Libertarian Jackass

"Life is short, but truth works far and lives long; let us speak truth." -- Schopenhauer

Sunday, September 07, 2003

Christians Must Use the State To Impose Christianity

Editor's Note: Friend of the Libertarian Jackass, Peter Anderson, questions coercive morality . . .

by Peter Anderson

On February of 2003, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw set out to sooth the fears of some prominent Christians – concerning the impending war with Iraq – by putting forth a moral justification for invasion. Moral arguments such Straw’s have become increasingly more important as the purported weapons of mass destruction have become increasingly harder to find. For Christians in particular, there is a larger question at stake.

In regards to politics, Christians of all ideological stripes have favored government coercion to enforce various moral causes. Such causes have ranged from ousting Saddam Hussein to bailing out banks that made poor loans or as it is more popularly called, Third World debt forgiveness. However, will Christians support taking the use of government to enforce morality to its logical conclusions?

As Christians we are called to do good in the world, which includes helping those in need and being instruments of justice. However, is not our ultimate goal bringing others to Christ? It is doubtful that many would disagree with this. Herein lies the problem of Christians using the government to impose morality.

Obviously giving to the poor is a moral obligation. Consequently some have entreated the government to forcefully take from others and give to the poor. The use of harmful narcotics is an action that goes against Christian morals and hence many advocate the government’s use of force to violate property rights in an effort to end drug usage. Therefore, if the use of government force is justifiable to make others act morally in these situations it is no less justifiable to employ the state to force others to become Christians.

This may sound horrific or absurd but it is the logical conclusion of utilizing the state to enforce Christian morals. If the state is allowed to violate individual property in the case of these lesser matters there is no way to logically justify not using the state to begin another inquisition to compel individuals to become Christian. Are we as Christians ready to advocate such policy?

This line of reasoning does not support the claim that there can be any such thing as value-free (wert frei) governing by the state. However, it does call into question the suitability of using the state to make others act moral. Perhaps evangelizing is preferable to state action.

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