Archive for the ‘#freedomofreligion’ Tag

We Didn’t Consent, We Won’t Comply   13 comments

What historical/public figure would you most like to learn more about? Would you ever write about them?

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Hard One

Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God, Benjamin Franklin

History is replete with figures I’d love to know better. They lived interesting lives. They made pivotal decisions, They wrote thought-provoking philosophy. Or they just lived lives that mattered more than other people’s. My modern life would be enriched by getting to know them.

So it wasn’t hard for me to come up with a historical figure I’d like to learn more about. The problem is winnowing the list down to one.

Modern Public Figures

I can’t think of any modern public official I’d like to meet. I’m just not interested in learning about petty tyrants. Well, maybe a group gathering of the Freedom Caucus, but I’d want to remove their filters and find out what they REALLY think of the ongoing insanity of Congress these days. I have no real use for politicians in today’s world. They act like they’re relevant, but they’re helping to enslave us all ($28 trillion in debt) and so I’m not sure getting to know them any better would enrich my life. (I have already met all three members of the Alaska Congressional Delegation. Lisa Murkowski is useless — my daughter was 11 when she asked her a question about education and she flubbed the answer so badly even an 11-year-old could counter her argument and make her look stupid. Dan Sullivan is from Ohio. His wife is from Alaska. That’s not a qualification for representing Alaska, although he does a lovely job of representing Ohio. Don Young is still a wonderful curmudgeonly Alaskan character and I love that he’s decided to spend his last few years remaining to him stirring up trouble — calling Nancy Pelosi out as a divider who wouldn’t recognize unity if it ate her expensive ice cream and introducing bills decriminalizing cannibas nationwide is something only an Alaskan politician in their 80s can get away with. I’ll be sorry to see him go, but it’s important to get someone in there who will represent Alaska before we have the wrong governor in office when Don dies).

Well, maybe, if I had to choose someone in the politician category, I’d like to meet Tulsi Gabbard and sit down for a lengthy conversation. I’d want to invite along some friends who know Austrian economics better than I do to help enlighten her on economic realities. I feel like she’s one of the few politicians who is still malleable enough to listen to people and represent them rather than herself and whoever pays for her campaign. And I think that’s going to be of vital importance as we approach a coming (and I believe, unfortunately inevitable), national crisis caused by federal government overspending. Whether we survive as a nation or not will depend on the necessary understanding of economics not just of would-be leaders, but ordinary Americans.

I’m not interested in meeting celebrities either. Yeah, you acted the snot out of that role, but being an expert musician/actor/comic doesn’t mean you know zip about anything else, so why would I want to sit down with any of these vapid attention whores? The other day, I did feel like I’d like to sit down with Prince Harry and explain to him why he’s an idiot and utterly “bonkers” and should probably not speak in public again, at least until he goes back to live in England, where perhaps people appreciate royal stupidity more (and, no, I’m not saying Britishers are stupid, but that they seem to understand and appreciate the venality of their royals more than Americans). And, while I would relish that conversation with Harry, I’m not convinced he’d grow any brighter by the encounter because I seriously doubt he’s smart enough to learn from thinking humans. Like many generationally-wealthy people, he hasn’t needed to use his brain and I’m afraid you just can’t make that up after about age 18.

Of course, not all modern public figures are politicians. Some are former politicians, others have the good sense to do something worthwhile. I can imagine sitting down with Thomas Sowell and having a conversation about economics and history and how they impact current culture. I’m sorry I missed meeting Walter E. Williams who passed away a few months ago. Jordan Peterson and/or Brett Weinstein would be a worthy evening’s time. I think I’d walk away smarter by the encounters.

It’s really sad that out of 7 billion people, I can’t think of but a handful of modern public figures I really want to know better. We live in an age of banality and, while there are a few bright people who break out from the otherwise mediocre crowd, I fear for a society that have so few thinking individuals. We have a lot of opinion-influencers and so few thinkers and I’m convinced that we are the poorer as a society for having nonthinkers influencing public opinion.

Historical Figures Galore

Well, the obvious answer would be Jesus, but since He lives in my heart, I think I already have the capacity to know Him better than I know anyone other than myself…if I would just take the opportunities offered to me, which I so often don’t.

