WHAT IS THE POINT OF LIMITED AND SECULAR GOVERNMENT?

Christ among the doctors by Cima da Conegliano, 1504. (from here)
Christ among the doctors (Luke 2:41-50) by Cima da Conegliano, 1504. (from here)

I’ve never understood how God could expect his creatures to pick the one true religion by faith — it strikes me as a sloppy way to run a universe. — Robert A. Heinlein, in Stranger in a Strange Land (1961) (from here)

Should we be able to select the one true religion? I think so, but I don’t think it is just a matter of faith. I do, however, think making the choice requires reasoning we find difficult.

  • We must admit we need God, not an idol of our own making, but our Creator. That requires humility.
  • We must believe our reasoning is sufficient to know God and that God wants us to know Him. We need that belief to give us hope.
  • We must have the courage live by our choice. That’s why faith is required. To exercise the courage to live by the choice our reasoning dictates, we must have faith in God.
  • Most of all we must believe God loves us, and we can love Him.

Still, we make such a large variety of religious choices that that quote above from Heinlein seems to prove something, but what? I expect it shows how much we need God. Without our Creator’s help, we do not make good choices. We do not make good choices about much of anything.

That’s what makes America so remarkable. Ours has for the most part been a happy, productive, and prosperous land because for the most part Americans have made good choices, far from perfect, but generally good.

Why good choices? Consider that the Bible contains wisdom revealed by our Creator. Until we choose to read the Bible and strive to understand it, we cannot know how much our Maker loves us.

Americans once cherished the Bible. They actually read it.

Why did Americans care about the Bible. America is a product of the Protestant Reformation, the lessons from bloody wars in Europe, and the English Enlightenment.  Our notions about classical liberalism and freedom of religion in particular come from those experiences.

  • The Protestant Reformation cracked the intercessory control of the Roman Catholic Church between man and God.  Prior to the Reformation, most of Europe accepted the Catholic clergy’s claim to speak for God. Subsequent to the Reformation, many Protestants believed they need no intercessor except Jesus.
  • The Protestant Reformation resulted in the multiplication of Christian sects and violent disputes over articles of faith. Therefore, in addition to the usual excesses that set off European wars, men fought and persecuted each other over their religious differences
  • The Protestant Reformation also resulted in the opportunity for people to study the Bible in their own languages. In fact, we can attribute both the Protestant Reformation and the Enlightenment in particular to the invention of the printing press. When people studied the Bible, the Word of God, for themselves, they could not find a command from Christ Jesus to spread the Gospel by force. Instead, many agreed that Jesus commanded His disciples to forgo violence and love their enemies.

Who settled America? Some came to America for riches and glory, but more came just for the hope they could live as they chose. Pilgrims, Puritans, Catholics, Quakers and others came so they could practice their religious beliefs in peace. Others came to just avoid debtors prisons.  Still, those who came were generally Christians, just different kinds of Christians. In the vast land of America, these different kinds Christians separated themselves into different communities, focused on their local governments, and experimented in new ways of governing.

Eventually, the American colonists tired of the rule of a faraway tyrannical king. Eventually, the American colonists decided that self-defense and the regulation of commerce required a federal government, but what kind of government? What would be the proper goals of an American government? To answer those questions, the American colonials considered the fruit of their experiments and turned to a political ideology we now call Classical Liberalism.

Classical liberalism is a political ideology that values the freedom of individuals — including the freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and markets — as well as limited government. (continued here)

Why a limited government that values individual freedom? Because they had diverse societies, the American colonials did not share exactly the same beliefs or  worldview. That is, they had limited set of shared values. Therefore, particularly with respect to the Federal Government, the colonials thought it best to limited the scope of government powers. Even then, because they feared Federal powers would be abused, the colonials insisted upon a Bill of Rights.

Consider the first words of the First Amendment.

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Because we are are Christian nation, we have some shared values, but we also have huge differences. What is Christianity? Some people — not all — say Christianity is what the Bible says it is.  However, the Bible is a large work. So even Christians who uphold the Bible as the inerrant Word of God emphasize different parts. Therefore, we have a problem we don’t know how to solve. Who has the wisdom to decide  for everyone else what God would have us do?  Hence, the First Amendment says religion is a matter the Federal Government should leave to the states and the people.

