Government

Defending Diversity in Our Unity

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E pluribus unum! The seal of the United States bears this Latin motto meaning “out of many one.” It expresses our heritage as a free society. We form a unified nation comprised of citizens representing diverse ethnicities, languages, customs, values, and religious convictions. Our union is not achieved despite our diversity; our diversity strengthens our union, much as a compound of chemicals forms a stronger substance.

Achieving and maintaining unity amidst diversity is a delicate undertaking, particularly in the realm of religious belief. I offer here a few reflections on that project.

Since 1791, our government has assumed the role of protecting freedom of conscience in religious matters. The First Amendment to the Bill of Rights restricts governing authorities from enacting laws or wielding influence that necessitates or encourages religious conformity, and/or prohibits citizens from freely exercising any religious belief not employed as a cover for illegal activity. The government is to remain neutral on religion, while securing and protecting the freedom of all citizens to embrace any religion their conscience approves, or none at all.

In the history of nations, such liberty is a fresh concept. In ages past, nations viewed religious belief similarly to the way free societies view taxation today; namely, it was the duty of governing authorities to dictate terms to their subjects. When our government imposes taxes upon us, most of us dutifully comply without asking a lot of questions. Innocuous grumbling abounds, but we accept the necessity of taxation and the reality that nonconformity leads to prosecution. Read more about Defending Diversity in Our Unity

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Can We Celebrate Independence without Celebrating Armed Rebellion?

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First appeared at SI in July of 2011.

Something doesn’t add up. We refer to July 4 as Independence Day. We refer to the war that followed as the Revolutionary War. But if we viewed ourselves as independent of British rule on July 4, how could we have engaged in revolution after July 4? Revolution normally precedes independence. Either the day or the war is a misnomer.

For Christians the incongruity raises deeper questions. Given the response to government that Scripture requires, shouldn’t we oppose the whole idea of revolution, regardless of the circumstances? And if we’re opposed to revolution, can we rejoice in independence?

The Bible and revolution

Genesis 9 is understood by many to represent God’s re-founding of the institution of human government. The NT emphasizes submission to that institution as our Christian duty.

And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” 17 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at Him. (Mark 12:16–17)

Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work… (Titus 3:1)

Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, 14 or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. (1 Peter 2:13–15)

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The Bible, Government, and Social Justice, Part 3

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justiceRead parts 1 and 2.

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels provide a helpful case study in the inherent limitations of government. Their landmark publication, The Communist Manifesto (hereafter, TCM), was first printed in 1848, and offered to some the hope they had been desperately seeking. Before asserting the solution, though, the TCM delineated with specificity what its authors believed to be the root problem. All of societal history is ongoing class struggle, with oppressor and oppressed standing against one another. This has taken place throughout four epochs of world history, all representing the struggle between oppressor and oppressed: (1) primitive and communal, (2) slave, (3) feudal, and (4) capitalist. TCM made the case for how a fifth era, a socialist and communist epoch, could right the wrongs of societal history. At the time of TCM’s writing, the world advanced deep into the fourth (capitalist) epoch, an era in which the ills dominating the previous ages were coming to a climax. It was the right time, thought Marx and Engels, for the working class of the world (the proletariat, the oppressed) to unite and cast of the shackles of the ruling class (the bourgeoisie, the oppressors). The goal was the “formation of the proletariat into a class, overthrow of the bourgeois supremacy, conquest of political power by the proletariat.”1 Read more about The Bible, Government, and Social Justice, Part 3

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