REVIEW: Which God? What Christianity?
Coca-Cola, like Morgan & Morgan, has discovered the value of repetition. They advertise all the time and seem to be everywhere. Why? They want to keep our focus on Cokes and “all the money you deserve”.
So I must return to the subject of my last column, the National Conference on Conservatism, to be held in Miami from September 11-13 and its four keynote speakers: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis; the two Florida senators, Rick Scott and Marko Rubio; and Missouri Senator Josh Hawley. I want to draw your attention to national conservatism and the dangerous political beliefs that these prominent Republican leaders are trying to generalize.
In the June 15, 2022 issue of The American Conservative you will find the ten founding principles of what the Edmund Burke Foundation calls National Conservatism. They address, for example, the topics of imperialism and globalism, national government, the rule of law and free enterprise. I hope you will read them carefully.
As in my last column, I want to focus on Principle 4, God and Public Religion, because in many ways it strikes at the very root of our constitutional democracy. Speaking of religion, another guest speaker at this conference is Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.
Three times in Principle 4, the word “should” is used. Given the political nature of the conference and its keynote speakers, we should view each “should” as a legislative agenda item that they would seek to pass, if in office.
The first “should” statement of Principle 4 reads: “The Bible should be read as the primary source of a shared Western civilization in schools and universities, and as the legitimate heritage of believers and non-believers alike. . Several implications follow: (a) national curators would write curricula for “schools and universities” to ensure that the Bible is “read as the first among the sources of a shared Western civilization”; and (b) the local autonomy of K-12 schools and universities, public and private, would be usurped.
This is not the country you want to live in, a country where a central authority decides what is taught in “schools and universities”. Since FDR in the thirties,
Republicans chanted in unison Small government, small government and deregulate, deregulate! Do you (or do they) simply want to abandon these principles? I do not think so.
The second “should” statement of Principle 4 reads: “Where a Christian majority exists, public life should be rooted in Christianity and its moral outlook, which should be honored by the state and other public and private institutions. “. What kind of legislation would national conservatives need to implement this principle? First, someone should decide which geographic units to use (note that the first word of the principle is “Where”) to determine if a “Christian majority exists” in a particular area.
Then someone would have to decide how to define Christianity. So now a government bureaucrat from the US Department of Education (if he still exists then) will make this definitional determination? Oh good? Yes. You must have a definition of Christianity in order to count and sort people to determine if there is a majority in a particular area (Warning: it took the Church over 300 years to decide who and what was Jesus Christ—at the Council of Nicaea, AD 325; and that gave us the Nicene Creed, still used in the churches some of you attend).
I hope you can see where this is leading us: towards a totalitarian state, where we are sorted, labeled and watched 24/7 by a central authority that has usurped your individual freedom and local institutional autonomy AND will have adopted laws authorizing it. to enforce these edicts.
This is not where you want the United States of America to go. But the likes of these five keynote speakers at the National Conservatism Conference will do just that, given the chance, because they believe they have a mandate from God.
Their brand of evangelical Christianity doesn’t care about our Constitution. There’s nothing they won’t do, including storming the Capitol on January 6, if they believe God requires it. This is why we cannot have freedom and at the same time let “national conservatism” dictate our policy. Their God trumps our Constitution every time.
Dick Conville is a (retired) college professor and longtime resident of Hattiesburg.