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To Joe Carter and his blogpost on survey that found 25% of Americans would not vote for an evangelical Christian for President. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.
This article suffers from two problems. The first problem is that it is inciting us not quite panic over the possibility that we Christians will be significantly marginalized in society well before there are a sufficient number of signs indicating that will happen.
The second problem is that while anticipating the labeling of Christians by nonChristians as being 'toxic' and irredeemable 'sign-waivers,' the writer here does not ask us what we might have done to contribute to that perception. Is it possible that our opposition same-sex marriage in society has unnecessarily contributed to nonbelievers having a negative perception of us? Or perhaps others are unnecessarily wary of us because we have favored war, opposed environmental protection, or supported market fundamentalism? For while we are blind to how others see the effects of those practices and policies, others are not.
Christians may be marginalized in the future and we may not. But if we are, we shouldn't assume that the marginalization is all the unbelievers' fault. The more we are marginalized, the more we should be driven to stare even more closely into the mirror lest we remain unaware of providing unnecessary stumbling blocks to those outside the faith.
To Patrick Persnak and his review of a book by Chilton Williamson about the promise and death of democracy. This appeared in the Imaginative Conservative blog.
The biggest threat to broad statements like
Even when support for democracy undermines allies and facilitates the rise to power of anti-Western parties—that is, even when it seems to work contrary to the national interest—American administrations tend to stay faithful to promoting democracy
is an inductive approach to history. An inductive approach would first gather numerous examples and seek to group them in order to sense out of them. So when we look at the history of US interventions either before or after WW II, would we summarize history in a way that would agree with the statement made by the writer of this review of Williamson's book about the failure of democracy, Patrick Bersnak?
I don't think history supports Bersnak's statement here because since WW II, William Blum has noted that America has intervented in the democratic process of over 30 nations and in other than democratic process in close to 20 other nations. And what the evidence seems to support is that the US favors strong leaders in other countries who are friendly to American business and/or strategic interests. Some examples that support this last claim include Iran in '53, Guatemala in '54, Greece in '67, Chile in '73, Central America during the 80s, Venezuela in 2002, and, most recently Honduras. Even our efforts to foster democracy in Iraq are questionable since the first America military leader to have suggested elections was immediately replaced, democracy was basically given into because of the activism of the Iraqi people, and Bush's administration tried to force a SOFA that favored American businesses on the Iraqi people. Would Bush have invaded Iraq had Saddam Hussein not invaded Kuwait? Nobody knows. What we do know is that both American and European businesses, with the help of the American gov't, did business with Hussein's Iraq including selling material that could be used in developing WMDs before the invasion of Kuwait. We could also cite our aiding Egypt's strongman gov'ts from Mubarak to el-Sisi.
Does this mean that the US has never aided democratic movements in other countries? No. Milosevic could testify to that. But for the most part, democracy has not been an issue in our choice of foreign leaders to support.
Now this brings us to the rest of the article which basically supports a partial democracy. By partial democracy, I am referring to the rule by a subset of the people in a given nation. Sometimes that subset revolves around ethnicity as we see in Israel. Marx favored a partial democracy based on economic class as the answer to the oppressive rule of the bourgeoisie in various nations. What is ironic is that where those nations being ruled over were democracies, they were partial democracies based on economic class.
Most of the founding fathers of our nation were afraid not just of a direct democracy, but of letting all classes of people having the right to vote. In talking about what would happen in England should this occur, James Madison expressed the fear that agrarian reform would take place. Thus, he successfully argued for a Senate that was insulated from the demands of the people.
And as, according to Bersnak, Williamson keenly asks if people of lower economic classes could exercise the appropriate self-discipline to vote against programs that would benefit them, we might want to ask if those in the upper class, for whom Williamson's democracy is meant, would exercise the appropriate self-discipline to vote for tax supported programs that would help the less fortunate.
We should note that immediately after The Constitution was ratified, approximately 5% of the people could vote. We should also note that the writing of The Constitution was in response to widespread dissent and Shays Rebellion. Thus, the writing of The Constitution was to strengthen the Federal gov't so it could better respond to similar rebellions in the future. Thus, The Constitution was written to help maintain the status quo for the benefit of those with wealth and power.
And see, that's what Bersnak and Williamson seem to support when they favor a class-based partial democracy where the upper class rules. Such could be seen as a more efficient democracy. Unfortunately, because democracy is meant for the rule of all of the people, efficiency is not the best criteria for measuring the strength of a democracy. And all of that is regardless of what Tocqueville, who thought that British society was the superior society in the world, or Williamson or even Bersnak said or did not say about democracy.
Finally, it is not difficult to agree with Williamson about the mortality of political regimes. But we learn nothing beneficial if we do not follow up the death of a political regime without conducting an autopsy. And perhaps when it is time to perform an autopsy on America's democracy, how Martin Luther King Jr once described America society might receive at least some credit for the death. King stated that our society is thing-oriented, not person oriented. This could be seen in how we place a higher priority on gadgets, profits and property rights than on people.
To Joe Carter and his blogpost containing a video clip of a philosophy professor asking whether it is moral for others, either individuals or the government, to force us to donate causes. The purpose of this blogpost is to show the difference between taxation and charity. This appeared in the Acton blog.
Maybe the question we should ask is how much do questions like the ones posed by the philosophy professor model life. For are the subjects comparable when we switch from the question is it wrong for others to force you to give to is it wrong for the government to force you to give? How does an individual peer compare with a representative gov't in terms of having the right to coerce me to do anything? To not consider the comparability of an individual peer with a representative gov't is to oversimplify the issue.
We could look at this question from the Scriptures. Those living in OT Israel and Judah were coerced into giving to the poor in both individual and collective ways. In fact, to not follow those ways would be to practice injustice against those in need. The threat of God's punishment was the force doing the coercion.
In the NT, the threat of eternal punishment supplies the coercion in the parable of the sheep and the goats.
But furthermore, though this question is probably meant toward helping groups of those who are vulnerable such as recipients of welfare, let's apply the question to another target. Is it moral for the gov't to force us to support wars or a particular kind of military we oppose?
Now let's return to the question as applied to charity: Is it moral for the gov't to force me to give to support food stamps or welfare? And this question is especially pertinent for those Christians who feel that only the Church should help the poor. Well, if gov't is not allowed to help those in need because that would include coercing citizens into giving, how is the gov't representing those who are in need or should the gov't only represent those who have made it in life? And in light of what we saw mentioned above from the Bible, how Biblical is it for the gov't to ignore those in need?