Monday, January 25, 2010

On Keeping Religious Values out of Politics

It often seems that all the demons from Hell (yeah, I'm talking about you, Democrats) are shrieking about those politicians who dare posses religious values -- let alone be guided by those values. So, what did our founders say about religious values in government?

Samuel Adams wrote, "Religion and good morals are the only solid foundation of public liberty and happiness." (letter to John Trumbull, 16 Oct 1778)

Gouverneur Morris, another founder, said, "[F]or avoiding the extremes of despotism or anarchy....the only ground of hope must be on the morals of the people. I believe that religion is the only solid base of morals and that morals are the only possible support of free governments. [T]herefore education should teach the precepts of religion and the duties of man towards God."

Elias Boudinot, yet another founding father: "Good government generally begins in the family, and if the moral character of a people once degenerate, their political character must soon follow."

Benjamin Rush, Signer of the Declaration of Independence said, "[T]he only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be aid in religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments. Without religion, I believe that learning does real mischief to the morals and principles of mankind."

Noah Webster, another founder: "[T]he Christian religion, in its purity, is the basis, or rather the source of all genuine freedom in government. . . . and I am persuaded that no civil government of a republican form can exist and be durable in which the principles of that religion have not a controlling influence."

Again, Noah Webster: "The moral principles and precepts contained in the scriptures ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws. . . All the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery, and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible."

George Washington, president of the Constitutional Convention, First President of the United States of America, Father of our nation: "Religion and morality are the essential pillars of civil society."

Benjamin Franklin, Signer of the Declaration of Independence: "[O]nly a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters."

Eliminating God from politics can be both good and bad. I've been to 124 nations during my 37-year career as a military and airline pilot. I've seen good countries. I've seen bad. I've been in places I never want to visit again. The worst include those that cut God out (ie most of Africa and Communist nations such as China and Russia). A bit better are those that impose a narrow view of God (ie Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Iraq). The nations that offer the most individual freedom and opportunity are those that acknowledge and encourage religious expression. Of these, the most freedom (especially religious freedom) exists in Christian nations -- most notably the USA.

I believe the founders of our nation established the best possible balance of keeping religion out of politics while encouraging the positive values religion brings. Of high importance in the minds of the founders (as expressed in the Declaration of Independence and in the Constitution) was individual human rights. The government they designed and described in the Constitution was crafted specifically to preserve those individual rights (which they beloved come from the Creator -- rights, in most other nations come from the king).

Over the past 100+ years we have been on a steady march toward pushing religious values out of politics and replacing those values with collectivism (imposing the rights of the state and those who control the state as opposed to fostering individual human rights).

This collectivism (driven by Democrats and enabled by liberal/moderate Republicans and assisted by the government school system) has resulted in an army of over 3.5 million bureaucrats (Think about that -- one government bureaucrat for every 100 people! And, the current health care reform bill is a collectivist's dream -- it will add 111 new bureaucracies!) administering trillions of dollars in feel-good social programs that have done nothing to lift people out of poverty. To fund that monstrosity, our amoral politicians have imposed a level of taxation that makes it difficult for individuals to be charitable -- impossible for some. Collectivists have imposed excise and corporate taxes and feel-good regulations that make our domestic products non-competitive with imports -- driving jobs and entire industries out of the country and leaving our own people unemployed.

Real people are being hurt by this big-government collectivism and its push to fund social programs designed specifically to make us dependent on the collective (big government) and its social programs (welfare, health care, Social Security, etc.). The right of the individual to make his own way and to help his neighbor have been pushed aside because half his income (Much of the taxes you pay are hidden from you because they are imposed on manufacturers and service-providers, then passed on to you in the higher price of the goods and services you buy.) is taken to fund the collective. Imagine how much good you could do for your neighbor if the collective didn't take half your money! All this has happened because a majority of the people, and the people they elect, have lost their moral compass (God). No, we shouldn't take religious values and morality out of politics.

Not so long ago, when a man sinned, he felt guilty and went to his clergyman to confess. His pastor guided him through the process of repentance. Today, when a man sins, he feels guilty and goes to this therapist for help. The therapist either gives him drugs to chemically suppress his guilt or helps him to overcome his feelings of guilt by convincing him that guilt is bad -- not to overcome the act or thought that caused the guilt. Collectively, we have ceased to become a moral people. As a nation, we have ceased follow the teachings of our religions. Instead, we have allowed or asked the government to take away our guilt by doing for us the good we should be doing ourselves. And, government is happy to oblige -- for a fee: half our earnings and all our individual responsibility and liberty.

"In a state-run society the government promises you security. But it's a false promise predicated on the idea that the opposite of security is risk. Nothing could be further from the truth. The opposite of security is insecurity, and the only way to overcome insecurity is to take risks. The gentle government that promises to hold your hand as you cross the street refuses to let go on the other side." — Theodore Forstmann

So, why do we ask politicians and government bureaucracies take care of doing good (which they never will) in our place instead of insisting we do it ourselves?

Recommended book:
What Would the Founders Do?: Our Questions, Their Answers

What Would the Founders Do?: Our Questions, Their Answers

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