16 March 2012

Put not your faith in princes

Cafe Hayek | Russ Roberts | Not the Messiah

I caught about 30 seconds of some Republican forum last night and heard someone ask Newt Gingrich about what he was going to do to lead the nation back to God.

I am a religious person. I think Godliness is a good thing.

But the right answer to that question should be to say that it is not the job of the President of the United States or in in the skill set of the President of the United States to lead the nation back to or toward God. For starters, a lot of Americans don’t believe in God and don’t want to hear about God. I don’t want a President to lead the nation toward meat-eating or vegetarianism or any of the myriad of other choices we make privately in our day-to-day lives.

More importantly, the President doesn’t know how to lead the nation back to God. He is just as likely to lead the nation away from God. There are people who specialize in Godliness–they are called “the clergy.” [...]
(1) Amen.

(2) How little faith do you have that you need the President, and his legions of soldiers and cops and tax collectors and regulators and prison wardens, to force people behave righteously? Any God worthy of the name shouldn't need the DOJ or the FCC or the Air Force to do his dirty work.

(3) Is there any government in history which has lead people closer to Godliness? People have been clamoring for millenia for their governments to make everyone else more religious. (Never to make them more religious, only to make other people more religious.) What has it gotten us? The Dissolution of the Monasteries, Cromwell, the Massacre of the Latins, Julius II and his syphilitic college of cardinals banging prostitutes, the Fourth Crusade, the Bonfire of the Vanities, and generally speaking repression, destruction, and death. In other words, sin.

(NB: I've limited by examples to situations in which christians were on the short end of government-backed religious nuttery. This is not because there aren't a thousand examples where other sects have gotten shafted, but because I figure these will have more resonance with the average GOP voter.)

(4) The Republicans too often want the government to be their pastor, and Democrats too often want it to be their sugar-daddy. (Of course for variety sake they'll both switch positions in the right circumstances.) I just want the government to be the damned government.
"The fundamental insight of libertarianism is that the government is the government. It cannot be your mommy, your daddy, your big brother, your nanny, your friend, your buddy, your god, your salvation, your church or your conscience. It is the government."
Jonah Goldberg

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