Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Without Religion, America Is Toast

 

William Barr gave a most remarkable speech last Friday. I urge careful reading of every word. To call it a tour de force would be an understatement. In today’s world, Barr is that rare public political figure (perhaps the only one) who possesses real wisdom. A few excerpts from the speech follow:

Religion helps teach, train, and habituate people to want what is good. It does not do this primarily by formal laws – that is, through coercion. It does this through moral education and by informing society’s informal rules – its customs and traditions which reflect the wisdom and experience of the ages.

I think we all recognize that over the past 50 years religion has been under increasing attack.

On the one hand, we have seen the steady erosion of our traditional Judeo-Christian moral system and a comprehensive effort to drive it from the public square.

On the other hand, we see the growing ascendancy of secularism and the doctrine of moral relativism.

By any honest assessment, the consequences of this moral upheaval have been grim.

Virtually every measure of social pathology continues to gain ground.

In 1965, the illegitimacy rate was eight percent. In 1992, when I was last Attorney General, it was 25 percent. Today it is over 40 percent. In many of our large urban areas, it is around 70 percent.

Along with the wreckage of the family, we are seeing record levels of depression and mental illness, dispirited young people, soaring suicide rates, increasing numbers of angry and alienated young males, an increase in senseless violence, and a deadly drug epidemic.

I will not dwell on all the bitter results of the new secular age. Suffice it to say that the campaign to destroy the traditional moral order has brought with it immense suffering, wreckage, and misery. And yet, the forces of secularism, ignoring these tragic results, press on with even greater militancy.

Among these militant secularists are many so-called “progressives.” But where is the progress?

We are told we are living in a post-Christian era. But what has replaced the Judeo-Christian moral system? What is it that can fill the spiritual void in the hearts of the individual person? And what is a system of values that can sustain human social life?

The fact is that no secular creed has emerged capable of performing the role of religion.

One of the ironies, as some have observed, is that the secular project has itself become a religion, pursued with religious fervor. It is taking on all the trappings of a religion, including inquisitions and excommunication.

Those who defy the creed risk a figurative burning at the stake – social, educational, and professional ostracism and exclusion waged through lawsuits and savage social media campaigns.

The pervasiveness and power of our high-tech popular culture fuels apostasy in another way. It provides an unprecedented degree of distraction.

In the past, when societies are threatened by moral chaos, the overall social costs of licentiousness and irresponsible personal conduct becomes so high that society ultimately recoils and reevaluates the path that it is on.

But today – in the face of all the increasing pathologies – instead of addressing the underlying cause, we have the State in the role of alleviator of bad fconsequences. We call on the State to mitigate the social costs of personal misconduct and irresponsibility.

So the reaction to growing illegitimacy is not sexual responsibility, but abortion.

The reaction to drug addiction is safe injection sites.

The solution to the breakdown of the family is for the State to set itself up as the ersatz husband for single mothers and the ersatz father to their children.

The call comes for more and more social programs to deal with the wreckage. While we think we are solving problems, we are underwriting them.

Christianity (ed: and Judaism) teaches a micro-morality. We transform the world by focusing on our own personal morality and transformation.

The new secular religion teaches macro-morality. One’s morality is not gauged by their private conduct, but rather on their commitment to political causes and collective action to address social problems.

This system allows us to not worry so much about the strictures on our private lives, while we find salvation on the picket-line. We can signal our finely-tuned moral sensibilities by demonstrating for this cause or that.

Something happened recently that crystalized the difference between these moral systems. I was attending Mass at a parish I did not usually go to in Washington, D.C. At the end of Mass, the Chairman of the Social Justice Committee got up to give his report to the parish. He pointed to the growing homeless problem in D.C. and explained that more mobile soup kitchens were needed to feed them. This being a Catholic church, I expected him to call for volunteers to go out and provide this need. Instead, he recounted all the visits that the Committee had made to the D.C. government to lobby for higher taxes and more spending to fund mobile soup kitchen.