Because of the First Amendment, we now have something that prior to the rise of the United States as a world power was almost unheard of, a secular state. Unlike the rest of the world, Americans did not want the government to establish a religion or to interfere in the free exercise of religion (see Establishment of Religion and Free Exercise of Religion at heritage.org).

Unfortunately, the freedom of religion clause in the Constitution no longer works quite the way the framers of the Constitution intended. That’s because:

  • We no longer have a limited government. When the government has so much power, power mad politicians and the religious sects they represent find it tempting to impose their own beliefs.  Currently, various manifestations of Human Secularism have combined to pose the greatest threat to religious freedom. Thus, the budget for health, education, and welfare programs has exploded, and Christians, even though the Bible says no such thing, are suppose to support health, education, and welfare programs because its what Jesus would do.
  • The 14th Amendment requires the application of the Bill of Rights to state governments. As originally envisioned, all the Bill of Rights did was keep the Federal Government from sticking its nose where it did not belong. The 14th Amendment, however, allows the Federal Government to impose “religious freedom” upon the states. That added complexity has made it possible for Human Secularists to twist the law. So now many insist we equate the free exercise of religion with freedom of worship. That is, to keep the freedom from religion people happy, we are supposed keep our religion to ourselves and let the state indoctrinate our children in various “isms” including Human Secularism. Then we are supposed to loudly proclaim we still live in the land of the free.

There is an old bit of wisdom any good doctor knows.

Do no harm. — (contracted form of the Hippocratic oath, from here)

When we try to engineer our society to “fix” it, we are effectively trying to heal other people (if our motives are good). The problem is that the operation of a society is quite complex, and we are not qualified to play God. Hence, we must respect the right of our fellow citizens to make decisions that more appropriately belong to them. That’s why for any people who want to remain free limited government is not optional.

Other Views

2016 POST ELECTION STRATEGY AND TACTICS – PART 4

New York City Statue of Liberty (from here)
New York City Statue of Liberty (from here)

What posts have gone before?

  • PART 1: We spoke of my personal goal for good government. Is it the same goal you might have? Perhaps.
  • PART 2: We considered the primary obstacle to good government.
  • PART 3: We reviewed the defensive components of a strategy for good government.

PART 4 reviews the offensive components of a strategy for good government. Whereas PART 3 focused primarily upon the individual citizen’s refusal to take part in harmful activities, PART 4 focuses on joint action.  Because our government has the form of a representative democracy, we must work together to keep it under control.

The Components Of A Strategy For Good Government: The Offensive Components

As we lay out the offensive components of a strategy for good government, please keep this in mind. In a free society, the individual citizen makes choices for him or her self. In a free society, government officials have limited power.  Government officials can only do what the law permits them to do. Citizens, however, can do anything that the law does not restrict them from doing. In a free society, the law restricts us from infringing upon the rights of others.  In a free society, government enforces laws which discourage us from infringing upon each others rights. In addition, government arbitrates our differences so that we can exercise our rights with minimal disruption to each others lives.

On the other hand, in a totalitarian society, the reverse is true. Government officials are only restrained by the edicts of those officials above them, and citizens can only do what the government permits them to do. In a totalitarian society, the law — to the extent it exists — is only for show. Hence, to have a free society, our laws must actually limit the power of government officials.

Exercise Control Of The Executive Branch

In the last election, the Republican Party won the presidency.  So President-Elect Donald Trump is now in the process of nominating his cabinet. Fortunately, many of people Trump wants to appoint are Constitutional Conservatives.  Most of the others at least appear competent.  Hence, we must pressure the senators representing our state to approve Trump’s nominations (especially the Conservatives).

Restore the Constitution

What is the primary means rogue government officials have used to escape constitution restraints? They nominate and appoint judges who are willing to say the Constitution says what they want it to say.  Trump has promised to appoint judges who are Constitutional Conservatives. We must work to hold him to that promise, and we must work on our senators to approve the appointment of genuine Constitutional Conservatives.

One Person, One Vote

The Democratic Party is notorious for subverting the election process. Instead of clean and honest elections, what Democrats want is a system that makes it as EASY as possible to vote.  An honest election is clearly more important than making it easy to vote.  If someone is not willing to register to vote, come to the polls, present a photo ID, and then vote, why should the rest of us care if they vote? They obviously don’t care.