I admit, I’d love to sit down with Paul of Tarsus because he wrote so much of the Bible and I suspect it would be a brilliant conversation. I feel the same about Thomas Jefferson. The fact is if I spent only a day getting to know each historical figure I’d like to get to know better, I wouldn’t have enough time to finish my list–assuming I’m two-thirds to three-quarters through my natural lifespan.

Narrowing It Down

So for the purposes of this article, I decided to choose one. So hard!

You have been pleased to send unto us a certain prohibition or command that we should not receive or entertain any of those people called Quakers because they are supposed to be, by some, seducers of the people. For our part we cannot condemn them in this case, neither can we stretch out our hands against them…We desire therefore in this case not to judge lest we be judged, neither to condemn lest we be condemned, but rather let every man stand or fall to his own Master. We are bound by the law to do good unto all men, especially to those of the household of faith.

As the town clerk of what is now the Queens neighborhood of Flushing, New York, Edward Hart wrote a powerful 650-word document known as the Flushing Remonstrance. December 27, 1657. Hart wrote on behalf of the 30 inhabitants of the village who also boldly signed their names below his, in a defiant shot across the bow of the state, personified by Governor Stuyvesant. The act of resistance became an early declaration in favor of the freedom of peaceful worship, supporting a defense of freedom of others — none of the Flushing residents were Quakers so they could have ignored the oppression altogether, but they chose to involve themselves because the governor of their colony was a hamflower deserving of remonstrance.

Governor Stuyvesant promulgated a policy of intolerance in the Dutch settlements of New York, persecuting those who did not adhere to the Dutch Reformed Church, primarily targeting nonconformist Quakers. Governor Stuyvesant’s policy of persecution began in 1656 with an ordinance banning unauthorized religious meetings, causing Quaker preachers to be harassed, arrested, jailed, and fined.

Stuyvesant reacted to the Remonstrance in anger. Determined to quash the spirit of the Remonstrance, he dissolved Flushing’s town government and put his own cronies in charge. He arrested four of the signers of the Remonstrance, including Edward Hart. To his credit, the elderly Hart went to jail but never recanted.

Relief from Stuyvesant’s harsh rule finally arrived in 1663, but not by the hand of any government. The Dutch West India Company, sponsor and investor in the Dutch colonies of North America, dispatched a letter to Stuyvesant ordering him to stop religious persecution. Thomas Jefferson reveled in the spirit of the Flushing-inspired motto, “Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God”. He inserted it on his personal seal. 

And, yes, I would enjoy writing about Edward Hart and the members of the tiny village of Flushing who had the chutzpah to play chicken with a colonial government. Those are my favorite kind of characters. In fact, this battle has inspired a future conflict in Transformation Project.

Property as Foundation for Freedom of Religion   1 comment

“Shame on you! As a Christian, you shouldn’t be for private property! Read your Bible!”

This was the reply to a comment I made in an Alaskan newspaper.

Don’t challenge me if you don’t want to hear my full opinion.

Many Christians, while they cherish religious liberty, are uncomfortable with the concept of property rights, and the commerce that arises from the establishment of property rights. They feel it is somehow un-Christlike to want to own land and stuff or to make a profit in business. This is contrasted with some of the agnostic free marketers I know who insist that all we need is property rights and the rest will take care of itself.

Pope Francis is often held up as an example of a Christian who reads the New Testament as a treatise on socialism. He views commerce as grubby business purely based on self-interest, tending inevitably toward exploitation, and the opposite of charity. This flawed reading of the New Testament is similar to Karl Marx. Marx was militantly opposed to religion, but praised Christianity in what he saw as its declamation against private property in the name of an otherworldly denial of self.

Christians had a hand in founding both the Fabian socialists in the United Kingdom and the Progressive Movement in the United States. Why? Well, a couple of reasons. Some of these future socialists took their inspiration from Jesus’s insistence that Christians should take care of the poor. That was an admirable basis. The second strain of Christian progressivism held that since Jesus came down to earth, our task as Christians is to build a heaven on earth. Many early Quakers believed that, although there is absolutely no Biblical basis for that teaching. Although many socialists were atheists, many Christians allied with them for either or both of these reasons.

