I am surely considered a member of the "Religious Right" and I am a supporter of the Christian Coalition and similar groups. Consequently, I am considered by Neal Boortz, of whom I am a fan and a supporter, to be opposed to freedom. As Mr. Boortz wrote in His book, The Terrible Truth About Liberals, "…when I talk about conservatives, I am not talking about the so-called Religious Right or the Christian Coalition crowd. These folks have their own agenda, and that agenda isn't particularly friendly to my basic concept of Freedom." Mr Boortz and others who think like him have the right to their opinion. I would like to take a little time to express my difference of opinion with folks that believe the same thing Mr. Boortz expressed in his book.
I am what one would call a Right Conservative, though I have decidedly libertarian views. I disagree with the libertarians only on the subject of abortion. I believe abortion to be murder. An innocent human life, whether in the embryonic stage, the fetal stage, or in the delivery stage, is taken in every abortion. Consequently to call this taking of life a right is not appropriate. The so-called "right" to abortion deprives another living soul of its right to live. When a supposed right tramples on the rights of another it is no right at all. In this case the supposed right of the mother to choose abortion tramples on the right of the unborn to live. As a result the right to choose an abortion is really not a right. This is really the only subject on which a true libertarian and I disagree. I am in agreement with every other plank on the libertarian platform.
I am also an evangelical Christian. Being a right-winger and a Christian qualifies me for membership in the Christian Right. As a Christian I believe in the laws of Christ, which are, love the Lord thy God with all your heart, mind, and soul, love thy neighbor as thyself, and love one another. Of course the "love one another" applies to fellow Christians and not necessarily to others. But loving your neighbor as yourself means to never do anything to anyone Christian or not, that you would not like to have done to yourself. This is the Golden Rule looked at in reverse.
The great thing about America is that in the medley of ideas, the right to be a Christian and as such to practice my belief without interference from the government is inviolate. And as a Christian, I have the right to my political opinion and to seek redress from the government in accordance with those principals. I also have the same right to ask my representatives to pass laws that favor my beliefs as anyone else including Neal Boortz. Just as homosexuals, atheists, and libertarians may petition their government for laws that favor their beliefs, Christians may do the same.
If Christians wish to have blue laws adopted in their locality, they have the right to pursue such laws. Atheists and local business leaders have the same right to oppose blue laws. If the blue laws pass the local legislature they become law even though there will be some who disagree. At the same time, if the folks opposed to blue laws get their lawmakers to prevent the passage of blue laws, then such laws will not be ratified. There will still be some that disagree.
As an evangelical Christian, I would like to see such blue laws enacted. I have a right to that opinion. Mr. Boortz has a right to his opinion that blue laws are deficient and should not be enacted. In this case, his opinion has won out for there are no blue laws in force and none are likely to be enacted anytime soon. As a Christian, I accept that there are no blue laws. My opinion in favor of blue laws still stands and I will pursue them when I am able. I still have a right to pursue them. However, to say that I am not in favor of freedom is nonsense because I fully believe in the American system of freedom and republican representation.
The bill of rights was enacted to prevent the government from trampling on my rights. I am a bill of rights apologist. I fully support them as the founders wrote them. I believe in all of the freedoms the Bill of Rights protects. I see many of them trampled on by the courts. My freedom of religion under the free exercise clause is no longer extant. The establishment clause always trumps the free exercise clause by order of the Supreme Court. Our property rights have been recently trounced by the Court.
Freedom from search and seizure is no longer a fact. I can be stopped willy-nilly in a roadside checkpoint where officers are attempting to find the one in a thousand drivers who has no driver's license. I can be searched in airports, at court houses, and even in schools and have "contraband" like nail clips seized, never to be returned. New Yorkers can be randomly searched at public transportation stations. I am completely opposed to these infringements upon my rights. Apparently the majority of Americans have no problem with it as long as their security is not threatened.
I am also opposed to the war on drugs. It has not been a success. In fact it is a hopeless failure just as Prohibition was. It has not stopped Americans from using drugs; it has not stopped the production and importation of such drugs. All it has done is to create a class of wealthy criminals with power over politicians and governments. The drug war has produced a slaughter of innocent people unparalleled in our history.
