Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Divided States of America

Danny McDonald has a thorough review of Dr Richard Land’s book called The Divided States of America. He summarizes the books by quoting these words.

What’s God got to do with America? Well, not everything
but far more than liberals think,
and a lot less than conservatives may assume,
in much different ways than either side acknowledges,
and for far more important reasons than you might imagine.
The book sounds interesting, but it does not seem to get to the real issues. Richard Land recognizes the struggle between liberals and conservatives, but does not come up with a realistic solution.

The problem is that in a democratic and pluralistic society, one group will end up imposing its views on the rest of society.

If the secularists win power, they will impose their views on Christians. A world view devoid of God will be taught in the schools. Christians will hate this situation.

If Christians win at the ballot box, they will impose their values on the secular part of society. This will make the liberals unhappy and God quite uncomfortable.

The real issue is that democracy is a tool for the majority to impose its values on the minority. We need to be asking if we want a system where that can happen. We need to be asking about what is the role of the state. For example, should the state be involved in education, because as soon as the state takes on this role, it starts imposing the values of the majority onto the children of the minority? Democracy then becomes a tool for making sure that my values win out in that struggle.

Pluralism and Democracy do not mix. You can only have one or the other.

If God has a choice between pluralism and democracy, I think that he would prefer pluralism. I can find no support in the scriptures for democracy, but by putting the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the garden, he opened up the way for pluralism. I realise that his first choice is for the earth to be filled with his glory as the waters cover the sea, but his people have not really got hold of that one.

So if pluralism is preferred, then any political system that allows a majority (whether Christian or secular)to impose its values on the rest of society does not cut the mustard. That means that political activity must be limited to things which almost everyone agrees on, which rules out education and social welfare. It probably limits government to limited defence and the punishment of theft and violence, because as soon as the political activity goes beyond these, it gets into the business of imposing values on unwilling people.


Anonymous said...

Hi RonMck. Thank you for linking my post. I look forward to reading your blog, as I am wanting to learn more of economics (something that has interested me since taking philosophy courses). If you don't mind, I am going to link your blog on mine as a resource for those interested in economics from a biblical point of view.

In regards to Land's book, I'm not sure if he's trying to solve the issue, but trying to answer the question "What does God have to do with America?" as stated in his opening chapter. America's history is full of examples of politicians invoking the name of God and Jesus Christ when speaking of public matters, and of citizens in general believing in God's hand being upon this nation in its founding and other major events. Dr. Land seeks to clarify just what role God does and does not play in America.

In regards to pluralism and Democracy, you are correct that the majority party's views will be imposed on others. But, as Dr. Land mentions in his book, the beauty of America is that the minority does not have to sit quietly by as the majority have their way; rather, if one is not satisfied with the majority, he has in his power for political activism to convince a majority and to replace those in office with respresentatives more in line with their views (a bit wordy, but hopefully makes since).

In regards to pluralism, I believe what Dr. Land is saying is that, though Judeo-Christianity may be a majority in the US, all religions and faiths should not be discriminated against or kept from participating in the public square. No one religion should be favored by the State over another.

I hope not to come across as knowing everything about the separation of Church and State, and what the best form of government is; rather, I'm just now getting into this issue and am hoping to learn more.

I look forward to more dialogue on this; I appreiate your well-thought comments regarding this book.

Your brother in Christ,

Ron McK said...

Hi Danny. Thanks for your comments and link.

It is true that in America, the minority party can get into gear and get into power. The problem is that there are many minorities that have no chance of ever having their views represented in Congress. If I have understood what Richard Land is saying, most Christians would not be happy with his position.

I agree that minority religious groups should not be discriminated against, or forced to do things against their will. The problem with that is that most Christians in American believe that their majority status earns them the right to do much more than that.