Separation of Church and State?


Or substitution of state for church?

Many people saw the recent, scurrilous Politico cartoon as being aggressively insensitive to the people in Texas suffering from Hurricane Harvey. It was that, but more insidious is that it depicts the desire on the part of many to have God replaced by the state. Well beyond, but on the same path as separating church and state, is the plan to substitute the state for God. This goes beyond the discussion of making government first refuge in times of opportunity or need. More than replacing individual responsibility as primary, it replaces God with the state. Individuals, if we allow this, would no longer look to themselves first or their God at all. To pull this off, the state must first dramatically reduce the role of all individuals, then become their God. Why? Simple. Those with government power of any type would have even more power and influence, and those benefiting from taxpayer largess would get more. With no resistance from either the individual responsibility position, or the recognition that the higher power is God, the state would become the uncontested, highest power. The state takes responsibility from the individual, replaces God and becomes the source of all good things.

Reducing the role of the individual requires increasing government dependence while removing any guilt at being dependent–even making it a point of pride. And more than removing the guilt is the process of making those who are dependent on the state to feel good about it–to feel that they are doing the “right thing.” Where have you heard a line of reasoning like the following? “Despite being an able-bodied adult, you are justified in taking these welfare benefits because you are a victim of (fill in the blank). More than that, the people who are paying the taxes to provide for your welfare are the very ones who victimized you.”

Pause for a “What do we want?” question. If we an all-powerful, aggressively secular state there is no need for any further thought or action. That’s exactly where we are headed. If we want to swim back and reclaim the individual-responsibility-first ethic that helped to create the most prosperous nation on earth, we will have to stand up and show up. Stop leaving activism to the other side. Do we want to stay on the set of railroad tracks leading to an ever-more secular society? And the train does not stop there. The last station on this line is not merely a nation where we have finally severed all connection between church and state. The last stop on this railroad is a nation where there is no church. Only government.

What do you want?

This is a well-trod path. History is replete with the stories of nations which started out substituting taxpayer benefits for individual responsibility. All under the guise of caring and concern for the less fortunate. But it was just that–a guise. A cynical ruse used to start the process. It is obvious there is no need to make government all-powerful in order to take appropriately good care of the truly needy.

“Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.” Archimedes. The lever is the claimed concern for those in need, and the fulcrum is the short-sighted and incompletely informed opinion among the voters and the rest of the populace. The government then stands in its collective offices, using the provided lever and fulcrum, and moves the nation away from individual responsibility and greatness, away from the power of God–claiming all greatness and power for itself.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana. The history of this process is clear. Step 1. Government starts chipping away at the notion of individual responsibility while substituting government benefits. Step 2. When the substitution of government for individual responsibility begins to take hold, start on the substitution of government for God. With the diminution of the individual, step 2 is much easier–there are far fewer strong individuals to fight back. With the completion of step 2, the discrediting of the God who gives power and meaning to the individual, the state’s job is all but accomplished. Government power with no resistance.

We are on this path. Where do you stand? What will you do? Tell us in the blog. Tell others in your life.

Will Luden, writing from my home office at 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.

Will Luden
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6 Responses

  1. Charles Reply

    Good stuff. This trend really started to take hold during LBJ with the Great Society in the mid-1960s. It’s only getting worse today due to all the ANTIFA and BLM groups, teaming with politicians to separate everyone into racial and socio-economic groups.

  2. Charlie Reply

    There are so many strings to this theme that it seems I could write a book if I weren’t so lazy. I think your key point is that the religious have been in a reactive mode for a long, long time. Those who put their faith in government have been pushing to solve this or that societal problem through government action since about the time of Karl Marx. In response, the religious groups have half-heartedly tried to stop the train but have not really come up with counter strategies to push back. The governmentalists just keep getting longer levers until they do move the world. Homelessness? The state/city/feds ought to do something. General bad behavior? Ignore it until someone gets hurt and then let the authorities handle it. Medical care? Sell our charitable religious hospitals to for-profit companies because we aren’t receiving the needed donations to keep them running. The institutions of faith have just left a vacuum that the politicians are more than willing to fill.
    One take away that I have from your post is that I need to become more of a pain in the neck. I’ve already spoken “out of turn” to the pastor of my former congregation telling him that he needs to rein in the preschool from its “self-expression” approach. Now I need to start agitating with my current church to get more socially involved and to have discourse with my wife’s pastor who has been beating his head against the wall for 30 years trying to start a revival that doesn’t seem to be imminent.
    Thanks for the prod!

  3. David Nation Reply

    So the premise that there is a god who some people feel needs replacing is fallacious. I think nobody is looking to replace this illusive god. Some people are simply trying to get the government to perform as the protector of Rights promised in our constitution.

    • Will Luden Reply

      David; welcome; thanks for contributing. When you say “Rights” are you referring to the ones in the Bill of Rights, or added “rights” like healthcare, food and housing? The former can be done with a limited government; the latter would require a much bigger and more invasive governing body. And governments have been replacing/outlawing God for a very long time. See Nazi Germany and current-day Russia and China for starters. BTW, the elusive God is very present as soon as you genuinely seek.

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