We are left wondering how to bring sanity — if not immediately religion — back into American life. In the wake of the synagogue shooting in Poway, California, the rabbi of that congregation suggested implementing a moment of silence at the start of the school day. This idea was first broached by Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Such an idea would require a grass roots movement to implement. No religious content would be prescribed for the moment of silence but, yes, everyone would be required to stand in silence for one minute every morning. If a child asked the teacher what to think about during that moment, the teacher would say, “Ask your parents.” That way, parents might actually have to be parents and have a conversation about what to think about each morning during that moment which, we have reason to hope, would have something to do with the importance of being kind, generous, and respectful of others, as well as the rewards of self-reliance and hard work and, who knows, the subject of G-d might even come up.

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There are 31 comments.

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  1. Stad Thatcher

    John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

    Given what our kids are learning in K-12 and colleges these days, this quote from Lincoln sounds more like a warning:

    “The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.”

    And yes, I’m waiting for the comments “He wan’t the one who said that.”

    • #1
    • October 18, 2019, at 7:42 AM PST
    • 11 likes
  2. DonG Coolidge

    To paraphrase Churchill, a religious society is the worst, except for all the other forms that have been tried. It is possible to have a moral code without a religion, but in practice those codes always unravel and fail.

    • #2
    • October 18, 2019, at 8:06 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  3. Jim McConnell Member

    Thank you, @yehoshuabeneliyahu, for that post and quotation. It is gratifying and encouraging to hear that from the country’s chief law enforcement officer.

    • #3
    • October 18, 2019, at 8:07 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  4. Yehoshua Ben-Eliyahu Coolidge
    Yehoshua Ben-Eliyahu Post author

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    It is gratifying and encouraging to hear that from the country’s chief law enforcement officer.

    Yes, and let’s hope he can turn the tide — with divine assistance — where public religious expression is concerned.

    • #4
    • October 18, 2019, at 8:29 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  5. Vance Richards Member

    I just saw on the news this morning that the number of Americans who identify themselves as Christians dropped from 78% to 65% over the past ten years. The group that is growing is the “Nothing in particular” group which I guess is folks who are not religious but don’t want to be atheists either.

     

    • #5
    • October 18, 2019, at 8:40 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  6. Yehoshua Ben-Eliyahu Coolidge
    Yehoshua Ben-Eliyahu Post author

    Vance Richards (View Comment):
    The group that is growing is the “Nothing in particular” group which I guess is folks who are not religious but don’t want to be atheists either.

    Unfortunately, young people who identify as such usually lean left politically.

    • #6
    • October 18, 2019, at 8:43 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  7. Vance Richards Member

    Yehoshua Ben-Eliyahu: He pointed to the growing homeless problem in D.C. and explained that more mobile soup kitchens were needed to feed them. This being a Catholic church, I expected him to call for volunteers to go out and provide this need. Instead, he recounted all the visits that the Committee had made to the D.C. government to lobby for higher taxes and more spending to fund mobile soup kitchen.

    Years ago, NYC Mayor Koch suggested that you could make a big dent in the homeless situation if each church in the city could take care of just one or two homeless folks. Churches hated the idea. So, this isn’t a new turn, but it certainly is getting worse.

    • #7
    • October 18, 2019, at 8:43 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  8. Vance Richards Member

    Yehoshua Ben-Eliyahu (View Comment):

    Vance Richards (View Comment):
    The group that is growing is the “Nothing in particular” group which I guess is folks who are not religious but don’t want to be atheists either.

    Unfortunately, young people who identify as such usually lean left politically.

    Yes, as Barr points out, when you take away the Biblical ways they often are replaced with the State

    the reaction to growing illegitimacy is not sexual responsibility, but abortion.

    The reaction to drug addiction is safe injection sites.

    The solution to the breakdown of the family is for the State to set itself up as the ersatz husband for single mothers and the ersatz father to their children.

    The call comes for more and more social programs to deal with the wreckage. While we think we are solving problems, we are underwriting them.

     

    • #8
    • October 18, 2019, at 9:04 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  9. Rodin Member

    William Barr may be as consequential an appointment as President Trump has made. May G-d protect him in his important work.

    • #9
    • October 18, 2019, at 10:07 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  10. Bishop Wash Member

    Vance Richards (View Comment):

    Yehoshua Ben-Eliyahu (View Comment):

    Vance Richards (View Comment):
    The group that is growing is the “Nothing in particular” group which I guess is folks who are not religious but don’t want to be atheists either.

    Unfortunately, young people who identify as such usually lean left politically.