We should repeal drug laws. There is more danger to innocents from the criminal element involved in black market drug sales than there is from allowing people to use drugs as they will. Let me be absolutely clear on this. I do not support the recreational use of drugs. Nor do I support drinking alcohol. Nonetheless, Prohibition did more harm to our nation than allowing alcohol to be sold legally. It is the same with drugs. Prohibition of drugs has done more harm to our nation than the drugs themselves would have done.
I believe, as the founders of our country did, that free men and women should be self governing and allowed to make decisions for themselves that do not harm others. If an activity that a person participates in causes no harm to another individual, then there should be no law against it. If such an activity harms the individual himself, then so be it. That individual made the decision to participate in the activity and that person is responsible for the consequences of his decision.
The same goes for seatbelt and helmet laws. I am certainly in favor of laws requiring minors to wear seatbelts and bicycle helmets. I am stridently opposed to such laws for adults. I wear my seatbelt; I have done so for 25 years. But I bridle at the thought of the state requiring me to do so. Florida does allow adult motorcyclists with proper medical insurance to ride without helmets. The same should be done with seatbelt laws.
Though alcohol is readily available, and individuals can easily purchase alcoholic beverages, responsible citizens either do not use alcohol, or they use it responsibly. The same would be true of drugs. Responsible individuals will abstain from using those drugs. Just as with alcohol, there will be those who abuse drugs. Those people are abusing them right now, regardless of the prohibition against their use. I am for allowing drugs and alcohol to be available knowing that individualists, who are responsible citizens, will not abuse that freedom. That is what this country is about—individual freedom with responsibility.
As Christians, God has given us freedom. We are free to do as we please. But we are admonished not to use our freedoms recklessly. With all freedoms come responsibilities. A Christian is free to participate in most any activity. But the responsibility of participation is such activity many times is of such gravity as to prevent the doing of the activity. The Bible tells us not to let our freedoms cause a weaker brother to fall. If our activities cause a weaker Christian to commit sin we should not take part in such an activity. Peter said to live "As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God" (1 Peter 2:16).
Note that it is the responsibility of the individual Christian to use his freedom responsibly. It is not the responsibility of government, nor is it the responsibility of a political group like the religious right. Individual Christians are responsible to God for their individual actions.
The same can be said of American citizens. It is the individual citizen that is responsible for his or her own actions. It is unfortunate that government has stepped in to require that citizens act responsibly. One thing that has made this country as strong, prosperous, and free as it is, is individualism. In this great country the individual was once entitled to be free. He decided his own ways. He did as he wished. If he did wrong, he suffered for his actions. If he did right, then he benefited from his actions.
History shows that most men and women did the responsible thing without the government requiring them to do so. I am completely in favor of such rugged individualism in this country. I am in favor of returning this country to the citizens. I am in favor of repealing most of the laws dealing with individual actions.
There is one factor I have not mentioned that goes hand in hand with such individualism and responsibility. That is religion. Christianity has historically been the catalyst of acting responsibly in our country. Though many Americans of history were not religious, the piety of true Christians kept them in check. It is not that Christians went out and boldly enforced their piety upon the world. They did not. No Christian went out and arrested a fellow citizen for not believing as he did, or for not doing things the way that Christians did. That did not happen. No, the way that the Christian lived his life inspired others to be good citizens.
Christians who practiced their Christianity every day inspired others to act responsibly. Christians did not go out and force compliance with their beliefs. They just lived their beliefs and their lives affected those around them for good.
Non-Christians lived a better life because of the influence of Christians upon society.
It did not take a myriad of laws on the books to keep Americans from acting irresponsibly; it simply took Christians truly living their beliefs before others.
This is what many of the religious right and many members of groups like the Moral Majority and the Christian Coalition do not perceive. Christians are not going to force citizens back to living responsible and decent lives. There can never be enough laws passed, enough policemen, or enough politicians to make Americans live decent lives. That is a top down approach.
