Why the Christian Right is Wrong
Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, 2006
While reading the introduction to this book – and Meyers is a minister, by the way – it finally dawned on me why, as I was lamenting in the segment on the Phillips book, there seems to be no consistency in the bundle of opinions held by the Bush supporters. They might be pro-individual in the desire to end the killing of unborn individuals, but anti-individual in the support of drug laws and gun laws (oh yes, they do support gun restrictions, and lots of them, although not to the extent that liberal Democrats do).
It is because they don't think. Well, I assumed that, and should have realized that immediately. They quote scripture (out of context sometimes) (1) and parrot their “authorities” rather than try to come up with their own logical political philosophies, or even try to apply their, usually correct I believe, moral standards in a logical way.
And that is not even to mention the fact, as Meyers points out in his Introduction, that their lust for war is totally contradictory to the admonitions of the Prince of Peace (2). The author ends his Introduction by saying “Jesus has been silenced by His own church.”
Because there is so little thinking, our country is going down the tubes at the hands of counterfeit Christians while people are all doing one of two things: 1. They are so busy working to keep their taxes paid they have no free time, or 2. if they have any free time it is filled with frivolous entertainment on TV. If you have no TV, trust me, you are not missing much. To get out to a show occasionally is good for a person, of course. I personally make darn sure it is a good one before I bother with the time and expense.
This author was not the first to point out the superimposition by Bush (3) of Machiavelli onto Christ (pretty sinful I think). I noted in my last essay on this blog that neo-conservatism is a direct descendant of the Machiavellian philosophy, and I traced it back to him. The Bush administration is, like Hitler, taking advantage of the fact that, when people are frightened, they cling to and obey Big Brother just as tiny children do their parents.
Chapter 1 is chock full of examples of how the speech and deeds of George W. Bush contradict that of Jesus Christ, even while he is leading most of American Christendom down the garden path towards theocratic despotism, to the ruination of both the country and the church. He is doing this by citing the end-times beliefs of so many of the more conservative, or fundamentalist, Christians.
As for me, my working belief regarding end times is fairly dispensationalist, but to tamper with God's plan by trying to change it or even to rush it is not right. It will happen on God's timetable, not Bush's or yours or mine.
Meyers seems to think that the United Nations was founded to bring about peace. He is not alone; just about everyone thought that way when it was founded, even ageing libertarians who can remember. He points out why conservative theocratic Christians oppose the U.N. At least in many cases I think he is right. Of course, we libertarians and paleo-conservatives (and some neo-conservatives too) oppose the U.N. for the right reasons: We see it as a world government wannabe, usurping national sovereignty.
I lambasted the U.N. myself at the Libertarian Party National Convention in 2006 when I proposed a resolution condemning it and its desire to encourage nations to clamp down on individual gun ownership. The resolution (in a modified form) was passed by the Convention. The Libertarian Party is one of the staunchest pro-gun rights organizations in the country, and I believe I am one of the staunchest pro-gun rights members of the Party.
But this issue is only one of many peripheral to the main reason libertarians oppose the U.N. The main reason is our desire to make sure that the U.S. Constitution remains the highest law of the land. We do not want to see our Bill of Rights superseded by any other law, which it would be if there were a world government. Not only that, we want decentralization, which is what our Founders had in mind. An individual has a bigger say-so in local government, so power needs to be put back where it belongs: in the states and localities.
However, and this is back on topic, the reason big-government “conservative” Christians dislike the U.N. is that in the U.N. people of many cultures and many beliefs have an equal voice. The conservatives would like only one voice: the one that they believe speaks for God, their own. They are not adverse to centralized world government. As I pointed out in Three Enemies, George W. Bush and other “New World Order” advocates are working towards a consolidated world government, their way, originating in Washington, D.C. The North American Union is a big step in this direction (4).
Supporters of the North American Union claim it will enhance free trade and travel between and among the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. It is exciting for fundamentalists and evangelicals, who believe it will open doors for evangelism or that it fulfills prophecy or both (5).
World government, regardless of where it is seated or by whom it is administered, is, I believe, the death knell for any sort of individualism, and I am quite willing to take any needed steps to prevent it. Our God-given, constitutionally guaranteed rights are that important.
In any case, even if the U.N. is really there to foster peace, it has not worked very well, if at all.
Meyers lists reasons the war in Iraq (and Afghanistan) does not jive with what Jesus taught. For one thing, “love thine enemy” does not mean to kill people simply because they worship a false god, and certainly not because we think maybe they worship a false god. The soldiers did not ask the beliefs of every person they killed.
The author did not leave out the fact that one cannot truly be pro-life and pro-war. (I could add the other side to the same coin: one cannot truly be pro-choice and also pro-taxation and pro-regulation, but I guess the left cannot see that. They would allow a woman to choose to infringe upon her unborn's right to live, but would not allow her to not pay protection money to the government or allow her to choose to run her business according to her rational self-interest rather than according to mindless and harmful rules.)