    Yes, as Barr points out, when you take away the Biblical ways they often are replaced with the State

    the reaction to growing illegitimacy is not sexual responsibility, but abortion.

    The reaction to drug addiction is safe injection sites.

    The solution to the breakdown of the family is for the State to set itself up as the ersatz husband for single mothers and the ersatz father to their children.

    The call comes for more and more social programs to deal with the wreckage. While we think we are solving problems, we are underwriting them.

     

    There was an Econtalk episode months ago where the guest was discussing the increase in state programs. One of his laments was that the private charity options had atrophied. Although a lot of people would like to return to less government involvement, it now can’t be done overnight. The government would have to ween people off their system and build the framework for private charity to reconstitute itself.

    • #10
    • October 18, 2019, at 10:10 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  11. CJ Coolidge
    CJ

    Amen! This speech is right in line with the Core Values articulated by the Libertarian Christian Institute.

    What saddens me about the modern conservative movement is how the vast majority are content to merely conserve the nation-state.

    • #11
    • October 18, 2019, at 10:35 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  12. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    Yehoshua, good post.

    I’m going to say something that will probably be unpopular, but I think that it is true.

    I am not sure that you can simply add “Judaism” to AG Barr’s statement about our Christian moral foundation. The unpleasant facts are: (1) the Communist Party and movement were heavily Jewish in this country (the figure that I heard, on the Tikvah podcast if I recall, was that 40% of American Communists were Jews), and (2) Jewish organizations, especially the Anti-Defamation League, played a leading part in driving Christianity in particular, and religion in general, out of public life.

    Here is the ADL amicus brief in Engel v. Vitale, the 1962 SCOTUS decision driving prayer out of public schools. According to this article, all major Jewish organizations including the American Jewish Congress supported the anti-religion position in Everson v. Board of Education, the 1947 SCOTUS decision that applied the Establishment Clause to the states (and thereby laid the foundation for all of the other anti-religion cases). The article reports that they did not file an amicus brief in Everson because they feared alienating Catholics and because they did not have the support of other Jewish organizations (though, as noted, the article also says that “all the major Jewish organizations opposed” the law in question).

    These are very uncomfortable facts. I support the free exercise of religion for Jews. However, as a very small immigrant minority in an overwhelmingly Christian culture, Jews faced a serious problem in preserving their religion. Many Jews, and their organizations, became actively hostile to Christianity out of fear — understandable fear — that their children would convert and thereby cease to be Jews. But one might say that this is the process of assimilation to the common American culture, and the Jews, like several other groups, only wanted to assimilate so far.

    I am, quite frankly, offended by much of what I hear coming out of the ADL and other Jewish groups. I have read about Jews saying that proselytism is anti-Semitism — a clear rejection of the value of free discourse. I have read about Jews objecting to faithful rendition of Christ’s Passion, including in the Mel Gibson movie, because it paints the Jewish leaders and crowd of the time in a bad light — a clear rejection of the right to teach what Christians regard as historical truth. (The evidence in favor of the hostility of the Jewish leaders and community to the early Christians is overwhelming, not just in the Gospels, but in many of the epistles of St. Paul and in the Book of Acts.)

    I know that the ADL does not speak for all Jews.

    [Cont’d]

    • #12
    • October 18, 2019, at 10:43 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  13. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    The problems of Jewish assimilation are not the sole source of the attack upon, or the decline of, religion in America. There were also serious problems created by earlier, and larger, waves of Catholic immigration, which included my own ancestors. 

    From my limited research into the subject, the Blaine Amendment, proposed in the 1870s but not passed, was an anti-Catholic measure designed to prevent public funding of Catholic schools. The Blaine Amendment actually passed the House by a wide margin, but failed by 4 votes to obtain a 2/3 majority in the Senate. Versions of the Blaine Amendment were ultimately adopted by 38 states (and later repealed by one, Louisiana).

    The text of the failed federal Blaine Amendment was:

    No State shall make any law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; and no money raised by taxation in any State for the support of public schools, or derived from any public fund therefor, nor any public lands devoted thereto, shall ever be under the control of any religious sect; nor shall any money so raised or lands so devoted be divided between religious sects or denominations

    This article asserts that anti-Catholic bigotry was the driving force behind the Blaine Amendment and its state versions.

