Ahmanson points out the difference between this new conception of "dignity" and the concept as developed and nurtured in the Christian tradition.
After mentioning a number of recent books and court decisions invoking the word "dignity," Ahmanson notes:
A close reading of these volumes and of recent court decisions, such as those written by Justice Kennedy in Lawrence, Windsor, and Obergefell, makes it clear that we have left any notion of human dignity based on the imago Dei far behind. “God,” according to Kateb, “is only another way of saying that we cannot dissolve certain perplexities.” For him and the other New Dignitarians, “We are left with no choice but to assume that human science is objective knowledge of nature”—which, it is implied, is the only knowledge we are capable of acquiring.
And so, this New Dignity is founded on nothing more than a self-creating will to power that is so thoroughgoing as to become, in the last analysis, self-destructive. Central to the New Dignity are the newly minted rights to refashion one’s body to suit one’s subjective preferences, to end the life of one’s offspring—not only those unborn, but infants as well, according to the Groningen protocol in the Netherlands—and, finally, to take one’s own life in the timing and manner of one’s own choosing.Toward the end of her essay Ahmanson writes:
The New Dignity is a Gnostic project, and Gnosticism was always an elitist enterprise. As it was in the Greek and Roman worlds, so now there are signs that this New Dignitarian playground will be open and available only to serve the desires and the projects of cultural and political elites. For those on the margins, it portends new forms of enslavement.