The author, in addition to being a minister, is also a professor at Oklahoma City University, a Methodist institution, who teaches a course in “Logic and Contemporary Rhetoric.” Boy, would I ever love to take his class! After displaying the typical modern liberal ignorance in economics, failing to apply the same civil-libertarian-leaning approach to economic liberty, and failing to recognize that government cannot solve problems, he correctly recognizes the inability of most students, liberal and conservative alike, to think for themselves rather than parrot their parents' views.
I thought at first he taught in a government institution. I know one thing for certain, that I went to a private college where critical thinking was required from day one. First day of school, Monday morning at 8, the freshman class was gathered in the auditorium. We were beginning a course called “General Studies” in addition to our other courses. We would be studying ten different topics, spending two weeks on each. My initial response: What kind of nonsense is this? As time wore on, I came to believe the idea was to introduce us to many different areas of study, as an aid to choosing a major. This was true, but it took much longer to discover the main thing was to develop critical thinking skills. At the end of each subject we were to turn in a subjective essay. Yes. Subjective. This would air our own ideas about the topic, and also back up reasons for these ideas. A preceptor (a professor) would go over the essay with us on a one-to-one basis, questioning us and sometimes playing devil's advocate. We would sink or swim. It did not matter so much what our opinions were. What mattered was that we thought them through. This was serious education. Not many students get that, and it is too bad since, if they did, the country and the church would thrive, not in spite of but precisely because of the free marketplace of ideas. Educated people, Meyers points out, wait to hear others' ideas. This is one way you learn and grow. You listen to a variety of ideas, some contrary to your own, then think on them, thus growing your own ideas.
Christians, those of other faiths, and those of no faith at all would get along just fine in an ongoing, marathon, friendly, market-like forum. Those who, like Bush, Falwell, Robertson, and others, would like to outlaw certain types of behavior, would be able on the free market to offer their money in exchange for tracts of land and then form a private community where they can make their own rules. In a free country this would be entirely legal, as long as they do not hold anyone against their will or otherwise infringe on rights (6).
It is key to think outside the box. A mind inside the box, be it the conservative (Bushite) or liberal (collectivist economics, etc.) box, cannot grow, and is prey to government, media or even bumper sticker propaganda.
The author points to Jesus as the lesson in questioning the unthinking rules and rituals of His day. The unconditional love of God breaks down barriers and broadens horizons. The Bible says “Love thy neighbor as thyself” and that is the clarion call to avoid the “us versus them,” “good vs. evil,” and “you are either for us or against us” of Bush supporters, which is tearing us asunder.
And, by the way, the admonition's assumption is that you love yourself and that is pretty doggone individualist/libertarian as much as it is politically incorrect according to both conservatives and liberals.
However, at the beginning of the next chapter, I have to shake my head in bewilderment over how author Meyers can seriously believe the Christian right supports laissez-faire capitalism. Either he does not understand what it is, or he does not know much about our economic system, or both. Probably both. I talked about this in the segment on the Phillips book. What we have is not a capitalist system at all (except for the “informal” economy for which we should be eternally grateful) but a mercantilist system. Check out mercantilism in the indices of books by Murray Rothbard, and/or see my comments in Three Enemies. It is not a totally unfree market, but it is much closer to socialism than it is to laissez-faire, and it is set up in such a way that wealth gravitates to establishment interests, and the playing field is tilted towards the establishment thanks to federal regulations and skewed tax laws.
And, oh yes, by the way, laissez-faire capitalism is the most moral economic system, not so much because it works, which it does, but because lying, cheating, and stealing are totally verboten, especially on the part of government.
Of course, Christians are correct about the admonitions to help the poor. But it has to be voluntary. Taxation for welfare is not only wrong but it is inefficient, since there is so much bureaucratic overhead. And, if we are forced to help the poor through taxes, is it true obedience to God? That is, if we help the poor only because we are forced to, by governments and man-made laws, is it true obedience to God?
The author continues on about the authoritarianism and inability to think on the part of all, and the closed-mindedness of conservative Christians. We are all a bit that way (except my editor, Michael Morrison – at least that’s what he tells me). We all settle comfortably into our belief systems the way we relax by a smooth lake. The moment a wind comes up and the whitecaps begin, we are displeased. And the moment someone suggests an idea that conflicts with our own, we throw up barriers. We are all change-resistant.
I know deep down inside I am lazy and would like to think I have done all the work in preparing an airtight libertarian philosophy that fits my Christian faith like a glove, like having prepared a good meal and then cleaned up while the meal is baking. Now, I would just like to sit back and eat that meal. I would like to go on being active in the good fight against the establishment and criticizing everything Bush does. But it isn't that simple. Often someone will come along and say the government should act in some way other than to protect our borders and protect our rights (it is not doing either of these jobs very well, if at all). I tend to shut them out as I am too lazy to come up with an answer or to entertain the possibility that they might be right.