    Despite the non-passage of this proposed amendment, this is essentially the rule adopted by the radical SCOTUS decision in Everson, which stated:

    The “establishment of religion” clause of the First Amendment means at least this: neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. . . . No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion. Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups, and vice versa.

    What a mess.

    We have a failed federal amendment to drive religion out of schools and public life, prompted by Protestant desire to prevent new Catholic immigrants from teaching Catholicism in public schools in Catholic areas, and about 60-70 years later, we have Jews (among others) convincing SCOTUS to adopt the rule of that failed amendment to protect their minority religious belief.

    These are the problems of diversity. The result seems to be a dreadful decline in religion and morality, to the chagrin of faithful Protestants, Catholics, and Jews alike.

    Perhaps Protestants, Catholics, and Jews can now unite around the Founders’ ideal, which would include teaching religious-based morality in the schools. There is a great deal of common ground among these three groups. Perhaps this could be taught as literature and myth, as I recall studying Greek myths in high school.

    However, my suspicion is that Jews would not agree, as I imagine that they would object to any teaching about the New Testament.

    • #13
    • October 18, 2019, at 10:43 AM PST
    • 1 like
  14. Western Chauvinist Member

    Rodin (View Comment):

    William Barr may be as consequential an appointment as President Trump has made. May G-d protect him in his important work.

    Amen!

    • #14
    • October 18, 2019, at 10:50 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  15. Roderic Coolidge

    I disagree with Barr on one thing. The decline of religion is not the cause of the degeneration of our society. It’s a symptom. There is an overall decline in confidence in the culture that is affecting all facets of it. It’s a loss of confidence in traditional norms. Declining respect for institutions and authority, declining adherence to traditional behavior, the loss of resistance to toxic values, increasing depression, suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, declining birth rate, etc. It’s the unraveling of one common cloth.

    An entire section of our people was thrown away so that elites on the coasts could make more money. Economists prostituted themselves trying to justify trade deals that left working Americans behind. There was no sense of community or fraternity in that, and the loss of faith in elites has been striking.

    When the Roman Republic started it consisted of a relatively small, homogeneous population who would leave their plows on a moment’s notice to fight for Rome against the threat of extinction. By the time Rome was done is was a huge empire spread all over Europe who paid mercenaries to fight for them in far off wars and whose population included almost every ethnic group in the world. Their coinage, once pure precious metals, became debased. The old system, which relied on mutual obligations and shared values, no longer worked, and it fragmented.

    The best we can do is to support our own family and community including our religious institutions.

    • #15
    • October 18, 2019, at 10:58 AM PST
    • Like
  16. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    CJ (View Comment):

    Amen! This speech is right in line with the Core Values articulated by the Libertarian Christian Institute.

    What saddens me about the modern conservative movement is how the vast majority are content the conserve the nation-state.

    No, the speech is not in line with radical anarchism. Core Value #2 (from your link) is:

    The ethics modeled by Christ and the early Church call us to change the world and build the Kingdom of God through service rather than force; through persuasion rather than coercion. The use of political force to compel ethical behavior cannot change hearts and only antagonizes our struggle against sin, death, and evil. Christians must call for repentance from sin in humility and never with violenceAs such, a consistently Christian ethic always embodies non-aggression.

    Christianity is not anarchism. Enforcement of the law is nothing but the use of political (and physical) force to compel ethical behavior. If AG Barr agreed with this, he would have to resign.

    What would you have done? No enforcement of any ethical behavior? No laws against rape, or murder, or prostitution, or pedophilia, or bestiality, or a myriad of other things?

    Libertarians, of course, don’t actually believe this. They generally declare the enforcement of the law is proper in order to support protection against “force or fraud,” without any moral justification for why these should be the only ethical principles worthy of protection. The reason, of course, is their devotion to radical individualism, which is entirely inconsistent with Christianity.

    There is plenty of Scripture contrary to the Libertarian Christian Institute’s position, including Christ’s statement about rendering unto Caesar, and epistles (by both St. Paul and St. Peter, if I recall correctly) about submission to authorities.

    • #16
    • October 18, 2019, at 11:00 AM PST
    • 1 like
  17. Western Chauvinist Member

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Despite the non-passage of this proposed amendment, this is essentially the rule adopted by the radical SCOTUS decision in Everson, which stated:

    The “establishment of religion” clause of the First Amendment means at least this: neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. . . . No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion. Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups, and vice versa.

