John McWhorter has argued that the woke movement is a sort of religion. That seems unfair, as (at least in the US) religions don’t typically cancel people for not believing in their dogma. Perhaps he means that wokism is like a 17th century religion.

Razib Khan directed me to an article in City Journal that supports this claim:

It’s been an open secret for years that prestigious journals will often reject submissions that offend prevailing political orthodoxies—especially if they involve controversial aspects of human biology and behavior—no matter how scientifically sound the work might be. The leading journal Nature Human Behaviour recently made this practice official in an editorial effectively announcing that it will not publish studies that show the wrong kind of differences between human groups. . . .

[T]he National Institutes of Health now withholds access to an important database if it thinks a scientist’s research may wander into forbidden territory. The source at issue, the Database of Genotypes and Phenotypes (dbGaP), is an exceptional tool, combining genome scans of several million individuals with extensive data about health, education, occupation, and income. It is indispensable for research on how genes and environments combine to affect human traits. No other widely accessible American database comes close in terms of scientific utility.

My colleagues at other universities and I have run into problems involving applications to study the relationships among intelligence, education, and health outcomes. Sometimes, NIH denies access to some of the attributes that I have just mentioned, on the grounds that studying their genetic basis is “stigmatizing.” Sometimes, it demands updates about ongoing research, with the implied threat that it could withdraw usage if it doesn’t receive satisfactory answers. 

When people say something is “like a religion”, they generally mean that people feel so passionately about the ideology that it trumps any other consideration, including rational inquiry.  But most people in America no longer feel that passionately about religion.  And yet, people seem to feel a need to hold passionate beliefs about something.  In the modern world, movements such as the more extreme forms of wokism and election denialism have replaced religion as the new faith-based ideologies.

It’s about protecting feelings.  The feelings of people who don’t want to believe that the Bible was wrong about the shape of the Solar System, and the feelings of people who don’t like the idea of investigating whether some genetic profiles are correlated with less socio-economic success.