To reform the system, Conservatives should pressure Republicans to use their majorities in both the House and Senate and their control of the presidency to at least fix the obvious. Ensure every state and locality:

  • Cleans up its voter rolls. Only American citizens should be allowed to vote, and no one should be voting in more than one locality.
  • Puts into place a system that ensures only properly registered voters can vote.
  • Verifies each registered voter only votes once.

We need to keep the obvious in mind. If the vote is not honest, what good does it do to make certain that minorities can vote?

Does it make any sense to just assume that an election will be honest? Don’t Democrats want us believe the Russians would steal an election for Trump? Then why would Democrats want us to believe that Democrats, Republicans or a third-party would not steal one for themselves?

Send Illegal Aliens Back To Their Own Country

The presence of millions of illegal aliens in this country clearly shows just how willing Democrats are to cheat and steal an election. Because they expect the folks from the war-torn areas in the Middle East to vote for them, Democrats are eager to bring these people into our country. They are even willing to ignore the fact that some of these people are terrorists.

Some, of course, will say that those folks from those war-torn areas in the Middle East are just refugees, that it does not make any sense to compare them to illegal aliens. That ignores the fact that Democrats would love to classify all the illegal aliens entering this nation as refugees of some sort. They want them to vote, even if they vote illegally. If our politicians respected the law and were willing to do their jobs, we would not have millions of illegal aliens in this country. It does not serve the national interest, but it does serves their personal interests.

If we want to preserve our language, culture, and system of government, we have to get immigration back under control. Instead of putting them on welfare, we must insist that the people who immigrate to our country love America and want to become Americans.

Rebuild Our Communities

After the American Revolution, the thirteen colonies needed a national government to perform functions the United Kingdom had provided for, primarily national defense and the regulation of interstate commerce.  Hence, the framers wrote our Constitution, a document that gave the Federal Government a few specific powers. These are enumerated in Article 1, Section 8.

When the thirteen colonies adopted our Constitution, America had a few large cities, but most of the population lived in small communities.  They saw government primarily as a local activity, and they saw state government as a referee between local governments. Non-profit associations (especially churches) and local local government assisted parents in the education of children and took responsibility for charity. Because of their good works, non-profit associations and local governments provided the means for everyone to find their niche in society. Because of churches and local governments, the majority of people felt they had a place where they belonged, where they could contribute back to the community that sheltered them something of value.

Consider this proverb.

Proverbs 22:6 New King James Version (NKJV)

Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it.

For a different perspective, here is another translation.

Proverbs 22:6 Good News Translation (GNT)

Teach children how they should live, and they will remember it all their life.

That proverb is not just talking about educating a child in the Bible. It is about helping someone find their calling.

What has God called each of us to do in this life? Government has no way to resolve that question for us.  What government officials do is keep us from hurting each other. People with such powers may be good at bossing us around, but being bossed around will not help us find our calling. To find our way — to find out what God has called us to do — we need the help of our family, friends, and neighbors; not politicians. We need the help of the people in our churches and our local communities.

Unfortunately, instead of exercising self-restraint, state officials and Federal politicians have contrived to set up a welfare state. For the sake of money and power, they they have weaken our churches and disrupted local communities with innumerable health, education, and welfare programs. If you don’t know your neighbors well, that’s one reason why.

To Be Continued

What will Part 4 be about? What Specifically Can We Do?

 

THE TRADE-OFFS WE MAKE WITH GOVERNMENT

A Grand Prix motorcyclist leaning in a turn (from here)
A Grand Prix motorcyclist leaning in a turn (from here)

In my last post, 2016 POST ELECTION STRATEGY AND TACTICS – PART 2, we considered the problem of controlling government from a religious perspective. Here we will look at the problem of government from a technical perceptive. That is, what are the basic things that government does that can get out of control? Since this subject has already been addressed numerous times by better authors, I will just refer you to one of them. Here is an excellent summation from Ken Cuccinelli.

We are all familiar with the law of gravity. It is a law of nature, and thankfully, the law of gravity is not considered to be open to debate.

There are other laws of nature — immutable truths that cannot be avoided but that are not as well known.

Among these is the principle that when a government derives its power from the people, such as in a constitutional republic like the United States, every expansion in the role and power of the government automatically results in a reduction in the power and freedom of the people. This law of liberty is as unavoidable as the law of gravity.

There are three ways that government increases its power: raising taxes, increasing spending, and creating more regulation.