We already have far too many laws on the books, and we need far too many policemen to enforce those laws. Yet the country seems to get more and more corrupt and indecent. We seem to be spiraling down toward total narcissism and anarchy with no hope of slowing the pace. Yet all the laws and policemen are powerless to stop it. What we need is for hearts to be changed. The only way to help another person to change his heart is to live the way we want others to live. Christians must live their lives in accordance with their beliefs. If they will, then we will see a change of heart in America.
I am for freedom. I believe that most Christians are also for freedom. I daresay that if we Christians would change the way we live and worship, then the world would see that we are different in a positive way and that would inspire others to live decent lives as well.
Many Americans believe that we Christians, especially those of us in the Religious Right, want to change America into a theocracy. They see an Iranian form of government that represses individual freedoms and attempts to force people into practicing Christianity. They see a repressive government that won't allow them to do anything that would be considered a sin. They feel like we Christians want to force them into religious submission through the power of law. Some think children would be abused, women repressed, and sinners run out of town or strung up. Some see wild-eyed religious bigots forcing their filthy will on others.
None of this is true. One Supreme Court believed that America was a Christian nation and they wrote it into their legal opinion in the case of Holy Trinity v. the Untied States. The majority of Americans either professed Christianity or at least accepted it as a good thing in their land. Many gave positive assent to Christianity. Yet this nation was never a theocracy. Religious repression did not occur. Of course there are fanatics in every endeavor and there were Christian fanatics who, on occasion, did repress others. But those cases were few and most were stopped from doing so. But such isolated cases do not indict the majority of Christians.
This country was a free country with a Constitution that protected individual liberties and did not allow religious repression or persecution. True Christians in this country believe in individual freedoms. They believe in our form of government and they have no wish to change it from a Constitutional Republic to a theocracy. They never have. That is why this county has been a strong and firm island of freedom in this world for over two centuries. Even when it was considered a Christian nation, it was still a bulwark of freedom and Constitutional government where citizens were free to participate or not participate in religion.
If you will recall from your studies of world history, Europe was under the domination of the church. In England the Church of England was the law of the land. Elsewhere in Europe the Roman Catholic Church was in control. In Europe, citizens were required to be members of the church and required to attend. They were required to accept the belief system of the church and they were required to worship in a rigid way and only that way.
It was because of religious repression that the United States of America was settled. Christians were forced to worship in a certain way and prevented from any variance, whether they believed that way or not. One could be arrested (many were) for not adhering to the doctrine, liturgy, and rituals of the church. John Bunyan, who wrote Pilgrim's Progress and several other great works of literature, was arrested and jailed for not doing so. His famous works were mostly written while he was in prison for preaching outside the auspices of the Mother Church. People fled from Europe to the new world to get away from such religious repression. This country was founded by such people.
Many guarantees were written into our Constitution protecting the people from religious repression. No citizen can be forced to participate in religion. No citizen can be stopped from participating in religion if he wishes. No religious test may be required to serve in the government of this country.
Conservative Christians do not wish to make America into a theocracy or even into a religious nation. They simply wish to return to an America where individuals can be trusted to do what is right. Not because the government tells them so, but because they understand that with freedom comes responsibility. We do not wish to force Christianity upon others. That would be contrary to what the Bible tells us to do.
Jesus told the church to be salt and light in the world. We are to do that by loving one another and by living our lives in such a way as to influence (not force) others to want to live their lives as we do. We are not to take up arms to force people into becoming Christians. Likewise we are not to do so by legal means. We cannot force someone to become a Christian for even God Himself will not do that. God will not force anyone to become a Christian or religious. He wishes that they would do so, but He will not force anyone to do so. If God Himself does not force people into submitting to him, then why should we Christians, who are supposed to accept God's will, do so?
If we want the USA to turn to God, then the only means at our disposal, according to Christ, is to live our lives in such a way that others are influenced to want to have what we have. Hearts will be changed one at a time not by government, but by the gentle influence of men and women committed to living the true Christian life. Such a life is one dedicated to pleasing God, to loving God, to loving others, and to loving one another.
Copyright © 2005, Mark Oaks. All rights reserved.