By Nathan Barton
The vast gulf between libertarians (lovers of liberty – NOT members of a Libertarian Party) and Authoritarians, or Controllers, applies to more than just the State, governments, and politics.
We find it in society, in the market (the economy), and in religion. I’ve considered society and economy in the past. Now let us look at religion, not just in the Fifty States but worldwide. The dominant religion is that broad grouping “Christianity,” having 1/3 of all humans. (Islam is a distant 2nd (21%) and non-religious (including atheists) are 14%.)
In Christianity, we find the Controllers many places. For example, the total depravity of humans is a key element in Calvinism – one of the largest branches of Protestantism. Indeed, the Calvinist goes so far as to say that free will is denied to men by God – that He compels some of us to believe in Him and to do His will in all things. So depraved humans must be controlled in every way humanly possible.
On the other hand, the Roman Catholic Church and Orthodox churches believe in freewill, BUT still think that people must be compelled (by other people, not by God) to do good. And that without “baptism” to wash away original sin, that indeed people are depraved. Both faiths have no confidence in liberty. (Nor do they read and understand and apply their Bible, but that is a religious not a political issue.)
(However, the simple, basic Christian faith does NOT authorize or facilitate Controllers. Rather it protect and establishes human liberty.)
We find the same in the other Abrahamic religions (Judaism and Islam) – I do not know if there is a branch of Islam which teaches and practices human liberty. Most certainly Islam is virtually all (99.5%?) Controllers. There are branches of Judaism that accept, respect and protect liberty. (But Jews make up less than 1/3 of 1% of humans.)
The point is, many religions, claiming to accept God’s authority, accept human Authority. And those who exercise it: the Authoritarians, the Controllers. These religions support, buttress, the state. They accept the state as the “minister of God.” They let the state, government, be the “agent of God.” This makes the state effectively God. These faiths conflate “servant of God” with “master of men.” (This is common in history. Those rulers, the “powers that be” who did not claim godhood for themselves were “anointed of” the gods or children of the gods. Agents, representatives; not servants or ministers (which actually means servants). So these religions are partners with the State. And their own beliefs and practices are against liberty. Not just one-man rule and fatwas and the Inquisition, but many other traditions of men accepted and practiced by these faiths. (Including that evil political doctrine of democracy.)
To lovers of liberty, it doesn’t matter which entity is in the saddle: the “state” or the “church.” The Authoritarians, those who wish to (and exercise) control over others must be and are rejected by true lovers of liberty, no matter what they call themselves, or how they are organized, or what authority they claim. This applies to religions as much as to governments, private firms, and criminal gangs.
A de facto or de jure alliance between state and church means that there is less conflict between the two, and therefore less liberty and more control over those subject to either or both entities. We need to reject all of it. All of it.
Although many who are (or claim to be) lovers of liberty downplay religion and dismiss it as being relevant in the 21st Century, it is still a very important factor in people’s lives. Getting rid of it inevitably fails. So does replacing traditional religion with artificialities such as worship of the state or of reason). The Soviets, the Maoists, and the Jacobins in Revolutionary France all tried this. Far more successful are those Controllers who coopt religion: Constantine, Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin (to some degree) and many other kings and dictators through time.
Which is why the same thing has been done by the right-wing Controllers in the Fifty States. And the more successful left-wing Controllers (Roosevelt, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Bill Clinton). That is, of course, galling to modern regressives – Tranzis, Communists, and Socialists – who seek to follow the old French Jacobin and Leninist path and eliminate, not replace or coopt, religion.
But religions do NOT have to be Controllers or serve the Controllers. Religions should be the sources of liberty and true progress and which nurture human freedom and liberty – and peace and prosperity. Corrupt and twisted religions are no reason to reject all religion. That is contrary to human behavior and is ultimately going to fail, when applied to the vast majority of us.
I personally cannot see any conflict between my love of God and my love of liberty. But I realize that there are many lovers of liberty who do not agree, because of what they have been taught by their religion (now or formerly). I suggest that any religion needs to be carefully examined and possibly rejected as false. When it is a Controller or facilitates and partners with Controllers, it is a false religion. It is a perverted faith of tyranny and false, manmade authority and not one of truth and liberty. And falsely claiming to be Jewish or Christian.