    What a mess.

    A lot of this would be solved by school choice/vouchers, don’t you think? But, that will continue to be vehemently opposed by the secular progressives who favor indoctrination into secular progressivism over education. So, I’m afraid we’re stuck with the culture we’ve got.

    Fast and pray. Only God can get us out of this mess.

    • #17
    • October 18, 2019, at 11:02 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  18. Yehoshua Ben-Eliyahu Coolidge
    Yehoshua Ben-Eliyahu Post author

    Hello Jerry Giordano,

    There are Jews who do not act like Jews. There are Christians who do not act like Christians, especially in their treatment of Jews throughout history, although that behavior does not characterize the vast majority of Christians today. There are Americans who do not act like Americans.

    The phenomenon of distancing yourself from who you are by behavior that belies your roots is as old as time.

    Cordially,

    Y. B-E.

    • #18
    • October 18, 2019, at 11:14 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  19. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    Roderic Fabian (View Comment):

    I disagree with Barr on one thing. The decline of religion is not the cause of the degeneration of our society. It’s a symptom. There is an overall decline in confidence in the culture that is affecting all facets of it. It’s a loss of confidence in traditional norms. Declining respect for institutions and authority, declining adherence to traditional behavior, the loss of resistance to toxic values, increasing depression, suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, declining birth rate, etc. It’s the unraveling of one common cloth.

    An entire section of our people was thrown away so that elites on the coasts could make more money. Economists prostituted themselves trying to justify trade deals that left working Americans behind. There was no sense of community or fraternity in that, and the loss of faith in elites has been striking.

    When the Roman Republic started it consisted of a relatively small, homogeneous population who would leave their plows on a moment’s notice to fight for Rome against the threat of extinction. By the time Rome was done is was a huge empire spread all over Europe who paid mercenaries to fight for them in far off wars and whose population included almost every ethnic group in the world. Their coinage, once pure precious metals, became debased. The old system, which relied on mutual obligations and shared values, no longer worked, and it fragmented.

    The best we can do is to support our own family and community including our religious institutions.

    Roderic, I disagree. Religion is the thing that supported, and supplied, traditional norms. Where else do you think that they came from?

    • #19
    • October 18, 2019, at 11:47 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  20. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Despite the non-passage of this proposed amendment, this is essentially the rule adopted by the radical SCOTUS decision in Everson, which stated:

    The “establishment of religion” clause of the First Amendment means at least this: neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. . . . No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion. Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups, and vice versa.

    What a mess.

    A lot of this would be solved by school choice/vouchers, don’t you think? But, that will continue to be vehemently opposed by the secular progressives who favor indoctrination into secular progressivism over education. So, I’m afraid we’re stuck with the culture we’ve got.

    Fast and pray. Only God can get us out of this mess.

    At this point, I don’t think that school choice will help much. It would help a little. Much of the damage has been done, and even if it were permitted by law, I doubt that many parents would send their children to Christian schools. Moreover, much of the good done by Christian schools would be undermined by the colleges and universities.

    Perhaps, if things continue to get worse, there will be a Great Awakening and a return to faith.

    • #20
    • October 18, 2019, at 11:49 AM PST
    • Like
  21. Yehoshua Ben-Eliyahu Coolidge
    Yehoshua Ben-Eliyahu Post author

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    Perhaps, if things continue to get worse, there will be a Great Awakening and a return to faith.

    It could happen in the twinkling of an eye.

    • #21
    • October 18, 2019, at 12:39 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  22. David Foster Member

    Yehoshua Ben-Eliyahu (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    Perhaps, if things continue to get worse, there will be a Great Awakening and a return to faith.

    It could happen in the twinkling of an eye.

    I think that is unlikely. Most likely, it would be not a return to traditional American faiths, but to some “new” faith…new to its new adherents, if not to the world.

    From what I’ve observed, those that have rejected Christianity or Judaism have generally *not* become atheists or agnostics of the scientific-materialist type. Rather, they have taken on a set of mystical beliefs, ranging from astrology to homeopathic medicines to magical crystals to a conscious Gaia.

    Also, there are converts to Islam, often to the more radical and fundamental forms theoreof.

