Responding to Cornwall on Faith and Politics

Posted By Elgin Hushbeck

Concerning Bob Cornwall’s reply to the first question I must say that I find a lot of common ground, particularly when it comes to the problem of balancing involvement in politics and avoiding the dangers inherent in “the lure of power politics.”   But, not surprisingly, there was some disagreement. One of the most problematic statements was his claim that “I recognize that I cannot coercively impose my beliefs on others. We live in a pluralistic country, not a Christian one.” 

What makes this statement so troubling for me is that virtually every act of government is an act of coercion, the imposition of one person’s, or group’s beliefs and values on others who disagree. After all if there was 100% agreement, there would be no need for government.  Government passes laws, which if transgressed, can result in the loss of property (fines), freedom (prison) or even death.  To pay for this government likewise coerces money in the form of taxes. This makes government, at its core, an enemy to freedom and liberty.

I believe that some of the problems caused by this coercion can be mitigated by the democratic process. But, is it really an exercise of democracy when a majority imposes burdens on a minority, burdens that the majority does not share?

Now, unlike some of my libertarian friends, I do not see this as a reason to dispense with all government, for I believe that at least some government is needed. But where I suspect that I differ with Mr. Cornwall is over its size, location (local, state, federal), and its efficacy.  We will probably  get into more detail concerning this later on so let me just say that I believe that as a general rule government should be small and decentralized as much as reasonably possible, and that its  mandates should allow for choice and freedom when possible.  In addition, I would guess that we have significant disagreements when it comes to the definition of some terms and phrases, such as justice for all,  safety net, and what is or is not equitable. 

Finally I would point out that when it comes to the “the lure of power politics” one sure way to exacerbate the problem is to either increase the power, or to concentrate it.   “Big government liberals” do both, increasing the role and influence of government’s power, while centralizing it at the federal level.  

In short, drawing from my reply, because of love, I agree with many of the goals, particularly of tending to needs of “the least amongst us.”   However, because of my view of truth, I would differ on the ability of a large federal government to actually accomplish this, and frankly believe that such a government is far more likely to only make matters worse.

Aug 14th, 2012

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