catch. Many of these self-identified evangelicals don’t go to church. They identify as evangelicals because of what it means politically. As the political scientist Ryan Burge notes, “Instead of theological affinity for Jesus Christ, millions of Americans are being drawn to the evangelical label because of its association with the G.O.P.” ....

This tells us something about the all-consuming political divide in America today, which is less about politics than culture—which is to say, religion. After all, religion—or its absence—shapes our habits, norms, and attitudes. Secularization doesn’t make religion irrelevant; instead, it creates new ways of being “religious.”

All of which explains how evangelical voters flocked en masse to Donald Trump, and why some Muslims, despite everything, insist on seeing Andrew Tate as a flawed but necessary vessel. They don’t care what he believes so much as what he signifies. .... (more, but probably behind a subscription wall)
Shadi Hamid, "Embracing God to Own the Libs," The Free Press, Feb. 8, 2023.

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