The Creed of the Shallow Man

The insufferably self-righteous "We Believe" signs appearing in lawns across America are a smokescreen to prevent the shallow values they attempt to smuggle in from being challenged. 

At first, it seemed the signs popping up in neighborhoods across the country had something to do with the 2020 election. But November came and went, and the signs remained. Then, some might have assumed the signs were kept up in early 2021 due to squabbles over the legitimacy of the election, to show others in the neighborhood, “this house is on the right side of things.” 

But now that 2021 has come and gone, and the signs still remain, it’s clear they are a cultural and even religious statement not tethered to any election. 

The continuing popularity of the “We Believe” signs show that, for many in our culture, the simple statements being displayed form a sort of creed that binds them with other co-religionists under a shared worldview. But just scratching the surface of these inane tautologies, we can see how shallow this worldview is. 

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Each of the statements is phrased in such a way that it seems almost impossible to refute—for example: Black Lives Matter, Love Is Love, and Women’s Rights Are Human Rights. To disagree you’d have to say that black people don’t matter, women aren’t human, and the word love doesn’t share a definition with itself. But these self-affirming statements are just a smokescreen to prevent the shallow values they attempt to smuggle in from being challenged. 

Black Lives Matter: To start with what is generally the first on the sign, of course any person of good will should affirm the content of this phrase. Black people, like all other races of human being, are made in God’s image and are due the rights and dignity that go along with that. Black Americans are also in a special circumstance in this country in that within the lifetimes of many walking around today, they were legally treated as second-class citizens. 

We are obligated to fight for black Americans to receive the same rights and respect as anyone else in this country and against any effort to return to that unjust past. But I’m not aware of any conservative politician or mainstream Christian leader that holds another opinion in modern America. So, what exactly does this phrase seek to communicate? 

The actual content hidden below the surface is that America is irredeemable in its current form because systemic racism is so baked into the pie that black people cannot be safe and successful. So, they conclude that we need to scrap the whole thing and start over with a system based on equity (a push for equal outcomes rather than equal opportunities). If you doubt me, google Black Lives Matter and read for an hour. 

But, of course, all these beliefs and plans—which ignore human nature and the clear historical lessons from whenever this experiment of equal outcomes has been tried before—go far beyond the inarguable statement on the sign. 

No Human Is Illegal: The next phrase is a great example of the shallowness of the progressive creed displayed on the sign. Unless I’m completely missing the point, this is a reference to the fight over whether the phrase “illegal immigrant” is somehow racist and offensive. But “illegal” is being used here to modify the noun “immigrant.” It’s describing the manner in which the person immigrated. Responding to the phrase “illegal immigrant” by saying “no human is illegal” is like responding to the phrase “race-car driver” by saying “no human is a race car.” Sure, but he is a driver…of a race car, and the illegal immigrant is an immigrant…who did so illegally. Nobody is claiming that their humanity is illegal, only their breaking of immigration laws. 

Love Is Love: How could anyone disagree with this? It’s a simple logical proof, like A=A or 1=1. But, again, scratching an inch beneath the superficial statement, you see the convoluted value proposition they are making: that no matter what kind of sexual or romantic arrangement you choose, as long as “love” (however vaguely defined) is involved, it is equal to any other kind of sexual or romantic arrangement. 

This is clearly nonsense. Every culture around the world learned in its infancy that to leave sex unregulated by social customs led to chaos. The variables in these relationships—like age, gender, intentions, number of people, whether the parties are members of the same family, and on and on—greatly complicate the equation beyond a flippant phrase like “love is love.” 

And modern social science proves this time and again; the best arrangement for a child is when they are raised by both of their biological parents. While there are mentally and physically healthy people that have emerged from other arrangements, they did so at higher risk of all manner of negative outcomes: like drug addiction, mental health problems, poverty, dropping out of school, and being convicted of a crime.

Women’s Rights Are Human Rights: Here comes another completely inarguable statement that sneaks in all kinds of moral content. Their brilliant syllogism goes something like this: Human rights are good. And women are humans, right? Then women’s rights are also good.

That’s all perfectly reasonable on the surface, but what do they mean by “women’s rights”? Because if what they are defining as women’s rights are not rights that any human should have, then their use of this formula is unconvincing. And, as it turns out, when a progressive speaks of “women’s rights,” they are talking mainly about their right to have an abortion and their right to equal pay. 

With that in mind, because there is no right for a human being (male or female) to kill their child, and because there is no right for one set of human beings to make the same amount of money in aggregate as another set (especially considering there are well-established, non-sexist reasons for this difference in pay), then this whole phrase is, like the others, a sloppy sleight-of-hand. 

Science Is Real: This phrasing is really nothing more than an insult to your neighbors. You are saying, basically, if you don’t agree with my scientific conclusions, you must be a science-denying moron. The other phrases are similarly condescending and insulting, but the arrogance of this one is special. No need to rehash all the scientific debates going on where they apparently think there is no debate left to be had. We’re all well aware of those at this point. But it is pretty important to science, as far as I’m aware, that all of its theories be falsifiable and open to challenge. 

Water Is Life: This seems to be the Ringo Starr of the We Believe band. I’m not sure how it snuck in, but I guess there’s some value added by its presence. It’s not even as condescending or tautological as the rest. Yes, we need water to live, but water itself isn’t life, unless they’re talking about Jesus being the living water or about baptism bringing us to new life. But they’re not. They’re talking about how important it is that water exists. Agreed; let’s make sure not to let all the rivers and reservoirs dry up or get polluted. Got it. If we see any anti-water protesters out there, let’s be sure to send them to the nearest “We Believe” house to get straightened out. 

Kindness Is Everything: This one is really my favorite though. After a whole sign’s-worth of condescending, passive-aggressive accusations calling their non-woke neighbors racist, sexist, bigoted, science-denying water haters, they go and end it by saying, “Kindness Is Everything.” Sometimes you just have to laugh at the lack of self-awareness. But when your creed identifies the source of all evil in your neighbor—rather than in yourself, like the Christian creed does—you’re bound to be lacking in the kind of introspection needed to see the irony. 

Speaking of the Christian creed, if my HOA allowed yard signs, I’d be very tempted to stake this parody “We Believe” sign of the Apostles’ Creed in my yard. That is, I’d be tempted to do so if I favored tacky signs intended to annoy my neighbors and display my own righteousness. 

  • David Larson

    David Larson is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in the Federalist, Crisis Magazine and Catholic World Report. He has a masters in theological studies and works for two print newspapers in North Carolina, where he lives with his wife and family. David can be reached here.

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