The new liberal evangelicals

The unholy match of religion and government gets a progressive face

Back in the late 1990s, I tried to tell some of my conservative friends that evangelicals and politics were not a good combination.

"No problem," they told me. "It will always be our guys."

Well, I had my own concerns for obvious reasons. But now it looks like there is a new breed of evangelical with a social agenda.

Heather Wilhelm points out the risks.

But the past few years have brought a new liberal breed of evangelical. "Why are these people punting to the federal government?" asks Jay Richards, an evangelical and a research fellow at the Michigan-based Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty. "You can't be compassionate with other people's money. Even worse, they're not thinking about the consequences of these policies. They're too busy feeling warm and fuzzy and absorbing liberal ideas."

And now, these ideas are trickling out of the Beltway. In bulletins from four different Chicago-area churches, parishioners are being asked to write their senators, not a personal check. Groups representing more than 40 denominations have signed on to the public declaration of the so-called ONE campaign, whose mission is to dedicate 1% of the U.S. budget to foreign aid each year. ONE boasts the support of George Clooney, Naomi Watts and, of course, Bono. It's all very hip, and very vague. "ONE isn't asking for your money," the Web site declares. "We're asking for your voice." Well, actually, ONE is asking for your money, but the checks go to the IRS rather than directly to charity.

That's a great quote. "You can't be compassionate with other people's money."

Here are my concerns in a nutshell.

First, big government solutions almost never do what they are supposed to do and always end up costing much more than private sector solutions. There are a lot of reasons for this, two of the big ones are insulating from market pressures and placing political (and possibly in this case religious) imperatives over solutions.

My second concern is that historically religions do a terrible job of controlling societies, however effective they may be on a personal scale. Give a religion, ANY religion, the coercive power of government and you are begging for tyranny. Give government authority over religion and you are begging for slavery.

No, I am not exaggerating.

My third concern is obvious, I do not believe that an ever expanding government serves freedom or protects the liberty of it's citizens.

My fourth concern is also obvious. I am not a Christian, nor am I an evangelical. No government can place those concerns over mine and claim to represent me. Nor will I pay taxes to support evangelism of any faith, with or without a Deity.

As far as I can see, the agenda of these liberal evangelicals will expand government size and power without any benefit.

I will not surrender my individuality in the name of the "common good."

I refuse to have the "common good" defined for me.

If you want to talk about what is good and what is bad, then by all means, let's sit down and talk. Unless you are determined that your beliefs are the only possible way, chances are we can reach mutual agreement on many things. At least enough to get a society and culture working. As for the rest, we can wing it using the free market and mutual agreement.

As I said in my first site FAQ, a libertarian wants the government at all levels to be smaller than absolutely necessary.

Religion cannot be allowed the coercive power of government. And government cannot be allowed the moral justification of religion.

— NeoWayland

Posted: Fri - May 26, 2006 at 04:56 AM  Tag

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