    I’m reminded, as I often am, of Koestler’s neglected 1950 novel of ideas, “The Age of Longing,” which is about the West’s loss of civilizational self-confidence and its relationship to the loss of religious faith. Hydie, the protagonist, was once a devout Catholic but has lost her faith. Following her disastrous affair with a Russian Communist agent, and as Western Europe faces a probable Soviet invasion…

    Her thoughts travelled back to Sister Boutillot standing in the alley which led to the pond…Oh, if she could only go back to the infinite comfort of father confessors and mother superiors, of a well-ordered hierarchy which promised punishment and reward, and furnished the world with justice and meaning. If only one could go back! But she was under the curse of reason, which rejected whatever might quench her thirst without abolishing the gnawing of the urge; which rejected the answer without abolishing the question. For the place of God had become vacant and there was a draught blowing through the world as in an empty flat before the new tenants have arrived.

    As I said in my review of the book, “Sixty years later, I think we now begin to see who the New Tenants might be, and it is not comforting knowledge.”

    • #22
    • October 18, 2019, at 1:28 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  23. MarciN Member

    I respect Jews and Christians who were or are attracted to Marxism, socialism, and communism. First of all, that we should be gracious and charitable to the poor is embedded firmly in both the Old and New Testaments. Second, there is a basic human instinct for altruism in every human heart. We are hard-wired to feel the pain of others inside ourselves. Marxism and socialism seem to be good ways to help the poor who live among us: we will all “chip in” with our meager tax dollars, and help will go to the people who need it. No one is a socialist for himself. He is a socialist for his friends, family members, and neighbors in need.

    Conservatives know that socialism and communism will have exactly the opposite effect. If an idea could be the anti-Christ, it would be socialism–the seeming savior is the bringer of nothing but pain and suffering, death and destruction.

    Good and intelligent people are attracted to socialism. I think conservatives need to acknowledge that and work with it better than we have been. We are understandably frustrated right now, but it is our frustration that we are communicating rather than our positive solutions for poverty. We need better political presentations on how to help people.

    In the meantime, we have to understand the allure of socialism to the people at the bottom of the wealth pyramid. People simply want to help others.

    • #23
    • October 18, 2019, at 1:38 PM PST
    • Like
  24. CJ Coolidge
    CJ

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Christianity is not anarchism. Enforcement of the law is nothing but the use of political (and physical) force to compel ethical behavior. If AG Barr agreed with this, he would have to resign.

    What would you have done? No enforcement of any ethical behavior? No laws against rape, or murder, or prostitution, or pedophilia, or bestiality, or a myriad of other things?

    Libertarians, of course, don’t actually believe this. They generally declare the enforcement of the law is proper in order to support protection against “force or fraud,” without any moral justification for why these should be the only ethical principles worthy of protection. The reason, of course, is their devotion to radical individualism, which is entirely inconsistent with Christianity.

    There is plenty of Scripture contrary to the Libertarian Christian Institute’s position, including Christ’s statement about rendering unto Caesar, and epistles (by both St. Paul and St. Peter, if I recall correctly) about submission to authorities.

    You are right that Barr is likely not himself an anarchist. My point is that his speech correctly diagnoses the problem: the State.

    I will also agree that many libertarians–mostly left-libertarians–are devoted to radical individualism. That is why they so easily align themselves with SJWs in the Culture Wars. But there are those of us who recognize, per Core Value #4 of the Libertarian Christians, that community and other voluntary institutions are key. Radical individualism creates a vacuum that invites the State. It is like a demon that finds the house swept clean and invites with it 10 other demons more wicked than itself. That is why family, churches, businesses, and other voluntary institutions are so essential.

    The scriptures you reference speak to how Christians ought to interact with the State, and say nothing about how Christians are to use the power of the State against others. These scriptures make two main points: 1. We are to live at peace, as much as it is in our power to do so, with the powers of this world. The Christian redeems the world through humility and service, just as Christ modeled in washing his disciple’s feet. 2. God, in his sovereignty, uses the secular State as his instrument of temporal justice to punish evildoers. In the same way, he used the Assyrians and Babylonians to punish unfaithful Israel. Should Christians desire to be God’s instruments of wrath, as were the Romans and Assyrians and Babylonians? I’m skeptical.

