Monday, February 21

Christian Moral Rights: A Statement of Purpose

Recently in a comment attached to an essay in this series (an exchange between myself and Mr Moderate I think the urgency behind this project is underscored.

I had written:
I am not trying to create a pseudo-theocracy (for the umpteenth time). My project is different. I have derived a "different" set of moral rights (from a different source). Having done so, I am wondering what sort of government and society might be formed by those rights.
He responded
I know you stated that you are not trying to craft a theocratic state in this country. What sort of government do you think will come out at the end of this exercise though? Whether you want it or not, I believe that religious right politicians are already walking down the path that you are going down, and the end result is a pseudo-theocracy. History has full of examples of this. While I don't think you are doing this for such a malicious purpose, reading it really stirs up the worries I have about your religious right politically active Christian brothers and sisters.

I don't know where I'll end up in my musing on these issues. But, granting Mr Moderate's fears, if I (and others like me) don't work though exercises like this, we won't have more reasonable alternatives to offer in place of an autocratic theocracy. Can a democratic (or republican) government be established on principles with a basis in Christian moral rights? I believe the answer to be in the affirmative.

If I gave a secular political theorist my list of rights (and told him to refer to Scripture only as a last resort when in doubt about what I meant by those rights) and then asked him to form a theory of government based both on those and on his historical understanding of the best theories of government he might find from history ... where would he end up. That is more the description of how I am trying to proceed with my task.

It is true, that because Christians (and other religiously based cultures) more naturally accept the idea of a higher authority (outside of the self) that there is the reasonable expectation that a authoritarian government might be more easily accepted. However while this acceptance of higher authority is true, it does not follow that an autocratic government is required.

I agree history is full of examples of religious fervor inspiring results which are uninspiring. At the same time, there are figures like Simon de Montfort whose religion and principles inspired exactly the kind of motivations in government that those like Mr Moderate would support, and that was in the dreaded Middle (dare I say "Dark") Ages. For further reading about Simon de Montfort I would recommend this.