In today’s America we can see the heart of the leftward movement in our government is a claim against property that insists that the divisions among us are as deep as they are because of economic inequality, and if we do not address that inequality today, it will worsen tomorrow. Many well-meaning and misguided Christians think this way.

The most formidable enemies of property rights are formidable precisely because they know better than to separate the issue of property rights from the issue of other freedoms, including freedom of conscience and religious liberty. They recognize human beings are an odd integrity of soul and body. Marx understood clearly that if you like the way the human being is organized then you are going to have to protect it all. If you do not like that integrity, then you are going to have to uproot it all. Thus he made clear in the Communist Manifesto that overthrowing the age-old institution of property will involve “the most radical rupture with traditional ideas.” If private property is going to be abolished, everything will have to be abolished. Marriage and religion are two prominent targets for elimination in Marx’s writings.

Several decades later, in the Fabian Essays in Socialism that led to the founding of the British Labour Party, George Bernard Shaw and others tried to downplay that side of Marxism. They claimed that they intended only to destroy property rights—that socialism is not about getting rid of the family or religion. They weren’t entirely convincing because they didn’t really believe their obfuscations. Shaw, for instance, wrote that “a married woman is a female slave chained to a male one; and a girl is a prisoner in the house and in the hands of her parents.” Graham Wallas, co-founder of the London School of Economics, argued that it is inefficient for families to eat their meals separately in their houses, and lamented that it would be a long time “before we cease to feel that an Englishman’s home [is] his castle, with free entrance and free egress alike forbidden.”

Clearly, the Fabians’ ideal society involved more than the redistribution of wealth.

There are obvious parallels in our own time and country. In 2008, President Obama campaigned on the idea that we should “spread the wealth around,” and had little to say about the family and religious liberty. Money wasn’t the only thing he and his allies wanted to change, however. After he was elected, the President altered his position about the nature of marriage, and now the enforcement of a new understanding of gender identity is pressed upon us through powerful legal and social means. A friend who is an administrator at a small Christianity college says the staff there have had conversations with their legal advisors on whether it will remain legal for them to separate their student body into dormitories for men and women. Will the swelling chorus that denies any connection between nature and sex to conjure up countless new so-called genders compel colleges built around faith concepts to join the new zeitgeist or close their doors? It is not inconceivable that Biblical teaching may soon be declared hate speech and therefore become illegal. So this fight is not just a fight about property.

On the other hand, let’s analyze it as if it were.

I own myself, which means I have a right to control my life. So, let’s say my son decides he wants to go to this college. He’s 18, so owns himself and that constitutes a right to control his own life. He wishes to live in a dormitory with similarly-minded other men because he recognizes that as a good way to not have sex until he’s married. The school owns the dormitory, so should be able to set standards for the facilities. They offer housing to students and to their parents, who are often footing the bill, based upon the contractual obligation that this is a good clean environment in which young people can concentrate on learning. That is the product they’re selling and the parents and students are buying. That’s a free monetary exchange of property value for property value.

If the school is forced by the government to open dormitories up across gender lines, then the school has been deprived of a primary marketing tool, which is another property value. They can no longer advertise their school as a wholesome environment for Christian students. Therefore, a theft has occurred. If parents and students decide students would rather remain at home and attend college digitally, then the school has been deprived of tuition and the students and parents have been deprived of the right to spend their money as they see fit (yet another property value).

A theft has occurred.

The converse of this is that there are private colleges that want to open dormitories across gender lines and market themselves as an exciting alternative to the Christian school experience. Again, the college has a right, by virtue of property ownership, to market themselves in this way and students and parents have a right, by virtue of their property stake in their money, to buy that experience. To deny them that right is to steal money from both the college and the parents/students.

I know a lot of Christians who would get angry that I am saying this, but the fact is that we have been denying “the world” its property rights for a long time, so now that the worst of secular society has decided to turn the tables on us, we shouldn’t be surprised. Which is not to say that we should embrace the tyranny. You do not recompense the theft of one person’s property rights by stealing the property rights of the original offender. The only moral solution is for all powers to stop stealing from one another.

 

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