The fundamentalists and other Bush supporters are in favor of the war in Iraq and of laws, for example, against prostitution. It is hard work for a born-again Christian to demonstrate he needs to rethink these because they do not really fit with the faith (7). That person is thinking inside the box: He does not understand that the initiation of violence is wrong, that obedience to God must be voluntary or else it is no good, and that civil government does not have divine right to lay down standards of morality. It is tough to explain that; it is really hard work. So I do not like to confront these issues. But it is my job so I have to.
On the left there is a similar problem. The left believes that sharing and generosity are attributes of “good government.” (That is in quotes because it is almost a contradiction in terms.) I remember when they praised Pres. Bush's “generosity” when he gave millions in federal dollars in aid for tsunami relief. Generosity my foot! It was not his money! The left does not differentiate between this sort of giving and true giving on the part of individuals to private relief organizations. They do not differentiate between the welfare system and charity (8). They do not differentiate between philanthropy on the part of the rich (and not-so-rich too, and there is quite a bit of it regardless of leftist propaganda), and the taxation of the rich (and not-so-rich) to finance the welfare system.
The difference is the use of force! Generosity and philanthropy are mandated to Christians by Jesus, but taxation is theft, and theft and other forms of coercion are forbidden by Him.
This is important! It is critical in fact, since the future of the country and the church depend on keeping government out of morality and charity, and keeping it out of war.
The marriage issue is a case in point. Bush wants a Constitutional amendment to define “marriage.” Now, did the Founders believe that it is a function of the federal government (or any government) to define terms? I don't think so. If you want a definition of a word, check a dictionary. The market has supplied lots of them. I have three. The one in which I looked up “marriage” is the 1953 Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary. It defines “marriage” as “the social institution whereby men and women are joined in a special kind of social and legal dependence for the purpose of founding and maintaining a family,” and it also says “the mutual relation of husband and wife.” It does not say flat out “one man and one woman” but this is certainly implied, and I personally believe that if it is to be a “marriage” it involves two parties: one man and one woman.
But my main marriage issue is, why does government need to be involved at all? Neither the right nor the left will touch on that. The in-the-box assumption is that government should regulate marriage because “it always has.” But has it? This is another whole project which really needs to be done, because my understanding is that at one time in this country marriage was private, and it was conducted by ministers and recorded in people's Bible jackets. I do not know what non-religious people did. Perhaps it was up to them. My understanding is that government got involved and started to require marriage licenses when the establishment wanted to prevent inter-racial marriage. Many of the economic and civil regulations we have today, including zoning laws and marijuana prohibition, began, as I understand it, with the establishment finding ways to keep blacks in “their place.”
Meyers’ very last chapter is titled “A Call to Nonviolent Resistance: How to Save the Country and the Church.” Exactly what I need, a solution to the problem I am attempting to describe, the problem being the destruction of the country and the damage to the church because of the mixing of the ice cream of true Christian belief in individual freedom and the dung of authoritarian, collectivist government.
In this last chapter, Meyers says we need to be filled with “righteous indignation.” This is not just posting an anti-Bush screed on a blogsite (as I spend nearly half my time doing) or sitting at a picnic table or stomping along a hiking trail bellyaching about what the government is doing to people (as I spend nearly the other half of my time doing). It means getting out there and doing something about it (well, I do do some!). Christians are supposed to emulate Jesus. He didn't even have a home! He was constantly out and about. However, the religious right has geared the system in such a way that few have any time. The author says they want us to believe that when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping, whether they have money or not. God wants us to prosper, so the moment you have an hour or two, grab your credit cards and you are out the door. And even if one is too wise to buy into this, one has no time, since taxes are so high that people must work very long hours to pay them all and still pay on their credit cards.
The libertarian, who understands economics, whether he be a born-again Christian, a Randian atheist or somewhere in between, is going to buy only what he can pay for, and use whatever time he has studying freedom, working for freedom, or out at the range practicing the only gun control we advocate: Accuracy!
The libertarian is filled with righteous indignation at least as much as the modern liberals the author is talking to. He will be out and about as Jesus was (and if the atheists don't like that, too bad), defending individuals from the state. Our 2004 Libertarian Party candidate for president, Michael Badnarik, defied New York officials and held a rally in Central Park during the Republican rubber-stamp of Bush's renomination. Later, he and the Green Party candidate walked into a presidential debate demanding to be included – and were arrested.