    • #24
    • October 18, 2019, at 1:47 PM PST
    • Like
  25. David Foster Member

    MarciN (View Comment):
    In the meantime, we have to understand the allure of socialism to the people at the bottom of the wealth pyramid. People simply want to help others.

    That is part of it, and I agree that we should try to understand these motivations. But that’s not the only thing.

    1–The idea of centralized economic planning–despite its many well-documentation failures–is a very seductive one to a lot of people. It just seems to make sense that such planning would lead to more efficiency…less waste…and certainly less unnecessary human suffering than an environment in which millions of decision-makers, many of them in competition, are making their own separate and uncoordinated decisions, resulting in pointless product redundancy, economic cycles driving unemployment, and lots of other bad things.

    It is not a trivial task to communicate the problems with this viewpoint to people who are not going to be spending the time to read Hayek or Rose Wilder Lane.

    2–There are also a lot of people who are attracted to centralization and socialism because…consciously or subconsciously…they think they personally would enjoy more power and status in such a system.

    Years ago, I attended a company management training course in which we had several outside speakers. One was a Marxist economist, who proceeded to inform us that our political beliefs were based on nothing more than our economic class interests.

    I raised my hand and suggested that *his* political beliefs might have something to do with his own class interests. He didn’t like that very much.

    • #25
    • October 18, 2019, at 1:48 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  26. Yehoshua Ben-Eliyahu Coolidge
    Yehoshua Ben-Eliyahu Post author

    David Foster (View Comment):

    Her thoughts travelled back to Sister Boutillot standing in the alley which led to the pond…Oh, if she could only go back to the infinite comfort of father confessors and mother superiors, of a well-ordered hierarchy which promised punishment and reward, and furnished the world with justice and meaning. If only one could go back! But she was under the curse of reason, which rejected whatever might quench her thirst without abolishing the gnawing of the urge; which rejected the answer without abolishing the question. For the place of God had become vacant and there was a draught blowing through the world as in an empty flat before the new tenants have arrived.

    As I said in my review of the book, “Sixty years later, I think we now begin to see who the New Tenants might be, and it is not comforting knowledge.”

    That’s a sobering message. Perhaps Koestler’s despair contributed to his suicide. We can only cling to the view of Rudolph Otto who held that our longing for the divine is as natural and inborn as our physical needs. This longing has only been temporarily hidden by longing for something, seemingly far away, that is actually close at hand. Rav Kook is worth mentioning here. He was the first chief rabbi of modern Israel and saw teshuva (return to G-d) as a journey of return to our best selves. What we are searching for out there lies within.

    Once there lived a scholar named Rabbi Isaac Yekls of Krakow, who lived in dire poverty. Over the course of a few nights he had a series of dreams in which he was digging for treasure in Prague under the bridge that led to the king’s palace. After the fourth consecutive dream, he decided to set out for Prague to try to change his fortunes. But when he arrived he found that the bridge was always guarded, and he dared not to dig out of fear of being caught and apprehended. Finally, the Captain of the Guards, who had been watching him for some time, asked him of his business by the bridge. Rabbi Isaac told him of the dream that had brought him there. The captain laughed, “Because of a dream, you poor fellow, you wore out your shoes to come here?! Why, if I paid any attention to dreams, I would have had to get going when a dream once told me to go to Krakow and dig for treasure under the stove in the room of a Jew, Rabbi Isaac Yekls.” Rabbi Isaac bowed, traveled back home, and dug up the treasure from under his very own stove. When a person decides that they want to change, they need not travel far because what they are looking for oftentimes is very close at heart.

    • #26
    • October 18, 2019, at 1:51 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  27. CJ Coolidge
    CJ

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Despite the non-passage of this proposed amendment, this is essentially the rule adopted by the radical SCOTUS decision in Everson, which stated:

    The “establishment of religion” clause of the First Amendment means at least this: neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. . . . No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion. Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups, and vice versa.

    What a mess.

    A lot of this would be solved by school choice/vouchers, don’t you think? But, that will continue to be vehemently opposed by the secular progressives who favor indoctrination into secular progressivism over education. So, I’m afraid we’re stuck with the culture we’ve got.

    Fast and pray. Only God can get us out of this mess.

    The big problem wasn’t Christianity forced on the schools, it was compulsory government schooling forced on the public. 