It’s easy to see how taxes increase government power and reduce our freedom. The more of our earnings the government takes from us for its own purposes, the less we have left to spend on ourselves and our families, and the fewer choices we have in our lives. Fewer choices means less liberty.

Because the federal government’s spending is not tied to its taxing power (it historically spends more than it collects), spending is not directly related to taxes.

Therefore, the more things our government attempts to do — i.e., the more money it spends — the less there is for us to do. This crowding out of citizens means less freedom for them.

The third part in the law of liberty is perhaps even more nefarious, because it tends to be subtler. More regulations means the government is ordering us to do something or restricting us from what we are otherwise allowed to do. (continued here)

Why the picture of the motorcycle? Whenever we do anything, we have to make trade-offs. When a motorcyclist takes a turn, he must anticipate the trade-offs. He can lean into the turn to compensate for the fact that turning increases the forces throwing him outward, but how much he can lean into the turn depends upon the his tires and the friction provided by the road surface. That means the faster he goes the greater the risk of slipping and sliding. Therefore, the motorcyclist seeks an optimum speed, one that allows him to win without sliding out of control.

As Cuccinelli observed, increased taxes, increased spending, and increased regulation forces us to make trade-offs. Where is the optimum? How much should our government tax us? How much should our government spend? Where should we draw the line and say we have enough regulations? Since government uses force or the threat of force to collect taxes, spend our money, and regulate us, I think the answer is a moral one, not just a technical one.

When we call government taxation, spending, and regulation moral issues, what does that mean in practice? It means we must make certain we know exactly what it is that we need our government to do and why government must do it instead of public-spirited, charitable private entities. Is what we want the government to do actually worth throwing some of our neighbors in jail?

2016 POST ELECTION STRATEGY AND TACTICS – PART 1

ChristianknightAfter President Barrack Hussein Obama’s second election as our president, I wrote a series that starts here: FINDING PEACE IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE 2012 ELECTION — PART 1. That was a frankly Christian and Conservative perspective on what I considered a devastating defeat, that is, devastating from a human perspective. I was not alone. With others I went through the stages of grief. Then we started planning for the future.

Victory, such as it is, presents similar issues. It seems our Lord has a sense of humor. Four years ago nobody anticipated the election of President Donald J. Trump. We would have found the idea laughable, and most people still don’t know what to make of it.

Just as we are not altogether in our defeats, we are not unified in victory. We are always too busy scratching our heads, wondering. How did the *&%$#@! did that happen? Whether we have victory or defeat, it seems events drive us accept the fact that God is in charge.

So can we do? We can serve as our Lord’s hands and feet. In His Name, we can each can make a personal commitment to change the world for the better. Make of it what you will, but here is mine.

What Is A Commitment?

When we make a commitment, we need to define three things.

  • A Goal. To make a meaningful commitment, we have to commit ourselves to a defined purpose, an achievable goal.
  • A Strategy. To pursue a goal effectively, we must have a strategy. To achieve a goal, we have to enumerate the factors that must come together that make goal fulfillment a possibility.
  • Tactics. Every great undertaking is accomplished through the dedicated efforts of so-called little people. In a war, we call the little people soldiers. In war groups of soldiers work in unison by implementing squad, battalion, divisional,… tactics. In politics, we call the little people citizens. What citizens do to implement the overall strategy and achieve the goal we call political activism.

The Goal

Defining my goal begins with how I identify myself.

  • Why am I a Christian? I believe Jesus is who He said He is. I believe He died for our sins and that He rose from the dead.  I believe Jesus is God. I believe God is three in One: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I believe that through Jesus God gave us an example. Therefore, I strive to be a worthy disciple of Christ.
  • Why am I a Conservative? I believe God is God. I don’t believe any of us is God. I don’t believe any of us are wise enough or good enough to rule the rest of humanity as an all-powerful monarch.  Jesus will do so, but not one of us. Therefore, instead of trying to run other people’s lives, I work to protect the God-given rights of my family, friends, neighbors, and countrymen.

To spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to fulfill The Great Commission Jesus gave us, we need a stable and efficient government.  To protect our God-given rights, including our right to hear and live by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we need a government designed to protect those rights. Therefore, as my goal I seek to protect the constitutional republic given to us by the founders of this nation.

To Be Continued

In Part 2 we will enumerate the factors that must come together that make goal fulfillment a possibility, and we will examine why each of those factors is necessary for the fulfillment of the goal.