This is the sort of thing we must do. The author claims we need to band together as a group or community. This makes individualists like me, who prefer to work alone, buck, but the fact is we do have to join forces and cooperate in order to magnify our efforts. What if Badnarik had been in Central Park alone? He would have been just another guy feeding the pigeons. The events of that day got news coverage and made some impact, thanks to large numbers of people. It was mostly leftists, but at least the country knew that there was serious opposition to Bush.
The Bible does say, in Genesis, that we are to be fruitful and multiply, and subdue the earth. Meyers believes that, because this was written early on when the population was low, it was wrong because then nobody knew how many people would be living on earth. All I can say is that he just does not believe the Bible is inspired by God who, obviously, did know that. What is implied by “subduing” the earth is responsibility. Individuals are responsible for what is theirs, and responsible not to interfere with the property rights of others. This means you are not to pollute your neighbor's property. It also means you are responsible for your own. He lists some rather mundane ways to conserve, and I agree with and practice most of them myself. It is not because this robo-individualist here is anxious to be politically correct and sacrifice for society. No way. But it is the bottom line. I save money. I stretch the use of everything. This sort of conservation is very much free market, and it will help the environment. We don't need government regulation even if it were to make a difference, which it would not, at least not quickly enough to do any good.
As for industrial pollution, this can be stopped or at least slowed down if victims were allowed to sue, but last I checked they must go to the EPA for relief, which is tantamount to helplessness.
After the author counsels us to make better use of what we have, he then counsels us to “use less stuff.” Making better use and stretching what we have will reduce usage.
However, a reduction in lifestyle is not something that I am willing to entertain and I hope you aren't either. What I would like to see is the raising of the standards of living everywhere. What kind of a life this would bring would depend on the culture an individual is living in and the desires of the individual. But one thing would be common to all and that would be an end to the hunger, disease, and other things we all want to see ended. What is needed is more “stuff”, not less, as well as more technology, not less. Technology will teach us to get more “stuff” out of fewer resources.
One thing is for sure, and this is not what the left-wing establishment (Yes! They are indeed very establishment!) would say, and that is that governments and the U.N. need to be shut out of any and all charitable efforts to help the needy in Africa and other poor countries. Some organizations, such as World Vision, are doing a very fine job in obeying God's mandate to help the needy. But some of these organizations are making one fatal mistake. They are cooperating with governments and the U.N. Governments do not produce any new goods and services. They may redistribute “stuff” but, in so doing, they take. And take and take and take. We must bypass this. Otherwise, governments will waste much of the donations given to charities. I will give a lot more if I know every dollar is going to help the needy (minus absolutely necessary overhead) and not to some government or U.N. fat cat.
I believe this is good stewardship of the earth: technological progress to find ways to raise everyone's standard of living, being careful not to waste what we do have, and the avoidance of the single greatest source of distress, war.
We do not need government for this. It is in the interest of individuals to go as far as their talents and ambition will take them if they can enjoy the fruits of their own labor. Regardless of the leftist rhetoric, it is not a zero-sum game. War does not have to be fought to supply “stuff.” In fact, war wastes everything, human lives in particular, and prevents production of “stuff.” And, when voluntary, uninhibited trade occurs, both parties benefit, or else the trade would not occur.
It is so important to know economics! Would that both the left and the Christian right stand down for just a few weeks or months and read Murray Rothbard and other economists at mises.org!
(1) Meyers, Robin: Why the Christian Right is Wrong, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, 2006, P. XIV-XV.
(2) Ibid. P. XVI.
(3) Ibid. P. 18.
(4) http://www.newswithviews.com/DeWeese/tom79.htm De Weese, Tom: “Is North American Union About Political Ideology?” March 25, 2007. See also http://www.newswithviews.com/Vieira/edwin49.htm Vieira, Edwin Jr.: “Will the North American Union be American Patriots' Last Stand?” September 6, 2006. See also http://www.lewrockwell.com/ and search Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) who is a fierce opponent and is up to speed on recent developments.
(5) Actually, my theory is that it will close doors. One might believe that the relaxation and eventual elimination of our Canadian and Mexican borders will make travel to these places as simple as it is now to go from state to state within the U.S. I fear the opposite will occur: that Real ID checkpoints will make it as difficult to go from state to state as it is now to cross the international borders.
(6) One needs to remember that in the U.S., which is no longer a free country by any rational standard, a group of libertarians cannot buy up a tract of land and form a private community where running a business, driving a car, using any drug, and owning/carrying a gun (or refraining from any of these things) without any permits, licenses, taxes, or regulations are regarded as absolute, God-given, or natural rights. If we did that, federal troops would arrive within one day.
(7) But help is on the way! See Rothbard, Murray: For a New Liberty, Ludwig von Mises Institute, Auburn, 2006, P. 130-131. This is a new edition of his 1973 book and I highly recommend it for a start in your libertarian education. See mises.org.
(8) Neither can the religious right as evidenced by the Kuo book.