    • #27
    • October 18, 2019, at 2:01 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  28. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    CJ (View Comment):

    . . .

    You are right that Barr is likely not himself an anarchist. My point is that his speech correctly diagnoses the problem: the State.

    I will also agree that many libertarians–mostly left-libertarians–are devoted to radical individualism. That is why they so easily align themselves with SJWs in the Culture Wars. But there are those of us who recognize, per Core Value #4 of the Libertarian Christians, that community and other voluntary institutions are key. Radical individualism creates a vacuum that invites the State. It is like a demon that finds the house swept clean and invites with it 10 other demons more wicked than itself. That is why family, churches, businesses, and other voluntary institutions are so essential.

    The scriptures you reference speak to how Christians ought to interact with the State, and say nothing about how Christians are to use the power of the State against others. These scriptures make two main points: 1. We are to live at peace, as much as it is in our power to do so, with the powers of this world. The Christian redeems the world through humility and service, just as Christ modeled in washing his disciple’s feet. 2. God, in his sovereignty, uses the secular State as his instrument of temporal justice to punish evildoers. In the same way, he used the Assyrians and Babylonians to punish unfaithful Israel. Should Christians desire to be God’s instruments of wrath, as were the Romans and Assyrians and Babylonians? I’m skeptical.

    Good points. There is not much guidance in the New Testament for Christian secular rulers, including voters. There is guidance in the Old Testament, and it is quite harsh, such as Josiah’s reforms, which returned the Kingdom of Judah to the faith, but involved wiping out the priests of other religions (such as Baal worship), and desecrating the temples of other (false) gods.

    I think that there is room for reasonable enforcement of morality and standards of community decency, without becoming “God’s instruments of wrath.” This is what we did for the first 170-odd years of the Republic, and it seemed to work very well, aside from the mistreatment of American blacks.

    We seem to agree about Romans 13 (“For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer”) — which you summarize well. To me, though, this seems to imply that the proper authorities will punish wrongdoers. This leaves an important role for the state.

    Which explains why I am a conservative, not a libertarian.

    • #28
    • October 18, 2019, at 2:19 PM PST
    • 1 like
  29. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    MarciN (View Comment):

    I respect Jews and Christians who were or are attracted to Marxism, socialism, and communism. First of all, that we should be gracious and charitable to the poor is embedded firmly in both the Old and New Testaments. Second, there is a basic human instinct for altruism in every human heart. We are hard-wired to feel the pain of others inside ourselves. Marxism and socialism seem to be good ways to help the poor who live among us: we will all “chip in” with our meager tax dollars, and help will go to the people who need it. No one is a socialist for himself. He is a socialist for his friends, family members, and neighbors in need.

    Conservatives know that socialism and communism will have exactly the opposite effect. If an idea could be the anti-Christ, it would be socialism–the seeming savior is the bringer of nothing but pain and suffering, death and destruction.

    Good and intelligent people are attracted to socialism. I think conservatives need to acknowledge that and work with it better than we have been. We are understandably frustrated right now, but it is our frustration that we are communicating rather than our positive solutions for poverty. We need better political presentations on how to help people.

    In the meantime, we have to understand the allure of socialism to the people at the bottom of the wealth pyramid. People simply want to help others.

    Marci, I think that some can be attracted to Marxism out of a good motive, but I tend to agree with Jordan Peterson that the more common motivation is not love for the poor, but hatred for the rich.

    • #29
    • October 18, 2019, at 2:20 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  30. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    CJ (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Despite the non-passage of this proposed amendment, this is essentially the rule adopted by the radical SCOTUS decision in Everson, which stated:

    The “establishment of religion” clause of the First Amendment means at least this: neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. . . . No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion. Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups, and vice versa.

    What a mess.

    A lot of this would be solved by school choice/vouchers, don’t you think? But, that will continue to be vehemently opposed by the secular progressives who favor indoctrination into secular progressivism over education. So, I’m afraid we’re stuck with the culture we’ve got.

    Fast and pray. Only God can get us out of this mess.

    The big problem wasn’t Christianity forced on the schools, it was compulsory government schooling forced on the public.

    But we had state-funded schools from the very beginning, and they taught Christianity.

    • #30
    • October 18, 2019, at 2:22 PM PST
    • Like
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